Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Darker Side of Greek Myths

When I tour school children through our museum's classical galleries, I tread carefully around some of the uglier aspects of Greek mythology. I might say something like, "Zeus fell in love with Europa and took her to Crete." Or, "Zeus loved Leda and came to her as a swan, etc., etc."

In other words, I tiptoe around the fact that the head god of the ancient Greeks was actually a serial rapist. After all, whenever, Zeus "fell in love" with a beautiful young woman (or young man), he "took" her (or him) without asking. Because he could.

Of course, it's not my place to shatter the illusion that the Greek myths are anything other than outrageously fascinating and fun stories from worlds long gone. (There's college for that!)

Yet by telling these stories without pointing out their inherent violence against (mostly) women, I wonder if I'm somehow contributing to a culture that continues to blame the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators.

Imagine, for example, Europa in a court of law trying to gain justice...

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