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The Goddess Of Today Essay, Research Paper

Goddesses have been symbols of divinity and power for thousands of years, they were part of religion and worship for many

cultures including the Greek, Egyptian and even the Hebrew people, who were forbidden to have ‘other gods’. The Old

Testament records their pursuit of ancient Canaanite goddesses, such as Asherah, Astarte and Anat.

In Greece, goddesses were invented to explain the natural phenomena of a world incapable of scientific explanation. Gaia

was the first reigning goddess, she was the ruler and protector of the Earth, she had three children &endash; Uranus (sky),

Oured (mountains) and Pontus (sea).

Zues, the supreme ruler of the Olympian gods was descended from Gaia, as were the six chief goddesses – Athena, Artemis,

Aphrodite, Demeter, Hera, and Hestia. Their reign was specific to a certain area of worship.

As in many cultures, some goddesses were represented with varying names in different countries. Here are the

translations of the Greek and Roman goddesses.

Aphrodite, Greek …Venus, Roman

Artemis, Greek… Diana, Roman.

Athena, Greek…. Minerva, Roman

Hestia, Greek… Vesta, Roman.

Persephone, Greek…. Proserpina, Roman

Demeter, Greek…. Ceres, Roman.

Hera, Greek…. Juno, Roman

There were three virgin goddesses, Artemis, Athena and Hestia. By virgin, or unpenetrated by man they existed wholly

separate from man, in their own right. They didn’t need men to function.

Then there were the vulnerable goddesses, Hera, Demeter and Persephone who

represented the traditional roles of women, wife, mother, and daughter. Men dominated each of these goddesses.

Then there was Aphrodite who was a person in her own right. You could say a combination of all the other goddesses and a

role model for all women, lover, mother, wife, and a sensual “lover of laughter”.

Athena was Patron Goddess of Athens. She was the Goddess of war, architecture, plumbing and many other tasks

associated with the “organisation” of civilisation. Athena is said to sit at the right hand of Zeus and offer him counsel with

Themis, the Goddess of Justice. She is the only one that Zeus allowed to carry his battle shield the ‘Aegis’, as she was the

only one with enough strength (of character and body) to be able to use it. She sprang from the head of Zeus fully grown

and armoured. Wearing a magical helm, her symbolic creature is the owl. One of the stronger Goddesses of Greece, she is

Wisdom, and Righteous Battle (not battle for the sake of fighting, but fighting for a cause.)

There is a story that she had a child-hood female friend named Pallas (there was some hint of a more intimate relationship

between them), and when Pallas died, Athena took on her name, so she will also be referred to as Pallas-Athene. She has a

prominent roll in some parts of the Trojan War, as referred to in the ‘The Illiad’. She was known as Minerva to the Romans.

Artemis was the daughter of the god Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of the god Apollo. She was chief hunter to the gods

and goddess of hunting and of wild animals, especially bears. Artemis was also the goddess of childbirth, of nature, and of

the harvest. Although traditionally the friend and protector of youth, especially young women, Artemis prevented the Greeks

from sailing to Troy during the Trojan War until they sacrificed a maiden to her. Like Apollo, Artemis was armed with a bow

and arrows, with which she often punished mortals who angered her. In many other legends, she is praised for giving young

women who died in childbirth a swift and painless death.

Aphrodite was the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Born from the foam of the sea, she was the wife of Hephastus, lover of

Aries (also his sister), and mother to Eros (Cupid). She is the Goddess of all forms of love, but usually associated with

romantic love. She was one of the big troublemakers in the Trojan War, as it is her gift to Paris that caused the whole damn

thing. She also plays roles in other legends, such as bringing Galetea to life for Pygmalion. She was known as Venus to the

Romans.

Demeter was the great Earth goddess, patroness of fertility and also known as goddess of the grain. By Zeus (her brother)

she was mother to Persephone (Proserpina). Her name means ‘Mother Earth’ and the Romans identified her as Ceres.

Demeters travels made it possible for her to be associated with numerous places, and she was worshipped through out the

Greek world. Women particularly venerated her, for example in the Themophoria at Athens; a ceremony named after her

title Thesmophoros (’bringer of law’) and confined only to women, who prayed for fertility for themselves and the City.

Hera was queen of the gods, the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and the sister and wife of the god Zeus. Hera

was the goddess of marriage and the protector of married women. She was the mother of Ares, god of war; Hephaestus,

god of fire; Hebe, goddess of youth; and Ilithyia, goddess of childbirth. Hera was a jealous wife, who often persecuted Zeus’s

mistresses and children. She never forgot an injury and was known for her vindictive nature. Angry with the Trojan prince

Paris for preferring Aphrodite, goddess of love, to herself, Hera aided the Greeks in the Trojan War and was not appeased

until Troy was finally destroyed. Hera is often identified with the Roman goddess Juno.

Hestia was identified by the Romans with Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. She was the eldest of the three

daughters of Cronos and Rhea. Although she could of have had Apollo or Poseidon as a husband, she refused marriage;

and since she herself was a virgin, she insisted that on that state in her priestesses, who at Rome were called the Vestal

Virgins.

Medea is most renowned in the story “Jason and the Argonauts (SP)” Although not considered a witch in classical Greek

mythology; she was a witch who fell in love with Jason on his search for the Golden Fleece. She used her power to help him

in several nasty instances. They were married, but he later wanted to marry the princess, (Glauce, daughter of King Creon

of Corinth). Medea made a gown that burned the skin from the princess’ body and killed the king who grabbed her and

couldn’t let go (part of Medea’s plan from the start).

The final, horrible blow Medea delivered upon Jason was to kill their two sons and refuse to give him the bodies; she took

them away with her to bury them where their father could never find them. Although human, she was also known as a witch

or goddess because of her magickal powers and manipulative skill.

Zeus’s Consorts and Offspring

Zeus, the supreme god in Greek mythology, fathered many children as the result of his union with divine and mortal women.

His divine offspring constitute many of the main Greek deities (left) and his mortal children include less exalted gods and

many of the heroes of Greek mythology (right).

The stories of the ancient goddesses were full of incest, lust and revenge &endash; (some of the stories have been adapted

and used in Melrose Place).

Many of the Gods and Goddesses had children that eventually had their own children to their Mother, Fathers, Uncles and

Aunties.

I feel that that the women gods or goddesses were a very powerful force in the liberation of the women in ancient Greece.

Their independence, individuality and strength gave new meaning to the ‘typical’ women.

All of the goddesses that I have talked about above have their own unique, but still very potent personality and powers, all of

which are relevant in today’s society and lifestyle. I’m sure every women (and man) can associate her/himself to a certain

goddess, they were as distinctive and vulnerable as mortals, but with all the force and authority to achieve things that in the

human world, were totally infeasible.

The goddess today is inside every woman, and the themes associated with Greek goddesses are relevant as long as human

life exists on this planet. Women with power to live with and without men in their lives, these women were trying to find their

way out of a patriarchal society &endash; these stupendous role models helped women control their own indentity and fulfil

their own hopes, dreams and destiny.

Powerful figures of authority, which with all their strength and power, were not immune to heartache and jealousy, and

bloody revenge was not uncommon.

Zeus, the higher power, often balancing out excessive or unfair use of power, when his own justice system came into play.

Why do I think that goddesses will always will popular in society?

They are the epitome of women everywhere, in the past, to present day and into the future &endash; infinite strength and

wisdom, compassion, intellect and beauty.

330


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