It’s Greek to Me
Entering this class, I had some background on the Greek gods and goddesses from my Latin classes in high school. We studied some mythical stories, gods, and famous battles of the people. However, we did not get into the depth of myth as in this class. I never thought of myth as the precedent behind every action, as invisible, and an ever-present lining (Calasso, 383). I am a religious person and practicing Catholic, so I believe in the Bible and its creation story. The other studious and curious part of me wonders about the scientific backing of creation. I still believe God created the earth, but I also believe in the scientific evolution of humans that has been physically proven. I think that when you evaluate these ideas it all comes down to faith. Religion and believing in God, of whatever form, requires faith in what you cannot see or touch. Throughout this class I was interested in learning how other cultures, and faith for that matter, believed creation to occur and who they worship. Because the Greek creation story most closely resembles the Christian story, I related most to their story. This is not to say the others were not true or believable. This question and validity is left to the individual to determine. Myth can help us determine this because it is the most significant form of religious expression (Sexson, 39).
Our repeated working definition of myth as the precedent behind every action really got me thinking about how myth is in everything we do. Mythology explains how everything is how it should be and that the past explains the future through myth (Leonard and McClure, 1). I see myth as stories we relate to and help guide us through our lives. This is similar to the Bible stories I learned as a kid. I see these stories as examples of how to live and give us role models, or heroes if you will, to follow. They teach us lessons and inspire us. The Bible’s characters are similar to the Greek heroes and gods and goddesses. Moses was a typical hero who struggled through his journey just like Hercules. These heroes show us that we can get through tough times and beat our adversaries. Struggle and hardship in life are inevitable and only make the good times sweeter. One of my favorite songs by the Barenaked Ladies states this as, “nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight, you’ve gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”
In my personal life, I have found that the more you fight or have to work for something, the more it is worth. Since this class, I have looked at my life experiences in a different way. I can see how events in my life have been shaped by myth and how I integrate these realities everyday. Like everyone here, I have gone through tough times and have lost people close to me. I think that the quote, “what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger,” rings true in my life. The losses I have coped have made me a stronger and wiser person. These include deaths, struggles, school, sports, and heartbreak. If I wouldn’t have had to persevere through these times, the ending would not have been happiness. If I would have quit soccer after knee surgery or dropped out of school, I would not be where I am today. Most people have to struggle to reach their goals and make others’ lives easier. The Greeks believed that the work of the gods brought about ruin of men so that others might have song in the future (Calasso, 359). I take this into the religious context that God takes those close to us up to heaven to help us get through life. They are our angels and inspiration.
I found how the Greeks believed the gods interacted or ruled over them particularly interesting in reading both our anthology and Calasso. The Greeks believed that the gods and goddesses can shift the meaning of what is predestined, but not cancel it out (Calasso, 336). I believe this in the truth that we control our destiny. Granted our lives as a whole, or creation in general, is empowered by a superior being, but we have the choice of how to live our lives. God gives us the choice to do right or wrong. We live with the consequences of our choices. We must be proactive with the way we lead our lives and appreciate what is around us. I find Bozeman a great place to do so. The mountains and scenery here inspire me and instill a sense of awe for creation. From reading Calasso, I found a particular passage that hit home for me. Pindar commented on Coronis’s actions by saying, “The craziest type of people are those who scorn what they have around them and look elsewhere, vainly searching for what cannot exist” (59). As a society, we need to appreciate what we are given, what we have worked hard to achieve, and nature around us. Myth is everywhere in all of the above.
Overall, I think this class showed me a new way of looking at things in life. I realized how everything has myth behind it. Every single story I was told as a child is mythological and repeated throughout history. I do not think I will be able to read another book, watch another movie, or even hike in the mountains again without thinking about the mythological presence behind all of it and linking various stories to my actions.
Calasso, Robert. (1994). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (1st International Ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Leonard, Scott and Michael McClure. (2004). Myth and Knowing: An introduction to world mythology (1st ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Sexson, Dr. Michael W. (2004). Myth: The Way We Were of the Way We Are? Varieties of religious expression.