I, like most kids, was pretty taken with Greek mythology when I was younger. Growing up with one angry, sin-punishing Overlord was a little boring compared to the Greeks. The Greek pantheon had a whole host of petty, jealous, and powerful jerks, each with a divine superpower and their own schtick. Apollo was hot, Athena was smart, Zeus was a horn-dog and Hera was a bitch because of it, that kinda thing. It was flattering to think a god would take a shine to you and come on down, disguised as a cow or a horse and then once you thought they were cute enough to pet, they would reveal themselves in their true form and want to get busy with you. Who cares if he was a dog before? He’s a god now! Just look at those arms. My gym doesn’t have lightning bolts, does yours?
The Christian God didn’t feel the need to disguise Himself when He came down and even then it was only once. The whole thing didn’t exactly reek of passion either. In fact, the event was such a non-event an angel had to come down and clarify things with Mary.
“Hey, Mare, listen,” sayeth the angel. “I know you’re a virgin, so don’t freak or anything, but…well…you’re pregnant with God’s son. There I said it. Merry Christmas.”
When a Greek god fathered a child, the boy was a hero. When God had His…well, we all know how that kid turned out.
Christianity was boring and inscrutable, the opera of religions. Greek mythology was an opera, too, but one with soap in it. Greek gods were catty to each other, they were vain. You know, things we mere mortals could relate to. More importantly than that, they were hot. Christianity’s God isn’t hot, he looks like someone’s Grandfather who didn’t get the manscaping memo. The male Greek gods were always on the prowl, sneaking around to get a little action on the side. The female gods were (justifiably) jealous bitches who were prone to punish both the mortal and their mate when the hanky-panky was discovered. When they weren’t turning their hubby’s intended into a tree or a rock, they were bestowing some cool new superpower on a human dude they thought was just adorable. Greek Gods had crushes on their followers. God God was wiping out all his with a flood and giving people to-don’t lists all the time. When you worshipped a Greek god, you turned into a valiant warrior with great hair and abs for days. You worship God God, your hair looks like you never left the 80’s, no one can understand what you’re saying in your “tongue”, your singing is obnoxious, and people stop inviting you to parties. Greek? You’re unbearably hot. Christian? You’re just unbearable.
And you may not have believed all the stories, but they all had a great takeaway. Don’t fall in love with your own reflection. Watch out for your Achilles heel. Being Sisyphus sucks. Still, there was one Greek myth that always got to me and I couldn’t figure out why. It’s one of the most well-known ones, but it still bothered me. And that was the myth of sirens. Then I figured out why it bothered me.
You know the story. Ships of warriors would be sailing back across the Aegean, exhausted from battle, their spirits perked up only by a quick peek into the cargo hold and the loot they were sailing home with. They couldn’t wait to get back to their loving, virginal, definitely faithful wives and get that hero’s welcome they felt they so richly deserved. Because nothing prepares a man for love like war. It’s an aphrodisiac with a body count. But then, halfway through their journey home, things go south.
Now I don’t remember what was first, the song or the singers, but on their way back, these really hot babes on a beach start singing to them. The sailors hear it, and suddenly they can’t help themselves. They gotta have these girls. So they steer the ship toward the island.
But they never make it to the island because the place is surrounded by rocks that act like blades in a blender. Jagged jetties tear their ships to bits, which apparently was just what the chicks on the beach wanted, so they could get their hands on all that loot in the cargo hold. So, men die, girls get rich, it’s a win-win.
Now you don’t have to read between the lines too much here to see it’s more than a little sexist. The men are heroes and victims at the same time. The women are just monsters. The men are powerless against these irresistible womanly wiles and are driven mad with desire to the extent they’ll wreck their ship to get to them. But to me this story has more holes in it than the hull of their ship did.