Love, sex and deceptions: Zeus’s philandering, Greek mythology in the visual arts

By Bea Aaronson

The Rape of Europa Rubens 1630

After a substantial introduction on Greek mythology, linking the expertise of Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade to my own perception of these ancient times, when magic and religious beliefs were entangled in a fantastic web of stories meant to tame the unknown, I shall focus on the love affairs of Zeus, the King of Gods, precursor of monotheism, whose sexual deceptive prowess will dazzle you with the extraordinary power of psychological insight Greek mythology still offers us.

“Love, sex and deceptions: Zeus’s philandering, Greek mythology in the visual arts”
Wed, Mar 12, 4:30-6:30pm
La Ostra Roja
A Casa Verde Annex
San Jorge 45
Colonia San Antonio (off Refugio)
130 pesos
Reservations: 121-1026 or

We must never forget that myths were created by men in order to conquer their fears: fear of the elements, fear of the immensity of the cosmos, fear of their own inner drives. Myths created order out of chaos. Myths existed before science and monotheism, but they already contained the seeds of scientific and monotheistic appreciation. I shall explain it all in more details and with numerous illustrations.

By 750 BCE, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony totally infused and nurtured Roman mythology, as demonstrated in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in 8 CE – only the name of gods and goddesses changed, Zeus became Jupiter, Aphrodite became Venus, Poseidon, Neptune and so on. Homer and Hesiod wrote what we could consider as the bibles of Greek mythology. Their narratives inspired poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers and cinematographers alike, right up until today.

Artists were indeed totally enthused, entranced by Greek mythology. In this presentation, I shall unravel the visualizations of Zeus’ amorous conquests, goddesses and mortals alike, even young men. These love stories will not only show you how Zeus had to resort to magic tricks in order to deceive both his extremely jealous sister-wife Hera, and the jealous husbands whose wives he had fallen in love with and ravished, but will also demonstrate that our contemporary amorous mores have not changed much!

It will be my joy to share with you masterpieces from Ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the Rococo Age, right up to the 19th, 20th and 21st century. Some will amuse you, others will startle you. But they will all demonstrate how the Greek gods, and especially Zeus, a real philanderer, what we would call today “a sex addict,” were actually created in our human image. As the Greek poet Xenophanes so appropriately remarked: “If horses had to draw their divinities, they would have chosen to draw horses!”

To seduce or ravish his amorous preys — in Ancient Greece these two verbs were interchangeable — Zeus changed himself into eagles, clouds, rains of gold coins, bulls, swans, even into the mortal forms of husbands and women alike! I shall tell you all, without leaving any detail from these surreal metamorphoses. An astonishing journey if ever there is one! Be ready for some puzzling and arresting revelations…


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