Lecture “Nepal Odyssey: the Plight of a Remote Village” Carol Williams Sat, Feb 20, 2pm Sala de Usos Múltiples Bellas Artes Free

Death of Semele as Zeus reveals his true self to her

By Béa Aaronson

Get ready for the most outrageous and wonderful stories!
Be ready for some puzzling, fun, and arresting revelations…

After a succinct yet 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 that Greek mythology still offers us.

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 detail and with numerous illustrations.

By 750 BCE, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Hesiod’s Theogony, which totally infused and nurtured Roman mythology, as demonstrated in Ovid’s Metamorphoses in 8 CE, actually became the bibles of Greek mythology. Only the name of gods and goddesses changed: Zeus became Jupiter; Aphrodite became Venus; Poseidon, Neptune; and so on. These narratives have inspired poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, and cinematographers alike, right up until today.

Artists were indeed totally enthused and entranced by Greek mythology. In this presentation I shall unravel the visualizations of Zeus’ amorous conquests of 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 nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. 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 Casanova, Don Juan, or 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, bulls, swans, even into the mortal forms of husbands and women alike! I shall tell you all, without leaving out any detail from these surreal metamorphoses. An entertaining ride to say the least! An astonishing journey, if there ever was one!

 

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