Winning entry in the 2001 Bernice L. Fox Classics Writing Contest
by Lauren Dahler – Lakewood High School
Comparing and contrasting the similarities between living American icons and the twelve mythological deities proved to be a challenge. Finding the appropriate match was at times a humorous pursuit resulting in a clever identical pairing. Deity dualism will be discussed.
The mighty Zeus, the God of the family of gods as well as God of custom and political order, is portrayed as a weather icon who can hurl lightning bolts and thunder. His trysts with many a mortal and immortal resulted in many offspring and his influence was felt everywhere, although he had no control over destiny itself. Hurling DNA and retaining custom and order will well be achieved by Dr. Richard Seed, who will immortalize himself as the god of cloning producing many well planned and influential offspring (clones.) Dr. Seed’s presence will be felt forever when cloning occurs in humans and when the desired traits of descendants can be selected. Many of Seed’s progenies (as Zeus’ heirs and descendants have already enjoyed) will have the privilege of having desired characteristics of powerful and intelligent parents.
With Hera, the Queen of the gods, at the helm and with her ongoing conflicts with her husband, Zeus, life in the Olympia zone was a headliner and very newsworthy. Lady Hera was a jealous, ambitious and powerful woman who was continually irate over Zeus’ pursuit of mortal and immortal woman. Her continual torment of Heracles, born to Zeus and his paramour, Alcmena, angered Zeus resulting in his suspending Hera from the Olympian realm. The former First Lady, Hilary Clinton, possesses pride in marriage while being aware of her husband’s, President Bill Clinton, well-known and scandalous affairs with several woman. As Hera is the patroness of monogamous marriage, Hilary has become the modern model of a woman who will stand by the side of her husband and ride through tumultuous events.
Aphrodite’s characteristics as Goddess of love and beauty can be seen in her frequent representation in the fine arts. Her unusual birth concocts a visual image of her floating in the sea-foam only to later be married to a lame ugly smith named Hephaestus. She is known for her affairs of the heart and relationships with many lovers resulting in being the bearer of many children. The stage presence of Madonna and her video vixen image entertains her audiences with her artistic obsession with sex and showbiz flair. Madonna, a mother herself of two children, continues to entice audiences with her sexual presence and appealing songs. Both of these women show strong and assertive well-being and self-assuredness regarding their natural born talents.
The goddess of warfare, Athena, is also the goddess of arts and crafts. Her ability to interfere and meddle in the affairs of men allowed her to protect several heroes. Virginal in nature, the Parthenon (Parthenos-Virgin) is dedicated to Athena and remains as a standing tribute to her stature. Paralleling this strong feminine deity in today’s society is the first woman Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno. She has made decisions utilizing government agents. The popular seizure of the Cuban child, Elian, from his relatives in Florida and her subsequent decision to send this child back to his father in Cuba reflects her meddlesome actions that need to be made often to protect this country or individual citizens. Miss Reno has received the Living Legacy Award and will be remembered for her strength, vision and commitment to justice. Athena and Reno truly make a dynamic duo in the realm of dominant womanly affairs.
As Goddess of the hearth and home, Hestia’s domesticity was the focal point of family life. The hearth was the shrine of the house as well as the center of the household and Hestia’s earthly counterpart, Martha Stewart, makes the home her earthly domain. Stewart’s livelihood centers around enhancing and enriching the lives of families by enticing the hearth as the heart of the household. Hestia, a virgin, had followers (six priestesses) who were referred to as Vestal Virgins of Rome. Martha, now divorced as her husband has established a relationship with a younger assistant to Martha, can personify the impact of a strong independent single woman’s affect on the hearth and her new focus on being able to kindle the hearths with warm fires and healing hues. Fires glow and abound within these two women who make hearths and homes appealing.
Apollo, the god of agriculture and herds with whom peasants sought refuge, is often seen as the gatekeeper and also personified as a god of the arts, especially music and the sciences. Apollo had many conquests as a god, one of which involved slaying the Cyclops, which angered Zeus, as the Cyclops made the thunderbolts that Zeus would hurl. Because of this demise, Apollo had to serve mortal men and he successfully would help by giving cows twins so herds would multiply or he would help with healing measures. Apollo has also been known to create havoc and disaster or be a victim of both. As an earthly parallel, Willie Nelson personifies the hearty characteristics of Apollo as a champion for agriculture. Willie has campaigned for agricultural advocates using his musical talents for raising funds through “Farm Aid” concerts. His lyrics and guitar help folks seek refuge from everyday chaos and hectic lifestyles. Nelson, himself, found himself in disastrous financial ruin with income tax evasion. He has since been able to redeem himself through his support of the masses through relief intervention. Apollo and Willie seem cut from the same cloth in parallel worlds as both men are powerful yet fall weak to everyday challenges and temptations.
Depicted with her quiver of arrows, Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt or of the wild, is also respected as a defender of wild animals. Finding an earthly partner who is equated with aggressive, go for the gusto, and conquer behavior would be Venus Williams. Venus is a driven woman whose hunter instincts are displayed as she stalks her prey on tennis courts around the world, capturing titles and defeating foes as she lies claim to several Grand Slam titles. With her tennis racket poised as a weapon to be reckoned with and her intimidating mass of beaded braids, Venus is a force who hunts for worthy competition, yet defends her tennis companions, especially her sister. Venus and Artemis embody womanly pursuits of successful hunting capability in the many arenas of life.
Warlike tendencies are bestowed upon Ares, the very god of war. This character is depicted as fire-like, charging around battlefields with his twin sons. Former president, George Bush, who orchestrated and approved aggressive attacks against Iraq during the Gulf War, can be viewed as full of fire and brimstone. Ares gained pleasure in battle amid bloodshed and George Bush was rewarded for his controversial Iraq attacks by being named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”
The control of oceans and the power of the seas are bestowed upon Poseidon, the very God of the Sea and one of the Olympians. Poseidon commands the waves and concocts the perfect storms that tormented sailors for centuries. He is represented with the trident, a weapon used by fisherman, and riding in a chariot drawn by monstrous animals. The modern day man of the sea and world famous skipper, Dennis Conner, could be viewed as Poseidon’s counterpart as well as nemesis. Conner commands and navigates the vessel “Stars and Stripes” and competes against several countries by winning the coveted America’s cups by conquering the challenge of the beastly surf. He is depicted as a helmsman aboard his ever popular yacht proudly posing with his prestigious crew and, with Poseidon, can be attributed as being masters of the watery world.
Preferring to be seen and ‘living’ among the dead, Hades, the God of the Underworld, moves about the mortals in a stealthy and ‘invisible’ mode. Hades operates with trickery and uses the assistance of many demons to obtain the souls of many a distressed mortal being. He is portrayed as Satan-like and has instilled fear into men who do not wish to meet his doom or condemnation. The earthly rock n’ roll, antichrist superstar, Marilyn Manson, embodies twenty-first century comparisons to Hades. This icon has selected a last name that conjures up memories of a well known master of murder, Charles Manson. His preferential gothic appeal and neo-Satanic hype while co-horting with the Church of Satan, makes people quake in their boots while he performs his beastly gyrations and visual nightmares on stage. Hades and Manson personify doom.
Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods and protector of travelers, learned how to foretell the future and became the herald of news responsibilities for Zeus and the gods. Zeus sent Hermes on many a mission and Hermes’ exploits are numerous. He helped to secure the escape of many a god, goddess, and offspring of Zeus. As anchor and news reporter for NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw is a reporter who through his extensive travels and on-the-scene journalism, give viewers appropriate information on forthcoming or historical events. Along with Hermes, Brokaw earns the distinction of being able to better prepare people with knowledge and universal news appeal and suggest lifesaving intervention strategies when needed.
Hephaestus was not blessed with being handsome, but his craftsmanship as a smith dubbed him with the distinction of being God of fire as well as god of weapons and metallurgy. The volcanoes were his workshops and as an inventor, no technical miracle was impossible for Hephaestus. Looking at the talents of the designer, repairman and visionary, Bob Vila, is able to use his home repair craft talent as the star of his own shows “This Old House” and “Home Again.” His gifts of surmising problems, and the proper use of maneuverability of power tools makes no task impossible as he tackles major an minor building challenges. The sites of home throughout the United States are his workshops. These talents allow him, as well as the gifts of Hephaestus, to forge ahead and remain the premier artisans and craftsmen to their respected civilizations.
The comparisons of shared characteristics between the ancient deities and twelve living Americans reveals that myths and legends of yesteryear continue to live in the new millennium.This webpage was prepared by Professor Thomas J. Sienkewicz.
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