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§ 32. The Great Gods. —The gods of Heaven were the following :1 Jupiter (Zeus).2
His daughter, Minerva (Athene), who sprang from his brain, full-grown and full-armed.
His sister and wife, Juno (Hera).
His children by Juno, — Mars (Ares), Vulcan (Hephaestus), and Hebe.
His sister, Vesta (Hestia), the oldest born of Cronus and Rhea.
Of these all were deities of the highest order save Hebe, who must be ranked with the lesser gods. With the remaining ten "Great Gods " are sometimes reckoned the other sister of Jupiter, Ceres (Demeter), properly a divinity of earth, and Neptune (Posidon), ruler of the sea.
§ 33- Jupiter * (Zeus). —The Greek name signifies the radiant light of heaven. Jupiter was the supreme ruler of the universe, wisest of the divinities and most glorious. In the Iliad he informs the other gods that their united strength would not budge him: that, on the contrary, he could draw them, and earth, and the seas to himself, and suspend all from Olympus by a golden chain. Throned in the high, clear heavens, Jupiter was the gatherer of clouds and snows, the dispenser of gentle rains and winds, the moderator of light and heat and the seasons, the thunderer, the wielder of the thunderbolt. Bodily strength and valor were dear to him. He was worshipped with various rites in different lands, and to him were sacred everywhere the loftiest trees and the grandest mountain peaks. He required of his worshippers cleanliness of surroundings and person and heart. Justice was his; his to repay violation of duty in the family, in social relations, and in the state. Prophecy was his; and his will was made known at the oracle of Dodona, where answers were given to those
1 See Commentary, § 32, for Gladstone's latest utterance on the number of the Olympians.
2 The names included in parentheses are distinctively Greek, the others being Roman equivalents, Latin names, or names common to both Greek and Roman usage. 8 See Commentary, § 40. 4 On the Latin name, see Commentary, § 33. who inquired concerning the future. This oracular shrine was the most ancient in Greece. According to one account two black doves had taken wing from Thebes in Egypt. One flew to Dodona in Epirus, and, alighting in a grove of oaks, proclaimed to the inhabitants of the district that they should establish there an oracle of Jupiter. The other dove flew to the temple of Jupiter Ammon in the Libyan oasis, and delivered a similar command. According to another account these were not doves, but priestesses, who, carried off from Thebes by the Phoenicians, set up oracles at Oasis and Dodona. The responses of the oracle were given by the rustling of the oak trees in the wind. The sounds were interpreted by priests.
That Jupiter himself, though wedded to the goddess Juno, should be charged with numerous other love affairs, not only in respect of goddesses, but of mortals, is, in part, explained by the fact that to the supreme divinity of the Greeks have been ascribed attributes and adventures of numerous local, and foreign, divinities that were gradually identified with him. It is, therefore, not wise to assume that the love affairs of Jupiter and of other divinities always symbolize combinations of natural or physical forces that have repeated themselves in ever-varying guise.' It is important to understand that the more ideal Olympian religion absorbed features of inferior religions, and that Jupiter, when represented as appropriating the characteristics of other gods, was sometimes, also, accredited with their wives.
Beside the children of Jupiter already enumerated, there should here be mentioned, as of peculiar consequence, Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, a deity of earth, — Proserpine, the wife of Pluto and queen of the underworld, — and Hercules, the greatest of the heroes.
Conceptions of Jupiter. — The Greeks usually conceived the Jupiter of war as riding in his thunder-car, hurling the thunder-' bolt or lashing his enemies with a scourge of lightning. He wore a breastplate or shield of storm-cloud like the skin of a gray goat (the ^Egis), fearful to behold, and made by the god of fire. His special messenger was the eagle. It was, however, only with the
passage of generations that the Greeks came to represent their greatest of the gods by the works of men's hands. The statue of Olympian Jove by Phidias was considered the highest achievement of Grecian sculpture. It was of colossal dimensions, and, like other statues of the period, "chryselephantine "; that is, composed of ivory and gold. For the parts representing flesh were of ivory laid on a frame-work of wood, while the drapery and ornaments were of gold. The height of the figure was forty feet; the pedestal twelve feet high. The god was represented as seated on his throne. His blows were crowned with a wreath of olive; he held in his right hand a sceptre, and in his left a statue of Victory. The throne was of cedar, adorned with gold and precious stones.
The idea which the artist essayed to embody was that of the supreme deity of the Hellenic nation, enthroned as a conqueror, in perfect majesty and repose, and ruling with a nod the subject world. Phidias informs us that the idea was suggested by Homer's lines in the first book of the Iliad : —
"Jove said, and nodded with his shadowy brows;
Unfortunately, our knowledge of this famous statue is confined to literary descriptions, and to copies on coins. Other representations of Jove, such as that given above, have been obtained from the wall-paintings of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
§ 34. Juno1 (Hera), sister and wife of Jupiter. According to some, her name (Hera) means Splendor of Heaven, according to
1 Iliad 1: 622-625, Earl of Derby's translation. See also the passage in Chapman's translation.
others, the Lady. Some think it approves her goddess of earth; others, goddess of the air; still others, for reasons by no means final, say that it signifies Protectress, and applies to Juno in her original function of moon-goddess, the chosen guardian of women, their aid in seasons of distress. Juno's union with Jupiter was the prototype of earthly marriages. She is the type of matronly virtues and dignity.
She was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea, but was brought up by Oceanus and Tethys, in their dwelling in the remote west beyond the sea. Without the knowledge of her parents, she was wedded to Jupiter in this garden of the gods where ambrosial rivers flowed, and where Earth sent up in honor of the rite a tree of life, heavy with apples golden like the sunset. Juno was the most worthy of the goddesses, the most queenly; ox-eyed, says Homer; says Hesiod, goldensandalled and golden-throned. Glorious, beyond compare, was her presence, when she had harnessed her horses, and driven forth the golden-wheeled chariot that Hebe made ready, and that the Hours set aside. Fearful, too, could be her wrath. For she was of a jealous disposition, which was not happily affected by the vagaries of her spouse; and she was, moreover, prone to quarrels, self-willed, vengeful, proud, even on occasion deceitful. Once, indeed, she conspired with Minerva and Neptune to bind the cloud-compeller himself. More than once she provoked him to blows; and once to worse than blows, — for her lord and master swung her aloft in the clouds, securing her wrists in golden handcuffs, and hanging anvils to her feet.
1 On the name Juno, see Commentary, § 34.
The cities that the ox-eyed goddess favored were Argos, Sparta, and Mycenae. To her the peacock and the cow were dear, and many a grove and pasture rejoiced her sacred herds.
§ 35. Minerva (Athene), the virgingoddess. She sprang from the brain of Jove, agleam with panoply of war, brandishing a spear, and with her battlecry awakening the echoes of heaven and earth. She is goddess of the lightning that leaps like a lance from the cloud-heavy sky, and hence, probably, the name, Athene.1 She is goddess of the storms and of the rushing thunder-bolt, and is, therefore, styled Pallas. She is the goddess of the thunder-cloud, which is symbolized by her tasselled breast-plate of goat-skin, the eegis, whereon is fixed the head of Medusa, the Gorgon, that turns to stone all beholders. She is also the goddess of war, rejoicing in martial music, and protecting the war-horse and the war-ship. On the other hand, she is of a gentle, fair, and thoughtful aspect. Her Latin name, Minerva, is connected with the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin words for mind. She is eternally a virgin, the goddess of wisdom, of skill, of contemplation, of spinning and weaving, of horticulture and agriculture. She is protectress of cities, and was specially worshipped in her own Athens, in Argos, in Sparta, and in Troy. To her were sacrificed oxen and cows. The olivetree, created by her. was sacred to her, and. also, the owl, the cock, the serpent, and the crow.
1 For the names, Athene and Minerva, see Commentarj.