Today there are many people that do not believe in religion or a divine power, which is a normal occurrence to us. In the Greek world though, it was rarely, if at all, seen that a mortal did not believe in the Greek gods and goddesses. In most Greek tragedies, epics, etc. the Greek gods and goddesses played active roles. Although some works do not feature gods or goddesses as actual characters, they are mentioned as participants in the background. It is curious that these gods have such active involvement in the lives of certain mortals. What is even more interesting is how these gods and goddesses have multiple interactions with human beings. When such things occur the focus shifts from the gods interest in meddling to how the humans approach or regard them.
After reading The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Hippolytus, this behavior can be highlighted and analyzed. In all three books the gods are different and so are the approaches given by mortals, it is clear that there is no pattern to the attention given and that each account reveals the inconsistency in mortal opinion of divine dominion. In the following paragraphs there will be a brief explanation of the passage that illustrates the mortal to divine interaction, followed by an analysis of the behavior displayed by the mortal. After all the accounts are explained and analyzed, a summary of the mortals’ attention to the deities, as well as the changes in mortal opinion of divine dominion, can be given.
The first passages to begin the analyses with are from The Iliad, the epic by Homer. In the book there are two encounters with gods that stand out, the first between Helen and Aphrodite, and the second between Diomedes and Apollo. The scene is preceded by that of Paris and Menelaos’ fight, in which Paris would have perished had not Aphrodite interfered and taken him away to his bedchamber. Aphrodite then decides to clean Paris up and summon Helen to pleasure him. Aphrodite disguises herself as an aged woman and approaches Helen telling her Paris is asking for her. Helen recognizes Aphrodite and said:
“Strange divinity! Why are you so stubborn to beguile me? Will you carry me further yet somewhere among cities fairly settled? In Phrygia or in lovely Maionia? Is there some mortal man there also who is dear to you? Is it because Menelaos has beaten great Alexandros and wishes, hateful even as I am, to carry me homeward, is it for this that you stand in your treachery now beside me? Go yourself and sit beside him, abandon the gods’ way, turn your feet back never again to the path of Olympos but stay with him forever, and suffer for him, and look after him until he makes you his wedded wide, or makes you his slave girl. Not I. I am not going to him. It would be too shameful. I will not serve his bed, since the Trojan women hereafter would laugh at me, all, and my heart even now is confused with sorrows.” (Iliad, 3.128)
The goddess was angered and threatened her to do as she says or feel her wrath. Helen...