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The Relationships Between Parents And Children In Greek And Roman Myths

1531 words - 6 pages

Contrary to the present archetypes involving the relationships between parents and children, Greek and Roman myths show us that at one point in time, incest was considered socially acceptable. Many Greek and Roman myths contain twisted relationships between parents and children. These twisted relationships can be broken into three different categories: mothers and sons that have exceptionally strong bonds, parents that are threatened by their children, and the betrayal of parents or children. Greek and Roman Mythology often employs many themes that, in modern life, we consider to be taboo; one of the most widely used ideas is the distortion and dysfunction of parent and child relationships.
One idea displayed through these twisted relationships in Greek mythology is that mothers and sons that have exceptionally strong bonds. This is shown in The Creation of the Titans and the Gods in the beginning when Gaea creates Uranus. This makes him her son, yet they end up married and they have children. In today's culture, incest is frowned upon. However, in Ancient Greek society, it was perfectly acceptable. Later, Gaea asks Cronus to overpower Uranus. Cronus' relationship with his mother is very strong. Otherwise, he could not have overthrown his father.
This theme is also shown in The Labors and Death of Heracles when Antaeus' Mother transfers power through the earth to help her son in his fight against Heracles (Rosenberg 104). This transfer of power shows the strong bond that they share. The most famous example of this theme is presented in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. In this myth, Oedipus, the main character, falls in love with his mother and marries her. He actually kills his father in the process. He doesn't find out until the end that she is his mother. This shows that the bond between mothers and sons is more than just parental. It stems from something deeper. Sigmund Freud named a theory of his after this myth. His theory of the Oedipus Complex states that every male unconsciously wants to kill his father and have sex with his mother. An unusually strong relationship between mother and son is one of the themes that Greek myths include often.
Another theme used often in Greek and Roman mythology is that Parents are threatened by their children. This is shown in The Creation of the Titans and the Gods when it is said that "Uranus feared the terrible strength of these six children, and he hated them because they terrified him. So as each was born, Uranus took him from his mother, bound him, and hurled him deep into Gaea's being, the earth" (Rosenberg 84). Uranus obviously feels threatened by the children. The real life equivalent of this act would probably be child abuse. Child abuse is definitely looked down upon in our society. This theme is also shown when Gaea forms the Furies from Uranus' blood (Rosenberg 85). The Furies drive any child that kills his parents to insanity. This shows that although Gaea instigates Uranus' downfall, she also...

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