hephaestus
Sparticus Is my favourite Greek god. He always has been. I love Greek gods and mythology; I have always been fascinated with them ever since the third grade when we first learned Greek mythology. My favourite Greek gods were always the forgotten ones, or the quiet ones: Hestia, Persephone, Demeter, Kronus, etc. I love the animals and creatures too. Just everything about it intrigues me to no end.

I hate the Roman names for Greek gods. I love Rome and almost everything about that great Empire and there has been no empire greater since but I hate Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and especially Venus. I mean, her name is Aphrodite, not Venus. To me, these are the planets (and I know that the planets were named after the Roman gods [who are really Greek], but those names are planets first and gods second to me). I like to keep my gods and planets separate, thank you very much. Keep my gods out of the heavens, please.

The success of Rome was based on their amazing ability to assimilate. Instead of bashing a people, they would envelop and assimilate them into Rome with portions of that culture being adopted by Rome as well. Happened all the time Christianity owes its existence not to Christ, but to Rome. If Rome hadnt gone to Christ, it would have been just another sect that sprung up, not the cornerstone of the Western world, spread to every cranny of Romes might. People just dont give Rome enough credit, I think. They give too much credit to god and such. Which is something that bothers me whenever something terrible happens in a persons life, it is supposedly because they are weak, and its their fault. Whenever something good happens, when greatness is accomplished, it is never because of the person but because of god. All badness and evil is the result of us, yet everything that is good is gods. We can accomplish no good; we can take credit for nothing. What an automatic guilt mechanism.

There are I think four great moments in Romes history, points where either Rome would fall or go forward, and each time she survived. There were the Punic Wars and Carthage. I love Carthage. An empire in her own right, Carthage was too strong and would not bow to Romes will. Carthage produced one of the greatest military strategists in history: Hannibal. The man was a genius and would have conquered Rome had it not been for a more ingenious plan by the Senate and his homeland failing him. Rome could not assimilate Carthage, so Rome flexed her muscle and crushed Carthage, salting the fields and everything. No two stones set upon each other once Rome was done. That is one example of Romes survival through what most people know: her mighty legions. And when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, when Gaul was taken and Empire born from Republic, Rome was begun anew. It was a rejuvenation that Caesar provided and Rome needed, the Senate had outlived its usefulness and Rome would experience her glory days starting with Augustus and moving all the way down to Hadrian and his pals at the peak. This is Rome triumphing through might.

The Rome many people do not know is the Rome of craftiness, the survival of Rome through adaptation. Rome conquered the world because Rome knew what to do make the people happy and dont force it. The two greatest examples of this are when Rome was confronted with the Greeks, and much later when Rome ran smack dab into Christ and his many, many martyrs to follow. Christianity blossomed like so many illicit activities. It was frowned upon to be Christian, and like any other illegal activity, people flocked to it. Moths to a flame and such. Im sure that if Confucianism were illegal here in the US, it would become the next fad cause to be championed by beatniks and activists alike. As the wave of Christian lion meat grew, it got to be a little much. Finally that (bastard) emperor Constantine made it all official and split the whole damn Empire in half. I mark this as the end of Rome. Christ and Constantine killed Rome and ruined Europe. Trace it back to those two men. For that I will always hate Constantine and resent Jesus I really, really liked Rome and they had to go and ruin it. And I cannot express my anger at Rome enough for going Christian and thus making Europe go with her, ruining countless billions of lives in the coming millennia (I will just let that statement stand and not go into the why, as that would result in a blathe so long as to overwhelm a server).

What angers me almost as much, and what started this digression, was Romes assimilation of Greece. Granted, it had to be done, but it doesnt mean I have to like it. Greece was the man back in BC, Greece was IT, Athens was the place and Greeks were the bomb-diggity, fool. Rome was the new kid on the block with no credentials. Unfortunately for Greece, after Sparta dropped off and Persia stopped poking around so much, Greece became a military pushover. Kind of like Stephen Hawking genius-shining-light type brilliant, but your grandma could take him in a fight. So how convenient for Rome and her war machine to knock off Greece and say, Well gosh, look at all these neat gods! What a cute little culture! GREAT architecture too, by the way. I think Ill take it all, call it something else, and have everyone love it and me because while it will still be the same it will be mine now! Zeus shmoosh, hes Jupiter nowadays! And thus Rome stole Greeces culture and became the new man, the new bomb-diggity. All the awesome tradition of established Greece WITH the added Roman bonus of just endowed, chosen greatness. Like combining an IN-N-OUT double double with Tommys Burgers chili.

As much as I love Rome, here is my problem: they just switched cultures like that. They did what they had to to succeed, yes, but to do it again with Constantine just makes me sick. I have a friend who switches religions and I mean seriously switches them, baptism and everything with girlfriends. Rome was the worlds first true bureaucracy. Efficient, neat, and clipped. Highly organized and potently successful. Need religion? Take Greeces! Cant you see the shallowness of this? The pathetic overreaching? Maybe Im so mad not because its Rome maybe this isnt even about Rome at all. Its about those people, all people (myself included) who are so anxious to succeed, so willing to be accepted, loved, liked, and saved that they will gladly and willingly fall into anything. We are so easily pulled. We dont want to do any of the work for ourselves; we want it all done for us. Why bother making and establishing a culture, steal one! Why bother thinking for yourself and making educated decisions, join a cult! Copy! Cheat! Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V! Google and Yahoo! Its all so shallow, so pathetic and superficial. No depth. We started losing depth with Christ and god taking the credit for everything, when Rome switched AGAIN. Once could have been ok, once was ok because Rome established herself and it was working out great, but twice is sad. Twice killed poor Rome. It was a slow loss of depth at first, but now in the neon world we lose a bit more of it, every one of us, every second. These pixels drain my soul.

Hephaestus is my favourite Greek god, and now I will finally tell you why. Hephaestus was one of Zeus many sons the last in fact. Hephaestus was the youngest of the true gods those sired by Zeus and borne by Hera to be an Olympian. He is the only truly ugly god. When he was born, his parents were so angry and ashamed at his ugliness, he was flung off Mount Olympus into the sea, breaking his legs and making him lame. Ugly and now crippled keep track. He was sheltered by Poseidon, and was made god of the fire and of the forge. His forge is a volcano (his Greek name is Vulcan), and there he makes the finest weapons and metals for the gods. He made the chains that held Prometheus; he created Ares weapons of war, and helped craft Apollos chariot. Hephaestus forges the finest metals using the fires of the earth herself, and yet he is quite forgotten and alone. Now you can add abandoned and used to crippled and ugly. And as if this werent enough, he is madly in love with Aphrodite (NOT Venus), the most beautiful woman to ever live and the goddess of love and beauty. He lives for her, yet she scorns him. The gods married Aphrodite to Hephaestus, thinking his ugliness would curb her and he could control her. Aphrodite being who she is, however, is often unfaithful to him with Ares, god of war the manly sex-machine that he is, full of brawn and testosterone. She uses Hephaestus to craft her petty things as she dallies with Ares. Poor Hephaestus is ugly, crippled, abandoned, used, and finally betrayed.

Yet he is still a GOD. He is still one of the twelve great Olympians. He holds his place with Zeus and Athena, Artemis and Hermes. Hephaestus is a god, a master of fire and craftsmanship who live on Mount Olympus but works in the heart of a volcano, quietly going about his business. If Hephaestus isnt someone to look up to, I dont know who is. I can tell you one thing: I like Hephaestus a lot more than the Trinity, and I find them to be equally believable. What makes a god that throws thunderbolts so different from one that turns people into salt pillars? Why is one fantasy and the other fact? They both seem just as fatuous.

So in the end, Rome did it. Rome killed Hephaestus and his accomplishments; Rome took away the pantheon and did in Olympus more thoroughly than the Olympians themselves could ever do away with the Titans. It just shows that gods are just a product of mankind, that we will readily switch to something new and more believable to us, something we like more and serves our purposes better. Man is shallow and Hephaestus died simply because Christ worked better for Rome an efficient bureaucratic decision of survival. When we stop believing in something, when it is forgotten? Does it cease to exist? Is it really that easy to do away with our gods? Are our lives that superficial and simple?

Poor Hephaestus. Screwed over up till the very end. But you can see why I like him so much, and perhaps also why I resent religion, especially the popular ones.

Whatever. In the end, its all Greek to me.
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User24 The thing is, that what happens with religion, is it takes on aspects of the culture that takes it, thus, Christmas is only 4 days after the pagan Yule, why? well, for one, Christianity came to England while Paganism was still big, and so, to make God seem more attractive than the Godess, they overtook the Pagan festivals.

People tend to think that religion is static, words from a God passed down unchanged and untranslated from aeons ago, but this is simply untrue, religion, like everything else, evolves, dilutes and then disintegrates, giving way to something else, a new mutant system of belief.

And why believe at all?

Because it is required; humanity need ritual and hope for one reason; to keep it in check - imagine what would happen if everybody realised that there was no heaven or hell, no ethereal reward or punishment.. Just planet Earth in all it's gory glory.
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Sparticus chaos 030612
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User24 indeed.

the world is a mandlebrot
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() (why are the religious stories of a bygone culture referred to as mythic? it seems like an unsubtle diminution of the beliefs of a religious tradition with no adherents left to defend it's dignity. would we allow jc to inhabit the pages of a mainstream comic book as a crime busting vigilante? would we make moses a computer programmer by day and a sleepless defender of social justice in the nightscape of a fictional american distopian megalopolis? should rama or Buddha or kali or mohammed or joan of arc be used in these ways? ancient religions were vital, loving and sacred beliefs, invested with the same fervor and significance as christianity, islam, judiasm, buddism or any of the word's current beliefs. we diminish them by calling them mythologies, relegating them to the undifferentiated mass of primitivism that prospered before the enlightenment of the current age. i try, and sometimes fail, to inhabit the spirit of living faith of these traditions and not just be a spectator to their alien strangeness.) 050109
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oldephebe The notion of culture vis-a-vis the perception of the assertion of religion as an instrumentality of repression is fraught with deeply embedded biases and imprecise and inconsitant declarations. Having said that I will concede that the Papacy in one of the darkest epochs of man has used religion or the acceptance thereof as a thinly vieled pretext for the murder of thousands of people that if united could have constituted a powerful opposition to the Church's and at various times it's client monarchs imperialist ambitions.

In the pursuit of clarity and consensus or at least to touch upon a consensus that already exists, so as to obviate any further parroting of firmly established and accepted artifacts of history and argumentation that would be entirely superfluous to this discussion and serve no rhetorical or linguistic purpose other than to display an utter disregard for the reader and or interlocutor as I become lost in yet another incoherent thicket of solipsism, I want to say a few things about culture that the insightful comments of the blatherskites on this page have inspired and or under scored in my cluterred brain.

Many before me have already arrived at the notion that the term culture, has (in innumerable ways) been expeditiously exploited in imprecise, inconsistant and often facile ways.

1. As a tool of rhetoric to forward an argument based in bias and contempt. I as a parent and as a young person in the 80's and as a parent in the 90's have said that RAP and the Hip Hop culture have no redeeming attributes. I was so fixated on the misogynistic and misanthropy of gangsta rap that I hurled my comments at someone's ear asserting "..that RAP is burning down the fields our forebears had planted. Rap is corrupting the cultural memory of African Americans. "Rap.." (and not the individuals capacity to think critically and not the possibility that there are some who are more than willing to take a piece of cinema or the slenderest slice of consumable pop culture artifact and use it to validate thier deeply embedded biases and prejudice.) "Rap will cause right thinking whites to abandon thier egalitarian and hence liberal credentials and paint all blacks with the same brush."

In retrospect, I say how patently, how fatuously absurd. I said these things even though I was aware of the contributions of KRS1, Chubb Rock, Monee Love, and the then upstart pro-woman anti-mysogynistic pro-education usurpations, innovations of Lauren Hill et al.

2.Culture is used as a homiletic device. Preachers swelled with the fury of righteous indignation in an attempt to conceal the sore sweltering thier own lascivious and overtly authoritarian heart begin in these blistering salvos of judgement and condemnation maligning post-modern pop culture or "secular humanism" but lost in the tempests of wrath and spleen are the attributes that really can quietly but powerfully call a life back from the edge. When the soul of the prophet is emptied of self, THAT is when the Light of Heaven can be seen in his eyes. If we are on the cusp of Armegeddon or self-annihilation ought we not to show the world God's true heart? A heart full of tenderness, patience and compassion. A heart that aches to deliver us from the torment we and the world (becasue of our abdication of our own personhood and power and for some because of the abdication of thier faith to others petty despotisms) have heaped upon us/ouselves. If you do nothing but attack and attack the values of someone how are you going to persuade them to consider a different modus of life?
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The patriarchal vengeful God portrayed in the Old Testament and the Torah is "no more" He hath been tempered by Christ.
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RIC "..or the CONDITION of the acceptance thereof as an instrumentality of repression.." 050109
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*His* Iron Is ALWAYS Hot Sometimes forgery is a heavenly thing. 060131
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