Contemporary Gods Of Metamorphosis Essay, Research Paper
Contemporary Gods of Metamorphosis
Ovid?s metamorphosis reads as a collection of mythical poems, describing the timeless battle between the gods and humans. The relationship between humans and gods is not just one of single sided adulation. The gods in the Metamorphosis are susceptible to the same errors in judgement and of living erroneous lifestyles just as humans. The only real difference between the two classes of beings is that one has direct power over another. The relationship is interesting because it mirrors modern day relationships between public figures and the public.
Contemporary ideals and culture has led to the demise of a belief in gods that play a role in our day to day activities. For the most part religion has shifted from a promise of good things in this life to a promise of a positive afterlife. World catastrophes and events are no longer the forces of angry gods punishing humans, they are now viewed as forces of nature which can not be controlled or subdued. Bad luck is not a result of Juno?s jealousy and wrath, it is now a consequence of our own actions and decisions. We now believe that we are responsible for our own fates.
While our world has shifted from Ovid?s era of fantasy and myth, we have still maintained the notions of heroes. A key factor in creating these heroes is the media. Consumed by the masses, the media?s portrayal of many public figures has led to their popularity and ability to transcend the class of ordinary citizen. Ovid played the role of the media during his time, legitimizing and expanding the myths and legends of the his contemporary gods.
Competitive sports, predominant in every culture of the world, has created what Ovid would think of as our modern day hero. Athletes are the modern day gladiator, the warrior who represents his people in competitive battles. Michael Jordan is a prime example of this notion. Playing for a professional team in Chicago, he is a great source of pride the the residents of the city and the state. He is a tribute to the entire sport of basketball, often considered the greatest player of all time. Because of his excellence in sports, he has achieved a level of fame and respect that puts him above the average citizen. When Michael Jordan goes to a restaurant, he is treated like royalty. When he leaves his home, he is escorted by an entourage of bodyguards. He has is a hero who has not abused his power, but has accepted it and chosen to use it positively. Modern sports has also bred heroes who have not been so wise with their power.
O.J. Simpson is presumed to have killed his wife and her boyfriend in a violent episode several years ago. The role the media played in this case is extremely important. Previously, OJ had been glorified as both a football her, actor, and commentator. He had achieved hero status and incredible wealth in the process. It was his wealth that allowed him to obtain the best lawyer, and thus offer the best defense. He was found innocent in a case that should have delivered a definite verdict of guilty. Wealth and power mean a different definition of justice for these people. Had any average man been in the courtroom, with a court appointed attorney, he would have received at least life in jail for the crime that was committed. Because Simpson was the defendant, the burden of proof for the prosecution rose to an almost impossible level, resulting in a verdict in his favor.
Political figures are also privilege to the status of gods on earth. While they may not necessarily be heroes or perceived in a positive light, they are prone to more leeway in Society than most others are. The best example of this would be Bill Clinton, the president of the United States of America. His extramarital affair was a huge public scandal, but he received no punishment. Marion Barry, the mayor of Washington DC, was caught smoking crack on a surveillance film. He was re-elected several years later. What makes the example of political figures applicable is that they actually have power over the masses. While their power may be limited or checked, they possess the power to enhance or limit our freedoms. They are more equivalent to gods who answer to no one, but effect the lives of humans on a regular basis.
Ovid?s characters often question the disparities between their own lives and the lives of the gods. The different set of standards they are forced to live by, while the beings they pray to do not live similar lives. The story of Byblis and Caunus tells of a sister who is in love with her brother. Byblis wonders why she can not nurture her love for her brother, when the “it is the gods themselves who wed their sisters: Saturn married Ops, his kin by blood; and Tethys married Oeanus; and he who rules Olympus married Juno.” And Jerry Lee Lewis, a rock star from the 1950?s, married his 13-year-old cousin.
Athletes, politicians, and wealthy individuals all receive benefits from their status in society. Whether it be respect, fame, or power, they are our modern day gods. They do not answer to the same laws that we do. They can afford the best lawyers and can afford not to fear police. It is almost accepted that they are exempt from they law because of the services they provide or the roles they play in our lives. Ovid?s gods were no omniscient beings who could do no wrong, often their misgivings led to real human tragedy. Not so different from corrupt politicians or the OJ Simpson case. They are our role models, our heroes, the people whose lives affect us without ever knowing us. They our gods, our elite, and this is our Olympus.
Ovid, The Metamorphosis
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