Zeus Is Kind of a Jerk

So, Book XIV of the Iliad is really just full of all kinds of terrible stuff from a feminist critique perspective. A major thrust of the passage is that Hera, Zeus’s sister-wife, decides to sleep with him so that while he is “spent” the god Sleep will put Zeus out for a while to give the Achaeans a chance to come back in the their battle against Troy.

Now, sprinkled throughout the book is awfulness like Hera offering a women to Sleep as a prize to convince Sleep to go along with the project. Also, Hera tricks Aphrodite into giving her some potion type thing to make her more attractive to Zeus. So, women are things to be exchanged for favors, although powerful women can use trickery and sex to manipulate powerful men. Lovely.

Check out Zeus’s response to Hera, did I mention she is his sister, getting him all hot & bothered.

Cloud-gatherer Zeus then answered:

you can go there later. But why don’t we
lie down and make joyful love together?
I’ve never felt such sexual desire before
for any goddess, for any mortal woman.
It’s flooding through me, overpowering the heart
here in my chest—not even when I lusted for
Ixion’s wife, who bore me Peirithoös,
a man as wise as gods, or Danaë,
with her enchanting ankles, daughter
of Acrisius, who gave birth to Perseus,
most illustrious of men, nor the daughter
of famous Phoenix, who bore me Minos
and godlike Rhadamanthus, nor Alcmene,
who gave birth to Hercules in Thebes,
a mighty hearted son, nor Semele,
who bore that joy to mortals Dionysus,
nor fair-haired lady Demeter, nor Leto,
that glorious girl, not even for yourself—
I felt for none of these the love I feel
for you right now—such sweet desire grips me.”

Nice. You’re way hotter than all of the other ladies I’ve nailed before. Let me list them. I would think this was more bizarre if I did not have friend who had a similar experience. For her, it was with her first sexual partner. His post coitus reflections included wondering outloud how many women he had deflowered in this very bed. I’ll have to check in with her and determine if this dude was a classics major.

Not that it is new information for anyone, but it appears the ancient Hebrews did not have a monopoly on misogyny. Although, I suppose the stories of Ruth and Esther are not entirely devoid of a heroine using her womanly charms on a man to get what she wants. At least they have the decency to use a euphemism or two.

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