Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Why So Many Female Villains In Greek Myth?

Ancient Greece and Greek Myth in modern time tend to get, what I think, is an undeserved bad wrap for all of the female villains that exist within it. It's assumed that because there were a lot of female monsters and criminals, that the ancient Greeks must have hated women or at least distrusted them in some capacity. Well, anyone who has known me for the last few years as a writer, historian and a Hellenist, knows I can give a fresh, and perhaps more realistic perspectives on ancient Greek culture than what is assumed by people who never lived there, or who respond with the education they have been conditioned to. For instance, if you're trained to see sexism in everything, you will. 

First consider that there might have indeed been female criminals and menaces in ancient times. In fact, it would be absurd to suggest it impossible. The level of power that women had varied from City to City, but women were not powerless in totality. For example, male bandits or organized criminals probably wouldn't have cared about being led by a female if she had enough money to pay them well. We would likely find it a species of insanity to suggest that there has ever been a human culture with no female offenders of any kind. It is not sexism to say that a woman is a woman. I mean, it's certainly not rare to find a woman or a being who is female. Women exist as about half of the population, and sometimes there are actually more females in a species than males. Therefore, there could naturally be women or females who fulfill negative as well as positive roles, and yet, even the negative ones were not universal. In other words, they were not all bad. While the Sphinx of Oedipus might be considered a villain, Sphinxes were also guardians of temples and cemeteries, and considered to be a bridge between human and Divine knowledge. 

It's also not true that men of ancient Greece always occupied admirable or virtuous roles. There were a great number of men and males who were evil. For example, when Odysseus returned home, He found no less than 108 Suitors trying to take His wife and kingdom. He killed all of them, not for simply being Suitors, but for destroying His palace, eating His food, taking everything they could, and doing everything they could get away with. They even plotted to murder Odysseus' own son. These 108 men were certainly no paragons of virtue, but villains. Finally, male monsters in Greek Myth included the Minotaur, the Nemean Lion, the Cretan Bull, and Typhon. 

In conclusion, it may not actually be true that a significant number of Greek villains were female. In fact, given the Suitors alone, there might have been more males than females in actuality. Not to mention ruling kings like Midas, Lycaon, Sisyphus, Tantalus, and Salmoneus who were some of the most greedy, ruthless, offensive, and cruel men to ever live - and the Gods punished them severely for it. And for the villains who were the opposite sex, it may have had little to do with their sex in and of itself. Additionally, you can't logically ignore the great number of female Heroes who exist in Greek Myth and Religion either, such as Atalante, Danae, Antigone, Penelope, Hydna, and Nausicca. You wouldn't think you'd have female Heroes in a society that simply hates women.

I'm not saying there was no sexism in ancient times, for that would also be an absurd suggestion. But I also think that people today assume way too much about things they couldn't have possibly experienced.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

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