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Greek Myths: Mortals Stay Humble Essay

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A common theme of the Greek myths is that mortals should remain humble and not strive to be like the gods. Unfortunately, many mortals are punished for their excessive pride. Two myths that have mortals that are punished because of their excessive pride are “Phaethon, Son of Apollo” and “Arachne. ” These mortals both try very hard to strive to be like the gods and get punished for their actions. The theme in these two myths is: don’t try to be something you’re not. In the Greek myth, “Phaethon, Son of Apollo,” the mortal named Phaethon begged his father to let him drive the chariot of the sun.

He wanted to ride the chariot to prove a boy named Epaphos wrong. Epaphos told Phaethon that the god Apollo wasn’t Phaethon’s father. Furious about this, Phaethon went to the palace of Phoebus Apollo and asked Apollo if he really was his son. The god smiled, being well pleased with his son’s beauty and daring and said, “You are indeed my son. ” Phaethon, then, asked his father if he could ride the chariot of the sun across the heavens for one day. Apollo frowned and shook his head, but the pride of Phaethon was stubborn, for he thought the god was merely trying to scare him.

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Besides, if he could steer the sun’s chariot, would he not have proved his right to be divine rather than mortal? He was willing to risk his life and go for the challenge. When Apollo saw that nothing else would satisfy his son, he allowed Phaethon to ride the chariot. At last, Phaethon mounted the chariot and squeezed the reins, the barriers were let down, and the horses shot up into the air. At first, Phaethon was doing well. He was staying on the usual path. Then, it bounded from side to side because the chariot was too light without the weight of the immortal god.

He dropped the reins and gave up. Finally, Zeus hurled a powerful thunderbolt at the furious Phaethon. The thunderbolt hit him and he fell and died. In the Greek myth, “Arachne,” the mortal named Arachne is also punished for her excessive pride. Arachne was very skillful at spinning and weaving thread. So soft and even was her thread, so fine her cloth, so gorgeous her embroidery, that soon her products were known all over Greece. At last Arachne’s fame became so great that people would travel from really far to watch her working.

Arachne was used to being wondered at, and she was conceded with her skill. Praise was all she lived for, and it made her angry that people should think anyone, even a goddess, could teach her anything. When she heard someone murmur she would stop her work and say, “With my own ten fingers I gained this skill, and by hard practice from early morning till night. I never had time to stand looking as you people do while another maiden worked. Nor if I had, would I give Athene credit because the girl was more skillful than I. As for Athene’s weaving, how could there be finer cloth or more beautiful embroidery than mine? If Athene herself were to come down and compete with me, she could do no better than I. ” One day a grey old woman, bent and very poor stood staring at Arachne. The old woman said, “Reckless girl, how dare you claim to be equal to immortal gods themselves. ” “Stupid old woman,” said Arachne indignantly, “who gave you a right to speak in this way to me? ” After hearing this, the old woman threw down her staff and stood erect. She just happened to be Athene.

Arachne herself flushed red for a moment. Without saying anything they began to thread the long woolen strands that hang from the rollers. The goddess ended a little before Arachne and stood back from her amazing thread work to see what she was making. Arachne had never been matched against anyone whose skill was equal. Athene watched Arachne design a pattern of scenes which showed evil actions of gods. When Athene saw the insult she grew angry and turned Arachne into a spider. Now, all spiders descend from Arachne. Both of these myths contain many literary elements.

Characterization is one of them. The characterization of Phaethon is that he is very conceded. He must always be first in everything, and in most things this was easy, since he was stronger, swifter, and more daring than the others. Even if he were not victorious, Phaethon always claimed to be first in honor. He could never bear to be beaten and he would risk his life in order to win. On the other hand, the characterization of Arachne was that she was also very conceded. Also, she always needed to be the best. When she wasn’t the best she would get very mad because she was short tempered.

She was also very beautiful. Another literary element in both myths is conflict. Conflict played a big role in each of the stories. In the myth, “Phaethon, Son of Apollo,” the conflict was for Phaethon to ride the chariot of the sun to prove that he was the son of Apollo. On the other hand, the conflict in the myth “Arachne” was different. The conflict was for Arachne to prove that she was the best at spinning thread. She had to beat Athene in order to be the best. Both mortals in the myths didn’t accomplish their conflicts.

As you can see, a very common theme of the Greek myths is that mortals should remain humble and not strive to be like the gods. Consequently, they don’t follow this and they are punished for their excessive pride. The myths “Phaethon, Son of Apollo” and “Arachne” both had mortals that were punished. Phaethon was killed and Arachne was turned into a spider. If these mortals didn’t try to be like gods or goddesses they wouldn’t have gotten into trouble. Also, the literary elements characterization and conflict both played a big role in these myths. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

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