And having effectively started the war, the gods are keen to see it continue largely for their own pleasure. So just when it seems that the Trojans and the Achaeans might actually reach some kind of truce, down comes Athena, disguised as a Trojan, to stir things up again.
Even here, though, there is some method to what seems like utter madness. By attributing ultimate responsibility to the gods for a seemingly never-ending conflict, the Greeks were unconsciously providing themselves with an explanation for the permanence of war in their civilization, with all its terrible repercussions. In a way, the gods could be used as a convenient excuse to avoid asking difficult questions about certain aspects of Greek culture and society. If things were bad, if say the harvest had failed, or the city state had been invaded yet again, or a terrible, deadly plague was sweeping the land, then it was strangely comforting to think that this was just how the gods had decreed it.
Greek gods are not so much immoral as amoral. Immorality would imply that they somehow deviate from an established moral code.
But they abide by no such set of values. They are the gods, after all; they live by their own rules, rules they devised for themselves and for their own benefit.
It therefore made little sense for ancient Greeks to curse the gods for their cruel, unjust behavior though many of them did. The gods, however gratuitously sadistic and unpleasant their behavior often appears to be, always act according to their own standards. Despite their constant interactions with mortals, the gods are a race apart, and they know this. This sense of otherness and transendence inculcates a sense of overweening pride in the gods which must at all times be flattered by the mere mortals down below.
The gods are insanely proud and jealous; they know what is their due and they intend to see that they get it. If any mortal should be foolish enough to defy or challenge the gods in any way, then woe betide them. Arachne, the gifted weaver, learned this lesson to her cost when she made the mistake of challenging Athena to a weaving contest.
Accounts differ as to who actually won, but in the long run it was Arachne who lost out, cruelly transformed into a spider as punishment for her gross impertinence. Even on the rare occasions when mortals are graciously admitted to the inner sanctum of Mount Olympus, they must still know their place. When Ixion is invited by Zeus to dine with the gods, he foolishly lusts after Hera.
As well as tricking Ixion by getting him to have sex with a cloud in the form of Hera, Zeus orders Hermes to bind him to a fiery solar wheel which will spin for all eternity. In both the examples just cited, the mortals concerned were undone by hubris , or overweening pride. Another way of saying this is to say that Arachne, Ixion, and countless others were trying to become more god-like, breaking their natural bounds to make an ill-judged grab for immortality, the sole preserve of the gods.
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