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Classical Interviews: Zeus

Ancient World

Classical Interviews: Zeus

Statue of Zeus, Louvre Museum

 

By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB

A funny thing happened when I met Archimedes. Before interviewing the Syracusan genius, he suggested taking me on a tour to see all his amazing inventions built to ward off the Romans from his beloved homeland. When I saw a catapult, I asked him to show me how it worked, but I wasn’t expecting him to actually cut the rope and throw me many stadia away! I’m very sorry I couldn’t interview Archimedes, but it turned out it was for the best as I landed on Mount Olympus where I had the opportunity to interview some heavenly celebrities! The moment I got there Ganymede came toward me with a message that his master, the great Zeus, would like to be interviewed.

Q: XAIPE, Zeus, father of gods and men! I am honored! After interviewing so many celebrities, I’m finally interviewing a god! What can you tell us about your job as supreme Greek god? With so much power you must have loads of fun!
A: Ah, silly mortal, power isn’t everything. Humans imagine I have a great job but they’re dead wrong. Are you familiar with the tale of Damocles’ sword? That’s how I feel! When I first got the job, my wife and some other gods actually plotted to put me in chains! If it weren’t for Thetis, who brought the Titans to help, I would have been in deep trouble! I can’t trust anyone in this business! Sometimes I feel like retiring to a farm, like my father Chronos. No wonder Latin writers like Horace talk so much about fuge urbem!

Q: Begging your pardon, O Cloud Collector, Greek and Roman sources say that you…
A: (thundering) How dare you, senseless mortal! I know what you will say next, so let me tell you beforehand, it isn’t true! I did not hurt my father in any way. Such lies were created by sensationalist writers whose prayers I never answered. Humans are like that! Fortunately, my lawyers are already pressing charges against them. When mortals don’t get what they want, they immediately start slandering the gods. My father retired because he couldn’t take it anymore. He couldn’t stand hearing those ghastly prayers! The only ones he ever liked were the Homeric Hymns.

Q: You are the supreme god of the Greeks, yet the Greeks were recently conquered by the Romans. Do you think this is fair?
A: My people have been a huge disappointment to me! Although they had common customs and traditions, they didn’t unite to fight the Romans. That’s why I created the Olympic Games, as a symbol of unity among the Greeks. But they were too busy fighting each other, so I decided they should suffer under foreign rule for centuries to come. On the other hand, the Romans are a great people. I love Latin literature, especially Catullus. I think his hymn to my daughter Diana is a masterpiece. Dianae sumus in fide/ pueri puellae integri (sings). All these Latin writers are just Greeks in togas — they can’t help but recognize our superiority!

Q: Since we’re on this subject, how do you feel about the Romans?
A: I admire them. Latin literature is almost as good as that of the Greeks. The two cultures have more in common than you think. In fact, my son Hercules, who recently joined me on Mount Olympus, has started taking Latin classes. Let’s hope the classics will help shape his character! The spoiled brat only cares about going to the Elysian gym! Anyway, as I’ve said before, I admire many aspects of their culture, but especially their administrative skill, which allowed them to create a great empire. This is exactly what my people lack! Latin and Greek are beautiful languages and I wish people still spoke them in your age as well! At least the people responsible for banning the study of humanities are living underground, in the Tartarus! The only problem I have with the Romans is that they worship a false god named Jupiter, a copycat who imitates everything I do. My lawyers, Cicero and Demosthenes, are already pressing charges against him for this appalling plagiarism. Let’s see how Jupiter reacts when he hears Cicero indicting him in his own language!

Q: Can we talk about your personal life? How is your relationship with Hera?
A: Hera is the love of my life! On the other hand, she’s so jealous! What did she expect? I’m a supreme god and can’t be a one-woman man! Monogamy is a curse which I wouldn’t wish on the lowest of mortals! That’s why I brought Casanova to the Elysian Fields. We always have great chats about our love adventures. Ovid is another dear guest. His Ars Amatoria is a masterpiece of Latin literature! We all agree men should show women who’s in charge. That’s why Hera knows her place!

Q: Data venia, mighty Zeus, there is an episode narrated both in Homer’s Iliad and in the Latin epic Ilias Latina, in which Hera tricks you into making love to divert your attention, in order to help the Greeks…
A: What?? Let me assure you this nonsense never happened! You say this was mentioned in Homer, but have you ever heard that interdum dormitat bonus Homerus? This is probably an episode added by someone whose prayers I didn’t answer!

Q: O great Zeus, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Women are as smart as we are, and sometimes they get the best of us…
A: I will say no more. Press no further or I will send you to Tartarus to interview the Titans!

Q: I apologize, heavenly father. Let’s finish the interview. Is there a message you would like to leave for our readers?
A: Avsolutely! In fact, that’s why I ordered you to interview me. When you go back to your own time, tell your contemporaries that, after a two-thousand-year vacation, Zeus is back in business! I’m receiving all kinds of prayers now. Would you like to date a beautiful woman? Pray to Zeus, the best of all gods! Would you like your son to get into college? Pray to Zeus, the one and only! Would you like to know the lottery numbers? Pray to Zeus, the god who takes care of you! Apart from prayers, make sure and tell the mortals to sacrifice animals for me! I love the smell! Now leave and bear my message, human!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.

Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.

 

 

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