English Essays

Were the Roman gods Good or Bad?

In Ovid’s account of Roman history, he tells several stories of the gods. This raises the question; what were his views on the god’s actions? Were the gods good in their intentions toward man or not?

The gods hated anyone who challenged their supreme authority. They did not like it at all when a mortal became more skilled in an area then they were. They wanted to be the best at everything and worshipped by all. They often punished talented and rebellious people by turning them into things of nature. Stones, mountains, frogs ect.

A famous example of this is the story of Arachne and Minerva. Arachne (a mortal human) was very skilled at weaving. She boasted of her talent all the time. She even proclaimed that she was better than the goddess Minerva was. Minerva was very upset that Arachne would not acknowledge her talent and even dared to think that it was better than her own. She approached Arachne and challenged her to a weaving contest. They both quickly and skillfully began to work on their projects. When they were finished, Minerva examined them both and was furious to find no flaw whatsoever in Arachne’s piece. In her rage, Minerva changed her opponents form to that of a spider. This is the story of the origin of spiders.

There are many other famous examples of gods turning their rivals into things of nature and that tells us that the gods did not like their power to be threatened. They could be very harsh if opposed.

The Roman deities however, could be very benevolent towards those who continually gave them the credit in everything that they did. There are some astounding examples of Roman gods actually making men immortal! Julius Caesar is a very famous example of this. Many people believed that his spirit became immortal after his death. Ovid believed that he too, would become a god when he died. The founder of Rome, Romulus became a deity along with his wife.

The gods, as you have read, could be wishy-washy. Anyone that they believed to be too powerful or not respectful was punished. Those who praised the gods and were smart and/or famous had a chance of becoming immortal.

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