Those Insightful Greeks 2
In the previous article, we looked into the power
it takes to make an emotional choice, different from
traditional conventions. This article continues to
investigate the theme of difference through the wise
ideas of Greek mythology.
All the gods in the Greek pantheon have
remarkable attributes. Each divinity has special
talents which distinguish it from its peers. Usually
their areas of expertise differ, at times they
overlap, but one property all the entities have in common is
their outstanding physical beauty. All, that is,
except the god Hephaestus.
inhabited exclusively by the most beautiful models and
actors you have ever seen. A world which worships the
ideal of beauty and being ugliest means being the
worst. A world where you are not merely different from
the average person but are objectively and
recognizably uglier than the lowliest of the residents.
complain about the unfairness of it all. Those other
deities did not appear to perform any lofty deeds. Why
then, were they more deserving than the unfortunate
god of the forge? Why should he be the miserable one,
and not them, Hephaestus could have bitterly wondered.
Sadly, no complaint alone, as natural as it may
be, will change anyone’s life for the better. Perhaps,
as Hephaestus’ example indicates, we should try a hope
for happier times, which is not even based on previous
sometimes even such an unreasonable expectation works,
“by virtue of the absurd,” to use Kirkergaard’s apt
phrasing. That is the true power of positive thinking
which the great Olympian demonstrated in the course of
Olympus by his own mother. His only fault was his
marked difference. He was deprived of the company of
his peers. He could go out to the lesser humans and
enjoy their worship, but deep inside he knew he wasn’t
ready for it. Even they would recognize him as being
inferior in beauty to the other gods. He couldn’t face
the humiliation, so isolated himself from everybody
his inner worth. The ugly god turned out to be a forge
master. His solid artistry was unparalleled by
anything the beautiful and sophisticated gods such as
Aphrodite or Apollo could contrive.
unlock his inner potential. In many ways, Hephaestus
became the worthiest, the most respected resident of
himself, he recreated in his wonderful smithy. Thus he
filled that enormous hole in himself that he
associated with physical beauty. What he really needed
was his own place in the universal scheme, however
different it was, and whatever means led to it.
slightly different from the rest seek. It is not the
sameness we want, but our place of honor that our
difference deprives us of. Does it matter then, how we
get to that respected position? Why should it, if it
didn’t for the great god? Yes, he had his immense
forging talent, but each of us has a no less valuable
ability which can be applied in this world.
war of revenge on those who slighted him. No god could
defeat his shields, not even Zeus himself. It would be
so easy for him to get even, and take the superficial
world down. He chose a different path, the only one
that could make him happy.
being so self sufficient, proud of his work, and at
the end, indispensable to the universal order, he
found through hard work the respect he’d craved for.
As different as he was, he has gained the full measure
self worth. They were comfortable with being shallow.
Hephaestus showed them they could be more than that.
They could like him for being what he was, as ugly as
he had seemed to them. They could rise above the
epitome of beauty, became his lover. She realized
that, while beauty can be in the eyes of the beholder, the
beholder doesn’t truly matter. As long as the god
considered his work beautiful, he had that inner worth
shining from the inside. It made him beautiful in his
represent those of the rest of us. He maintained the
impossibly positive attitude in the most adverse
circumstances, because there was no other choice for
him. He was committed to being happy, no matter how
hard it might become.
working with his abilities and so can we all. Whatever
property we are lacking, there is something inside of
us to compensate for it. We just need to take some
time out to look for it and trust in the guidance of