Jul 3

Deciphering Human Nature Through Mythology

By Anvi Tuteja | Student of Network Capital School
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My name is Anvi Tuteja. I am a dreamer who imagines alternate universes, adds dramatic plot twists and alters the course of set history – all in my own head, of course.

That brings me to my love for Mythology. I love Mythology because it allows you to imagine, ‘what if?’. Mythology doesn’t have to make sense, but it does. Mythology allows us to perceive things as they could have been, not as they are. But my favorite part of Mythology is the raw truth in it. The relatability. The feeling you are not alone. The fact that there are heroes and villains feeling the same emotions you are. The beauty of human nature.

The very essence of mythology is reimagining history, which presents an alternate timeline of events – from the beginning of the universe, to gods-that-are-saviors to world-ending apocalypses. However varied the different mythologies are, they always have some common themes – a sky god, a center place hero, a world ending doomsday event, and of course, life after death in the underworld. This is known as Comparative Mythology.

Each mythology treats the “God Idea” differently, just like different religions do. Some beliefs center around the paradoxes of multiple gods vs one god, saviors vs creators, human-like actions vs being cut-off from humans and of course – the classic being worshipped vs being feared.

In Greek Mythology, specifically our case study of the Trojan War, Greek Gods are humanized with human emotions and human-like bodies and incentives. They are worshipped out of fear of their wrath, but society is advanced enough to have things such as farming, professional warfare, trading and metalwork.

In the Trojan War, Gods are represented with human-like emotions or actions of Jealousy, the Need to Take Bribes and the Importance of Social Acceptance. 

The Trojan War was a terrible nine-year war which pit brother against brother and hero against hero. Yet it all began with the need for revenge, a Golden Apple and the most beautiful woman in the world.

In the opening scene of our story, Eris, the goddess of discord is uninvited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. She feels jealous because all the other gods and goddesses are invited and she feels left out. This leads to the need for revenge when she throws the Golden Apple with the inscription ‘for the fairest’ to cause Discord among the party guests. Now, this may not feel extremely petty, in today’s time, but we must remember, these are Gods we are talking about and not flawed and insecure humans.
Returning to Greece, three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are shortlisted for the apple, after much debate and many tears. All three are willing to bribe Paris, a shepherd on Mount Etna, simply for Social Acceptance and Approval. When Paris is faced with the decision of choosing the fairest, a decision he came to be offered when Zeus, King of Gods, avoided the tense situation by delegating – he looks out for himself and chooses Aphrodite – simply because she offers him the hand of the most beautiful woman in the world. 

What Aphrodite fails to mention is the most beautiful woman in the world is already married – yet Paris, unfazed, heads to Greece to abduct her – the extremely famous Helen of Troy. In true tragic fashion, Helen is married at the time to King Menelaus of Sparta and even has a daughter – Hermione, yet Paris breaks in and abducts her.

It was a simpler time back then, of course, what with fainting damsels-in-distress, heroes abandoned at birth (even Paris was abandoned at birth – since he was destined to bring unimaginable ruin to Troy), and the commoners becoming kings. Kidnapping Helen was not that serious an offense, for she had been abducted before many times – by Theseus and countless others, but it was the war that followed which was really serious.

It was one of the longest and most brutal wars in history, the war that changed the course of reality, the war which truly epitomized human anguish and suffering, because of the role of the gods in it all. It truly was The Trojan War. And it all started because Eris wasn’t Socially Acceptable, became Jealous and had to have her Revenge. But the story doesn’t end there, and we can learn something from its bittersweet ending.

But beyond the obvious, what does all of this have to do with the origin of the so-called human nature? It is in our representation of gods. While we may never know if Homer truly documented history or was just light years ahead of his time in the Imagination Game, let me ask you – Did gods create humans or did humans create gods?

Before I am marked off as an insolent ignorist, let me tell you, in the Trojan War, Gods behave just like humans. They get jealous, feel petty and even insecure, and feel the need for social acceptance. 

The question is - have Gods created us humans in their image or have we humans represented Gods in these certain ways – by loose definition, creating and defining them?

We may never know. I certainly don’t, but what I do know is that I imagine, I create and I am free. And maybe, just maybe, that makes us all Gods and Creators in our small way. 

Coming back to the Trojan War, my advice, from what I’ve learnt in my 14 years, while making a decision, be sure to think of the long lasting consequences – or just simply stay away from Golden Apples offering Sweet Nothings because an Apple a Day may keep the Doctor away, but what the Apple Marketers don’t tell you – is that a Golden Apple a Day will never keep the sprits at bay.
A final thought – coincidentally also to do with apples – “The apple will fall under the apple tree.” Meaning, what is meant to happen, will. We know the consequences of our actions, and hoping they do not occur as a result of our decisions is like hoping an apple won’t fall under the apple tree.

Anvi was a part of the Network Capital Summer School.