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Analytical Essay on Greek Gods and Goddesses: Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Athena

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In most cultures, there is always a god or a variety of gods that the people of mankind worship and look up upon. These gods are associated with culture, and blessings and are seen to be of great power. In Greek Mythology, there were known to be twelve chief gods in total. Some of the greatest greek gods and goddesses were Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Athena. They were all seen to exhibit great levels of power and control. The gods tended to use their powers in ways that could either destroy or brighten someone’s life. One rule that should have always been known and followed was to never, under any circumstance disrespect, overthrow, or threaten the power of a god or goddess. If that rule was not followed, one’s fate or destiny was seen to be destroyed as plans of revenge and destruction would be brought on to ruin you. These situations were represented in the Greek tragedies Euripides’ Hippolytus through the characters of Phaedra and Hippolytus and in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound through Prometheus, and Zeus’ servants. Both Aphrodite and Zeus use their power to cause downfall and punishment on others. However, Aphrodite’s power causes more damage to the characters as opposed to Zeus’ power.

To begin, Aphrodite uses her power as a direct role to cause vengeance upon anyone who goes against her. This is shown through Euripides’ tragedy, Hippolytus when Aphrodite uses her power to punish Hippolytus by plotting revenge against him. At the beginning of this tragedy, Aphrodite speaks strongly about her plans as she says “I shall punish Hippolytus to this day, I have no need to toil to win my end: much of this task has already been done… Phaedra, his father’s noble wife, saw him, and her heart filled with the longings of dreadful love, This was my work.” (Euripides’ Hippolytus, 21-27.) When Aphrodite realizes that Hippolytus worships Artemis instead of her she becomes furious and uses her immense power to plot revenge on him. She not only plots vengeance upon Hippolytus due to his lack of worshiping her, she includes his stepmother Phaedra who suffers the curse of falling in love with her stepson, and also his father Theseus, who ends up with cursing his son. This proves that Aphrodite carefully plots to use her power to ensure she causes destruction and vengeance on Hippolytus for what he has done. It also shows that her power has the capability to cause a great amount of damage as she plans to do the same to the other characters in the play.

Secondly, Aphrodite uses her power to cause death and even more dreadful chaos upon characters for her own satisfaction. This is stated at the beginning of the story, as well as portrayed by characters such as Hippolytus, Phaedra, and Theseus throughout the entire tragedy. She says “Father shall slay son with curses— this son that is hateful to me… Phaedra be in her death… her suffering shall not weigh in the scale so much that I should let my enemies go untouched escaping payment of retribution sufficient to satisfy me” (Euripides’ Hippolytus, 43-50.) Aphrodite’s power inflicts a lot of damage and obstruction upon Phaedra’s life. This is clearly portrayed when Phaedra says “I shall delight the goddess who destroys me, bitter will have been the love that conquers me, but in my death, I shall at least bring sorrow” (726-728.) Aphrodite punishes Phaedra for her own satisfaction of vengeance to the point where she can not handle the curse anymore, so she hangs herself by a noose and commits suicide. Hippolytus is also dearly affected by the nature of Aphrodite’s power as he is the main victim who faces the most punishment. This is seen when he swears to the god of oaths and to his father that he never did anything to Phaedra, nor has he ever thought of doing anything of the sort. He says “If I have been a villain may I die… May the earth and sea refuse to take my body in when I am dead” (Euripides’ Hippolytus,1028-1030.) Hippolytus ends up dying by a curse sent from Poseidon and Theseus also gets affected by this as he realizes his son gets killed by treachery and he got fooled into being convinced. Therefore, all the chaos, damage, and death that the characters experience all lead back to Aphrodite’s power as she uses it as a direct role in exercising vengeance for her own satisfaction.

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Zeus uses his power to perpetually punish Prometheus for defying Zeus and the Greek gods. Prometheus commits the act of giving the gift of fire and metalwork to mankind which he steals from Zeus and the other gods. As punishment, Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and sends an eagle to eat the liver of him every day. When chained to the rock Prometheus says “I gave to mortal man precedence over myself in pity.. A spectacle bringing dishonor on Zeus” (Aeschylus Prometheus Bound, 241-245.) This proves that whenever Zeus is dishonored he will go to any extent to ensure that he uses his tyranny to perpetually punish Prometheus for the wrongful act he has committed or generally anyone who chooses to cross him or defy the higher power of the higher gods.

Zeus uses his nature of power to victimize people directly as well as through the use of his obedient servants. This is shown towards the beginning of the story when Zeus has his servants Might and Hephaestus do his dirty work for him by chaining Prometheus to the rock. Zeus could have done this duty by himself, however, he uses his obedient servants to his advantage as he gets them to complete the job for him. Zeus also uses his mindless servant Hermes as he sends him to Prometheus to find out who will overthrow him, Hermes states “It is better, I suppose to be a slave to this rock, than Zeus’ trusted messenger” (969-969.) Little does Hermes know that Zeus uses his tyranny to enslave and take advantage of people, just so he can make them his personal slave. Another example of Zeus victimizing people would be when he victimizes Io. Io appears and tells Prometheus the story of how Zeus fell in love with her whilst being married to Hera, as a result of Zeus’ lust for her he transforms her into a cow to protect her from the wrath of Hera. This proves Zeus victimizing Io as he uses his power as a quick solution to fix and prevent the damage he has done on his marriage to Hera.

Analyzing the two, both Zeus and Aphrodite use their power to cause downfall and punishment on anyone who oversteps their boundaries and crosses them. However, Aphrodite’s power is proven to be stronger as her power causes more damage and madness upon certain characters as opposed to Zeus’ power. Zeus uses his power to take advantage and enslave each one of his servants so that they become obedient to him and do whatever he says. He constantly sends his servants to complete each and every one of his tasks as shown in Prometheus Bound since he is too lazy to step up and do it himself. Whereas on the other hand Aphrodite independently uses her nature of power to get exactly what she wants. She has a complete direct role when it comes to exercising vengeance in the tragedy Hippolytus as she takes everything into her own hands and ultimately is the mastermind behind the entire unraveling of the tragedies in this narrative. When it comes to punishment, Aphrodite’s power is proven to be stronger once again as she goes as far as causing the deaths of Phaedra and Hippolytus as the curses she put upon them affected them that deeply. Zeus, however, punishes his victims by either chaining them to rocks or by transforming them into an animal. Overall both Aphrodite and Zeus use their power to cause destruction on others. However, Aphrodite’s power is constantly proven to be stronger as she, unlike Zeus, she has a direct and independent role in gaining her revenge.

In conclusion, in Greek mythology, it should be well known to know your place as a mortal, servant, or lesser god. If you do not stay within the proper boundaries and in any way were to attempt to disrespect or cross the gods, your ‘Moira’ would ultimately be destined to ruin you and you would be subjected to dreadful punishments for the rest of your time living. These situations were depicted in the tragedies of Prometheus Bound and Hippolytus, as both Prometheus and Hippolytus suffer terrible punishments from the power of Zeus and Aphrodite due to their overstepping of boundaries that angered the gods.

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Analytical Essay on Greek Gods and Goddesses: Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Athena. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Analytical Essay on Greek Gods and Goddesses: Zeus, Poseidon, Aphrodite and Athena.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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