Human Identity in Hesiod's Theogony

Topics: Religion, Sacrifice, Human Pages: 1 (398 words) Published: October 14, 2011
Due to the fact that there has been and forever will be a debate concerning the level of importance of man, human identity is rendered impossible to completely understand. The direct result of this debate is that there is no conclusion reached as to who the human beings truly are and what their universal importance may be. One question that resonated in my mind after re-reading the Theogony was: though humans are below the Gods and Goddesses (in universal importance), are humans truly above animals in the same way God is over man? It is unarguable that animals and humans are equal in the respect that both are mortal (395; “…mortal man…” and animals are slaughtered and offered as sacrifices) but if we examine the Theogony through refined eyes, we see that there are situations in which both parties merit the title of the “superior”. It can be said that animals are superior to man in the manner in which they are sacrificed. Not only do the Gods acknowledge the physical sacrifice of animals, it is also expected and welcomed. The same cannot be said of the human’s sacrifice of happiness, monetary goods, and spirituality. The Gods have given more to man but continue to diminish their wealth. According to the Theogony, when a man marries a woman, he sacrifices his happiness, monetary goods, and spirituality (386; “They live among mortal men as nagging burden and are no good sharers of abject want, but only of wealth”) and if he choses not to marry, he will have no one to take care of him when he’s old and his wealth will be divided among distant kin (396). On the other hand, though the sacrifices are meant for and are accepted by the gods, it is man who is killing and sacrificing the beasts. Man in essence takes on the role of superior living/mortal being who has the ultimate power to choose if another being lives or dies. It is therefore almost impossible to fully respond to questions pertaining to the nature of human beings, as we truly do not comprehend who we are...
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