Saturday, April 4, 2009
So, basically Semele was this babe that even a God could not keep his eyes off of. As she swam in a river below, Zeus towered above unnoticed in the form of an eagle. They soon developed a love affair because Zeus has an insatiable sex drive, even though he is old enough to be her great great grandfather and by some accounts is related to her by some strange stretch of the imagination.
Semele later becomes pregnant after Zeus' repeated visits. Hera, the typically jealous wife of Zeus, decides this is the last straw and takes matters into her own hands. She disguises herself as a common nurse, working in the Theban court of King Cadmus. The next set of circumstances replicates a common theme in this realm of storytelling.
As the nurse, Zeus' wife connects with Semele and befriends her. As a common friend, Hera plants seeds of doubt in her head. She suggests that Zeus could not really love her and that something fishy is going on. This thought toys with the uncertain Semele and she begins to doubt the sitation is realistic.
This is much like the story of Psyche and Cupid. The same "seeds of doubt" are present as when Psyche's jealous sisters try and come between her and her anonymous husband.
Hera the nurse, convinced the confused Semele that the only way to know if the man presenting himself to her as Zeus is really a God, is to ask him to show himself is his "godly form."
After some resistance, Zeus acquiesced to her request by turning himself into the equivalent of a lightning bolt. He did this even though he knew the result it would provide. For a mortal like Semele to look upon a God mean ultimate death. Semele instantly burst into flames, dying with a fetus in the oven.
Zeus took the fetus, and decided it would be prudent to sew it into his thigh. That way, it would live and prosper and not fall victim to his mother's mistake. Ultimately Hera won the battle, but the war goes to Zeus, who can do pretty much anything and get away with it.
Posted by Daniel Cassidy at 3:34 PM