Traditionally, in polytheistic societies where the divine realm is divided into male gods and female goddesses, there exists specific qualities which are assigned to both, which appear to be anthropomorphic assumptions about qualities of men and women. That is to say that the polytheistic universe is based on human beings projecting gender differences in human society onto the divine. Hence, qualities such as authority, violence and knowledge are often associated with male gods, which reflects a patriarchal society. Therefore, in Greek mythology, the god of war is male, Ares, whereas the goddess of love is female, Aphrodite, reflecting upon war and love, active violence and emotion as male and female qualities. (Dowden & Livingstone, 2011) Furthermore, Zeus in Greek mythology is an authoritative God, and those, such as his wife Hera, are subjugated to his power, once again reflecting a male-dominated view. (Evola, 1995) The location of knowledge in a god such as Apollo furthermore appears to reflect a patriarchal society. (Evola, 1996)
However, these differences are not entirely static. For example, in Greek mythology, Athena is also a goddess of warfare, as well as of knowledge. There appears to be a limit to some of the analogies of qualities and the picture is perhaps more chaotic with regards to what gender roles are embodied in the forms of gods and goddesses than at first glance.
In the contemporary capitalist West, however, such gender roles would be heavily criticized. Capitalist countries oppose the dominant narrative of patriarchal societies and promote gender equality as a political tool for domination, for example, as the United States does to gain influence in traditional societies. The U.S. critiques these societies as primitive and capitalism can thus represent itself as an enlightened truth. In the West, namely, such gender roles are non-existent, because the fluidity of gender roles is part of the capitalist developed world’s strategy of domination, and this is reflected in the “gods” it itself worships.
- Dowden, Ken. & Livingstone, Niall. (eds.) A Companion to Greek Mythology. London: John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
- Evola, Julius. The Mystery of the Grail. Burlington, VT: Inner Traditions, 1996.
- Evola, Julius. Revolt Against the Modern World. Burlington, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995.