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Gods are powerful, and back in the old days they generally considered morality to be a quaint little custom that was not their style. In ancient Greece, rapists were often considered virtuous while the victims got blamed for not being strong enough to defend themselves.
When they weren't partying up at Mount Olympus or playing Russian Roulette with thunderbolts, they could be found making out with mortals, resulting in the birth of demigods. Unfortunately, they often didn't wait for consent, or indeed even care. This comes from two rationale:
- Benevolent: Personal attention from a super-being you worship? Awesome. Getting to become the mother of a god or demigod? Lovely! Consent? Meh. A character in this position would have been deeply offended if anyone had tried to label them "rape victims". And this doesn't give any other supernatural entity the right to treat them the same way. That would be a violation.
- Might Makes Right: The gods can treat the mortals any way they please because they have Omniscient Morality License or simply because they are strong enough to get away with it.
However, because the ancient Greek word for seduced and raped meant the same thing many people believe that all gods never had consent. Even stories where the god is the one seduced are sometimes labeled rape. Considering the many different myths on the same topic, there are conflicting accounts of several of these examples.
There were many ways in which the gods of old would "know" desirable mortals. These methods can generally be divided into two types:
- Direct: The divinity explicitly rapes or ravishes the mortal. Sometimes the god disguised himself so that the woman thought she was sleeping with her husband. Other times they manifested as a beautiful or impressive animal, and impregnated the poor woman that way. Sometimes it was just outright rape. You name it, Zeus/Jupiter did it, and many other gods did so as well.
- Indirect: The divinity impregnates the mortal in a manner that does not appear to involve conventional intercourse. One popular method was turn into a cloud of shimmery mist and impregnate a hot chick in that form.
And in case you're wondering, mortal women were far from being the only targets of not-so-holy intentions of the gods; many goddesses -- and not a few gods, for that matter -- were known for doing the same thing to mortal men.
This trope applies not just to gods, but also to demigods and others with Divine Parentage. It is a staple of Greek Mythology. Nowadays, it's mostly a Forgotten Trope. See also Double Standard Rape (Sci Fi).
- Io had it particularly rough. She was pestered by Zeus to have sex with him until her father was fed up with it and kicked her out (because you just don't say no to Zeus), and then Zeus raped her. To keep Hera from finding out, Zeus turned her into a cow, which Hera then forced him to present to her as a gift. Hermes helped Io escape and she fled to Egypt, pursued by a fly that Hera sent to sting her. Once there she finally turned back into a human and became queen. Also, this is why women have periods.
- Europa was ravished by Zeus in the form of a bull before being whisked away to Crete. Ouch. Some sources say he just used the bull form to seduce her and turned into a more human form when he actually raped her, which just makes it creepier.
- A type two example: Danae was locked underground by her father Acrisius, to stop her having the son that was prophesied to kill him. Zeus appeared to Danae as a shower of gold, conceiving the hero Perseus. Acrisius then put both Danae and her son in a chest and threw them into the sea.
- To father Heracles, Zeus had sex with Alcmene in the guise of her husband Amphitryon.
- Callisto was a virgin follower of Artemis, so in order to seduce her, Zeus took the guise of Artemis. When Callisto realised his true identity, she was turned into a bear.
- Antiope was raped while she slept by Zeus in the form of a satyr.
- Semele, mother of Dionysus, was said to have been fed a potion by Zeus that impregnated her with a divine child. Shortly after the impregnation Semele was incinerated, Zeus took the fetus, sewed it into his thigh and delivered him on term.
- He had sex with Eurymedusa by turning both of them into ants.
- Helen of Troy and her brother Pollux were conceived when Zeus raped their mother Leda in the form of a swan. The details of the birth are not well described, but apparently it involved the babies along with their half siblings Castor and Clytemnestra hatching from eggs.
- Zeus was pretty much an equal opportunity rapist. He abducted the beautiful prince Ganymede in the form of an eagle so that Ganymede could become his eromenos. Ganymede was made into the constellation Aquarius so that Hera couldn't hurt him. No, Zeus was never subtle about his infidelity.
- Older Than Dirt: As king, Gilgamesh (who was 'two thirds' a god) made it a rule that all women who were about to get married had to have sex with him first. This pissed off his subjects, and the gods sent Enkidu to wrestle Gilgamesh and give him an outlet for his pent up energy (and yes, we do realize that can be taken more ways than one, which was in the original myth too).
- When Hatshepsut was staking her claim for King of Egypt she said that she was actually the ̶d̶a̶u̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶ son of Ra who had slept with her mother in the guise of Thutmose II (her real father). Therefore in the context of the story, Hatshepsut's mum thought she was having sex with her husband when really it was Ra.
- Just to make it weirder: this was actually the standard conception story for the Pharaohs, it's just that normally, a boy was begotten. This meant that it was, in fact, quite possible that any woman married to a Pharaoh was hoping for this to happen: this, and not birth order, supposedly determined whom the heir was.
- Another example of this is the moon goddess Selene, who placed the lovely youth Endymion into an eternal sleep so that he could be immortal and proceeded to give birth to fifty daughters by him.
- Happens to Odysseus in The Odyssey. After Circe had turned all his men into animals, Odysseus attacked her with his sword. She was surprised by this, but laughed at his futile attempt to fight and made him her lover. Afterwards his men were turned back into people and they all quite happily spent a year feasting on her island. The alternate myth (used in Homer's version), has Odysseus raping Circe (on the advice of Hermes) after using a magic plant to become immune to her powers.
- According to some sources, Poseidon raped Medusa -- who was punished for it by Athena, in whose temple it had happened, by being transformed into a Gorgon.
- In some versions of the myth of Cassandra, the curse that no one would believe her prophecies came about when she refused Apollo's advances. Mind you, the gift of prophecy was something he gave her in an attempt to make her consent, so arguably Apollo was nicer about this than the norm.
- Inverted in the myth explaining the name of the Areopagus: the first trial held there was when Poseidon prosecuted Ares for killing his son Halirrhothios. Depending on the myth, Ares' defence was either that Halirrhothios had raped his daughter Alcippe, or that he was trying to do so.
- Also inverted in all the myths where a fleeing woman gets transformed into something in order to escape rape: Daphne into a laurel fleeing from Apollo, or Cornix into a crow fleeing from Neptune, for instance.
- In Roman myth, Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin who claimed she was violently raped by Mars, god of war. As a result, she conceived two twins, Romulus and Remus. Since she was a Vestal Virgin, she couldn't very well raise them, and so she left them on a hillside, where they were raised by a she-wolf. Long story short, this is how Rome was founded.
- Kurupi from Guarani mythology. The proof that eldritch monsters raping women is NOT a recent concept.
- Toyed with in the French movie Immortal which involves the Egyptian god Horus forcing himself on spoiler:the only woman on Earth able to bear his child using mind control. The guy whose body he possessed to do this was less than pleased, and it remains a bitter point of their love triangle (since the possessed guy starts falling for her).
- In Ever Quest, Innoruuk, the God of Hate, disguised himself as a regular dark elf male and impregnated a woman on the night of the Blood Moon festival that the dark elves celebrate every so often. Ceremony states that the female is supposed to ritually kill her mate as a sacrifice in Innoruuk's name if they have sex on that night. Of course, Innoruuk could spare a mortal body of some random dark elf, but the woman eventually gave birth to Lanys T'Vyl, Innoruuk's daughter and future Demi-Goddess of Strife.
- A very indirect example: when King Minos of Crete refused to sacrifice a white bull for Poseidon, Poseidon punishes him by making Minos' wife Pasiphae fall in love with the bull. She had a wooden cow made and climbed inside so the bull would have sex with her. She then later gave birth to a half human/half bull creature that became the Minotaur.
- Cuchulain was conceived this way allegedly. His mother Deichtine assisted Lugh's wife in labor. For her reward, Lugh impregnated her.
- According to the Tupi people of the Amazon area of present day Brazil, the sun was outraged when early human society was dominated by women. It caused sap from the curura (or puruman) tree to spray on the breast of a virgin named Ceucy, impregnating her with Jurapari (or Jurupari). He declared war on women and tore down the matriarchy. After his victory, Jurapari set up feasts in which the secrets of men?s rule were passed down through the generations. Any women attending were put to death, Ceucy being their first victim. In some versions of the legend, one day Jurupari will find a woman worthy of him and from that day forward, the sexes will be equal.
- In other South American regions, Jurupari is the name of a man-eating spirit of the palm tree. It?s unclear how the two myths relate.
- In some Native American tales from the Pacific Northwest, Raven impregnates a chieftain's daughter by turning into a pine needle floating in the water and letting her drink him. Slightly different than most in that the resulting child is Raven himself in disguise, not his offspring.
- Which is also how Etain ends up being reborn as a human in Celtic Mythology, though in her case it was with a butterfly and a chalice of wine.
- Also seen in an ancient Egyptian myth. A humble hermit's god-given trophy wife is proposed to by the pharaoh. The pharaoh kills her husband so that he won't come after her. The husband is reincarnated through several forms, taunting his murderous ex each time. Eventually, he's reincarnated as a tree and the wife orders the pharaoh to chop it down. She watches thee tree being felled and a splinter from the lumberjack's axe flies into her mouth and impregnates her with her vindictive ex. The baby born is crown prince, because the pharaoh assumes it's his. Decades later, when the pharaoh dies and ex-hubby takes the throne, his first royal order is to have his ex-wife (now also his mother) executed for killing him. Just goes to show revenge is a dish best served cold.
- The best-known Aztec account of Huitzilopochtli's birth says his mother Coatlicue was impregnated with him when a ball of feathers fell into her lap.
- The story of Jesus' birth in The Bible is sometimes accused of being this. In the Book of Matthew (note that the books of the New Testament were originally separate texts, only later compiled into the whole we have today), we are told nothing whatsoever about how Mary felt about divine impregnation. The Book of Luke is better about this: we get a scene where an angel tells Mary she is going to conceive and bear a son, and Mary is happy about this. However, the angel doesn't actually ask what she wants; it just tells her what's going to happen.
- Something Positive [alludes to this]:
Well, obviously we have a rapist on Mount Olympus. He's climbin' in yo' windows, he's snatchin' yo' people up, tryin' to rape 'em. So y'all need to hide ya' kids, hide ya' wife, and hide ya' husband, 'cause they rapin' e'rybody out here.