May. 11th, 2008 10:50 pm
porphyry: (Default)
I began to talk to A. (who will turn 5 in less than 5 weeks and is now walking again completely under his own power) about Zeus in connection with thunder. A. was remarkably afraid of thunder so I began to tell him that if Zeus did not send the rain the crops would fail and we would all starve and the thunder is Zeus’ announcement of his benefaction to us (his anxiety about storms is certainly rapidly growing less, though the power failure today did not help diminish it). What ought I to have told him, that there is no Zeus and vortex is responsible for thunder? In any case, that is all that I told him about the subject, except sometimes, when he is watching an old cartoon, to point out to him when Zeus is a character (I’ve also pointed out to him Persephone and Hades in the Disney Silly Symphony based on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, but that has so far made no impression on him).

He knows that heaven is located in the sky. For a long time he believed it to be in the ceiling since, after one of the cats died, he asked his grandmother where it was and she pointed upwards: henceforth that became the white kitty that lives in the ceiling. He came to know generally from many old cartoons that people and animals, once they are dead, go to heaven—person-heaven, kitty-heaven, and dog- heaven, etc. Quite on his own, A. made the assumption that Zeus must be the ruling power in those regions. I have never once discussed with him matters of prayer, sacrifice, or worship.

This afternoon we went to the museum at the Cahokia Indian mounds. When we came out a bad wind storm with some light rain was ending (again, in connection with old cartoons that show the winds personified, I’ve mentioned to him that Boreas, Zephyr, etc. are Zeus’ servants). Without any discussion of Zeus for many days and absolutely no prompting from me, he looked up at the sky and said, “Thank you Zeus for sending the rain that waters the food that we eat. Today must be your birthday, so we should get you a present!” I told him that we don’t usually celebrate Zeus’ birthday, but I would certainly look up the modern dates of some of Zeus’ festivals for him. Then he looked down at the ground and thanked it for growing the food that we eat, and announced that it was the ground’s birthday too. Then he thanked the trees for bearing their beautiful flowers.

So far as I am aware, A. only knows ‘Jesus’ as a curse-word—that’s not quite true, last Christmas I told him the whole Christmas story (we have a crèche, of course) and emphasized that Jesus became a great teacher of social justice and, according to some (e.g. Hierocles, the governor of Bithynia ca. 300), a divine messenger. But that doesn’t seem to have made much impression on him and A. never mentions Jesus except in an oath.

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