Throughout history, mankind has looked back to the past, to seek the truth about morals, religion, and how they both impact and define civilization. Stories and myths from ancient Greece show overbearing resemblance to our own Bible as both shun the many temptations of our soul either by teaching the value of a characteristic or warning of the “ill fruits reaped”.
Dante Alighieri revealed in his Divine Comedy that “Pride, Envy, and Avarice are the three sparks, the three universal deadly sins that have set these hearts on fire” (Bartlett 80). This statement is quite true for these three enticements have existed evidently in belief systems and moral codes since the creation of fire. One of the most obvious portrayals of avarice or greed in Greek mythology is the tragic story of King Midas and his golden touch (Coolidge 90). Midas longed to be the wealthiest man in the world and asked the most foolish request of Dionysus — to have the golden touch.
Too late Midas realized his folly, for as he dined, the food and ale in his mouth quickly turned to hard metal. Midas shocked at the fate he had bestowed upon himself left the great hall in search of Dionysus, the god of festival, but came across his daughter. Unfortunately before heeding his warning, she gave her father a loving embrace and immediately turned to the yellowish element (MacPherson 49-50). Midas survived but paid the eternal price. Through this toil, he learned that no matter how precious gold is, once down to bare essentials it can not buy back love or life lost or even sustain life. The Christian Bible incorporates this myths moral interpretation as well.
One of the most notorious even!ts that teaches Christians of today the dangers and repercussions of greed is the story of Jacob and Esau. Because of the birth order, Esau was entitled to the inheritance in its entirety, leaving Jacob, once his father died, virtually destitute. Defying his brother, father, and family for the sake of avarice, Jacob used trickery to deceive his father and steal the inheritance (Genesis 25:13). In this instance, Jacobs theft and departure results in a family torn to pieces.
This lesson of greed turned disaster is a valued one that todays society must incorporate in order to reach a higher level of being. Unfortunately, pleasant epithets such as “acquisitiveness” and “determined” that are viewed in the business world as favorable mask this foul character trait in our present culture. Today, there are no gods and goddesses to openly and immediately prosecute the cupidity and so this character trait spreads like wild fire from one cut-throat to the next. Instead, the greed!y realize their blunder only at death when they fall from the glorious gates of Heaven to fiery depths of Hell, where they can covet only fire from their neighbor. Mythological and biblical text most often target arrogance of all moral lessons. The Bible clearly warns, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
One of the many myths in Grecian time that cautions the vile effects of hubris is the folk-tale of Arachne (Switzer 25). Arachne was so skilled in the art of weaving that observers came from miles around to watch her enchanting motions on the spinner produce such magnificent tapestries. Over time, the girls head began to swell with the influx of compliments. Soon she began to openly boast about her work being superior to that of any god or goddess (de Loverdo 149). One day when Arachne claimed “to be equal to the immortal gods themselves” in her exceptional talent to a crowd of commoners, an old woman stood up and advised her to “ask pardon of Athena for your words” (Coolidge 24). After Arachne scoffed at this advice, the old woman dropped her robe and revealed her true identity t!o be Athena.
The overconfident Arachne “led the goddess to one of the great looms and set herself before the other”(Coolidge 25). The two immediately began. While Athena wove a tapestry depicting the gods and goddesses in all their splendor, Arachne wove one illustrating their deceptive romances: Zeus disguise as a bull, as a