This is the first half of a paper I wrote for Mythology.
Adjectives Out of Order
When you look at how people you admire are looked up to, how celebrities are worshiped, and even all the religions out there that do sometimes claim that man is equal with God, no one ever really thinks about the term Hubris. I know I hadn’t before this class, I didn’t even know what it meant. The only thing that comes to my mind that I have already known when I think of Hubris, besides Greek mythology, is Paradise Lost. I vaguely remember my grandmother, having a very matter-of-fact air to her, telling me and my cousins the story of Satan’s fall from heaven when I was little and I think that story, along with the message of Hubris (although that word was unbeknownst of me then) might very well be one of the only reasons I haven’t gotten a fat head from my foolish pride.
Hubris is essentially when you have such great pride or arrogance, or when you begin to believe you are equal or better than the gods. It is a very serious thing in Greek mythology and plays pretty significant roles in some stories. Usually if a character committed an act of Hubris, he/she would feel the destruction of the gods. One act of Hubris that ended in a death was in The Oresteia. In the story Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, hates her husband for “sacrificing” (should just say murdering) their oldest daughter and in turn tricks him to commit Hubris. She lays down a purple carpet for Agamemnon, so that his feet will not touch the earth where he walks; upon seeing this Agamemnon sees it as an act of Hubris and says “Such state becomes the gods and none beside. / I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon / these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path" (922-24). Yet she convinces him to by appealing to his manly pride and he does so. This displeases the Gods and in turn Clytemnestra eventually kills him. Also at the beginning of The Iliad Agamemnon refused to give Chryses, Apollo's priest, back his daughter and even insulted him. A stolen daughter, an insulted priest, leading to a very angry god, is one of the factors to the beginning of the war. This is also an example of how Agamemnon showed Hubris through his extreme arrogance. Agamemnon was the most arrogant, in my opinion, of all the characters; so it was simply a matter of time until he was done in.
Finally, the biggest outside reference to Hubris, as I already mentioned before, is in Paradise Lost. When I was little my grandmother vaguely and shortly told my cousins and I this story, or at least a summary of it, but just told it as a story, not a reference to a book necessarily. So when I learned in one of my other classes that this is indeed a real poem, I was a little surprised. I also felt a little smug when I was one of the only students in the class who had a vague understanding of what it was; even though I didn’t fully considering I never actually read the darned thing. However the point is that the poem is about Lucifer’s (Satan’s), as well as all the other rebel angels, fall from heaven, then his corruption of Adam and Eve.
Lucifer created Hubris by believing that he was more powerful than god; he was jealous of the Son of god and that him, as well as the other angels, had to serve them when they themselves were self-raised. Lucifer, jealous, cunning, and determined, was able to start a rebellion of other angry and lost angels.This led to the Angelic Wars between Satan and his army against Gods still faithful angels. Ultimately the Son of God defeated Satan’s army single-handedly and all the rebel angels were condemned from heaven. This leads to the famous line by Satan “better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”.