Patriarchy is "the universal political structure which privileges men at the expense of

Encyclopedia of Feminism’


If power is defined as having control over one’s life, then myths, legends, and Bible stories were often ways of gening both sexes toforfeit power. . .

The hero as slave

Once upon a time, a mother who wanted to see the beautiful statue of Hera had no horses or oxen to carry her there But she did have two sons. And the sons wanted more than anything to make their mother’s wish come true. They volunteered to yoke themselves to a can and take her over the mountains in the scorching heat to the faraway village of Argos, the home of the statue of Hera.2

Upon their arrival in Argos, the sons were cheered and statues (that can be found to this day) were built in their honor.3 Their mother prayed that Hera give her sons the best gift in her power. Hera did that. The boys died.

The traditional interpretation? The best thing that can happen to a man is to die at the height of his glory and power. Yet had this been a myth of two daughters who had substituted themselves for oxen to carry their father somewhere, would we have interpreted the daughters’ deaths as proof that the best thing that can happen to a woman is to die at the height of her glory and power?

The statues and cheers can be seen as bribes for the sons to value their lives less than their mother’s request to view a statue. The fact that the statue was of Hera, the queen of the Olympian gods and the protector of married Women,4 is symbolic. The sons’ sacrifice symbolized the mandate for men to become strong enough to serve the needs of mothers and marriage, and to be willing to call it glory if they died in the process. Which is why the name Hercules means “for the glory’ of Hera."5

Was a hero a servant? Yes. The very word "hero" comes from the Greek ser-ow, from which comes our word "servant,” as well as "slave" and "protector.’4’ A hero was basically a slave ubose purpose was to sene and protect To protect the community in general, women and children in particular. In exchange, heroes received the respect and love of those they protected. Just as the appreciation we gave our mother s cooking kept her cooking and gave her an ego bribe to be a slave to her role in the kitchen, so statues and tales of glory are ego bribes for males to be slaves to their roles as heroes. Appreciation keeps the slave a slave.

None of this denies the female contribution to protection. The female who protected in her way was Hera; the male who protected In his way was a hero.