Essay on The Ethics Of Apollo At Delphi

Essay on The Ethics Of Apollo At Delphi

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Over the temple of Apollo at Delphi, there are some norms called “maxims” inscribed. These maxims are essentially rules by which society is expected to live. One of these rules is “Nothing in excess”. This maxim attempts to eradicate extremes. Particular actions and the consumption of luxuries should be regulated; one should not consume to the point of greediness. This rule, if broken, does not go unpunished. Mythological figures are inevitably punished for their gluttony, of which there are countless examples. I am going to focus on Prometheus, who stole fire and gave it to the humans that he “made out of earth and water” (Apollo Library 1.7.1), Icarus, who disregarded his father’s orders in order to satisfy his overzealous curiosity, and Sisyphus who attempted to cheat death. The moral of this maxim is that one must ensure he does not exceed the supposed limit. “Nothing in Excess” suggests that a balance between deficiency and excess is essential.
Prometheus was the ambitious son of the titan Iapetus who should have been satisfied with all that he was. However, despite Zeus’s supremacy over the secret to life, Prometheus proceeded to create mortal humans. In order to generate this species, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus as a sustainability precaution for the humans. As punishment, Zeus nailed and chained the Prometheus to a mountain where he would be forced to endure a bird pecking away his immortal liver each day. Since Prometheus could regenerate his liver nightly, the bird would continually devour his liver (Apollo Library 1.7.1). The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was originally titled The Modern Prometheus since both Prometheus and Victor Frankenstein attempted to bypass the higher power’s entire jurisdiction over ...


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...bour. After killing Iphitus, who had defended Heracles, he was sold as a slave and ordered to serve Omphale, princess of Lydia, for three years as his purification. Heracles was eventually poisoned by his wife, Deinaria, because she was jealous that he had captured Iole. This event again exemplifies that an individual can have too much of a good thing, since Heracles had already been with multiple women, and eventually one of the partners poisons him.
“Nothing in Excess” is a vital message because it shows that you should not be self-indulgent or you will have to endure the consequences. The only figure who is never punished for his excessive gluttony is Zeus but that is because he is the ultimate ruler. Prometheus, Icarus, and Heracles do not understand the concept of moderation, and therefore earn grim penalties. The maxim inscribed at Delphi promotes gratitude.

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