Leda and the Swan

“A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.”

Leda and the Swan – W.B. Yeats

Greek Mythology is one of my favorite subjects to discuss, especially when it comes to revealing the Gods most selfish moments. Women in Greek stories are described as being beautiful, desirable, and lusted after. Sometimes, they are so admired by the Gods, they end up becoming seduced with lies, trickery, magic, and kidnapping. Interestingly enough, ZEUS, yes Zeus, is at the top of the list of being a man whore. Sorry not sorry, but it is true! Outside of his marriage to Hera, Zeus has hooked up with: Antiope, Callisto, Danae, Europa, Electra, Leto, Taygete, Niobe, Io, Semele, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter and Alcmene. Out of this list, 3 of them were raped by Zeus. Alcmene, who was deceived with the disguise of her husband, Callisto in the middle of her sleep, and of course, the main subject of today’s post, Leda, who was enraptured with a swan-like Zeus. This particular story is one that is made reference to in all kinds of texts and paintings; from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Vigil’s Aeneid, and Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, writers from around the word have represented the importance of their relationship, seeing as Leda and Zeus produced some of the most well known offspring.

So let’s get into the tale:

Leda was the daughter of Thestinos, who was the King of Pleuron. Her father decided that when Leda turned of age, he would arrange her marriage with King Tyndareus of Sparta (btw, having an arranged marriage would totally suck). Leda’s beauty was something that many people obsessed about all across the world. Her beauty is said to have been so striking, that her perfect face and body grasped the attention of the lustful Zeus. He first noticed Leda while sitting upon his throne in Mount Olympus, and for weeks he stalked her every move from the sky, trying to ignore the arousal he felt when creepily spying on her.

Eventually, Zeus could stand it no longer and took it upon himself to deceive Leda in the form of a swan. Leda, who was enjoying a lounging evening on the banks of the river Eurotas, saw a white swan swimming alone in the river. She admired the swan and watched it spread its wings for attention. Suddenly, an eagle swooped down in a attempt to snatch the swan, and the swan AKA horny Zeus, swam towards Leda for protection, where she held the bird and comforted it with her arms. In the midst of this closeness, Zeus, in the form of this “scared swan,” then stroked her with his feathers and eventually sexually assaulted/seduced Leda, impregnating her with his seed. Later that night, Leda realized the Gods deception and guilt over took her, considering the fact that Zeus forced her into adultery. Leda then laid down with her husband, Tyndareus, and they too had sex and she also became impregnated on the same day. WTF

When it came time for Leda to give birth, she bore two eggs {HOLD UP LOL}. Within each egg held two children. The first two, Helen (Helen of Troy), and Polydeuces (Pollux is his nickname) belonged to Zeus, and the second egg hatched Castor and Clytemnestra, which belonged to Tyndareus. These four children all have a significant impact in Greek mythology, each with their own story and down falls. Outside of the fact that Zeus raped Leda, the positive was the offspring that came from it. Tyndareus never once questioned Leda about the birth of all four children. He raised them and loved them all equally.

There are some arguments about whether Leda was really raped or if she caved to the pleasure of Zeus. Though, in my opinion, Zeus definitely coerced Leda without her consent; whether it felt good or not is besides the point. I have found in many stories, particularly mythology, women are treated like objects to be captured or used, especially related to sex. I suppose men just can’t keep it in their pants, not even the Gods, when it comes to a beautiful and powerful woman. I think one reason that a lot of stories include sexual defamation is because it allows a sense of corruption to penetrate the plot (oh, the pun). I also find it interesting that the Gods are always doing this, almost like a sense of weakness where humanity is pulling at their core causing them to commit a heightened act of lust.

Does this story change your view point of Zeus? Do you look at him as a monster now, or do you still deem him to be just a badass God who gets to do whatever he wants? Ultimately my heart hurts for Hera the most… Oh, and did I mention, she ALSO was raped by Zeus, AFTER SHE TURNED DOWN HIS FIRST MARRIAGE PROPOSAL? Yeah. She was trapped into that relationship, BIG time. On top of that, she got to watch her serial cheating husband go around and rape/love on other women. Hence, why Hera is so known for her jealously. It is almost like Zeus and Hera would play this sick game of trying to one up the other, causing all kinds of drama within Greek society. Sigh. Why are the God’s so selfish? Explain your thoughts in the comment section below.

Anyway, I hope this story taught you something today. I know for me, I will never look at a swan the same again. Or Zeus for that matter.

Catch yall on another day ❤

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