You'd think it'd happen to Zeus at least once...
March 29, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Are there any myths or legends out there where a deity or superhuman being gets involved with a human and it ends up badly for the deity, rather than just the mortal?

It can end up badly for the mortal too, but most of the brunt of the punishment should be on the god, rather than the god being sad that their favorite mortal got squished.
posted by dinty_moore to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you mean involved romantically? Because there are lots of stories about humans besting deities in contests, like "The Devil and Dan'l Webster."
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2012


Can't think of specific examples off the top of my head but an immortal having to give up their immortality to be with a mortal is a common theme.
posted by XMLicious at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2012


Prometheus was punished severely for bringing fire to the mortals.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2012


Bam
posted by MangyCarface at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was thinking love, but it doesn't have to be that specifically? Any sort of emotional attachment/veneration should do the trick.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2012


Bill and Ted sank Death's battleship.
posted by arco at 10:40 AM on March 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


Eurydice.
posted by logicpunk at 10:42 AM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my trusty D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, the Goddess Eos made it so that her human husband would be immortal. She failed to make him eternally youthful, though, and he got so old he shriveled into an insect. As a result, she was married to an insect thing for all eternity. I'd say that ended badly for her.
posted by juniperesque at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, Orpheus and Eurydice. Or, if you will accept more modern myths, Dream in Sandman.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:45 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Asclepius (the god of medicine) was originally a mortal, but then a god, and he helped out humanity, but only for a short while before he was struck down for doing so.

Asclepius was reputed to have preformed many miraculous cures, including the bringing back to life of many dead people. Reviving the dead people and making them immortal was a practice that outraged Hades, the god of the Underworld, who thought that the dead souls rightfully belonged to him. This practice also worried Zeus because Asclepius, in his way, was disturbing the normality of things and Nature. It is not normal for people not to die and live forever. Imagine the problems that something like that would bring in the future! That is why Zeus, at the instigation of Hades, decided to punish Aslcepius for the abnormalities he caused. One day, he struck Asclepius down with a thunderbolt and gave him a tragic end. This punishment meant that a mortal man can reach only one certain limit in the natural order of things and it is forbidden to him to exceed this limit. With this action, Zeus also wanted to make the rest of the people understand that there is a bridgeless chasm between mortals and the gods. However, Zeus was fair enough to recognize the great service that Asclepius had offered to humanity and decided to turn him into a constellation to live forever in the sky.
posted by xingcat at 10:46 AM on March 29, 2012


Jesus? (A crucifixion can ruin your whole day.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:50 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the legend of the white snake fits.
posted by subtle-t at 10:50 AM on March 29, 2012


There's a fairly famous story in the Talmud about this. Basically, in a dispute about Jewish law (halacha), Rabbi Eliezer cried out to G-d that if he was right, various miracles should take place. The miracles all took place. Then his opponent, Rabbi Yehoshua quoted the Torah verse that "the Torah is not in heaven" (Deut 30:12), basically using G-d's own words that it is in people's hands to interpret the laws, not G-d's.

"The Gemara relates that generations later Rabbi Natan met the Prophet Elijah... Rabbi Natan asked Elijah about the debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. He said to him: “What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do at that time when Rabbi Yehoshua refused to heed the heavenly voice?” In reply, Elijah said to Rabbi Natan: “God smiled and said: `My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me!” (link)
posted by Mchelly at 10:52 AM on March 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also Ghostbusters.
posted by Mchelly at 10:53 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Finnish Kalevala rarely seems to have conclusive successes for their shamanistic heroes and the maidens tend to win free.
posted by infini at 11:10 AM on March 29, 2012


Asclepius (the god of medicine) was originally a mortal, but then a god, and he helped out humanity, but only for a short while before he was struck down for doing so.

(not really a legend but) Similarly -- Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Mortal-demon-mortal-demon-mortal again. Her love for humanity led to her death.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:13 AM on March 29, 2012


I just created an account after years and years of lurking in order to answer this question! The punch line is that my answer isn't perfect, because the object of affection isn't exactly human.

In Norse mythology, the god Frey has this fabulous sword that makes him nigh-unbeatable. Frey falls in love with Gerðr, but in order to win her, he has to give up his sword. As a consequence, when Ragnarok arrives, Frey has to fight the fire giant Surtr with his fists, and he loses.

What makes this a less-than-perfect example is that Gerðr is a giantess.
posted by Pistache at 11:34 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pistache -

I, too was going to go for the Norse mythology.. they tended to be a bit more 'human', but couldn't remember any off the top of my head. Though I think there are other stories in that mythos that would fit.
posted by rich at 11:58 AM on March 29, 2012


Not sure if this qualifies as a "legend", but in Highlander the guy becomes immortal, has to see his wife age and die, and then is single for several hundred years after that because he seems to still be mourning his wife and/or doesn't want to go through that again — you know, kind of how some people get about pets.
posted by orange swan at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2012


The Devil went down to Georgia...
posted by vignettist at 12:09 PM on March 29, 2012


Zeus and Poseidon arranged for the goddess Thetis to marry the mortal Peleus to prevent a succession prophecy about Thetis' son. She subsequently gave birth to Achilles, and tried on numerous occasions to hide her son from the war in which he was prophesied to die, but he was slain by Paris. Not a bad ending for Zeus, but pretty crappy for Thetis.
posted by stellaluna at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2012


The Little Mermaid, although she's probably not an actual deity.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2012


Isn't there an interpretation of Lucifer's fall in that he was just trying to help humanity out, but God overreacted, giving death and birth-pain to the human mortals and striking down Lucifer from heaven? Swear I read this in a book once.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:31 PM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Terry Pratchett's 'Mort' where Death takes on an apprentice who upsets the course of history .
posted by Ja-henny at 2:27 PM on March 29, 2012


Well, Zeus' sister-wife Hera often gets very upset at Zeus. Can't remember any specifics though


(And I just wanted to say sister-wife)
posted by Jacen at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2012


This guy jesus ended up getting nailed to a cross. Seemed to end pretty badly for him.
posted by wilful at 3:46 PM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


(or what chocolate pickle said)
posted by wilful at 3:47 PM on March 29, 2012


The Silver Surfer
posted by banshee at 4:00 PM on March 29, 2012


Abducting Maria Morevna ended badly for Koschei the Deathless.
posted by posadnitsa at 4:16 PM on March 29, 2012


I would count Gaiman's Sandman as relevant - Morpehus, the personification of dreams, is driven to his death by a number of factors, including the actions of his spurned (mortal) lover, the love of another (faerie) woman which he did not requite, and the rage of a (human) mother whose child he claimed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:37 PM on March 29, 2012


Wagner's version of the Nibelungenlied: Wotan gets involved with human woman, has son which ends up sleeping with his own sister and having a child that brings about the downfall of the gods.
posted by johnxlibris at 7:24 PM on March 29, 2012


I'm not sure if Orpheus and Eurydice count, as Eurydice is a nymph and they're not really immortals and get kicked around gods all the time (see Apollo and Daphne).
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:53 AM on March 30, 2012


Jesus? (A crucifixion can ruin your whole day.)
This guy jesus ended up getting nailed to a cross. Seemed to end pretty badly for him.


Seems some people didn't make it all the way to the end of that story.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Medechiibelau
posted by IndigoJones at 11:38 AM on March 31, 2012


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