How does Zeus's view of mortal behavior reflect the statement "where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In many ways, Zeus displays a view towards mortal behavior that emphasize subjugation of individual identity and total submission to the Gods.  Zeus believes human beings to be fundamentally ignorant, and to deny this condition by assuming a pretense that makes an individual appear to be "too smart" or even pretending to be "wise," usually brings about some level of ruin to the individual.  Consider the case of Bellerophon demonstrating how Zeus prefers the mortal being to be one rooted in a sense of ignorance and not presuming to be wise.  When Bellerophon kills the Chimera and tames Pegasus, he believes himself to be strong and wise enough, in a sense, to go into Mount Olympus and storm the gates, demanding entry into the pantheon of the divine.  Zeus punishes this.  He sends a gadfly to literally "knock down" Bellerophon back to Earth.  In this, one sees how Zeus rewards a sense of the ignorant within mortals.  The construction of the individual in relationship to the divine is one in which there is punishment if one seeks to break the "chain of command" in which individuals do not understand their true nature to express awe and accept their own ignorance in the light of the divine.

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