When you think about it, Gods and Goddesses would be pretty terrible people. As a whole, they tend to overreact due to small problems, freak out when others contest their superiority, throw tantrums when they are unrecognized by the public, and can’t seem to commit themselves to one relationship. I for one would not want to be friends with a human God. Why is it then, that humans look up to seemingly immature Gods and Goddesses? Why do we continuously defend, admire, and praise the Gods?
In Percival Everett’s novel, Frenzy, Everett brings the Gods down to earth in various ways. Since the main character, Dionysus, is half human and half God, he can physically be on earth with his assistant, Vlepo. By having Dionysus physically on earth, it becomes easier for readers to compare a God’s own actions to a human’s actions.
Dionysus has sex with numerous women throughout the book. While Gods are not normally critiqued for this behavior, human beings would be looked down upon, judged, and called names for this conduct. Yet again this makes me wonder, what makes a God so different? Why do Gods get a pass for indecent behavior? Additionally, Dionysus overburdens his assistant, Vlepo, with work throughout the novel. Vlepo is bossed around, forced to read minds, and travel with Dionysus. Since Frenzy is told through the narrative of Vlepo, readers directly hear Vlepo’s confusion and discontent with the situation. For instance, while being transported Vlepo states, “My head was spinning, all of me was spinning, and the god, was talking to me, in a way stroking me, soothing me with his voice, and I found this as disorienting as the travel.” With an inside understanding of Vlepo’s emotions, Dionysus becomes hard to admire. Dionysus’s strong desire to sleep like humans is a technique utilized by Everett to humanify the Gods. Everett writes, “…though his lids trembled half-closed, some part of him searching desperately, despairingly, if spuriously, for sleep.” By giving Dionysus human like characteristics, or simply using human terms to describe the Gods, Percival Everett allows readers to compare themselves to Gods. By bringing a God down to earth, it becomes very easy to compare them to ourselves.
Not only does Everett bring a God down to earth by personifying Dionysus, but Everett also uses his words to humiliate Zeus, the God of the sky and thunder. In the book,Vlepo describes Dionysus’s family lineage by stating, “He was a product of the looseness of Zeus, god of imprudent tool…” By referring to Zeus as “god of imprudent tool”, Everett is implying that Zeus was careless and had sex with a lot of ladies. Using these words to paint a picture of Zeus brings even the king of Gods down to earth. Later in the novel, Dionysus calls Zeus “costive.” In simpler terms, Dionysus calls Zeus constipated. Again, this personifies Zeus, as constipation is a human action which is normally not associated with the Gods. Even the mere act of name calling between the Gods is a very humanlike, or dare I say, childlike quality which does not correlate with God-like behavior.
If Gods really are as immature as Percival Everett perceives, then why do we look up to them? Is it that the good qualities of Gods and Goddesses are the only ones normally discussed and echoed? As children we are taught that Zeus is all powerful and Athena is a strong feminine power representing wisdom. Many grow up watching movies where the Gods and Goddesses are the heros. We read textbooks that explain their superiority in society. People in society may even have their own Gods that they look up to. In many people’s minds, including my own, we have trouble comparing ourselves to the Gods because they’ve been discussed as separate entities and described as above human beings for as long as I can remember.
Percival Everett, however, does not follow that rule and by doing so challenges a previously defined concept. What happens when you analyze a God as a person? When you bring a God down to earth, the results are quite fascinating.