Who Mourns for Adonais?

A couple of days ago, I watched ‘Who Mourns for Adonais,’ a Star Trek episode that features the Greek god Apollo and I have been meaning to write a post about it ever since. In light of today’s sad news—the passing of Leonard Nimoy, who played the unflappable Mr. Spock—I thought this might be the time to post my entry.

This is an episode of which I have always been rather fond because it features a female officer named Carolyn, who is an archaeologist and a specialist of ancient civilisations, relics and myths. (Does this sound like anyone you know?!) The gist of the episode is that the Enterprise is seized by Apollo—an alien being who was once worshipped by the ancient Greeks as a god of Olympus (along with others of his race, the remaining deities of the Greek pantheon). After the landing party arrives, Apollo insists that the rest of crew beam down and worship him as humans had done millennia before. Mayhem ensues, as you can imagine. The idea I have always liked about that episode is that gods cannot exist without love, admiration and worship; yet people cannot be forced to worship a deity in which they do not believe. People evolve, cultures change… and, as Apollo eventually admits, gods eventually die.

The episode appeals to me because it deals with antiquity, ancient myths and deities, and the evolution of cultures. That’s what anthropology and archaeology are all about: the advancement of humans and their various cultures–how things have changed (or haven’t) over millennia. How we learn, adapt and grow. We’re studying the past… and people from the future will undoubtedly study us in a similar manner. Fascinating.

In memory of Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015).

2 thoughts on “Who Mourns for Adonais?

  1. Lovely post. That’s one of my favourites, too. Have you ever read the issues of Sandman in which the old gods, being immortal, work in the modern world as Travel Agents and such? Ishtar is an exotic dancer who finally dances herself into a sort of nuclear explosion. Wonderful stuff. Maybe we keep them all alive with our articles and classes and books. Hail to RaHorakhte, shining on the Horizon, the only god who matters to Canadians at this time of year.

    • We certainly keep their memory alive by pronouncing their names… and Khione, the Greek goddess of snow, is living in Raleigh right now! We’re longing for RaHorakhte as well, but I have a feeling he’ll show up here before he does in your neck of the woods! He poked his nose out today…

      Never read Gaiman’s critically acclaimed graphic novels, but I had roommates back in grad school who collected each issue of the Sandman. I do like some of his novels, though. Good Omens is my favourite.

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