Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal

Gods are powerful, and back in the old days they generally considered morality to be a quaint little custom that was not their style. In ancient Greece, rapists were often considered virtuous while the victims got blamed for not being strong enough to defend themselves.

When they weren't partying up at Mount Olympus or playing Russian Roulette with thunderbolts, the Greek Gods could be found making out with mortals, resulting in the birth of demigods. Unfortunately, they often didn't wait for consent, or indeed even care. This comes from two rationales:

  • Values Dissonance: Personal attention from a super-being you worship? Getting to become the mother of a god or demigod? Consent? Someone somewhere at some time might say the mortal was a rape victim but the mortal in this position would be deeply offended by the accusation. They may not have been told beforehand but would have consented anyway.
  • Might Makes Right: The attention is not appreciated but the gods can treat the mortals in whatever way they please because they have Omniscient Morality License or simply because they are strong enough to get away with it.

However, because the ancient Greek word for seduced and raped meant the same thing many people believe that all gods never had consent. A story of a god's relationship with a mortal woman can be interpreted in one way as a sexual predator assaulting a woman, and in another as a game being played by two lovers; it all depends on who's telling it. Even stories where the god is the one seduced are sometimes labeled rape. Considering the many different myths on the same topic, there are conflicting accounts of several of these examples.

There were many ways in which the gods of old would "know" desirable mortals. These methods can generally be divided into two types:
  • Direct: The divinity explicitly rapes or ravishes the mortal. Sometimes the god disguised himself so that the woman thought she was sleeping with her husband. Sometimes it was just outright rape. You name it, Zeus/Jupiter did it, and many other gods did so as well.
  • Indirect: The divinity impregnates the mortal in a manner that does not appear to involve conventional intercourse. One popular method was turn into a cloud of shimmery mist and impregnate a hot chick in that form.

In case you're wondering, mortal women were far from being the only targets of not-so-holy intentions of the gods; many goddesses — and not a few gods, for that matter — were known for doing the same thing to mortal men.

This trope applies not just to gods, but also to demigods and others with Divine Parentage. It is a staple of Greek Mythology. Nowadays, it's mostly a Forgotten Trope. See also Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi. When the relationship is less one-sided, that's Divine Date.

ZEUS, God of Horndogs!

Zeus has one of the largest if not the largest number of "relationships" of this kind of any deity in world history. It should come as no surprise, then, that The Moons of Jupiter—of which there are at least 67—are named for his lovers (including "lovers") and descendants. We should note that all of his "relationships" with women produced children—generally sons, and most especially heroes. Many of these went on to become kings and ancestors of the peoples of Greece, so one really gets to thinking... Although, one good quality he had was that he never abandoned these children and often acted like a Papa Wolf in some cases. (The fact that he and his siblings overthrew his cruel father, who had done the same to his worse grandfather, may have motivated him not to be neglectful.) In 2015, a probe mission to Saturn was announced. The flight path would take it on a close pass of Jupiter. The probe's name was Hera - the name of Zeus' wife.

Historians believe that a major part of Zeus going after so many women was that when the ancient Greeks conquered their neighbors, they tended to conflate the local gods with Zeus and to turn those gods' consorts into Zeus's lovers.

Track Record:
  • Io had it particularly rough. She was pestered by Zeus to have sex with him until her father was fed up with it and kicked her out (because you just don't say no to Zeus, especially when he's your guest), and then Zeus raped her. To keep Hera from finding out, Zeus turned her into a cow, which Hera then forced him to present to her as a gift. Hermes helped Io escape and she fled to Egypt, pursued by a fly that Hera sent to sting her. Once there she finally turned back into a human and became queen. Also, this is why women have periods.
    • Io's child by Zeus, Epaphus, became King of Egypt, and his daughter Libya was herself ravished by Poseidon; her descendants include DanaŽ, Semele, and Europa—all of whom would also be targeted by Zeus (so ew)—and several other significant figures of Greek myth.
  • Europa was ravished by Zeus in the form of a beautiful white bull before being whisked away to Crete. Ouch. Some sources say he just used the bull form to seduce her and carry her to Crete (don't ask how a bull can cross the sea from mainland Greece to Crete), and then turned into a more human form to do the deed; to modern audiences, of course, this just makes it creepier. They had three sons—whether as triplets or in succession is unclear—named Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Serpedon, who were adopted by the King of Crete; Rhadamanthys became king but was kicked out by or fled from Minos, who founded the Cretan royal line.
  • An indirect example: Danae was locked underground by her father Acrisius of Argos, to stop her having the son that was prophesied to kill him. Zeus appeared to Danae as a shower of gold, conceiving the hero Perseus. Acrisius then put both Danae and her son in a chest and threw them into the sea. This didn't work; Perseus went on to become King of Mycenae, accidentally kill his grandfather, and found the royal lines of Argos and Tiryns. (Mycenae would be lost to the Atreides shortly after Perseus' reign.)
  • To father Heracles, Zeus had sex with Alcmene in the guise of her husband Amphitryon. Heracles legendarily founded or was an ancestor to about half the royal and noble houses of Greece.
  • Callisto, daughter of a king named Lycaon, was a virgin follower of Artemis, so in order to seduce her, Zeus took the guise of Artemis. Somehow she got pregnant from this, producing the hunter Arcas. Depending on the version of the story you hear, one of the goddesses Zeus pissed off (some say Hera, for his cheating, and others Artemis, for tricking her acolyte) turned her into a bear either immediately after Zeus was found out (in which case Arcas was born while his mother was a bear) or after Lycaon lured Arcas to some kind of festival. In either case, Lycaon ends up turned into the first werewolf, Arcas inherits his grandfather's kingdom (renamed Arcadia for his trouble), and runs into his transformed mother while out hunting. Zeus then transforms him into a bear to keep him from killing his mom, and then throws both Arcas and Callisto into the sky by the tail, stretching the tails and turning the now-ursine mother and son into constellations. This is why Ursa Major and Ursa Minor look like bears with unusually long tails.
  • Antiope was raped while she slept by Zeus in the form of a satyr. As she had been carried away shortly thereafter by the hero-king Epopeus of Syceon, she gave birth to two sons: Amphion, son of Zeus, and Zeuthos, son of Epopeus, who went on to found Thebes.
  • Semele, mother of Dionysus, was said to have been fed a potion by Zeus that impregnated her with a divine child. Shortly after the impregnation Semele was incinerated, Zeus took the Dionysus, sewed him into his thighnote  and delivered him on term.
  • He had sex with Eurymedusa by turning both of them into ants. The result was King Myrmidon (whose name means "Ant"), who ruled the city of Phythya and was the eponymous ancestor of the Myrmidon people, including Achilles.
  • Helen of Troy and her brother Pollux were conceived when Zeus raped their mother Leda in the form of a swan. The details of the birth are not well described, but apparently it involved the babies along with their half siblings Castor and Clytemnestra hatching from eggs. Leda of course was the Queen of Sparta, and the marriage of her daughters to the Atreids Menelaos and Agamemnon gave them great legitimacy.
  • Zeus was an equal opportunity rapist. He abducted the beautiful prince Ganymede in the form of an eagle so that Ganymede could become his eromenos and personal cup bearer. Ganymede was made into the constellation Aquarius so that Hera couldn't hurt him.
  • The ultimate fate of Medea, Jason's one-time lover, is not agreed upon, one version saying she was the only woman who successfully did say "No" to him and escape. Hera would reward her for this by making her immortal.



  • Older Than Dirt: As king, Gilgamesh (who was 'two thirds' a god) made it a rule that all women who were about to get married had to have sex with him first. This pissed off his subjects, and the gods sent Enkidu to wrestle Gilgamesh and give him an outlet for his pent up energy (and yes, we do realize that can be taken more ways than one, which was in the original myth too).
  • When Hatshepsut was staking her claim for King of Egypt she said that she was actually the son of Ra who had slept with her mother in the guise of Thutmose II (her real father). Therefore in the context of the story, Hatshepsut's mum thought she was having sex with her husband when really it was Ra.
    • Just to make it weirder: this was actually the standard conception story for the Pharaohs, it's just that normally, a boy was begotten. This meant that it was, in fact, quite possible that any woman married to a Pharaoh was hoping for this to happen: this, and not birth order, supposedly determined whom the heir was.
  • Another example of this is the moon goddess Selene, who placed the lovely youth Endymion into an eternal sleep so that he could be immortal and proceeded to give birth to fifty daughters by him.
  • Happens to Odysseus in The Odyssey. After Circe had turned all his men into animals, Odysseus attacked her with his sword. She was surprised by this, but laughed at his futile attempt to fight and made him her lover. Afterwards his men were turned back into people and they all quite happily spent a year feasting on her island. The alternate myth has Odysseus raping Circe (on the advice of Hermes) after using a magic plant to become immune to her powers.
  • According to some sources (Ovid, in particular), Poseidon raped a virgin priestess of Athena named Medusa within the goddess' own temple. Medusa was transformed into a Gorgon by Athena as punishment. Poseidon wasn't punished at all. Presumably a case of Might Makes Right, seeing as Poseidon was second only to Zeus in power. Alternatively being made a Gorgon was for her protection rather than punishment, as Gorgon imagery was often used to symbolize protection on breastplates, shields and coins.
    • Theseus—who defeated the Minotaur and became King of Athens—has an interesting parentage: Poseidon ravished his mother Aethra on the same night that she lay with her husband Aegeus, which in the Greek understanding gave him two fathers, one divine, and one mortal. This allowed the Athenian royals to both claim an unbroken line of succession (as Aegeus, in the legend, was part of the original Athenian royal line) and descent from Poseidon (which explained Athens' dominance of the sea lanes).
    • In fact, Poseidon was really little better than his brother in this regard. He was just luckier, due to the fact Amphitrite didn't care about his philandering like Hera did.
    • Tyro, spouse of Cretheus, was in love with the river god Enipeus. Poseidon took his form, seduced Tyro then revealed himself to her. They children are Neleus and Pelias.
  • In some versions of the myth of Cassandra, the curse that no one would believe her prophecies came about when she refused Apollo's advances. Mind you, the gift of prophecy was something he gave her in an attempt to make her consent, so arguably Apollo was nicer about this than the norm.
    • Another version says that Cassandra held out from having sex with Apollo until he promised her the gift of prophecy. Upon receiving this gift, Cassandra refused Apollo again, and this time, furious, Apollo added the caveat that no one would believe her.
  • Because of her insatiable lust, Eos kidnapped many handsome young men as her lovers. At least one object of her affection was married, when she snatched him away and was rather vocal about his desire to be returned to his wife.
  • In some versions of the myth, Dionysus fell in love with Ariadne and forced Theseus, Ariadneís lover, to abandon her on Naxos, where he picked her up and made her his wife. Ariadne's own feelings on the whole matter are never discussed, but Theseus was so devastated he forgot to change the sail on his ship from black to white. This caused his father's suicide, since the black sail was supposed to mean Theseus was killed by the Minoatur.
  • Calypso keeps Odysseus as her lover for seven years, despite his clear desire to return to his wife to Ithaca. Ultimately subverted, when Zeus intervenes and forces Calypso to release her captive.
  • Inverted in the myth explaining the name of the Areopagus: the first trial held there was when Poseidon prosecuted Ares for killing his son Halirrhothios. Depending on the myth, Ares' defence was either that Halirrhothios had raped his daughter Alcippe, or that he was trying to do so.
  • Also inverted in all the myths where a fleeing woman gets transformed into something in order to escape rape: Daphne into a laurel fleeing from Apollo, or Cornix into a crow fleeing from Neptune, for instance.
  • In Roman myth, Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin who claimed she was violently raped by Mars, god of war. As a result, she conceived twins, Romulus and Remus. Since she was a Vestal Virgin, she couldn't very well raise them, and so she left them on a hillside, where they were raised by a she-wolf. Long story short, this is how Rome was founded.
  • Kurupi from Guarani mythology. The proof that eldritch monsters raping women is NOT a recent concept.
  • Toyed with in the French movie Immortal which involves the Egyptian god Horus forcing himself on the only woman on Earth able to bear his child using mind control. The guy whose body he possessed to do this was less than pleased, and it remains a bitter point of their love triangle (since the possessed guy starts falling for her).
  • In EverQuest, Innoruuk, the God of Hate, disguised himself as a regular dark elf male and impregnated a woman on the night of the Blood Moon festival that the dark elves celebrate every so often. Ceremony states that the female is supposed to ritually kill her mate as a sacrifice in Innoruuk's name if they have sex on that night. Of course, Innoruuk could spare a mortal body of some random dark elf, but the woman eventually gave birth to Lanys T'Vyl, Innoruuk's daughter and future Demi-Goddess of Strife.
  • In Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Mouser got raped by the Goddess of Pain (which he sort-of enjoyed). She's a goddess—what are you going to do? Complain?
  • Aztec Mythology gives us an interesting example in the story of legendary priest-king Ce Acatl Topiltzin, who is taken to be an earthly incarnation of the creator god Quetzalcoatl in most versions of the myth. Quetzalcoatl's brother and eternal rival Tezcatlipoca decided it would be fun to humiliate him, so he tricked Quetzalcoatl into thinking he was old and decrepit. Tezcatlipoca offered him a potion that would restore his youth. Little did he know, the potion of youth was actually just alcohol. Desperate, he chugged the whole thing, getting himself completely wasted. Amorous in his drunkenness, he forced himself on the closest beautiful woman he could find... and the next morning, he woke up in bed with his own sister. The twist here comes in that unlike most gods who've committed rape, he felt incredibly ashamed and horrified at his act, feeling that he had defiled not only his sister but his own self. The following day, he resigned from his position as king, built himself a bonfire and burned himself to death.
  • In The House of Night, despite the fact that Kalona radiates Darkness, females of all ages are still pretty keen on him. Even when the fact that he has raped women before is mentioned, it is conveniently ignored. Probably helps that Kalona has a Brainwashed and Crazy effect on people.
  • In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bottom is the victim of a supernatural practical joke, and has the head of a donkey. Titania, the fairy queen, is the victim of another practical joke, dosed with a love potion, and forced to fall desperately in love with the next thing she sees. That would be the aforementioned Bottom. As soon as love-mad Titania casts eyes on Bottom, she wants him. Bottom, (who's having a bad day) decides to head home, not realizing that she's a fairy queen, and fairy queens aren't used to hearing the word "No". The scene of her capturing Bottom is never played as anything but hilarity, not say, kidnapping and sexual slavery.
  • Possibly happens in the play Angels In America. It may or may not have been a dream or vision when the Angel appeas before Prior, but he claims this is what she did to him, not to mention that she had eight vaginas. He seems rather blasť when talking about it, especially given he's in love with someone else and gay, but then, the hell he was put through in the first act was much worse, most likely.
  • Webcomic/Sunfall (WARNING NSFW) is centered around demigods who have various issues because of this. The protagonist thinks that her father only sired her to get the perfect oracle for the world. Truth is, the entire pantheon seduces/fucks with hot babes on a regular basis, underage girls included.
  • Averted in this webcomic, where Ganymede seems quite happy with his job as cupbearer, and Zeus concerned about his emotional wellbeing. The webcomic tones Zeus' and other gods' rapeyness down quite a lot, in general, probably to avoid Values Dissonance.
  • In the X-Men Crack Fic Shuffle or Boogie, it's revealed that the Phoenix Force possessed Jean Grey's body so it could sleep with Scott. Of the several people present, only Jean herself objects to this note .
  • In Berserk, Griffith undergoes a horrific transformation to become the godlike entity Femto, and his very first action was to rape his former comrade Casca. Now, a few brave fans - some of which are very diehard Griffith fans - have tried to explain or even justify Griffith's actions, one of which falls into the Omniscient Morality License rationale, since Griffith subsequently used the body of Casca's demonically corrupted child as a vessel to reincarnate himself into the physical world in two years time. Of course, there are a LOT of holes in this theory, ranging from the very rules of causality in the Berserk mythos, to the very sadistic and humiliating degree of the rape itself, so it's safest to say that Griffith did what he did For the Evulz.



  • A very indirect example: when King Minos of Crete refused to sacrifice a white bull for Poseidon, Poseidon punishes him by making Minos' wife Pasiphae fall in love with the bull. She had a wooden cow made and climbed inside so the bull would have sex with her. She then later gave birth to a half human/half bull creature that became the Minotaur.
  • Cuchulain was conceived this way allegedly. His mother Deichtine assisted Lugh's wife in labor. For her reward, Lugh impregnated her.
  • According to the Tupi people of the Amazon area of present day Brazil, the sun was outraged when early human society was dominated by women. It caused sap from the curura (or puruman) tree to spray on the breast of a virgin named Ceucy, impregnating her with Jurapari (or Jurupari). He declared war on women and tore down the matriarchy. After his victory, Jurapari set up feasts in which the secrets of menís rule were passed down through the generations. Any women attending were put to death, Ceucy being their first victim. In some versions of the legend, one day Jurupari will find a woman worthy of him and from that day forward, the sexes will be equal.
    • In other South American regions, Jurupari is the name of a man-eating spirit of the palm tree. Itís unclear how the two myths relate.
  • In some Native American tales from the Pacific Northwest, Raven impregnates a chieftain's daughter by turning into a pine needle floating in the water and letting her drink him. Slightly different than most in that the resulting child is Raven himself in disguise, not his offspring.
    • Which is also how Etain ends up being reborn as a human in Celtic Mythology, though in her case it was with a butterfly and a chalice of wine.
    • Also seen in an ancient Egyptian myth. A humble hermit's god-given trophy wife is proposed to by the pharaoh. The pharaoh kills her husband so that he won't come after her. The husband is reincarnated through several forms, taunting his murderous ex each time. Eventually, he's reincarnated as a tree and the wife orders the pharaoh to chop it down. She watches the tree being felled and a splinter from the lumberjack's axe flies into her mouth and impregnates her with her vindictive ex. The baby born is crown prince, because the pharaoh assumes it's his. Decades later, when the pharaoh dies and ex-hubby takes the throne, his first royal order is to have his ex-wife (now also his mother) executed for killing him. Just goes to show revenge is a dish best served cold.
  • The story of Jesus' birth in The Bible is sometimes accused of being this, but ultimately averts this by Mary agreeing to it. The Book of Luke talks about a scene where an angel (St. Gabriel the Archangel) tells Mary she is going to conceive and bear a son, and Mary is happy about this, saying, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."note 
  • Something*Positive alludes to this:
    Vanessa: I should have known better than to use social issues as a plot after PeeJee's Greek myth themed RPG.
    Davan: Hey! If a woman is a victim of sexual assault from a god's golden rain storm she has the right to make whatever choice that's best for her.
  • This trope didn't skip over Norse Mythology. Freyr, God of Fertility and Sexuality, got his Giantess wife Gerth by sending over a servant to threaten her loved ones until she consented. Joke's on him, though—during Ragnarok, the sword he gave the servant so he could do his job turned out to be crucial, and without it, he forfeited his life. Schoolar Sigurūur Nordal belived it was that very sword which Surtr will do him in with.
  • In one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, a woman is mentioned as being a hemidemisemi goddess, as an ancestress of hers was impregnated by the god Io (no relation to the Greek) in the form of a vase of flowers.
  • For a certain definition of "divine", Ben Sisko's backstory on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine counts. His mother was possessed or influenced somehow— the exact mechanics aren't elaborated upon— by the Prophets / wormhole aliens (Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and/or gods depending on who you ask) to marry his father. Once she'd given birth to their Chosen One, they freed her from their influence, and she promptly left his father. The father, who loved her deeply, was heartbroken and never knew that there had been anything problematic or unnatural about their relationship. It's probable that, being Starfish Aliens who do not experience linear time as we do and appear puzzled about many things about the human experience that we take for granted, it never occurred to the Prophets / wormhole aliens that there was anything morally wrong with doing this. The depth of the moral squick involved is never fully explored by the characters, either, and nobody ever gives them a What the Hell, Hero? about it, making it a case of Fridge Horror for the audience.

Well, obviously we have a rapist on Mount Olympus. He's climbin' in yo' windows, he's snatchin' yo' people up, tryin' to rape 'em. So y'all need to hide ya' kids, hide ya' wife, and hide ya' husband, 'cause they rapin' e'rybody out here.