The First Whispers of Atheism??

As I was watching Family Guy (weird how that show keeps creeping into this class) last night, I found myself saying; "I have seen this story before". The episode I had been watching is essentially about one character, Brian, telling his family that he is an Atheist. The entire town of Quahog (where they live) rallies against Brian and he winds up losing everything he loves. Of course in the sitcom, everything that Brian loves is the right to buy alcohol. But hey, whatever works for him.

So, what story did this remind me of, do you ask. A person speaks out against a god(s) and says that people should not be worshipping said god(s), then loses everything he/she loves. That story, of course, is the story of Niobe. Niobe spoke out against Leto and told the Theban women to never offer tributes to Leto ever again. Leto says of Niobe,

"The daughter of Tantalus has inherited
All her father's blasphemous folly.
Not only has she emptied my temples,
She drives me mad
With insults, derision,

"And tells the whole world her fourteen children
Are a thousand times superior
To my two. Compared to her I am childless.
O my children, double her mockery--back
Into her own mouth, let her swallow its meaning."

One of Leto's two children that Niobe insulted, Apollo, strikes dead all fourteen of Niobe's children. Now, I am not trying to make any commentary on Christianity or Atheism, but the connection between the two seems noteworthy. It seems to speak to the power (or fear) of God(s) that in Ovid's time people were constructing cautionary tales against challenging the Gods, and the creators of Family Guy (or perhaps only the characters) are doing the same thing today.

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