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The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

Traditions and Customs Quotes

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Quote #7

"Percy," Chiron said, "you may choose to believe or not, but the fact is that immortal means immortal. Can you imagine that for a moment, never dying? Never fading? Existing, just as you are, for all time?" (5.123)

Our encounters with immortality in this story come in the form of monsters who can be killed but who can never die, gods who have been around for thousands of years, and beings locked in the pit of Tartarus who have been around for way longer than that. Without fear of death, how do these gods behave? Do they value human life? What do the gods seem to value?

Quote #8

"Come now, Percy. What you call 'Western civilization.' Do you think it's just an abstract concept? No, it's a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it. You might even say they are the source of it, or at least, they are tied so tightly to it they couldn't possibly fade, not unless all of Western civilization were obliterated. The fire started in Greece. Then, as you well know—or as I hope you know, since you passed my course—the heart of the fire moved to Rome, and so did the gods. Oh, different names, perhaps—Jupiter for Zeus, Venus for Aphrodite, and so on—but the same forces, the same gods."

"And then they died."

"Died? No. Did the West die? The gods simply moved, to Germany, to France, to Spain, for a while. Wherever the flame was brightest, the gods were there. They spent several centuries in England. All you need to do is look at the architecture. People do not forget the gods. Every place they've ruled, for the past three thousand years, you can see them in paintings, in statues, on the most important buildings. And yes, Percy, they are now in your United States." (5.189-191)

The gods are a bit nomadic and aren't tied to one particular part of the world. The fact that they move wherever "the flame was brightest," suggests that the gods are kind of dependent upon humans. They depend on humans to remember them and to keep them alive through things like architecture and paintings. So, maybe the gods aren't as all-powerful as we imagined them to be. Maybe they need humans more than they let on in this story.

Quote #9

"What's the most common thing gods did in the old stories? They ran around falling in love with humans and having kids with them. Do you think they've changed their habits in the last few millennia?" (7.26)

For as much as the gods whine about how stupid humans are (remember Mr. D talking about humans and their idea of "science" and progress?), they sure do love to hang out with them and make babies with them. Consider an entire camp full of half-blooded children, products of gods who have fallen for humans. Gods and humans seem destined to interact.

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