The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The gods follow the heart of Western Civilization. But what exactly is "Western Civilization," and why are the gods so keen on it? Let's hear from Chiron to find out:
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 […] 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)
Western civilization is "a living force," a "collective consciousness." It sounds to us like Western civilization is a way of life, a belief system. But you tell us what you think.