Hair Loss in the Pantheon, Parthenon, Olympus and Beyond
In imagery of myths and legends, even the Gods suffer from hair loss ... but nobody jokes about it.
Evolutionists and creationists may argue over whether God created man in his own image, but it’s easy to find examples of the reverse: men often create gods in their own image. It would be nice to report that a large percentage of these human-like gods share the common human attribute of baldness, but that isn’t the case. Still, if one looks hard enough, one can find some hairless heavenly ones.
The Greek gods (and their Roman counterparts) are arguably the most well known to Western audiences. The mighty Olympic pantheon of gods boasts such familiar (and hairy) figures as the omnipotent Zeus, ruler of the skies; Poseidon, king of the seas; and Hades, keeper of the underworld. However, there’s also Hephaestus, god of fire. Depictions of him vary, depending on the artist, but he is sometimes shown as bald.
Much more commonly accepted as hairless is Silenus, mentor to Dionysus, the god of wine. As Dionysus’ companion, he is typically shown indulging in an excess amount of drinking and cavorting, which perhaps would make him the unofficial god of male college students.
Satyrs, those half-man/half-goat followers of Dionysus who are immortalized in the satyr plays (from which come our modern satires), also are often bald. Given the bawdy nature of the satyr plays, coupled with the generally randy nature attributed to satyrs, one could infer that the Greeks may have found a connection between baldness and sexual drive.
Hair loss prevention tip: Don't jump down a monster's throat
The most famous Greek figure who fits into the hair loss category is Heracles (aka Hercules). Yes, the strongest man in the world was bald -- for a while, at least. Although Heracles is best known for his twelve mighty labors, he had a fair number of other adventures. One involved rescuing the lovely Hesione from a dreadful sea monster that was all set to devour her as an offering. No son of Zeus was going to stand for this, so Heracles jumped down the monster’s throat and destroyed it; however, when he emerged, his hair had fallen out. His locks subsequently appear to have grown back; nevertheless, for a period of time he was indeed bald.
Many ancient Egyptians shaved their heads because of the extreme heat and the presence of hair-loving insects, but there don’t appear to be many bald gods in their pantheon. One exception is the great fertility god Min, who in early days was typically bald. (As with the connection between baldness and the randiness of the satyrs, perhaps that between baldness and fertility also is significant.)
Ptah, the Egyptian god of creation and creative arts, is shown as bald when in human form. (He also enjoys taking the shape of a hawk or a scarab.) His son, Pataikos, inherited the bald gene as well.
The Norse didn’t seem to go in for baldness among their gods very much; however, Odin, the almighty ruler of the Norse gods, is sometimes depicted as balding, perhaps because he is also depicted as being rather more aged (if still powerful) than the other deities around him. The god of war and learning, Odin also was the Big Guy, the one who created the heavens and the earth and all within. If he wanted to wear a hat to hide his bald spot, as he apparently did, who was going to argue with him?
Hairless Gods turn up in all cultures, all over
Another HairLoss.com article, “It’s a Bald World After All: Japan,” discusses several Japanese gods who were bald. Not to be left out, Japan’s neighbor China also had a major bald god: Shou-Xing, the god of longevity and old age. He carries with him a golden peach of immortality, although he himself didn’t get to eat it. Instead, his long life is attributed to his unknowingly stumbling upon the gods of birth and death and offering them food and drink; as a reward, they granted him eternal life.
There are at least two Slavic gods that fit this category. Both their names may be obscure, but the image of one of them is quite familiar to many Americans. The first, Myesyats, is only a partial fit, as in some myths he is a male while in others he is female; however, when a male, this god of the moon is often referred to as Uncle Bald, in reference to his lack of hair and to his relationship to the sun god, Dazhbog.
The name Chernobog, the Slavic black god of darkness, may mean little to most people, although it’s from Chernobog that comes the name Chernobyl, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The image of Chernobog, however, is impressed upon the minds of all who see the animated film Fantasia. In the final “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence, Chernobog is the terrifying black (and bald) Satan figure that dominates the proceedings before being dispersed by the light of pure goodness.
Finally, several Celtic figures are often depicted as hairless. The Welsh Tegid Foel (which means “Fair-one the bald”) was a giant and the god of Bala Lake. Ogmios, according to Celtnet.org.uk, is the Celtic version of Heracles but may have been depicted as “extremely old, bald-headed, except for a few lingering hairs which are quite grey.” And Cernunnos, at least in some versions, seems to be balding. This last-named, by the way, is god of sexuality, fertility and abundance, another linking of baldness and sex appeal.
As noted, the pantheons listed above feature only a smattering of bald gods. Perhaps if they had included more, they might still have followers today!
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