Mythological examples of innocents being punished



Hello everyone,

This is my first post here. I'm seeking for examples in mythology (actually, in any religious story--be it from Greek mythology or the Bible or whatever) of situations where an innocent has been unfairly punished for innocent actions.

From my studies, a good example I can think of is the blind Norse god Hod, who was tricked by Loki into killing his brother Balder. Vali, son of Odin, killed Hod to avenge balder's death, even though Hod didn't know what he was doing. Loki, who tricked Hod into killing Balder, was also severely punished for his actions (and other things he did, such as mocking the gods during Aegir's banquet) by being tied up in a cave with his son's intestines and having a poisonous serpent hanging above his head until the day of Ragnarök. It seems however that Odin was actually the one who orchestrated the death of Balder for the purpose of having him ressurect after Ragnarök.

I'm looking forward to the examples you people can think of.
There's a funny African myth about the origin of the scapegoat. Something was stolen and the owner said: "whoever did this will pay for it!" There were two suspects: the elephant and the goat. The elephant had left his footprints all over the place, but when the owner saw how big the elephant was, he got scared and decided that the goat was guilty. The goat received the death penalty. It's a symbolical way of saying that the big ones can get away with anything, a sad fact of life.
The people of Sodom comes in mind. We can't accept that a whole city was evil and deserved destruction.
Also weren't the people who lived in Isreal before the Jes murdered
becouse God wanted them to have the land it was good?

What about the story of poor Job being tested by the accuser?

"Do good I create Evil. I Jahve do all these things."
It's somewere I am sure.

In greek religion the gods Artimis and Apollon kills entire villages of people.

The egyptian gods try to wipe out mankind and regret it several times
just becouse they feel wounded by human lack of respect or something.
Not offended. Wounded. Like sad. Like vulnerable children.

According to some weird speculations Loki was innocent and Oden was ever the manipulative death behind the scene,
in fact jealous of Balders status.
Everybody Loved Balder much more than anyone else so The Necromancer, The King and the creepy King arranged the whole thing.
. Becouse Oden is the treatcherous and manipulating God.

In addition Loki was doing it becouse he was always hanging around Oden.
They were bloodbrothers and Oden had always protected Loki
until now but then oden blamed him since everybody already ahted Loki.

I just say this version is amusing if not correct.
Our concept of innocence and guilt is entirely different from the ancients . We see individuals as being responsible for only their personal acts and then only if the evil was intended . Whereas in Biblical stories and Greek myth people are punished for collective sins i.e. their whole family/race/tribe are punished for collective or inherited guilt e.g. All Adam's descendants are considered guilty of original sin . Also people are punished for sins committed unknowingly for example Oedipus . Also Orestes was tormented by the furies for killing his mother even though he had been forced by the god to do so . The descendants of Atreus were cursed for a cannibal feast even though it was eaten unawares .In Greek myths people are often punished by the Gods because the Gods are 'jealous' ie they dont like humans to enjoy good fortune without some downside. Any sacrilege is punished even if accidental .In the bible (Chronicles)Uzza is struck down by fire because he reaches out to steady the ark when the oxen stumbled . Actaeon in Greek myth was only guilty of seeing the naked Goddess by accident .As Satanist says , Job was only 'guilty' of being blessed with good fortune . But here the idea of punishment is linked to being tested which is often a way of justifying the apparent unfairness of good people suffering punishment.

the story of Joseph comes to mind. Unfairly sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, taken to Egypt. Falsely accused by Potiphers wife of sexual harrassment or attempted rape (Not sure which really,maybe both?) only to be thrown into the Egyptian prison/dungeon. Poor guy, and he did what to deserve this punishment?
I just came across a stange case of apparent punishment of the innocent in 'Peri Erotikwn ' of Parthenius in his version of the story of Polycrita .
She was a maiden of Naxos who gave herself in marriage to the enemy general who had fallen in love with her in return for his promise to save the city. This seems almost the exact oppposite of the tale of Tarpeia though both are killed in a similar manner .Polycrita was also killed by her reward .She was suffocated when buried under the garlands and sashes from the waists of maidens thrown to her as a tribute for sacrificing her virginity . Like Tarpeia it was her reward that killed her though Tarpeia can be seen as justly slain since she had betrayed her city .The idea of death by pelting with objects seems to be so that no one individual carries the taint of blood-guilt.
According to Burkert the sacrifice of a maiden sometimes followed ancient battles . This is how the dead warriors got their share of the captive women . though it is difficult to imagine someone deliberately killed by being suffocated by flowers. Plutarch and others give a different version and say that she died of joy at the honours heaped on her .
I was just thinking about the innocent Benjaminites who were killed in response to the murder of the concubine at the entranceway of her host (the woman and her "common law" husband were staying at an inn or something like that when she was attacked and died after being denied sanctuary by her host, a Benjaminite.)

bb and daur probably would be more familiar with the story I'm talking about. :eek:

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
The story you refer to is in Judges Chap 19 . It is very similar to the crime and destruction of Sodom .The depraved inhabitants of Gibeah (called 'sons of Belial') demand the visitor, the Levite be handed over to them for their own sexual pleasure .The host offers them his own daughter and the concubine instead .The actions of the men of Gibeah violate all laws of hospitality , the most sacred duties in the ancient world . So war is made against those who did the deed and those who refused to hand them over for punishment. This conforms with what I said earlier about punishment being collective especially in ancient warfare .
The place name Gibeah became a byword for wickedness .It was also from there that Saul cut up an oxen into 12 portions and sent them as a summons to the tribes . The symbolism seems to be that the same would be done to any that did not heed the summons . I think it likely that the idea of sending the woman's body around implies that they and their land are tainted with her blood unless they act as avengers .
It is unclear whether the concubine was dead when he took her away to cut her up ,it merely says that she did not answer him . There seems to be plenty of mythological content in Judges , the sacrifice of a young woman also occurs in the story of Jephtha .
-When I saw title I thought thread might be about versions of the massacre of innocents when Herod tried to kill Jesus. (All thru bible there are attempts to destroy seed of the woman: Cain slay Abel, Ham castrate Noah, Nimrod try slay Abram, Pharaoh try slay Moses/males, Dragon vs manchild/woman, etc.) There are versions of massacre of innocents in quite a few myths/religions but I lost details when my 15 yrs notes got destroyed in a crisis, but I think may have incld Krishna, Buddha, etc. (Likewise cp Moses/Sargon, Kronos swallows children, etc.)

-It is an interesting question because I myself am suffering and frustrated that I don't know why.

Answers to some points you mentioned:

-According to Judaeo-Xtianity no one is innocent except Jesus (and those that are forgiven) (tho they say children that die before age of accountability go to heaven).

-Job might not have done something wrong to deserve his sufffering but he still had a fallen nature inherited from Adam & Eve's fall.

-The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife is also known in Egyptian myth (Bata and Anpu), and I also found it in epic of Gilgamesh (Gilgamesh turns down Ishtar).

-Sometimes in myths words like tricked don't mean the same as we think: raped can mean seduced, holy/virgin mean harlot, etc.

-Other version has Hoder rival of Balder for hand of Nanna. (I once wondered if Thokk might really be Odin in disguise?)

-Genesis account of Abram asking God if he would destroy Sodom if there were 10 righteous people implies that the only good/righteous/innocent people in Sodom were Lot & co.
-According to Chuck Misler the Canaanites were wiped out because of corrupted gene pool, STDs, etc.

-That Jephthah "sacrifice of a young woman" was not necessarily so because the word translated "and" could read "(and/)or".