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  • Writer's pictureFabioIMPoppi

"About envy"

In Greek mythology, envy is a recurring theme, and one of its most poignant stories is that of Niobe. The daughter of King Tantalus, she boasted of her superiority over the goddess Leto, pointing out her fourteen children—seven sons and seven daughters—compared to Leto’s mere two, Apollo and Artemis. Niobe’s arrogance and envy led her to mock Leto, a fatal display of hubris.

Angered by Niobe’s scorn, Leto sent Apollo and Artemis to deliver punishment. With flawless aim, the two gods swiftly killed all of Niobe’s children. Devastated by the loss, Niobe wept until she was transformed into a stone, from which a spring flowed eternally, symbolizing her endless tears.

Envy is a fundamental human instinct that has shaped much of our history. We have a unique ability to reflect on our own circumstances and compare them to those of others. We define ourselves by contrasting what we possess with what others lack, particularly when those people are nearby. Our envy for a neighbor's possessions is much stronger than for those of a distant stranger.

We often perceive wealth and poverty relatively, influenced by how our circumstances compare to those around us. This comparison frequently leads to dissatisfaction, as we measure our worth based on others' status. Envy is a powerful force, driving both conflict and the discontent that underscores modern consumerism.

In consumer societies, new products are initially purchased by a few and soon become desired by many, turning luxuries into perceived necessities. Once everyone has it, a new product emerges, creating a divide between those who have it and those who don’t. Those left behind strive to catch up, enriching others in the process and perpetuating the cycle.

Thus, today's necessities were yesterday's luxuries, and tomorrow's desires will fuel the endless cycle of envy-driven consumption. This self-perpetuating pattern continues to shape our desires, societies, and economies.

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