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Author Topic: Interpretation of Greek Myths  (Read 4027 times)
JoeNYCBoi
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« Topic Start: February 21, 2008, 02:46:25 am »

I'm curious to know how members and other practitioners of Hellenic Polytheism understand and interpret the myths.  Do you take them as they are, or do you believe they point to higher meaning?

I guess I envision a Christian asking the same question to a Hellenist, only to be told, "Well, how do you view your own central story of your savior being born of a virgin, who tradition says conceived when the spirit of God entered her ear?"  But it is a valid question.  Modern-day Christians are faced with similar questions.  Some take it literally, others are quite happy as Christians who believe Jesus was born as any other man and yet had something unique to say to humankind. 

I mean, how do Hellenists treat the stories of Zeus' adventures outside his marriage to Hera, or the apple contest between the Goddesses that started the Trojan War?  And I ask this with complete respect to this faith and its teachings. I suppose it's sort of a silly question since many ancient Greeks themselves interpreted their sacred stories symbolically, but they just as well posited that some of them happened just as they were told.


Not sure if this has been asked on here. I looked but didn't find anything. Would be interested in seeing what you all have to say.

Thanks.
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« Reply #1: February 21, 2008, 07:43:54 am »


It depends on the myth, really.  For example, I think the stories of Jason, Theseus, Perseus and the Theben Cycle were mostly fictional.  When it comes to stories of the gods themselves, I'm on the fence about them.  On one hand, I think that some of them might be real and on the other I think they are just to illustrate the nature of the gods.

However, the myths don't play a huge part in my practice and iirc they didn't in the ancient cults either.
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« Reply #2: February 21, 2008, 08:08:13 am »

I'm curious to know how members and other practitioners of Hellenic Polytheism understand and interpret the myths.  Do you take them as they are, or do you believe they point to higher meaning?

The Greek myths are true in that they provide true information about the relationship or the Gods to each other and to humanity, but the stories themselves are just stories. Sure, some of them probably have a underlying kernel of historical fact (The Illiad, for example -- there really was a Troy and a war), but none of them are literally true and I don't know any Hellenic Pagan who believes they are. Also, we tend to believe they were written by humans who were inspired by the Muses or even a deity on occasion, but they are not thought to have been dictated by the Gods the way some conservative Christians see the Bible.
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« Reply #3: February 22, 2008, 08:55:45 pm »

I'm curious to know how members and other practitioners of Hellenic Polytheism understand and interpret the myths.  Do you take them as they are, or do you believe they point to higher meaning?

Honestly. I doubt they're authenticity, but I think that they may have had some original incident to spark them. As for those involving the gods/goddesses, I think they are the cultures way of describing the gods personality and how their followers related to them.
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Caroline
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« Reply #4: February 22, 2008, 11:24:22 pm »

I'm curious to know how members and other practitioners of Hellenic Polytheism understand and interpret the myths.  Do you take them as they are, or do you believe they point to higher meaning?

Yes.  Cheesy

Seriously, though, most myths can be read on a number of different levels and interpreted a number of different ways - literally, historically, metaphorically, allegorically etc. I think you will find very few Hellenics who are literalists; you're more likely to find philosophers challenging the validity of myths at all - and that's a very ancient tradition, too.
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« Reply #5: March 26, 2008, 08:38:11 am »

Quote from: Caroline
most myths can be read on a number of different levels and interpreted a number of different ways - literally, historically, metaphorically, allegorically etc. I think you will find very few Hellenics who are literalists; you're more likely to find philosophers challenging the validity of myths at all - and that's a very ancient tradition, too.

I think thats how they were intended.

Most Neoplatonists I've met on various boards don't challenge the 'validity' of myths but they they would challenge an overtly literalistic view of them. To paraphrase one post recently from a philsophical perspective. "A myth is more "real" than any historical event...a myth is a truth that is happening always".
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« Reply #6: March 26, 2008, 08:56:04 am »


A quick note, Therapon...  Please don't forget to leave the quote code intact.  We need the bit with all the numbers for the link back to the post you're replying to.  It should look something like this:
[quote author=Therapon link=topic=4713.msg87353#msg87353 date=1206535091]

Thanks!
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« Reply #7: March 26, 2008, 09:23:53 am »

No problem.
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