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Author Topic: Homer's Gods, Plato's Gods.  (Read 7841 times)
Therapon
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« Topic Start: May 31, 2008, 09:17:35 am »

This is a subject that is a regular feature of my meditations. The more I contemplate it the more I'm coming to a synthesis but not quite completely yet.

Dr Jan Garrett in his chart, and article which you can access from the link at the bottom of the page, presents two opposing views of the Gods. I'm not so sure first that his presentation is representative of the views of either Plato or Homer and second that even if they are representative the opposing viewpoints are completely contradictory.

Dr Garrett presumes that Plato assumes the Gods are perfect, the implication is that Homer dos not.
Plato is a philosopher and Homer is a poet and therefore the differences between their works can be assumed as a consequence of their respective professions alone, without reference to the perfection or alleged imperfection of the Gods.

The difference as far as I understand it between a philsophical and poetic view of the Gods is the difference between principle and practice. The philosopher posits eternal principles to be contemplated and the poet reveals how those principles actually work out in practice, using a story or narrative to get the point over.

Take for instance Dr Garret's first comparison between Plato and Homer on whether the Gods were born.
Plato assumes that the Gods are eternal but Homer as does Hesiod has the Gods as being born. Is this actually a contradiction? Mythology operates outside of our commonplace understanding of space and time, so to me the two views don't have to be presented as a contradiction. The birth of Zeus from Rhea, for instance, is in a sense always happening, because it's an eternal reality.

It would be interesting if we could take a look at some of the other dualities presented here and find ways to come to a synthesis for each one.

http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/pgodscht.htm
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« Reply #1: May 31, 2008, 05:43:26 pm »

Take for instance Dr Garret's first comparison between Plato and Homer on whether the Gods were born.
Plato assumes that the Gods are eternal but Homer as does Hesiod has the Gods as being born. Is this actually a contradiction? Mythology operates outside of our commonplace understanding of space and time, so to me the two views don't have to be presented as a contradiction. The birth of Zeus from Rhea, for instance, is in a sense always happening, because it's an eternal reality.

Even if the birth of Zeus is eternally happening, so is the state before Zeus on born and the state after Zeus was born. If the Gods are eternal as Plato believes, there there could be no state before any of the Gods were born to talk about in mythology.  Translation, both beliefs probably cannot be literally correct. They might both be correct ways of understanding the Gods in that they each tell you something important about the Gods
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« Reply #2: May 31, 2008, 09:16:52 pm »

Even if the birth of Zeus is eternally happening, so is the state before Zeus on born and the state after Zeus was born. If the Gods are eternal as Plato believes, there there could be no state before any of the Gods were born to talk about in mythology.  Translation, both beliefs probably cannot be literally correct. They might both be correct ways of understanding the Gods in that they each tell you something important about the Gods

But one aspect of divinity is the ability to transcend time. Let's just suppose that Mr. and Mrs. J have a bouncing baby boy; call him J Jr. In the course of events, he grows to maturity, and one day comes to Mom and Pop with an idea: "Dad, I think you might want to consider giving our people something I'm tentatively calling 'fossil fuels.' Which reminds me—I think this dovetails nicely with that idea Sis had for those animals she calls 'dinosaurs.'" Mom and Dad say, "Go ahead". So J Jr. reaches backwards in time and reworks the universe, keeping Mom and Dad's original creations but adding in his new touches with a tweak here and there in order to match the new universe with the old one as closely as possible; his last step is to take all of the people from the original timeline and pop them over to the new one so gently that they don't even notice the difference. So, while J Jr. had a definite start date and time in the original timeline—call it reality 'A'—in the new reality, A-prime, he was the motivating and creating force from "In the beginning...." all the way up to the present moment. There was, in the reality everyone now sees and experiences, no time when he did not exist and no time in which he was not God. And that is, IMNSHO, how a deity can have a definite beginning and yet be eternal at the same time.
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« Reply #3: May 31, 2008, 10:42:37 pm »

And that is, IMNSHO, how a deity can have a definite beginning and yet be eternal at the same time.

That doesn't work for me. Even if it did, I'm not sure its exactly what is being discussed here.
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« Reply #4: June 02, 2008, 08:14:59 am »

Translation, both beliefs probably cannot be literally correct. They might both be correct ways of understanding the Gods in that they each tell you something important about the Gods

Yes and I'm looking for ways to synthesise the philosophical and poetic?
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« Reply #5: June 02, 2008, 08:32:31 am »

Yes and I'm looking for ways to synthesise the philosophical and poetic?

I don't think it can be done -- at least not in a way that will satisfy most Hellenic Pagans. I think it is definitely UPG territory where what works for one person probably can't necessarily be expected to work for others.
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« Reply #6: June 02, 2008, 11:18:10 pm »

But one aspect of divinity is the ability to transcend time. Let's just suppose that Mr. and Mrs. J have a bouncing baby boy; call him J Jr. In the course of events, he grows to maturity, and one day comes to Mom and Pop with an idea: "Dad, I think you might want to consider giving our people something I'm tentatively calling 'fossil fuels.' Which reminds me—I think this dovetails nicely with that idea Sis had for those animals she calls 'dinosaurs.'" Mom and Dad say, "Go ahead". So J Jr. reaches backwards in time and reworks the universe, keeping Mom and Dad's original creations but adding in his new touches with a tweak here and there in order to match the new universe with the old one as closely as possible; his last step is to take all of the people from the original timeline and pop them over to the new one so gently that they don't even notice the difference. So, while J Jr. had a definite start date and time in the original timeline—call it reality 'A'—in the new reality, A-prime, he was the motivating and creating force from "In the beginning...." all the way up to the present moment. There was, in the reality everyone now sees and experiences, no time when he did not exist and no time in which he was not God. And that is, IMNSHO, how a deity can have a definite beginning and yet be eternal at the same time.

Being a Botanist/biologist with much of my studies and work in plant ecology, that sinario simple will not work.  My pagan beliefs, which developed after I retired, also can not accept it.  That is almost as bad as some fundamentalist  saying God put the dinosaure bone there to be found.
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« Reply #7: June 03, 2008, 08:59:32 am »

I think it is definitely UPG territory

That'll do for me. So Randall any UPG on ways to synthesise the philosophical and poetic?
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« Reply #8: June 03, 2008, 09:04:20 am »

So Randall any UPG on ways to synthesise the philosophical and poetic?

Not from me as I've never thought about it until you brought it up. I'm had no flashes of inspiration on it since the start of this thread either.
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« Reply #9: June 03, 2008, 09:37:27 am »

I'm had no flashes of inspiration on it since the start of this thread either.

What's wrong with this sentence Wink
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« Reply #10: June 04, 2008, 08:20:56 am »

What's wrong with this sentence Wink

 Wink
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« Reply #11: June 06, 2008, 08:54:39 am »

But one aspect of divinity is the ability to transcend time. ...no time when he did not exist and no time in which he was not God. And that is, IMNSHO, how a deity can have a definite beginning and yet be eternal at the same time.

That reminds me, a bit, of the myth of Zeus swallowing Phanes the Protogenos, making Zeus around from the very beginning. Grin
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« Reply #12: August 05, 2008, 10:50:46 am »

That reminds me, a bit, of the myth of Zeus swallowing Phanes the Protogenos, making Zeus around from the very beginning. Grin

Does anyone else notice that even though cannibalism isn't allowed in mythology the gods kept eating each other?
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« Reply #13: August 05, 2008, 11:19:11 am »

Does anyone else notice that even though cannibalism isn't allowed in mythology the gods kept eating each other?

By "cannibalism isn't allowed in mythology" you are referring to Tantalus and Lycaon, right?  Yeah, but the gods seem to transgress human taboos all the time (ie, rape, adultery).  And with a god eating a god you have: Kronos eating his children, the Titans eating Dionysus/Zagreos, and Zeus eating Metis.
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« Reply #14: August 05, 2008, 01:17:51 pm »

By "cannibalism isn't allowed in mythology" you are referring to Tantalus and Lycaon, right?  Yeah, but the gods seem to transgress human taboos all the time (ie, rape, adultery).  And with a god eating a god you have: Kronos eating his children, the Titans eating Dionysus/Zagreos, and Zeus eating Metis.

Maybe gods taste nice?
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