Monday, October 29, 2007

Greek and Roman Gods were best!

Bring back the Greek gods: Mere mortals had a better life when more than one ruler presided from on high.

Excellent opinion piece by Mary Lefkowitz, author of ""Greek Gods, Human Lives".:

...Prominent secular and atheist commentators have argued lately that religion "poisons" human life and causes endless violence and suffering. But the poison isn't religion; it's monotheism...

I could not agree more! It's great that a respected historian with a PhD after her name is finally saying it.

...The polytheistic Greeks didn't advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view...

...The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people's gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety. If the Greeks were in close contact with a particular nation, they gave the foreign gods names of their own gods: the Egyptian goddess Isis was Demeter, Horus was Apollo, and so on. Thus they incorporated other people's gods into their pantheon...

Lefkowitz rightfully points out the the Romans certainly persecuted the early Christians. But they were perceived more as insurgents and terrorists, working to undermine social order, than just members of some obscure religious cult.

...Ancient Greek religion gives an account of the world that in many respects is more plausible than that offered by the monotheistic traditions. Greek theology openly discourages blind confidence based on unrealistic hopes that everything will work out in the end. Such healthy skepticism about human intelligence and achievements has never been needed more than it is today...

That hits the nail on the head. When one finally abandons the paternalistic concept of godhead, many of the philosophical contradictions inherent in monotheism simply melt away.

It's such a relief to be done with monotheism.

(Image from the great Benny Hill tribute site Benny's Place.)


Anonymous said...


Why is it that the ancient deities that have taken a multitude of forms in every culture throughout time are being resurrected? Conceivably, they never died.

The ancients had an ardent, symbiotic, omnipotent, omniscient relationship with the cosmos. The Mayans, Aztecs, Egyptians,Druids, and Grecians were not afraid of the unknown. They were existential architects.

The notion of existential architecture is so simple and yet beyond reason.
...... What is it?

Existential architecture is in the realm of the Gods.

"I have found that you have only to take that one step toward the gods, and they will then take ten steps toward you. That step, the heroic first step of the journey, is out of, or over the edge of, your boundaries, and it often must be taken before you know that you will."

So few of us are willing to defy our reason to see beyond the mundane.

genexs said...

Hi Moya:

I just came got home and found "Greek Gods, Human Lives: What we can Learn from Myths", sitting on my doorstep. :)

I'm really looking forward to learning more, as this pantheon has sometimes been tough for me. Bulfinch's Mythology is ethnocentric and stuffy as hell, I have Robert Graves book, but he lost me from time to time. The writer has attacked the Campbell's view that the Gods & Goddesses we just stand-ins for us, so I'm very curious.

Thanx for your comments.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant insight! "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite." -William Blake.

If I had to choose a stand in....
I would choose: Horus, Atum, Cernnunos, Odin, Bacchus, Mars, Hades, Poseidon, Ma'at, Isis, Artemis, Persephone, Hecate, Freya, Brigid, Morrigan.......

Do not fear the power of the Gods.