Monday, January 14, 2013

The Greek Gods

Such was the archaic religion as we know it from Homer: to posit divinities that are beyond good and evil inasmuch as they are but names for the inescapable realities of nature. "How else could this people, so sensitive, so vehement in its desire, so singularly capable of suffering," asks Nietzsche, "have endured existence, if it had not been revealed to them in their gods, surrounded by a higher glory?" Hera is marriage, the marriage bed, motherhood, and the chafing against those confinements; Zeus, the thunderbolt out of the mountain and the weather-world it stands for; his daughter Athena, the cunning to prevail in combat, and skill to excel at the loom or potting wheel; Aphrodite, the glamour and devastation of desire; Ares, her consort, the brute inevitability of war; Artemis, the safeguards of chastity and the hazards of childbirth; her brother Apollo, the art of healing and the ruthlessness of disease; Poseidon, the bounty and peril of the sea. . . . The Homeric gods are a glorifying mirror in which the mutability of nature and of ourselves is found again -- immortally joyous, forever shining.

--Benjamin Taylor, Naples Declared

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