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Swearing on the River Styx

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Swearing on the River Styx

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Tue May 07, 2013 10:40 am

I was just wondering if this was a thing in Olympic religions.

In myth, the gods swore on the River Styx if they were thought to be lying. They would pour a libation of water from the River Styx and, if they had lied, they would lie comatose for a full year, cut off from the nectar and ambrosia of the gods. They would awaken at the end of that year, and would then spend 9 years in exile, forbidden from taking part in the feasts the gods held or in their councils.

So, obviously, in myth, at least, an oath on the River Styx was extremely binding.

I was curious as to whether this has any purpose in the modern practices of others. I once made an oath on the Styx, the only oath made on it, when I was first starting out in Olympianism, that I would serve and worship the Theoi for the remainder of my life, and I feel that oath to be extremely binding, to me. Regardless of the ups and downs I go through, and despite any thoughts of leaving Olympianism for any reason, I have always felt like my mind was practically tied to a leash that I put on myself and locked into place. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

What say you? Have you ever done something similar? Do you think an oath on the River Styx holds any weight in actual practice? I have not seen it mentioned, either here or on hellenismos.us, so I thought I'd finally moot the question here.

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Re: Swearing on the River Styx

Post  Erodius on Tue May 07, 2013 11:22 am

In the Graeco-Roman world, oaths in general, especially those made upon the names of sacred or divine things, were indeed considered extremely binding. Violation of an oath was essentially second only to direct snubbing or challenging of a god as the worst possible sin anyone could commit — in short, it was considered an especially heinous offense.

As an example of this high importance accorded to oath, "honor an oath" is the second precept of the Golden Verses — a delineation of Orpheo-Pythagorean teaching on sacred morality and ethical living. It is second only to "worship the Immortal Gods", the first precept, in importance.

However, because of the seriousness with which oaths were regarded, it was considered rather foolish to make oaths regularly, because the chances are always high that you may break it, and the consequences are severe. It was not wrong to make an oath, but it was wrong to do so without knowing first the gravity of doing so.


Last edited by Erodius on Tue May 07, 2013 5:29 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I had written "I was wrong" rather than "it was wrong". Oops :-S)

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Re: Swearing on the River Styx

Post  Callisto on Tue May 07, 2013 1:06 pm

Religion was such an integral part of every day life and oaths were also used in maintaining or enforcing law and ensure ethical behavior. Pausanias wrote about the statue of Zeus Horkios (Keeper of Oaths) striking terror in unjust men. Athletes of the Olympia would swear before it that they had adhered to the training requirements and those who picked the competitors swore they'd done so rightfully and without accepting bribes. Young Athenian citizens would swear an oath to uphold their civic duties and obey authority, thus positioning themselves for divine anger if they reneged on their obligations.

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Re: Swearing on the River Styx

Post  Linda on Wed May 08, 2013 7:03 pm

Callisto wrote: Athletes of the Olympia would swear before it that they had adhered to the training requirements and those who picked the competitors swore they'd done so rightfully and without accepting bribes..
Something for the modern athletes to read and learn!!
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