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Greeks believed in theirmyths?

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Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  goldenboy2421 on Wed May 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Hey there i just have a question. So im fairy familiar with the Greek "myths" but I am new to starting to actually practice Hellenismos and im wondering as a new practitioner, do we believe in the myths? eg Minotaurs, Cyclops, Perseus ect.. Did the ancients really believe in them or were they just myths to them?

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Re: Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  Erodius on Wed May 29, 2013 5:20 pm

As with any other civilization in world history, some more 'rustic', credulous, individuals with less education would have believed in the traditional myths literally (just as some individuals today take the fantastical episodes of the Old Testament literally), the more educated, worldly and cosmopolitan would have seen them as metaphorical and/or allegorical, while others would have disregarded them completely.

But I can assure you, there has never been such a thing as a literal half-man half-bull creature on Crete, nor have there ever been huge, one-eyed, humanoid giants on the Mediterranean islands. Some of mythology is sacred allegory, but other parts are simply fairytales — all cultures and civilizations have them, and the Greeks were no exception.

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Re: Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  Callisto on Thu May 30, 2013 1:54 pm

I agree. Though whether people took them literally or allegorically, either way the myths were a means of explaining things. Imagine encountering something very real and tangible but completely unfamiliar, like fossils and skeletons. Modern man has the knowledge and scientific advancements to understand what they are, but think what they seemed to be from ancient people's perspectives. They gave rise to a lot of mythical creatures and the myths surrounding them.

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Re: Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  Erodius on Thu May 30, 2013 2:48 pm

I read an article once — it was from the Discovery Channel, I think — that postulated that the idea of the cyclops may have arisen from ancient discoveries or encounters with elephant skulls, which, if you have ever seen one, do look strikingly like what you would think of as a cyclops.


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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  Callisto on Thu May 30, 2013 5:08 pm

Interesting. That could easily be the case.

I found Discovery has an article about a pre-historic thigh bone dubbed the Nichoria bone originally discovered by ancient Greeks. It's thought the Greeks unearthed it "in the Megalopolis basin, known in antiquity as the 'Battleground of the Giants'." It's the thigh bone of a woolly rhino: Prehistoric Fossil May Have Inspired Greek Myths

There's also another article about Greek myths and giants on the American Museum of Natural History website.

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Re: Greeks believed in theirmyths?

Post  Pemphredo on Fri May 31, 2013 6:23 pm

After reading Ovid's Metamorphoses I thought: "well, this is actually more or less the same what Darwin teaches us". I think the old religions would have make not such a drama around modern sciences as... well, you know who I'm talking about.

Sallustius might give you some ideas how one could regard the myths (capital III and IV): http://hermetic.com/texts/on_the_gods-1.html


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