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Hellenic Belief System

Post  AgathonZante on Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:53 am

In traditional Hellenism, the religion is more so focused on a correct practice instead of a correct belief. Hellenists are not required to all have the same beliefs, just a consistent practice structure. Is this accurate?
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:03 am

AgathonZante wrote:In traditional Hellenism, the religion is more so focused on a correct practice instead of a correct belief. Hellenists are not required to all have the same beliefs, just a consistent practice structure. Is this accurate?

From the viewpoint of Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism, this is more or less accurate, as reconstructionist religious systems focus less so on theology and more so on the structure of ritual and worship.

There is, however, more than one extant Hellenic religious system than reconstructionism, Orphism (my tradition), being one of them. Orphism and other mystery schools of Hellenic religion are both traditional (my tradition, for one, having a continuous lineage of practice extending from antiquity to present day), and focus not only on method of practice, but also place emphasis on doctrine, theology, mysticism, ethical standards, the human condition and how to better it, etc. But they are not reconstructionist, as there is nothing to reconstruct; they have been complete systems for many, many years already.

Hellenic religion is, indeed, a very diverse field.

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  AgathonZante on Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:33 am

"There is, however, more than one extant Hellenic religious system than reconstructionism."

Yes, that's been my understanding as well, that modern Reconstructionism is not the only form of Hellenism. I would certainly say that my belief system is very much Greek, as I adhere to the Greek Gods in Their traditional roles, my Cosmology is identical to that of Hellas, and my ethics come from the Maxims Of Delphi. But I may also have some of my own personal beliefs about things that may or may not be a concern within Hellenism today.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Erodius on Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:15 am

Yes, that's been my understanding as well, that modern Reconstructionism is not the only form of Hellenism. I would certainly say that my belief system is very much Greek, as I adhere to the Greek Gods in Their traditional roles, my Cosmology is identical to that of Hellas, and my ethics come from the Maxims Of Delphi. But I may also have some of my own personal beliefs about things that may or may not be a concern within Hellenism today.

Well, that's all well and good, but there are several equally-traditional conceptions of the roles of divinities, of the structure of the cosmos, and of ethical behavior outside of the ones you've mentioned, and which are not even, necessarily, mutually concordant.

It is really impossible and inaccurate to speak of any 'religious Hellenism' as if it were a single religion. It is not even a religion at all, but a culture out of which have arisen a handful of related religions and philosophical lineages.

Far less so today, with all but a tiny handful of intact lines having been destroyed or died off centuries ago, Classical religion, as a complete field of study, is, as Icarus mentioned, exceedingly complex.

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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."
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"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:30 am

Erodius wrote:It is really impossible and inaccurate to speak of any 'religious Hellenism' as if it were a single religion. It is not even a religion at all, but a culture out of which have arisen a handful of related religions and philosophical lineages.

Which, as has been said in a few other threads, is why "Hellenism" is really not that accurate a term to use for these systems of religious thought. It's exactly the same conundrum as with Hinduism; many people use this term to refer to the religion which many Hindu people practice, but this is a vague term referring to not just religion, but also culture. The religion is not technically Hinduism; it is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is a part of, but not the whole, of Hindu culture.

The very same with Hellenism. Hellenism is a culture. The various religions and philosophies which were born and developed under the umbrella of Hellenic culture ARE Hellenic, but they are not the totality of Hellenism, and this is why it's best to use more accurate names to refer to them. If you follow Plato, a Platonist, if you follow the philosophies of Stoicism, a Stoic. If Orphism, an Orphic, and so on. If you don't fall under any of these, "Olympianist" would be the best term; it succinctly describes religious beliefs without the possible misperception of a claim to Hellenic culture, and is also a wide enough term that it does not implicate any one line of religious or philosophical thought in particular.

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:11 am

I think this "correct practice over correct belief" business is largely a neopagan construction. As if it is simply not aligned with the Gods to hold to a doxa, to have an unwobbling doctrine behind one's actions. Like a lot of conceptions we find in the contemporary neopagan milieu, it is largely a reaction against Christianity, with little to no intellectual effort in it outside of this sense of abstract opposition.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Linda on Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:49 am

Icarus wrote:
Erodius wrote:It is really impossible and inaccurate to speak of any 'religious Hellenism' as if it were a single religion. It is not even a religion at all, but a culture out of which have arisen a handful of related religions and philosophical lineages.

Which, as has been said in a few other threads, is why "Hellenism" is really not that accurate a term to use for these systems of religious thought. It's exactly the same conundrum as with Hinduism; many people use this term to refer to the religion which many Hindu people practice, but this is a vague term referring to not just religion, but also culture. The religion is not technically Hinduism; it is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is a part of, but not the whole, of Hindu culture.

The very same with Hellenism. Hellenism is a culture. The various religions and philosophies which were born and developed under the umbrella of Hellenic culture ARE Hellenic, but they are not the totality of Hellenism, and this is why it's best to use more accurate names to refer to them. If you follow Plato, a Platonist, if you follow the philosophies of Stoicism, a Stoic. If Orphism, an Orphic, and so on. If you don't fall under any of these, "Olympianist" would be the best term; it succinctly describes religious beliefs without the possible misperception of a claim to Hellenic culture, and is also a wide enough term that it does not implicate any one line of religious or philosophical thought in particular.

You're right, that's the curse of the 21th century. Everything has to have a brand these days. A trade mark. Something easy to see, recognize and relate to. Whatever you're a company, a political movement, a nation or a religion. And if you don't have that, it's so much harder to reach trough the noise. Say whatever you want of the Christans, but they got that. Any half-wit can make and recognize a cross. Then again, the Christians have done this for millennnia, they've always have the best propagandists at their disposal.

And what have we got - a name discussion. Not even a symbol everyone can relate to. I'm not saying we HAVE TO get this. We don't nessecarely have to be the thing for the masses out there. I'm fine with being a part of an 'exclusive club' - feels a bit posh in a way - lol! And I'm fine with telling if someone asks, I don't have to have that brand/name/copyright symbol upon my faith to feel fine. And I'd faint if Lady Gaga or someone came out as a Hellenist and started blabbing on TV about it.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:18 pm

What is peculiar to me is this obsession with finding a word to present one's own piety to others, this concern of "what I should call myself" and so on.  I think some get a little jolt of excitement by telling people that they believe in Gods instead of nothing.  And there is an all too human attachment to labels so that one can put it every little place on one's Facebook, to make a sophisticated little spectacle of oneself.  Then, when the courage builds, to begin feeling oppressed; that one's spirituality has rights to public respect and cultural self-esteem, so that one can begin sticking it in everyone's face, demanding atonement.  To let everyone and anything know about what Gods you pray to, being "proud" of it.  

It is just this pungent bicarbonate of irreducible me-ness and its attendant bubbling (sub)cultural enthusiasms that proves to me that the Wise are not to be found among human beings, but only among the Gods.

Of course, writing something like the above paragraphs on a forum of this nature indicates my own lowly human nature-- which is capricious and over-zealous of its own beliefs-- but I can state sincerely that I am coldly indifferent to whether the masses know that I pray to Apollo, or whether these words excite or amuse or annoy those reading them, or whether I lose a limb tomorrow, or find a hidden chest full of jewels in a cave by the sea.  In each case the results will be that I continue to pray to the Gods and contemplate Truth, and attempt to bring myself into harmony with the Good.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  AgathonZante on Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:55 pm

I see. I have ran into people who are quite...radical, I would say, who have told me that Reconstructionism is the only way to be Hellenic, that there is no Hellenism outside of what they themselves do. I realize, however, that each Greek region was different, which means there are many different ways to be Hellenic. Perhaps I have just been running into the wrong people.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Erodius on Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:07 pm

What is peculiar to me is this obsession with finding a word to present one's own piety to others, this concern of "what I should call myself" and so on.  I think some get a little jolt of excitement by telling people that they believe in Gods instead of nothing.  And there is an all too human attachment to labels so that one can put it every little place on one's Facebook, to make a sophisticated little spectacle of oneself.  Then, when the courage builds, to begin feeling oppressed; that one's spirituality has rights to public respect and cultural self-esteem, so that one can begin sticking it in everyone's face, demanding atonement.  To let everyone and anything know about what Gods you pray to, being "proud" of it.

Absolutely; and I think part of the issue we see here is that, nowadays, we have a paradoxical marriage of a strong aversion to following any rules that you did not make up yourself, with a strong subconscious desire, nonetheless, in this hyper-relativistic world, to have some kind of anchor to hold onto, via which you can feel a communality with others holding onto the same. Then you wind up with the oxymoronic community of anti-community.

Then, once you have that anti-community, you can start crying and whining about how oppressed you are by a community to which you consciously chose to oppose yourself, while sitting in your comfortable suburban home, safe and sound, healthy, fed, typing on your new laptop. Being strengthened, paradoxically, by perceived oppression, these individuals and groups actively strive to make themselves as abhorrent to their opposition as they possibly can, gaining themselves more attention, and solidifying their imagined, self-induced oppression, and defining themselves in terms of their opposition and apophasis. Rather than 'we are X, we believe Y' (which is obviously 'Christian' and 'oppressive' because it affirms anything at all), we see 'we are X, we don't believe Y, or Z, and we don't B, C or D'.

but I can state sincerely that I am coldly indifferent to whether the masses know that I pray to Apollo, or whether these words excite or amuse or annoy those reading them, or whether I lose a limb tomorrow, or find a hidden chest full of jewels in a cave by the sea.  In each case the results will be that I continue to pray to the Gods and contemplate Truth, and attempt to bring myself into harmony with the Good.

I agree wholeheartedly. The 'pride-ism' so prevalent nowadays I find highly off-putting. Why should you be any more proud of who or what you are than anyone else? 'Pride', to me, says: "I am doing this to garner attention, whether positive or negative, because I am what I am in order to make sure that other people know it and, thus, me. Pride-ism is primarily for others, not for the self.

Frankly, it does not concern me one iota whether anyone knows my religious beliefs, or how I believe a state should be run, or whom I take to bed.

I will stand vigorously and promote vehemently what I know to be right and good, but I will do so only when it is useful to do so, else, it is just 'advertising.'

I see. I have ran into people who are quite...radical, I would say, who have told me that Reconstructionism is the only way to be Hellenic, that there is no Hellenism outside of what they themselves do. I realize, however, that each Greek region was different, which means there are many different ways to be Hellenic. Perhaps I have just been running into the wrong people.

The 'reconstructionist' mentality has its value, but also its problems. One one hand, there is a strong emphasis on 'not making it up as you go' and authenticity, but there is, simultaneously, a corollary that anything wherein they see no authentic precedent, one has free reign to improvise whatever. Furthermore, this mentality is often more concerned with historical re-enactment than with actual religiosity (thus the often total rejection of doxa in favor of pure praxis; coupled with justification by localized precedent alone, rather than purpose or conceptual understanding), and, by extension, has a tendency to fixate on very specific and particular historical areas and periods, usually completely ignoring any development or evolution that took place afterward. In terms of religion, this often manifests as a total obsession with early Republican Rome, or with 5th-century BC Athens, and a complete ignoring of the subsequent 600-800 years that passed between Golden Age Athens and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Finally, those of us coming from living traditions, rather than 'reconstructions', understandably find it somewhat insulting (and just plainly inaccurate and intellectually lazy) that those individuals consider religion to have 'stopped' or been 'frozen' in a particular time, and to have to be 'reanimated' like some sort of cryonics project, ignoring (whether consciously or unconsciously) the few, but genuine, living streams.

It's akin to a paleobotanist or paleontologist looking only at dead fossils, turning a blind eye to the coelacanths alive in the Indian Ocean, or the ginkgoes along the side of the street.

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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: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:10 am

Out of Phlegethon wrote:What is peculiar to me is this obsession with finding a word to present one's own piety to others, this concern of "what I should call myself" and so on.  I think some get a little jolt of excitement by telling people that they believe in Gods instead of nothing.  And there is an all too human attachment to labels so that one can put it every little place on one's Facebook, to make a sophisticated little spectacle of oneself.  Then, when the courage builds, to begin feeling oppressed; that one's spirituality has rights to public respect and cultural self-esteem, so that one can begin sticking it in everyone's face, demanding atonement.  To let everyone and anything know about what Gods you pray to, being "proud" of it.  

It is just this pungent bicarbonate of irreducible me-ness and its attendant bubbling (sub)cultural enthusiasms that proves to me that the Wise are not to be found among human beings, but only among the Gods.

Of course, writing something like the above paragraphs on a forum of this nature indicates my own lowly human nature-- which is capricious and over-zealous of its own beliefs-- but I can state sincerely that I am coldly indifferent to whether the masses know that I pray to Apollo, or whether these words excite or amuse or annoy those reading them, or whether I lose a limb tomorrow, or find a hidden chest full of jewels in a cave by the sea.  In each case the results will be that I continue to pray to the Gods and contemplate Truth, and attempt to bring myself into harmony with the Good.


I see it as mostly a precision-of-language issue. If there is a more accurate word to use when in a situation where these ideas come up, then why not use it, and attempt to prevent any misunderstandings?

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Linda on Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:35 am

Icarus wrote:[I see it as mostly a precision-of-language issue. If there is a more accurate word to use when in a situation where these ideas come up, then why not use it, and attempt to prevent any misunderstandings?
That's somewhat half the allure, that it's complicated. That you have to actually THINK. The fast food religion where everything is served instantly and you hardly have to chew, that has hardly applied to me.
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:25 am

Linda wrote:
Icarus wrote:[I see it as mostly a precision-of-language issue. If there is a more accurate word to use when in a situation where these ideas come up, then why not use it, and attempt to prevent any misunderstandings?
 That's somewhat half the allure, that it's complicated. That you have to actually THINK. The fast food religion where everything is served instantly and you hardly have to chew, that has hardly applied to me.

Indeed. And I would really prefer to make people think about things. The less people walking around with eyes half-closed, the better it will be for everyone. Sure, mist don't listen, but some will. Hopefully.

I've always been an optimist.

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Erodius on Sun Feb 23, 2014 9:45 am

However, there is a difference between using a word that needs explaining to most people (as I would imagine just about every word relating to Classical religion would, and probably most other religions likewise. People are not, as a generality, particularly well educated with regard to the world's religions) and simply being either inaccurate or senselessly vague simply because one does not understand what a word implies, or is too intellectually idle to put the effort into thinking and understanding.

I would much rather leave as little room for misunderstanding as possible. I believe in saying what you mean. Most people are too mentally lazy to put effort into decoding a statement, even if you'd like them to.

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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: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:12 am

Erodius wrote:However, there is a difference between using a word that needs explaining to most people (as I would imagine just about every word relating to Classical religion would, and probably most other religions likewise. People are not, as a generality, particularly well educated with regard to the world's religions) and simply being either inaccurate or senselessly vague simply because one does not understand what a word implies, or is too intellectually idle to put the effort into thinking and understanding.

I would much rather leave as little room for misunderstanding as possible. I believe in saying what you mean. Most people are too mentally lazy to put effort into decoding a statement, even if you'd like them to.

I agree with you perfectly. Did we have, perhaps, a misunderstanding somewhere along the way? When I pointed toward "Olympianist" as a good, vague term to use, I meant it's only justifiable usage is when the belief system of a person is not already defined by any other appropriate label. Otherwise is needlessly vague. Like an eclectic neopagan using that term because they don't fit the beliefs of any other system of religious thought. If I wasn't being clear and precise, I apologize (especially because I'm harping on about precision of language Laughing)

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Erodius on Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:29 am

Oh I agree completely. No disconnect there.

Just pointing out that being clear and specific is not at all the same as the sort of 'oversimplification' Linda mentioned.

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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: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Linda on Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:35 pm

I'm with you, one extreme doesn't excuse the other.
But speaking for myself I like it when a challenge is presented  Wink 
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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  apseudos on Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:22 am

I'm about to admit that I come from the dark side! I have spent half my working life involved in building "brands". All I can say is that they DO have a value in terms of communication. Take, as an example, the environmental movement. In a quarter of a century of effort, it has achieved almost nothing in terms of avoiding the on-coming climate cataclism. Why? No, it's not because they're talking rubbish. It's because they're talking in a language only their supporters can or are prepared to hear. They have no brand that speaks to the wider audience.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make is this. If you want to AVOID successful communication (as, in discussion and/or promoting people the THINK), use any word that ends in -ism or -ist. It is a sure-fire trigger word that conjures up notions of "elitism", "elitist", and so on. In religious terms, it's a sure-fire way to ultimate extinction of your flame. A couple of exceptions, because they are so old AND they have retained some meaning in the modern world - Judaism and Buddhism.

Unless you have no interest in communicating with others about your beliefs, there IS a need for a concise descriptor word. Might I suggest something very simple? Olympian.

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Re: Hellenic Belief System

Post  Erodius on Wed Apr 02, 2014 5:10 pm

I'm about to admit that I come from the dark side! I have spent half my working life involved in building "brands". All I can say is that they DO have a value in terms of communication. Take, as an example, the environmental movement. In a quarter of a century of effort, it has achieved almost nothing in terms of avoiding the on-coming climate cataclism. Why? No, it's not because they're talking rubbish. It's because they're talking in a language only their supporters can or are prepared to hear. They have no brand that speaks to the wider audience.
I have to agree with that. Whether anyone would have it be so or not, the fact of the matter is that people don't like to put much thought into what they hear. People want to know just what something is with only a single word. To be successful, a brand name/title is almost a necessity. 



Anyway, the point I wanted to make is this. If you want to AVOID successful communication (as, in discussion and/or promoting people the THINK), use any word that ends in -ism or -ist. It is a sure-fire trigger word that conjures up notions of "elitism", "elitist", and so on. In religious terms, it's a sure-fire way to ultimate extinction of your flame. A couple of exceptions, because they are so old AND they have retained some meaning in the modern world - Judaism and Buddhism.


However, I disagree with this, partially. Certainly there are the occasional special snowflakes, all of whom are identical to the other special snowflakes in their missions to be totally unlike anybody else, who shriek in horror at anything that implies commonalities with others (as do -isms, whether religious, political, or ethical). But I do not think this is to the extent of being a 'sure fire trigger.' Certainly, there are those that have become meaningless through misuse and deliberate distortion, but there are numerous -isms that are the semantic best choice (I'd venture it say, most such words), without which there exists no good alternative other than clunky periphrasis, which can itself, I'd would say, sound deliberately obfuscating.                                                             

_________________
"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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