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Non-Greek Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:56 pm

Would it be against the morals, or outside the title of Hellenist, for a Hellenist to honor a God of another culture?
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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Erodius on Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:08 pm

In the theogonies, the Gods create and ornament the whole cosmos, not simply one place or one country. The Greeks and Romans recognized the Gods as being the regents of all the world, not only Greece or Italy – the idea of 'other gods' was largely an oxymoron. 

However, upon encountering other nations, rarely, if ever, were the religions of these foreign nations denied as false. Instead, they were Hellenized/Romanized, and the divinities would be equated with the Classical Gods, usually by obvious analogies in terms of domain, parentage and/or association. This is called intepretatio Graeca or interpretatio Romana. This would often result in the foreign name being added to the list of Greek and Latin epithets and titles, as well as in iconographic mergers where the Hellenized/Romanized people's divinities came to be depiction in Graeco-Roman form and with Graeco-Roman attributes alongside the original attributes. 

Among the Celts, for instance, their sky god Taranis, whose attribute was the wheel, was identified as a form of Iuppiter/Ζεύς, and, with the new availability of sculpture from the Roman world, was depicted in statues as Iuppiter holding a wheel in place of the thunderbolt, or, sometimes, both a wheel and the thunderbolt. Lenus, the Celts' youthful war god was easily identified as Mars. In the Near East, the Semitic Ba'al, the sky/thunder god and Ataratheh, the goddess of love and the sea, came to be Iuppiter-Belus and Venus-Atargatis. In Persia, Ahura Mazda, the supreme god of Zoroastrianism was known as Iuppiter-Oromasdes, Marduk, the protector god of Babylon became Heracles-Mardochaeus. Isis was sometimes a form of Latona, or Proserpine (or sometimes Fortune/Ceres) Horus was certainly Apollo, Osiris was usually equated to the dismembered Orphic Bacchus and with Pluto. Venus sometimes wore the headdress of Hathor even outside of Egypt, and the accounts of Alexander's Indian campaigns make note that the people of western India worship mostly Heracles (probably Rama) and Dionysus (probably Gopala-Krishna). 

Finally, liturgical worship would remain in the Graeco-Roman rite. Someone from Italy or Greece or Hispania visiting Edessa or Philae would sacrifice to Venus-Atargatis or Ἀφροδίτη-Ἁθώρ [Aphrodítē-'Athṓr] just the same as Venus/Ἀφροδίτη Urania back home – these were just exotic forms of the deities he/she already knew, and who are the divine forces behind the whole of the universe. 

That's my nuanced and elaborate answer to what could have been a yes/no question – but I think answering as such would have been a disservice.  Wink

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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."
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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  AgathonZante on Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:40 pm

So all Gods were the same, just presented differently from culture to culture?
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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:25 am

AgathonZante wrote:So all Gods were the same, just presented differently from culture to culture?

Yes.

For instance, Apollo and Shiva are one and the same, simply different appellations given to the same being by different cultures. And also Parvati and Artemis. One could say Lugh of the Celts is a form of Apollo, the Hindu Indra is Zeus, and I would even say that the kami known as Amaterasu in Japan is perhaps the same as Hestia.

Just as there are only one physical sun and moon, each known by thousands of names according to language and culture, so too are the Gods, though they be constant and unchanging, known by many names.

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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  J_Agathokles on Sat Sep 20, 2014 6:37 am

I don't always assume that the Gods of foreign culture are the same as Hellenic Gods. I personally consider ancient identifications of foreign Gods with Hellenic ones to be more to say that the foreign god is like the one they are identified with. Unless of course there is a considerable amount of evidence, or that the foreign deity is really the Hellenic deity adopted by a foreign culture - e.g. the Roman Apollo is the Hellenic Apollon adopted by the Romans.

In any case, there is no impediment for worshipping a foreign deity. Though you have to be mindful of their original cultural context and rituals, and will have to decide how much you integrate into the Hellenic ritual format. Alternatively it is entirely possible that it may inspire you to take on study of additional cultural ritual custom and associations.

I think this book might be interesting in this regard: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/207483-

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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Sep 21, 2014 12:28 pm

J_Agathokles wrote:I don't always assume that the Gods of foreign culture are the same as Hellenic Gods. I personally consider ancient identifications of foreign Gods with Hellenic ones to be more to say that the foreign god is like the one they are identified with. Unless of course there is a considerable amount of evidence, or that the foreign deity is really the Hellenic deity adopted by a foreign culture - e.g. the Roman Apollo is the Hellenic Apollon adopted by the Romans.

In any case, there is no impediment for worshipping a foreign deity. Though you have to be mindful of their original cultural context and rituals, and will have to decide how much you integrate into the Hellenic ritual format. Alternatively it is entirely possible that it may inspire you to take on study of additional cultural ritual custom and associations.

I think this book might be interesting in this regard: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/207483-

I find it odd to consider, for example, that Helios and Amaterasu could both simultaneously wield complete dominance over the same sun that shines on Greece and Japan alike. And if they were to hold power jointly, I'd have to invoke Ockham's Razor.

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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Daedalus on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:11 pm

What about the Christian God? How did the Danaans interpret that?

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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:24 pm

Daedalus wrote:What about the Christian God? How did the Danaans interpret that?

The Judeo-Christian God, YHWH, was oft equated with Sabazios who, in the Orphic Hymns, is explicitly equated with Zeus. Flowing from that, one could say Jesus was possibly an incarnation of Dionysos. The passion of the Christ bears marked similarities to the tale of Zagreus-Dionysos, for sure.

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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Daedalus on Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:58 pm

When I talked to a Seventh Day Adventist she said that the Christian God was like all of the Gods put together. But I never thought about Jesus' relation to Dionysos. Thats interesting.


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Re: Non-Greek Gods

Post  Erodius on Sun Sep 21, 2014 3:15 pm

The Judeo-Christian God, YHWH, was oft equated with Sabazios who, in the Orphic Hymns, is explicitly equated with Zeus. Flowing from that, one could say Jesus was possibly an incarnation of Dionysos. The passion of the Christ bears marked similarities to the tale of Zagreus-Dionysos, for sure.

I'd recommend question 6 of chapter 4 of Plutarch's Symposiacs — it is a group of Greeks discussing what god the Jews worship. They (and I, likewise) conclude that Iahve is a form of Bacchus.  



When I talked to a Seventh Day Adventist she said that the Christian God was like all of the Gods put together. But I never thought about Jesus' relation to Dionysos. Thats interesting.

You might find interesting the Hellenistic cult of the Hypsistarians – essentially, culturally and religiously Graeco-Roman monotheistic worshippers of Ζεύς/Iuppiter Hypsistus (the 'most high'). 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypsistarians 

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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: Non-Greek Gods

Post  DavidMcCann on Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:50 pm

It's a bit off-topic, but Yahweh is not the Christian God.

In early times, the Canaanites (and that included the Israelites) worshiped Ilu (Hebrew El) "god", who was like Hypsistos or the Platonic One. He had numerous children, the chief of whom was Ba‘lu Hadadu "Lord Thunder", like Zeus. He also assigned minor gods to look after various tribes, such as Yahweh. The Israelites gradually inflated the role of Yahweh, first to take over that of Hadad (the whole New Year festival originally belonged to him) and finally to take over that of El. But as Yahweh said to Moses, "I am the god of Abraham". As just a guardian angel, I think he only rates as being a daimon!

Augustine regarded the Christian God as the same as the One and Gregory of Nazianzus equated him to Hypsistos. Incidentally, in 2008 the Catholic Church banned the use of Yahweh in services.

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