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Non-ethnocentric books?

Post  TheSeekingDisciple on Sun Dec 07, 2014 8:06 pm

What are some books out there on mythology that aren't ethnocentric? Honestly, I have been through so many Greek/Roman mythology books that stink of ethnocentrism. I have even read one that was like "This was a primitive era before real religion." I just want a book that lets the mythology speak for itself. Jay McPherson is pretty decent, but who else is good?
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Re: Non-ethnocentric books?

Post  Erodius on Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:22 pm

TheSeekingDisciple wrote:What are some books out there on mythology that aren't ethnocentric? Honestly, I have been through so many Greek/Roman mythology books that stink of ethnocentrism. I have even read one that was like "This was a primitive era before real religion." I just want a book that lets the mythology speak for itself. Jay McPherson is pretty decent, but who else is good?

I think you rather mean something like Christian-chauvinism than ethnocentrism, but yes, you will find this tone in perhaps the majority of works written about Classical religion, aside from some sympathetic scholars, and those works from Antiquity itself. 

The victors write history . . . 'vicisti, Galilaeë' 

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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

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Re: Non-ethnocentric books?

Post  TheSeekingDisciple on Mon Dec 08, 2014 9:21 pm

That is true. It's kind of sad. It's also sad when the least chauvinistic book in the public library is by Robert Graves.
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Re: Non-ethnocentric books?

Post  DavidMcCann on Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:35 pm

TheSeekingDisciple wrote:That is true. It's kind of sad. It's also sad when the least chauvinistic book in the public library is by Robert Graves.
And that's because he's just paraphrasing Classical writers; when it comes to the notes, he's just as biassed, but towards his own odd ideas rather than to Christianity.

There does seem to be more of a problem with Classicists. Hornung, writing on Egyptian religion, said that it was "not invented, but experienced"; the only Classicist who wrote like that was Otto, and his colleagues assumed that meant he'd converted. What we need is more Hellenes in academia!

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Re: Non-ethnocentric books?

Post  Erodius on Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:51 pm

What we need is more Hellenes in academia!


Speaking from the perspective of just such a person, I can second that.

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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-ethnocentric books?

Post  TheSeekingDisciple on Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:57 pm

I definitely agree. It`s just beyond me how some of these people are unable to see a clear metaphor. They would never do this with Hinduism or even First Nations Spirituality. You think it would be common sense that if Hindus takes their myths as allegory maybe the Greeks did too.
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