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A god for scholars?

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A god for scholars?

Post  DavidMcCann on Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:59 pm

Does any one else find it odd that the Greek pantheon has no god specifically associated with learning or scholarship?

When the Greeks translated the names of the planets from Akkadian, "star of Nabu" became "star of Hermes": presumably Nanbu's role as scribe for the gods was equated with Hermes' role as a messenger. Perhaps the equation of Hermes and Thoth was made on similar grounds. On the other hand, the Greeks who settled in Mesopotamia in Hellenistic times equated Nabu with Apollo.

Minerva has associations with wisdom — her name comes from the same root as the word "mind" — and  she was equated to Athena, yet no-one seems to have regarded Athena as a patron of learning.

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Re: A god for scholars?

Post  Erodius on Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:24 pm

Apollo (eloquence, prophecy), Pallas (wisdom, skill) and Mercury (communication) would all be associated with the various dominions of learning – but the fact that none is specifically a deity of learning in the sense of education/being taught in school has something to do with the different character of Classical education versus contemporary schooling. 

Education was simply a combined instruction in various liberal arts – each of which would have its own associate divinity. Likewise, beyond basic education, more advanced education invariably had something to do with some particular professional specialization – usually rhetoric, politics, or law.

In other words, Classical education was seen as more of a 'union of parts' than it is today, where it is more often seen as a single entity.

"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

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All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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