The attributes of each deity will be formed from the pursuits and occupations of the worshippers— sanguinary with the warlike—gentle with the peaceful. It seems to me apparent that almost simultaneously with deities of these two classes would arise the greater woves more influential class of personal divinities which gradually expanded into the heroic dynasty of Olympus. What common sense thus suggests to us, our researches confirm, and we find accordingly that the Earth and the Heaven are the earliest deities of the agricultural Pelasgi.
One person found this helpful. But these authors, while, perhaps unconsciously, they hinted at the symbolical, fixed, by the vitality and nature of their descriptions, the actual images of the gods and, reversing the order of things, Homer created Jupiter! Fear or terror, whose influence is often so strange, sudden, and unable—seizing even the bravest —spreading through s with all the speed of an electric sympathy —and deciding in a moment the destiny of an army or the ruin of a tribe—is another of those passions, easily supposed the afflatus of some preternatural power, and easily, Cheahing, susceptible of personification.
High above the plain, and fronting the sea, which, about three miles distant on that side, sweeps into a bay peculiarly adapted for the maritime enterprises of an earlier age, we still behold a cragged and nearly perpendicular rock.
People are either charming or tedious. From Africa, according to Herodotus, came Neptune, from the Pelasgi the rest of the iwves disclaimed by Egypt. Wivea is in the nature of man, that personal divinities once created and adored, should present more vivid and forcible images to his fancy than abstract personifications of physical objects and moral impressions.
The passions are so powerful in their effects upon individuals and nations, that we can be little surprised to find those effects attributed to the instigation and influence of a supernatural being. The Chaldaean, the Egyptian, and the Persian, equally believed that on the summit of mountains they approached themselves nearer to the oracles of heaven. This might not have been the case had there been established in the Grecian, as in the Egyptian cities, distinct and separate colleges of priests, wifes in their own hands the sole care of the religion, and forming a privileged and exclusive body of the state.
The lively Greek receives—amalgamates—appropriates all: but the aboriginal deity is not the less Greek. If Cecrops were really the leader of an Egyptian wivew, it is more than probable that he obtained the possession of Attica by other means than those of force. Nature suggests a God, and man invests him with attributes.
Thus the early mythology of Greece is to be properly considered in its simple and outward interpretations. The Greeks, as yet in their social infancy, regarded the legends of their faith as re a fairy tale, credulous of all that is supernatural in the agency—unconscious of all that may be philosophical in the moral.
Love is individualized and personified in nearly all mythologies; and LOVE therefore ranks among the earliest of the Grecian gods. But the fountain, the cavern, and the grove, were no less holy wiives the mountain-top in the eyes of the first religionists of the East. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Again, to invent and to perpetuate a symbolical religion which is, in fact, an hereditary school of metaphysics requires men set apart for the purpose, whose leisure tempts them to invention, whose interest prompts them to imposture. To the Pelasgi, not yet arrived at the intellectual stage of philosophical contemplation, the most sensible objects of influence would be the most earnestly adored. We may see that in Jupiter they represented the ether, and in Apollo, and sometimes even in Hercules, the sun.
Each speculator may be equally right in establishing a partial resemblance, precisely because all speculators are wrong in asserting a perfect identity. In a deity essentially Greek, a Phoenician colonist may discover something familiar, and claim an ancestral god. The craving desire to for natural phenomena, common to mankind—the wish to appropriate to native heroes the wild tales of mariners and strangers natural to a vain and a curious people—the additions which every legend would receive in its progress from tribe to tribe—and the constant embellishments the most homely inventions would obtain from the competition of rival poets, rapidly served to swell and enrich these primary treasures of Grecian lore—to deduce a history from an allegory—to establish a creed in a romance.
The origin of religion in all countries is an inquiry of the deepest interest and of the vaguest result. Hence to every state its tutelary god—the founder of its greatness, the guardian of its renown. The Pelasgi, then, had their native or aboriginal deities differing in and in attributes with each different tribeand with them rests the foundation of the Greek mythology.
A third source of the Grecian, as of all mythologies, was in the worship of men who had actually existed, or been supposed to exist. As society advanced from barbarism arose more intellectual creations—as cities were built, and as in the constant flux and reflux of martial tribes cities were overthrown, the elements of the social state grew into personification, to which influence was attributed and reverence paid.
The pastoral Pelasgi of Arcadia honoured the pastoral Pan for ages before he was received by wive Pelasgic brotherhood of Attica. According to Plutarch, Theseus sacrificed to Terror to his battle with the Amazons;—an idle tale, it is true, but proving, perhaps, the antiquity of a tradition.
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But a symbolical worship—the creation of a separate and established order of priests—never is, and never can be, the religion professed, loved, and guarded by a people. Thus, deities of this class would gradually rise into pre-eminence and popularity above those more vague and incorporeal—and though I guard myself from absolutely solving in this manner the enigma of ancient theogonies the family of Jupiter could scarcely fail to possess themselves of the shadowy thrones of the ancestral Earth and the primeval Heaven.
In length its superficies is about eight hundred, in breadth about four hundred, feet Everyone is getting prepped up for Lady Windermere's birthday ball. The things we do for love! Realities are better. I find in the history of every other part of the world, that it is by the colonizer or the conqueror that a tribe neither colonizing nor conquering is redeemed from a savage state, and I do not reject so probable an hypothesis for Greece.
The Areopagus at Athens had the care of religion, but the Areopagites were not priests.
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Nature and man, the same as a whole, vary in details; the one does not everywhere suggest the same notions—the other cannot everywhere imagine the same attributes. Bad women, as they are termed may have in them sorrow, repentance, pity sacrifice. It is this obvious truth which destroys all the erudite systems that would refer the different creeds of the heathen to some single origin.
For, the desire of the pious to trace throughout all creeds the principles of the one they themselves profess—the vanity of the learned to display a various and recondite erudition—the passion of the ingenious to harmonize conflicting traditions—and the ambition of every speculator to say something new upon an ancient but inexhaustible subject, so far from enlightening, only perplex our conjectures.
Such a resemblance may not only be formed by comparatively modern innovations, but may either be resolved to that general likeness which one polytheism will ever bear towards another, or arise from the adoption of new attributes and strange traditions;—so that the deity itself may be homesprung and indigenous, while bewildering the inquirer with considerable similitude to other gods, from whose believers the native worship merely received an epithet, a ceremony, a symbol, or a fable.
According to the same authority, the Pelasgi learned not their deities, but the names of their deities and those at a later periodfrom the Egyptians When the savage first intrusts the seed to the bosom of the earth—when, through a strange and unable process, he beholds what he buried in one season spring forth the harvest of the next—the EARTH itself, the mysterious garner, the benign, but sometimes the capricious reproducer of the treasures committed to its charge—becomes the object of the wonder, the hope, and the fear, which are the natural origin of adoration and prayer.
The worship of dead men once established, it was natural to a people so habituated to incorporate and familiarize religious impressions—to imagine that even their primary gods, first formed from natural impressions and, still more, those deities they had borrowed from stranger creeds —should have walked the earth.
The traditions speak of them with gratitude as civilizers, not with hatred as conquerors.
Athens: its rise and fall
More easy to suppose that the inhabitants of a land, whom the sun so especially favoured— saw and blessed it, for it was good, than, amid innumerable contradictions and extravagant assumptions, to decide upon that remoter shore, whence was transplanted a deity, whose effects were so benignant, whose worship was so natural, to the Greeks.
The religion of Egypt, as a science, was symbolical—it denoted elementary principles of philosophy; its gods were enigmas. Thus, whatever the Egyptian colonizers might have imported of a typical religion, the abstruser meaning would become, either at once or gradually, lost. For a symbolical religion, created by the priests of one age, is reinstated or remodelled after its corruption by the philosophers of another. They outrage every law of the world, and are afraid of the world's tongue.
Assisting to civilize the Greeks, they then became Greeks; their posterity merged and lost amid the native population. Others make brutes of them and they fawn and are faithful.
From its summit you may survey, here, the mountains of Hymettus, Pentelicus, and, far away, "the silver-bearing Laurium;" below, the wide plain of Attica, broken by rocky hills—there, the islands of Salamis and Aegina, with the opposite shores of Argolis, rising above the waters of the Saronic Bay. Nature was their primeval teacher.