January 23, 2007


Caption: Greek myths say Zeus was raised by a goat on the island of Crete. Venus is thus related by marriage to the gods.

Finally some cool news for a change. According to an Associated Press story this past weekend:

ATHENS, Greece - After all these centuries, Zeus may have a few thunderbolts left. A tiny group of worshippers plans a rare ceremony Sunday to honor the ancient Greek gods, at Athens' 1,800-year-old Temple of Olympian Zeus. Greece's Culture Ministry has declared the central Athens site off-limits, but worshippers say they will defy the decision.

While El Cabrero is officially a fairly almost orthodox and generally monotheistic Episcopalian, at least in months that contain the letter "R," I must admit to having a major thing for the ancient Greeks and a certain fondness for this Hairy Thunderer and his companions, especially Apollo.

And Artemis. And maybe Dionysus. Hera was kind of cool too. OK, I like em all.

Greek gods were kind of like a deck of playing cards. One by itself didn't make sense without the others.

For all the virtues of monotheistic religions, they do to be fairly, well, bloodthirsty. A while back, a rabbi who is a contributing columnist in the Charleston Gazette noted that these religions often do not play well with others.

The Greek gods, whatever their failings, were a bit more laid back. They wouldn't think of tormenting someone for eternity unless somebody really personally ticked them off (like Tantalus and Sisyphus did, for example). They are known more for their Olympian laughter.

The main difference between them and us was they they were stronger, more beautiful, and had a better time. Oh yeah, and they didn't age or die. Sometimes they were simply called something like the athanoi or "deathless ones."

In many respects, the Iliad is more compassionate than a lot of texts that pass as sacred. In that epic, the sufferings of Greeks and Trojans are depicted with equal compassion. Try to find that in the Book of Joshua...

Maybe pluralistic views of the universe are sometimes less likely to make people think they are in the exclusive possession of truth and are favored by Heaven to kill those who think differently.

But then in the myths the Greek gods cared less about people, even their favorites, than most people care about their pets. Call it benign neglect.

I have not seen further coverage to find out whether the latter-day Zeus worshippers carried out their ceremony, but I doubt that they killed too many people in his name. Or even banned very many books or condemned others to eternal damnation. That's a plus these days.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I don’t know why, the as I gazed at the picture and read the words, the Greek god Pan kept coming into my mind.

El Cabrero said...

Pan is another big one at Goat Rope Farm...