« Prev The Myths are Not to Be Taken Literally. Next »

Chapter II.—The Myths are Not to Be Taken Literally.

“The wisest of the ancients, men who had by hard labour learned all truth, kept the path of knowledge hid from those who were unworthy and had no taste for lessons in divine things.10541054    [Compare in general, with chaps. 2–22, the mythological statements in Recognitions, x. 17–41.—R.]  For it is not really true that from Ouranos and his mother Ge were born twelve children, as the myth counts them:  six sons, Okeanos, Koios, Krios, Hyperion, Japetos, Kronos; and six daughters, Thea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter, Tethys, and Rhea.10551055    [Compare Recognitions, x. 17, 31.—R.]  Nor that Kronos, with the knife of adamant, mutilated his father Ouranos, as you say, and threw the part into the sea; nor that Aphrodite sprang from the drops of blood which flowed from it; nor that Kronos associated with Rhea, and devoured his first-begotten son Pluto, because a certain saying of Prometheus led him to fear that a child born from him would wax stronger than himself, and spoil him of his kingdom; nor that he devoured in the same way Poseidon, his second child; nor that, when Zeus was born next, his mother Rhea concealed him, and when Kronos asked for him that he might devour him, gave him a stone instead; nor that this, when it was devoured, pressed those who had been previously devoured, and forced them out, so that Pluto, who was devoured first, came out first, and after him Poseidon, and then Zeus;10561056    The passage seems to be corrupt. nor that Zeus, as the story goes, preserved by the wit of his mother, ascended into heaven, and spoiled his father of the kingdom; nor that he punished his father’s brothers; nor that he came down to lust after mortal women; nor that he associated with his sisters, and daughters, and sisters-in-law, and was guilty of shameful pæderasty; nor that he devoured his daughter Metis, in order that from her he might make Athene be born out of his own brain (and from his thigh might bear Dionysos, who is said to have been rent in pieces by the Titans)10571057    The common story about Dionysus is, that he was the unborn son, not of Metis, but of Semele.  Wieseler supposes that some words have fallen out, or that the latter part of the sentence is a careless interpolation.; nor that he held a feast at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis;10581058    [Compare, on “the supper of the gods,” chap. 15, and Recognitions, x. 41.—R.] nor that he excluded Eris (discord) from the marriage; nor that Eris on her part, thus dishonoured, contrived an occasion of quarrelling and discord among the feasters; nor that she took a golden apple from the gardens of the Hesperides, and wrote on it ‘For the fair.’  And then they fable how Hera, and Athena, and Aphrodite, found the apple, and quarrelling about it, came to Zeus; and he 263did not decide it for them, but sent them by Hermes to the shepherd Paris, to be judged of their beauty.  But there was no such judging of the goddesses; nor did Paris give the apple to Aphrodite; nor did Aphrodite, being thus honoured, honour him in return, by giving him Helen to wife.  For the honour bestowed by the goddess could never have furnished a pretext for a universal war, and that to the ruin of him who was honoured, himself nearly related to the race of Aphrodite.  But, my son, as I said, such stories have a peculiar and philosophical meaning, which can be allegorically set forth in such a way that you yourself would listen with wonder.”  And I said, “I beseech you not to torment me with delay.”  And he said, “Do not be afraid; for I shall lose no time, but commence at once.


« Prev The Myths are Not to Be Taken Literally. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |