…Everlasting to Everlasting…

*

Euhemerism: an ideology that humanises the gods…?

*

Euhemerus of Messene was a widely travelled man. He wrote a travel book in which he described his visit to an island called Panchaia in the Indian Ocean. In the island’s Temple of Zeus, he said, there was a golden pillar on which Zeus himself had written his autobiography as the king of Panchaia. Zeus had also written the biography of his father, Cronos, on the pillar, and Hermes had then added the biographies of Artemis and Apollo. Unfortunately, Euhemerus’s book does not survive, and no one else has ever found the island Panchaia, so later writers accused Euhemerus of inventing the whole thing.

*

*

The most sympathetic account of Euhemerus’s work is contained in Diodorus Siculus’s, ‘World History’, where Diodorus explains that even supposing one accepts Euhemerus’s story it does not necessarily follow that the gods he described were not genuine! Beings who had been human but who had ‘graduated’ to super-humanity, argues Diodorus, were common in the religious traditions of the eastern mediterranean. Immediately after summarising Euhemerus’s account of Panchaia, Diodorus explores the  origin myths of the ancient greeks.

*

*

‘…The majority of the gods, the Cretans say, had their beginnings in Crete and set out from there to visit many regions of the inhabited world. The Idaean Dactyli, of Crete, discovered both the use of fire and what the metals copper and iron ore are, as well as the means of working them. Since they were looked upon as the originators of great blessings for the race of men they were accorded immortal honours. After the Idaean Dactyli, there were nine Curetes who excelled in wisdom and discovered many things of use to men generally. They were the first to gather sheep into flocks, to domesticate several other animals which men fatten and to discover the production of honey… The Cretans also say that Poseidon was the first man to concern himself with sea-faring and to fit out fleets and this is why the tradition has been passed along to succeeding generations that he controls whatever is done on the sea and why mariners honour him by means of sacrifices… As regards the gods then, men of ancient times have handed down to later generations two different conceptions: certain of the gods, they say, are eternal and imperishable, such as the sun and moon and other stars in the heavens, for each of these their generation and duration is from everlasting to everlasting, but the other gods, we are told, were terrestial beings who attained immortal honour and fame because they were benefactors of mankind…’

*

*

Brigit, a woman poet, daughter of the Dagda. She is Brigit, the lady of wisdom, that is, the goddess whom the poets adored. For great and brilliant was her tender loving care. Therefore they call her the goddess of the poets. Her sisters were Brigit, the lady of healing, and Brigit, the lady of metal work, the Dagda’s daughters, from whose names Brigit was called goddess among the Hibernians.

Cormac, Silence

*

8 thoughts on “…Everlasting to Everlasting…

  1. This is a very interesting theory- I’d never heard of it within in the Greek pantheon. I think it was common in older civilizations. I believe Gilgamesh was elevated to godhood after a period of time in Babylon and it was fairly common in societies to liken their kings to gods. It totally makes sense that the Greek gods got their start in a similar way, though it never occurred to me.

    Great article! It definitely got me thinking

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This leaves a lot of food for thought. As I have been studying The Osiriad, I have come across Gods who seemed to change back and forth from being very human, or having human traits and characteristics to Gods, and I had to stop and wonder if they are us or are we those Gods? Yes, in Gilgamesh, when he goes down into the dark 12 areas, in the end result he is not immortal, but must die too. He did become a God for a time, but as he became the friend of Gilgamesh, he lost that power or being.

    Like

  3. I meant to say also that Gilgamesh also transformed from the being he was to a human form. I wondered if it is deeds that seem to separate us from the Gods. The deeds that the Gods created were not always good deeds, but they did do a lot of things like helping to have things for the people to eat, and they did not do those things by magic, but by actual labor. So this whole issue is an interesting one and I wonder if we will ever have answers.

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment - we would love to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.