Greek Mythic History


Already in the 3rd century B.C. the Greeks were becoming suspicious about the nature of their myths, which had lost much of the vitality of the Homeric period, as they became formalized into state-symbols with standard political associations. They were well on their way to slipping into Apollonius' late literary 'Textbook of Mythology' and at a later date the final compilation of the scrivener Bullfinch. Euhemerus, living about 320 to 160 B.C., already saw that there was an emptiness in the standardized Greek mythology, which he approached by reassessing it in a newly critical and logical manner.

Now everyone loves the Greek myths, from schoolchildren to the popular academician Joseph Campbell, who drew from his early studies in Indian mythology a strained view that the Greeks were also spiritual mythologists. It is true there are connections, even verbal parallels between India and Greece coming from an ancient Indo-European connection. But in India the myths were subsumed into a rich religious and philosophical tradition, while the Greek parallels floated loose in a semi-secular society which had no systemic view of religion or any serious working theology. Of course that separateness was the secret of Greece's outstanding success in the worlds of practical science, mathematics and theoretical physics.

This study follows the lead of Euhemerus as an authentic thinker back in the Hellenistic period, who believed that the Gods of Greece were in fact humanly-conceived incarnations of important historical figures who had achieved high reputation by advancing several areas of Greek society. Leaving spirituality to India, I follow a historical route to re-establish the myths with History, often at a very remote, even pre-Greek historical period. But if we ask what the real religion of Greece was, it will be the 'Mysteries' which drew parts of the ancient mythological background into a popular set of religious practices, constituting the real religion of Greece. Of these Mysteries we know almost nothing because of their sworn secrecy, as well as the condemnation the early Christian church, which incidentally absorbed traits from the much feared Mysteries, like ritual ingesting of the deity's blood and body. In a long trait of historical evolution, the Myths have shown a curious way of persisting in a changing format, while retaining the ancient words and stories.

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