Recommendation

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Ancient Greeks and the Formation of Man.



[The Ancient Greeks and the Formation of Man.]

And founding on the formation of man from the dust, the philosophers constantly term the body earthy. Homer, too, does not hesitate to put the following as an imprecation:—

“But may you all become earth and water.”

As Esaias says, “And trample them down as clay.” And Callimachus clearly writes:—

“That was the year in which
Birds, fishes, quadrupeds,
Spoke like Prometheus’ clay.”

And the same again:—

“If thee Prometheus formed,
And thou art not of other clay.”

Hesiod says of Pandora:—

“And bade Hephæstus, famed, with all his speed,
Knead earth with water, and man’s voice and mind
Infuse.”

The Stoics, accordingly, define nature to be artificial fire, advancing systematically to generation. And God and His Word are by Scripture figuratively termed fire and light. But how? Does not Homer himself, is not Homer himself, paraphrasing the retreat of the water from the land, and the clear uncovering of the dry land, when he says of Tethys and Oceanus:—

“For now for a long time they abstain from
Each other’s bed and love?”

Again, power in all things is by the most intellectual among the Greeks ascribed to God; Epicharmus—he was a Pythagorean—saying:—

“Nothing escapes the divine. This it behoves thee to know.
He is our observer. To God nought is impossible.”

And the lyric poet:—

“And God from gloomy night
Can raise unstained light,
And can in darksome gloom obscure
The day’s refulgence pure.”

He alone who is able to make night during the period of day is God. In the Phoenomena Aratus writes thus:—

“With Zeus let us begin; whom let us ne’er,
Being men, leave unexpressed. All full of Zeus,
The streets, and throngs of men, and full the sea,
And shores, and everywhere we Zeus enjoy.”
He adds:—

“For we also are
His offspring; . . . . ”

that is, by creation.

“Who, bland to men,
Propitious signs displays, and to their tasks
Arouses. For these signs in heaven He fixed,
The constellations spread, and crowned the year
With stars; to show to men the seasons’ tasks,
That all things may proceed in order sure.
Him ever first, Him last too, they adore:
Hail Father, marvel great—great boon to men.”

And before him, Homer, framing the world in accordance with Moses on the Vulcan wrought shield, says:—

“On it he fashioned earth, and sky, and sea,
And all the signs with which the heaven is crowned.”

For the Zeus celebrated in poems and prose compositions leads the mind up to God. And already, so to speak, Democritus writes, “that a few men are in the light, who stretch out their hands to that place which we Greeks now call the air. Zeus speaks all, and he hears all, and distributes and takes away, and he is king of all.” And more mystically the Boeotian Pindar, being a Pythagorean, says:—

“One is the race of gods and men,
And of one mother both have breath;”

that is, of matter: and names the one creator of these things, whom he calls Father, chief artificer, who furnishes the means of advancement on to divinity, according to merit. ~Clement of Alexandrea, The Stromata, Pages 988-990.