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God in Greek philosophy to the time of Socrates by Roy Kenneth Hack

By Roy Kenneth Hack

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Belief held that the soul a portion of divine Air or Fire. C. The only addi- was the new and exciting apart from that, the only doctrine of the mystery religions; important changes that occurred consist in the accentuation of tendencies already present in the thought of Hesiod. Homer and Hesiod had the gods who were mankind far removed from and had promised a happy a few of the most favored only left their ancestors ; immortality after death to heroes. Hesiod, observing the hints of Homer about the degeneracy of the present generation of men, has expanded them into his eloquent portrayal of the Iron Age; he in his turn hints that the only real hope of mankind lies in the extinction of this race and the recommencement of the cycle of a change, a suggestion which became dogma in many Greek 1 It is no wonder that the mystery religions, which guaranteed a happy immortality to all their adherents, was swept Greece.

The essential characteristics of the Homeric god are therefore the possession of power, of life, and of a place in cosmic history. Anthropomorphism is not an Indispensable adjunct; moral perfection is not an Indispensable adjunct. Power is not necessarily moral; on the contrary, from man's point of view, many C21 I] GOD IN GREEK PHILOSOPHY powers are when he and Homer evil, ridicules Ares, is rarely more eloquent than who when wounded "bellowed loud thousand warriors, or ten thousand, cry in battle/' and asked Zeus,, in a speech of marvellous irony, whether 15 Zeus had no indignation at beholding these violent deeds.

Hesiod concludes his invocation of the Muses with these remarkable lines "Hail, children of Zeus Grant lovely song, and celebrate the holy race of immortals who are for ever, those that were born of Earth and of starry Sky and of dark Night, and those that salt Sea reared. Tell how at the first gods and Earth came to be, and Rivers, and boundless Sea with its rushing swell, and the gleaming Stars, and wide Sky above, and the gods who were bom of these gods and are the givers of good things; tell how these latter gods divided their wealth and how they shared their honors, and how at the first they took Olympus of the many ravines.

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