Salve Tores

Art - Art And Art History 253 with Bent at Washington and Lee University - StudyBlueHistory of the Devil
By Paul Carus, [1900]

p. 193
THE IDEA OF SALVATION IN GREECE AND ITALY.

ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ ποηροῦ.
Matt. vi. 14.

THE first century of [this] era is a time in which the fear of evil leads to the organisation of religious institutions having in view the atonement of sin and the redemption of the soul from the terrors of hell.

The ideas evil, sin, hell, salvation, and immortal life were familiar to the Greek mind even before the days of Plato, but were still mixed up with the traditional mythology. When philosophers began to wage war against the gross idolatry of Greek polytheism, a fermentation set in which prepared the Greek nation for the reception of Christianity. We say “prepared,” but we might just as well say that it resulted in the formation of the Christian Church as an institution to deliver mankind from evil.

The fear of punishment in the life to come led in the days of savagery to human sacrifices as a vicarious atonement. This barbarous practice was abandoned in the progress of civilisation by a substitution of animal victims. But the idea lingered in the minds of the people and was retained in Christianity, where, however, it received a new significance when restated under the influence of Paul’s message of the crucified, and therefore glorified, Saviour. Christ’s death was now declared to be a sacrifice that would be sufficient for all the ages to come. (The Christian Church never lost sight of the idea that a human sacrifice is indispensable for the expiation of sin, the atonement being procured by the mystic effects of faith. Hence the constant reference of Christ’s death on the cross to both Abraham’s offering of Isaac and the miraculous healing power of the brazen serpent in the desert.)


https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/19400.jpg[] HADES.
(Greatly reduced from Mon. Inst., VIII., 9.)

Picture of a vase found at Altamura, representing a period in which the fear of Hell had become greatly subdued and the belief in its terrors is offset by the legend of a return from the realm of the dead and the conquest of death.

The upper center shows Pluto and Persephone, the rulers of the Nether World, in their palace, the former with scepter and Kantharos, or sacred cup, the latter holding the cross-torch and a dish filled with fruits and flowers. Kantharos means both scarabæus-beetle, the Egyptian symbol of immortality, and the drinking vessel used in the mysteries which probably derives its name from some unknown connexion with the scarabæus. Underneath we see Heracles taming the three-headed Cerberus in the moment of crossing the Acheron, which originates (see Homer, Odyssey, X, 513) in the conflux of Cocytos and Pyriphlegethon. Hermes points out the road leading back to the upper world. The Danaides with the water vessels on the right bear their punishment with placidity, while Sisyphos on the left seems to be more severely taxed. Dire Necessity (Ἀνάγκη) holds the whip in her right hand, but her left extends to the sufferer a laurel branch. (The branch is missing in many similar pictures. It is apparently not an apple branch, which was a symbol of Nemesis, as some archæologists suggest.)

The upper scene on the right shows Hippodameia and Pelops, the latter in a Phrygian cap conversing with Myrtilos, who promises to remove a nail from the wheel of Oinomaos’s chariot in the race for Hippodameia, his future bride, a trick by which he remains victorious. Underneath are the judges of the dead, Triptolemos, Aiacus, and Rhadamanthys, the latter in the attitude of pleading a case with great zeal.

The upper scene on the left represents Megara and her sons, the Heraclides, innocent victims of a cruel fate in life, who are here comforted. Below this group we see Orpheus with lyre in hand, approaching the palace to ask Persephone for a release of Eurydice. The Erinyes, or avenging demons (called ΠΟΙΝΑΙ) in the picture have lost their terrible appearance and let the singer pass by unmolested.

[] HUMAN SACRIFICES AT THE FUNERAL PYRE OF PATROCLUS.
Wall picture of a tomb in Vulci.
(From Michaelis, Handbuch der Kunstgeschichte, I., p. 235.)


The Greeks, equally with other nations, feared punishment after death as the greatest evil, and their belief in hell can be traced back to the dawn of the history of Greece. The most ancient description of the Greek conception of the land of the dead, which is found in Homer, resembles the Jewish Sheol in so far as Hades is the abode of the shades of the dead, both good and evil. It is a gloomy place; there is a grove of willow and poplar trees, and a large lawn covered with asphodels. The shade of Achilles declares that he would rather be upon earth a day laborer in a poor man’s employ than ruler in the land of the dead. While the oldest reports do not as yet contain any reference to a reward of the good (for even Achilles shares the sad fate of all mortals), we learn of the tortures to which the wicked are subjected,–Tantalus, the Danaides, Sisyphos, Ixion, Oknos.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/19600.jpg[] CHRIST’S DEATH ON THE CROSS AND ITS PROTOTYPES.
Biblia Pauperum. (Woodcut of the fifteenth century.)

The immolation of Isaac shows Christ’s death in its connexion with human sacrifice, and the story of the serpent lifted up in the wilderness exemplifies the healing power of faith.

[] TUCHULCHA, THE DEMON OF INFERNAL TORTURES ACCORDING TO THE BELIEF OF THE ETRUSCANS.
(Part of a wall picture of a tomb in Corneto.)

[] CHARUN, THE ETRUSCAN DEMON OF DEATH, WAITING FOR A VICTIM.
(From an Etruscan vase, Hellenised style.)

[] OKNOS AND THE DAUGHTERS OF DANAOS IN HADES.
(Frieze of a Roman well decoration. Vatican.)

Oknos (i. e., the Tardy or Inattentive One) weaving a rope of hay which is devoured by the donkey, and the daughters of Danaos endeavoring to fill the urn without a bottom.


Homer represents the dead as unsubstantial forms, like dream images. However, an exception is made in the case of Hercules, whose shadow is in Hades, while Hercules himself, who is an Immortal, lives among the gods in Olympus (Odyssey, XI., 601-626). Another hero whose fate after death is more cheerful than that of common people is Menelaos. Being a son-in-law of Zeus, the husband of Helen, who is apparently conceived as the goddess of the moon, he lives in Elysion where Rhadamanthys rules. There the people live in ease. There is no snow, no winter, no storm, but only gentle and refreshing zephyrs blow from the ocean.

The Egyptian origin of the belief in Elysion is guaranteed by the name Rhadamanthys which is the god Ra Amenthes, the Lord of the Hidden World, Amenti.

[] IXION ON THE FIERY WHEEL.

Underneath an avenging Erinys, Hephaestos, the Smith of the gods, looks at the wheel, his handiwork, with apparent satisfaction. Hermes is ready to return to the Upper World. Archaeologists have not yet succeeded in interpreting the significance of the angel-like figures on both sides of Ixion.

Ixion, a Thessalian king, committed a murder, but was lustrated by Zeus himself who admitted him as a guest to his own table. But the criminal lusted after Hera, the queen of the gods. In her place he embraced a cloud which bore to him the unruly race of Centaurs. Thereupon Zeus had Ixion fastened to a fiery wheel in Hades.

The suffering Ixion is commonly regarded as the mythological precipitate of a former god of the sky, a rival of Zeus; but the features of his divinity have paled in the human conception of a later age which was no longer conscious of the mythological significance of his deeds.

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/19900.jpg[] GIGANTOMACHY; THE GIANTS STORMING HEAVEN.
Bas relief of an ancient sarcophagus. Now in the Museum of the Vatican.https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/19901.jpg

[] ZEUS CONQUERING TYPHOEUS.
Picture on an antique water pitcher. (Baumeister, Denkm. d. class. Alt., p. 2135.)

[I.e. KMT – Set conquering Apep.]


When the spread of gnostic views prepared the Greek nation for Christianity, the ancient pagan myths were not abandoned but transformed. Hesiod tells us in the Theogony of the terrible struggle between Zeus and the Titans; and (so-called) St. Peter,  when speaking in his second letter of the revolution of the angels that sinned, says that “God hurled them down to Tartarus.” The expression, however, is obliterated in the version of King James, for the word ταρώταρσας (having hurled them to Tartarus) is translated “sent them down to hell.”

[] GIGANTOMACHY; THE GIANTS STORMING HEAVEN. An ancient Greek frieze.

We read in the Theogony of the battle between Zeus and the monster Typhon (also called Typhoeus):

“When Zeus had driven the Titans out from heaven, huge Earth bare her youngest born son, Typhoeus, . . . . whose hands, indeed, are fit for deeds on account of their strength. . . . . On his shoulders there were one hundred heads of a serpent, of a fierce dragon, playing with dusky tongues. From the eyes in his wondrous heads fire struggled beneath the brows. From his terrible mouths voices were sending forth every kind of sound ineffable, the bellowing of a bull, the roar of a lion, the barking of whelps, and the hiss of a serpent. The huge monster would have reigned over mortals unless the sire of gods and men quickly observed him.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20100.jpg[] WAR IN HEAVEN. After the Revelation of St. John. (By Albrecht Dürer.)

Harshly he thundered, and heavily and terribly the earth re-echoed around. Beneath Jove’s immortal feet vast Olympus trembled, and the earth groaned. Heaven and sea were boiling. Pluto trembled, monarch of the dead. The Titans in Tartarus trembled also, but Jove smote Typhoeus and scorched all the wondrous heads of the terrible monster. When at last the monster was quelled, smitten with blows, it fell down lame, and Zeus hurled him into wide Tartarus.”

[] CHIMÆRA OF AREZZO. The monster slain by Bellerophon. (Now at Florence.)

This description reminds us not only of the Second Epistle of St. Peter, but also of Revelation, xii. 7-9:

“And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels; and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Thus the old Greek demons merely changed names and reappeared in new personalities. In this shape they were embodied into the canonical books of the New Testament and became the integral part of the new religion, which at that time began to conquer the world.

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20300.jpg[] THESEUS AND PIRITHOUS.
Venturing down to Hades for the purpose of bringing up Persephone, the daughter of Ceres, they are made prisoners and bound by an Erinys. Theseus is at last rescued by Hercules. Pluto holds in his hand a scepter on the top of which sits the dismal owl as an avis funebris, Persephone carries two cross-torches.
(From an Etruscan Vase. Baumeister, Denkmäler des class. Altertums.)

The Greek idea of salvation is mirrored in the legends of Hercules, Bellerophon, Theseus, Dionysius, and other myths, which had become dear to the Greek mind through the tales of poets and the works of artists.

The powers of evil which Hercules overcomes are represented as a lion, a dragon, a wild boar, harpy-like birds, and a bull. In addition he captures the swift hind of Arcadia, he cleanses the stables of Augeas, tames the man-eating mares of Diomedes, conquers Hypolyte, the queen of the Amazons, brings the oxen of Geryon from the far West, and carries Cerberus to the upper world.

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20400.jpg[] PERSEUS WITH THE HEAD OF THE DECAPITATED MEDUSA.

The soul of the latter is represented as a small figure leaving the body and still trying to retain the head. (Terra cotta from Melos. Baumeister, Denkmäler des class. Altertums.)

The poet Peisander (who lived about 650 B. C.) wrote an apotheosis of Hercules, called the Heracley, which contributed much toward idealising the hero. Later Greek philosophers, such men as Xenophon and the sophist Prodicus (Xen., Mem., ii. I. Plato, Symp., 177 B.) regarded him as the realisation of divine perfection, and now it became customary to look upon the old legends as perversions of a deeper religious truth. Epictetus, who speaks of Hercules as the saviour, and as the son of Zeus, says (iii. 24) Do you believe all the fables of Homer? “Hercules is called repeller of evil (ἀλεξίκακος), leader in the fray (πρόμαχος), the brightly victorious (καλλίνικος) (the Greek καλός is not limited to the definition of beautiful as we use the word),  the celestial (ὀλύμπιος), destroyer of flies, vermin, and grasshoppers (μυίαργος, ἰπόκτονος, κορνοπίων). He, the solar hero, is identified with Apollo, the sun-god, in the names prophet (μάντις), and leader of the Muses (μουσαγέτης).

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20500.jpgPERSEUS AND ANDROMEDA.
Picture of an ancient Amphora in Naples. (From Baumeister, D. d. cl. A., p. 1291.)

Trendelenburg has discovered a passage commenting on this or a similar picture in Achilles Tatius, and explains it as follows: Andromeda, adorned as the bride of death with girdle, crown, and veil, is tied to two poles. Above her Cupid stands engaged with women in the preparation of a wedding. Andromeda’s old nurse hands her a twig. Behind and above the nurse are guards with Phrygian caps and arms. On the left, Cassiopeia, Andromeda’s mother, who exhibits the vanity of which the legend accuses her, is seated in conversation with her servants. Underneath Perseus fights the monster, which scene is witnessed by three Nereids, one riding on a sea-horse, one on a dolphin, and the third resembling the typical figure of Scylla. The monster differs here from the typical Medusa figure.

[] SICILIAN COIN WITH MEDUSA-HEAD.

The use of the Triquetra (three legs) is frequent in the three-cornered island. The ears of wheat indicate the proverbial fertility of Sicily, the granary of Rome.

[] THE GORGONEION ON THE SHIELD OF PHIDIAS’S ATHENE.

The head of the Medusa is surrounded by scenes of a battle with Amazons. One of the fighters (the man with the bald head) is supposed to be a portrait of the artist Phidias.

https://i2.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20700.jpg[] GORGONEION, ANCIENT FACE OF THE GORGON MEDUSA.

[] MEDUSA RONDANINI.
Beautiful yet ghastly. (Glyptothek, Munich.)

[] BELLEROPHON SLAYING THE CHIMERA.
(A terra cotta statue of Melos, now at the British Museum.)

The legends of Perseus are in many respects similar to the tales of Hercules. Perseus, too, the Greek prototype of the Christian St. George, is a divine saviour. Assisted by Athene, he liberates Andromeda, the bride of Death, held captive by the horrible Medusa, a symbol of deadly fright.  As a symbol which destroys evil influences, the Medusa-head frequently appears on shields and coins. (The Medusa is mentioned by Homer, λ 634, as a terrible monster of the Nether World; it was used as an amulet to avert evil, and became therefore a favorite device p. 209 on shields. The original of the upper illustration on p. 207 is colored,–which adds to the frightful appearance of this picture found on the Acropolis at Athens.)

Bellerophon is another solar hero. He rides on Pegasus, a mythological representation of the thundercloud, 1 and slays the Chimera, a monster half lion, half goat, representing barbarism and savagery, or some similar evils. (The statue reproduced on p. 208 belongs to an older period of Greek art, and the horse Pegasus is not as yet endowed with wings, which became very soon its never-missing attributes. The modern notion that Pegasus is the symbol of poetical enthusiasm only dates back to the fifteenth century of our era, and was foreign to the Greek.)https://i2.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/20900.jpg

[] THE LION-KILLING HERO OF KHORSABAD

Figures of the lion -killing saviour are also found on Asiatic coins and on Assyrian cylinders.

Some of the tales of divine saviours may be ultimately founded upon local Greek traditions, but many features of these religious myths indicate that they were introduced early from the Orient whose religions began to influence the occidental nations at the very dawn of their civilisation. Thus Hercules is the Tyrian Baal Melkarth, probably identical with the Babylonian Bel,–the conqueror of Tiamat; and his twelve labors are the deeds of the sun-god in the twelve months of the year. Phœnix-like, he dies by self-combustion and rises in a transfigured shape from the flames of the pyre. The Jews also appropriated the figure of this solar hero in the shape of Samson whose strength is conditioned by his hair, as the power of the sun lies in his rays.

In spite of the strong admixture of foreign mythology, Hercules has become the national hero of Greece, and the Greek idea of salvation has found in him the most typical expression, which has been most beautifully worked out by Æschylus in a grand tragedy which represents Prometheus (the fore-thinker) as struggling and suffering mankind, tied to the pole of misery by Zeus as a punishment for the sin of having brought the bliss of light and fire down to the earth. But at last the divine saviour, Hercules, arrives, and, killing the eagle that lacerates the liver of the bold hero, sets him free.

Prometheus and Hercules are combined into one person in the Christian Saviour, Jesus Christ. The similarity of the story of Golgotha with the myth of Prometheus is not purely accidental. For observe that in some of the older pictures, as for instance in the vase of Chiusi (see illustration on p. 210), Prometheus is not chained to a rock but tied to a pole, i. e., to a σταυρός or cross, and Greek authors frequently use expressions such as the verb ἀνασκολοπίϩεσϑαι (Æschylus) and ἀνασταυ ροῦσϑαι, (Lucian) which mean “to be crucified.” (In the beautiful sarcophagus (see illustration on p. 212) which represents the Prometheus myth, the first design is apparently incomplete; for we should expect to see Prometheus represented as stealing the fire and offering it to Deukalion.)

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21000.jpgPROMETHEUS TIED BY ZEUS TO THE STAKE (OR CROSS) AND EXPOSED TO THE EAGLE; RESCUED By HERCULES.
(A vase found at Chiusi, now in Berlin. Baumeister, D. d. cl. A., p. 1410.)

 

Seneca speaks of Hercules as the ideal of the good man who lives exclusively for the welfare of mankind. Contrasting him to Alexander the Great, the conqueror of Asia, he says (De Benef., I., 14):

“Hercules never gained victories for himself. He wandered through the circle of the earth, not as a conqueror, but as a protector. What, indeed, should the enemy of the wicked, the defensor of the good, the peace-bringer, conquer for himself either on land or sea!”

Epictetus praises Hercules frequently and declares that the evils which he combated served to elicit his virtues, and were intended to try him (I., 6). Zeus, who is identified with God, is called his father and Hercules is said to be his son (III., 26). Hercules, when obliged to leave his children, knew them to be in the care of God. Epictetus says (III., 24):

“He knew that no man is an orphan, but that there is a father always and constantly for all of them. He had not only heard the words that Zeus was the father of men, for he regarded him as his father and called him such; and looking up to him he did what Zeus did. Therefore he could live happily everywhere.”

* * *

https://i2.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21200.jpgp.213 THE MYTH OF PROMETHEUS ON A SARCOPHAGUS

I. Deukalion and Pyrrha, naked and unacquainted with the use of fire.https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21201.jpg

III. Prometheus tied to a rock and delivered by Hercules. In the background the mountain-god Caucasus.

II. Prometheus forming man out of clay, and shaping his fate with the assistance of the gods.

https://i2.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21202.jpg

* * *

In Christianity the struggles of the saviour receive a dualistic interpretation and are spiritualised into a victory over the temptations of the flesh and other worldly passions.

The conception of evil as hell received a philosophical foundation in the dualism of Plato who did not shrink from depicting its minutest details; and his views of the future state of the soul, its rewards in heaven and hell, are in close agreement with Christian doctrines, even in most of their details, with the exception of the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul.

https://i0.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21300.jpg

[] THE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST.
(Seventh century. Mosaic in the cathedral of Monreale, Sicily.)

Plato concludes his book on the Republic (X., 614-621) with the tale of Er, the son of Armenius, a man who had died and come back to life for the purpose of giving information to mankind concerning the other world which might serve to warn people as to what they had to expect in the life to come. Plato says that this Er, a Pamphylian by birth, was slain in battle, but when the dead were taken up his body was found unaffected by decay, and, on the twelfth day, as he was lying on the funeral pile, he returned to life. Plato continues:

“He [Er, the son of Armenius] said that when his soul left the body he went on a journey with a great company, and that they came to a mysterious place at which there were two openings in the earth; they were near together, and over against them were two other openings in the heaven above. In the intermediate space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, after they had given judgment on them and had bound their sentences in front of them, to ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them to descend by the lower way on the left hand; these also bore the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs.

“Er said that for every wrong which they had done to any one they suffered tenfold.”

Hell is described as follows:

“‘And this,’ said Er, ‘was one of the dreadful sights which we ourselves witnessed. We were at the mouth of the cavern, and, having completed all our experiences, were about to reascend, when of a sudden Ardiaeus [the tyrant] appeared and several others, most of whom were tyrants; and there were also, besides the tyrants, private individuals who had been great criminals: they were, as they fancied, about to return into the upper world, but the mouth, instead of admitting them, gave a roar, whenever any of these incurable sinners or some one who had not been sufficiently punished, tried to ascend; and then wild men of fiery aspect, who were standing by and heard the sound, seized and carried them off; and Ardiaeus and others they bound head and foot and hand, and threw them down and flayed them with scourges, and dragged them along the road at the side, carding them on thorns like wool, and declaring to passers-by what were their crimes, and that they were being taken away to be cast into hell.’ And of all the many terrors which they had endured, he said that there was none like the terror which each of them felt at that moment, lest they should hear the voice; and when there was silence, one by one they ascended with exceeding joy. These, said Er, were the penalties and retributions, yet there were blessings as great.”

The idea of the rising and sinking of the wicked in hell is similar to the Buddhist view of Buddhagosha who in his parables (translated by Capt. T. Rogers, R. E., pp. 128-129) tells us how the condemned go up and down like grains of rice in a boiling cauldron. The conceptions of the mouth of hell, of the fierce tormentors and the various punishments are probably older than Plato; they reappear in the gnostic doctrines and were retained by Christianity down to the age of the Reformation.

The belief in hell and the anxiety to escape its terrors produced conditions which are drastically described by Plato, who says, speaking of the desire of the wicked to ransom their souls from a deserved punishment:

“Mendicant prophets go to rich men’s doors and persuade them that they have a power committed to them by the gods of making an atonement for a man’s own or his ancestor’s sins by sacrifices or charms, with rejoicings and feasts. . . . And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus and Orpheus, who were children of the Moon and the Muses–that is what they say–according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pain of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.”

The dualism that underlies Plato’s views began to be taken more seriously by his disciples, the Neo-Platonists, and reached an extraordinary intensity in the beginning of the Christian era. The philosopher longed for death, and the common people feared the terrors of the next life.

The philosophical longing for death is satirically described in one of the epigrams of Callimachus, who says (No. XXIV):

“Cleombrot,  he of Ambracia, took leave of the sun in the heavens:
Leapt from a wall in the hope Sooner to reach the Beyond;
Not that he e’er had encountered an ill that made life to him hateful;
Merely because he had read Plato’s grand book on the soul.”

(Cleombrotus may have been the same disciple of Socrates who is mentioned in Phaedo II– p. 59, c. This strange case of suicide is alluded to by St. Augustine in de Civ. Dei, I., 22–The verses are translated in the original metre.)

The idea of immortality became more and more accepted by the masses of the people; but there were many to whom it was no welcome news, for it served only to enhance the fears of man’s fate after death. Acquaintance with other religions revealed new terrors everywhere. The Egyptians’ dread of judgment in the nether world, the Jews’ horror of Gehenna, the Hindus’ longing for an escape from future sufferings, were now added to the Greek notions of Hades, and rendered them more terrible than before. The Christian conception of hell is more fearful and at the same time drastic than any one of the older beliefs in future punishment.

Lucian tells the story of Peregrinus, surnamed Proteus, who after various adventures became a convert to Christianity. He would have been forgotten and his name would never have been mentioned in history but for the fact that in the presence of a great crowd at the Olympian festivals he burned himself to death on a big pile of wood.

All these strange facts were symptoms which illustrated the religious zeal of the people and characterised the unrest of the times. Further, Plutarch tells us in his Morals that the superstitious are chastised by “their own imagination of an anguish that will never cease.” He says:

“Wide open stand the deep gates of the Hades that they fable and there stretches a vista of rivers of fire and Stygian cliffs; and all is canopied with a darkness full of fantasms, of spectres threatening us with terrible faces and uttering pitiful cries.”

Mr. F. C. Conybeare, in his Monuments of Early Christianity, says, concerning the belief in hell:

“We make a mistake if we think that this awful shadow was not cast across the human mind long before the birth of Christianity. On the contrary, it is a survival from the most primitive stage of our intellectual and moral development. The mysteries of the old Greek and Roman worlds were intended as modes of propitiation and atonement, by which to escape from these all-besetting terrors, and Jesus the Messiah, was the last and best of the λυτήριοι θεοὶ, of the redeeming gods. In the dread of death and in the belief in the eternal fire of hell, which pervaded men’s minds, a few philosophers excepted, Christianity had a point d’appui, without availing itself of which it would not have made a single step towards the conquest of men’s minds.”

And why was Christ a better Saviour than the gods and heroes of Greece? Simply because he was human and realistic, not mythological and symbolical; he was a sufferer and a man,–the son of man, and not a slayer, not a conqueror, not a hero of the ferocious type, ruthless and bloodstained; he fulfilled the moral ideal which had been set up by Plato, who, perhaps under the impression of Æschylus’s conception of the tragic fate of Prometheus, 1 says of the perfect man who would rather be than appear just:

“They will tell you that the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound; will have his eyes burnt out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be hung up at the pale.”

The strangest thing about this passage is that the word ἀνασχινδυλευϑήσεται, which means “he will be hung up at the stake,” or “fixed on a pale,” is an older synonym of the New Testament term σταυρόειν, commonly translated “to crucify.”

https://i1.wp.com/www.sacred-texts.com/evil/hod/img/21800.jpg[] CHRISTIAN GEM

This gem (a Christian New Year’s present) represents the death of a martyr. The letters A N F T mean annum novum felicem tibi.

Alluding to Plato, Apollonius, a Christian martyr, declares:

One of the Greek Philosophers said: The just man shall be tortured, he shall be spat upon, and last of all be shall be crucified. just as the Athenians Passed an unjust sentence of death, and charged him falsely, because they yielded to the mob, so also our Saviour was at last sentenced to death by the lawless.”

(The Apology and Acts of Apollonius, 40-41. Translated by F. C. Conybeare in Monuments of Early Christianity, p. 47.)

Continued -> Part 2

 

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One thought on “Salve Tores

  1. Saving Bull (2) | The Seven Worlds October 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm Reply

    […] Part 1 Here […]

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