Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The gospel according to Homer

In an interesting email exchange earlier today, someone mentioned Homer's bluff being called. I didn't know what was meant by "bluff." He went on to explain his comment by point out how many take Homer to be the Pagan Gospel when it comes to describing deities of the time when it's only one writer's point of view. I completely agree. The same goes for Ovid and Pliny and Varro and all of the ancient writers, even the ones who called themselves historians. Everyone has an agenda. Ovid would write favorable things about the patron deities of people he was trying to impress, or to get out of hot water. The Aeneid was written for Caesar, to literally write him into the history of Italy.

As I've said before on this blog, Rome was just one of many states unto itself. There was no unified Italy. Even when Rome did take over, they didn't replace the religion in the area, they just added their triumvirate, whichever it was at the time. They left the local religions and practices alone for the most part and in some cases, adopted the local deity and brought the cult to Rome too. I'd go as far as saying Rome was changed more by the contact than the other states they absorbed. There are examples like the Etruscans and the Sabines who were subsumed entirely. But places like Aricia, which was a major center of Diana's worship were left alone, it seems. It was only when the political power there started to rival Rome's that the latter stepped in, moved the sacred bones and created the "official" temple of Diana in Rome.

Here's an interesting question: Do you believe in syncretism? ie: Diana and Artemis are just different names for the same Goddess? Rome vs Greece? Is Mercury the same as Hermes as Turms as Toth? Are each distinct entities? Local manifestations of the same energy construct? The same exact entity only with different names in different languages?

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