|Material from lecture overheads
|Ancient Theorists' remarks on Homer
|Metrodorus of Lampsacus (5th c. B.C.E.)
Neither Hera nor Athena nor Zeus are the
things which those who consecrate temples and walls to them consider them to be, but they are manifestations of nature and arrangements of the
elements -- Agamemnon is aether, Achilles is the sun, Helen is the earth and Paris the air, Hector is the moon. But among the gods, Demeter is the liver,
Dionysus is the spleen, and Apollo the bile.
|Xenophanes (6th c. B.C.E.)
Mortals consider that the gods are born, and that they
have clothes and speech and bodies like their own. The Ethiopians say that their gods are snub-nosed and black, the Thracians that theirs have light
blue eyes and red hair. But if cattle and horses or lions had hands or were able to draw, horses would draw the forms of their gods like horses,
cattle like cattle.
|Anonymous ancient manuscript commentator (date unknown)
Among some people, these
things are not permitted, on account of the display of indecency.
|Plato (c. 429 - 347 B.C.E.)
Such utterances are both impious and false� They are
furthermore harmful to those that hear them. For every man will be very lenient with his own misdeeds if he is convinced that such are and were the
actions of [the gods]� We must constrain the poets to deny that these are [the gods�] deeds.
|Aristarchus (216 - 144 B.C.E.)
Aristarchus thought that readers ought to take things
told by the poet as more like legends, according to poetic license, and not bother themselves about what is outside the things told by the poet.
|Euhemerus (c. 300 B.C.E.)
The gods, we are told, were terrestrial beings who attained to immortal honor and fame because of their gifts to humanity... Regarding these gods many and varying accounts have been handed down by the writers of history and of mythology; Euhemerus, who composed the Sacred History, has written a special treatise about them.
|Allegorical Readings of Ares and Aphrodite
|HERACLITUS (1st c. C.E.)
Union of love and strife.
-Divine laughter since it is
a cause for joy.
Commentary on the art of the blacksmith.
-Fire (Heph.) softens the iron (Ares).
-Need to apply passion (Aphro.)
to the work.
-Poseidon is the water that pulls the iron out and cools it off.
|CORNUTUS (1st c. B.C.E.)
Ares + Aphrodite = adultery:
The brutal and violent do
not correspond well with the cheery and gentle, nor is one naturally intertwined with another. But there is a noble offspring from this:
|Anonymous author of the Life of Homer (1st c. C.E.)
Ares and Aphrodite are
love and strife and they are sometimes together (then there is harmony) and sometimes apart.
Helios denounces them, Hephaistos chains them, and
Poseidon, water, frees them. It is clear from this that the hot, dry essence and its opposite, the cold wet one, sometimes draw the universe
together and sometimes pull it apart.