Relation of Latin to Greek

Serenus

Civis Illustris
I was unfamiliar with Summanus. A specifically nocturnal thunder god? Apparently, the ancients felt the need to deify every natural phenomenon, and were loath to rest until they had left no stone unturned; I wonder who the god for "the urge to poop" was. With that as the apparent imperative of polytheism, it seems no surprise that monotheism, which equally defies rational thought, would be so readily embraced by so many in the post- classical period.
Hey, people in Taiwan are still greatly polytheistic today; the development of a better understanding of nature hasn't fazed them. And I imagine a lot of people are also like that in India (although I've heard the type of Hinduism that is vaguely monotheistic or plays down divinity in a tolerant way of atheism/agnosticism is really taking hold over there, with polytheists dwindling, but I don't have good information on that).

I don't think the Taiwanese have a god for the need to poop, but there is indeed a number of toilet goddesses.
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/廁神

(The English Wikipedia article talks about Japan and historical China rather, plus a bit on ancient Rome. Not that the Japanese believe in gods much anymore.)

 
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Clemens

Civis Illustris
I was unfamiliar with Summanus. A specifically nocturnal thunder god? Apparently, the ancients felt the need to deify every natural phenomenon, and were loath to rest until they had left no stone unturned; I wonder who the god for "the urge to poop" was. With that as the apparent imperative of polytheism, it seems no surprise that monotheism, which equally defies rational thought, would be so readily embraced by so many in the post- classical period.
I think it's unclear that monotheism is somehow superior to, or an advancement on, polytheism. Those of us from cultures where monotheism is the dominant type of religion may have absorbed the idea that it is somehow better. I doubt that monotheism was the principal appeal of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Monotheism may have contributed indirectly to its rise, in that adoption of Christianity required the abandonment of other cults, which other ancient religions did not. If ancient Mediterraneans who were interested in participating in Christianity still felt free to worship other gods, it might not have spread in the same way.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
I think it's unclear that monotheism is somehow superior to, or an advancement on, polytheism. Those of us from cultures where monotheism is the dominant type of religion may have absorbed the idea that it is somehow better.
I agree. I did not mean to suggest that monotheism is, in any way, more valid than polytheism (my actual opinion being that they are equally bollocksy). I only meant to suggest that what appears to have been an istensifying imperative to deify every observable natural phenomenon, in conjunction with the anthropomorphising imperative which came from the Greeks, itself being based on the concept of the gods as discrete beings, almost certainly set a perfect stage for the widespread acceptance of the Hebrew conception of God, which, of course, is of one god which is worthy of reverence, and that god unlike man in that it cannot be said to be a discrete being (note that the Jewish God cannot be depicted in sculpture or drawing, as the IE gods often were). I believe that in this conception of God, it is the god's essential dissimilarity from physical beings, it's omnipresence ( and associated omniscience), which was the primary reason for the effectiveness of the concept. In my view, it was that, along with the particular religious genius of Saul of Tarsus in creating a new paradigm of religion which would be based on "faith" (in the particular Pauline sense, which is quite different than how a Roman would define fides) rather than ritual, and not monotheism per se, which were the reasons for Christianity's appeal in the west.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

μεσσηγυδορποχέστης
But Christians did depict God. As for Saul/Paul, he was a typical extremist who went from one extreme to the other -- there are plenty of contemporary examples of people who go from being rabid left-wingers to rabid right-wingers, and vice-versa. But he had some marketing talent, so he junked the unpopular bits of Judaism like the dietary laws and circumcision, and the rest is history.
 
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Clemens

Civis Illustris
I agree. I did not mean to suggest that monotheism is, in any way, more valid than polytheism (my actual opinion being that they are equally bollocksy). I only meant to suggest that what appears to have been an istensifying imperative to deify every observable natural phenomenon, in conjunction with the anthropomorphising imperative which came from the Greeks, itself being based on the concept of the gods as discrete beings, almost certainly set a perfect stage for the widespread acceptance of the Hebrew conception of God, which, of course, is of one god which is worthy of reverence, and that god unlike man in that it cannot be said to be a discrete being (note that the Jewish God cannot be depicted in sculpture or drawing, as the IE gods often were). I believe that in this conception of God, it is the god's essential dissimilarity from physical beings, it's omnipresence ( and associated omniscience), which was the primary reason for the effectiveness of the concept. In my view, it was that, along with the particular religious genius of Saul of Tarsus in creating a new paradigm of religion which would be based on "faith" (in the particular Pauline sense, which is quite different than how a Roman would define fides) rather than ritual, and not monotheism per se, which were the reasons for Christianity's appeal in the west.
Equally bollocksy!
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
That, I did not know. I would have thought them Taoist, Confucianist, or Buddhist.
The lines between the traditional teachings isn't clear at any rate. It's not unusual to ask someone what their religion is, and to hear it's a combination of Taoism and Buddhism as a reply, naturally with a good deal of ancestor worship and reverence of gods. Or boddhisattvas who are pretty much gods, anyway.

IME people in Taiwan at least often don't consider Confucianism a religion, but a teaching. It is important to note that 宗教 zōngjiào 'religion(s)' is a concept the Chinese recently imported from the West, and that previously they rather talked about 教 jiào 'teaching(s)', which could be many things as the English translation suggests. Confucius used to be commonly considered a god, but that fell in line with the rest of ancestor and god worship. In fact, zōngjiào isn't even quite the Western concept of 'religion', but rather organized religion. You can hear people saying they "have no religion" while having an altar to their ancestors at home. Another thing I find interesting is that Zen is often called "Zen Buddhism" in the West, but in Taiwan people often think of it as a fairly distinct religion from Buddhism, although it is still Buddhism in some sense, certainly historically.

It also never ceases to amaze me how little Chinese speakers' polytheism is known in the West... That is, among people who you'd expect to know at least a little bit, like the kind that would know something about Buddhism or Taoism. Everyone in this thread, do our civilization a favour and read this and this and as many associated articles as you can bother with.


I only meant to suggest that what appears to have been an istensifying imperative to deify every observable natural phenomenon, in conjunction with the anthropomorphising imperative which came from the Greeks, itself being based on the concept of the gods as discrete beings,
Do note the ancients differed about what was overlooked by a particular divinity or not. Cue Juvenal making fun of Egyptians for having a few gods for specific vegetables, a notion ridiculous to Romans.

Porrum et caepe nefās violāre et frangere morsū / (Ō sanctās gentēs, quibus haec nāscuntur in hortīs / nūmina!)
'[In Egypt] It is impious to violate and break leek and onion with a bite / (O, you blessed [Egyptian] people, in whose gardens spirits are born!)' (Juvenal, Satires 15.9-11)
 
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Michael Zwingli

Active Member
But Christians did depict God.
Etaoin, not having a great artistic sensibility, I am not well versed in art history, but I honestly cannot think of any Christian depictions of God the Father apart from the famous hand touching fingertips with Adam in the Sistine fresco. That, and any such others, must of course be only metaphorical devices for the artistic theme and not meant as assertions about the nature of God, since the official position of the Christian Church since at least the First Council of Nicaea in 325, and surely before that as well, has been that (following the Hebrew conception, for the God of both Christianity and Islam is the Hebrew God) God is ubiquitous and not bounded by space, time, or energy (though God may manifest variously at different times and places). This seems to differ from the assertions made Greek and Roman religious sculpture. The assertions in those cases seem to have been that the gods could choose to show themselves or not, but at the same time that they were discrete beings and had forms somehow similar to those of humans. How can the gods live on Mount Olimbos if they are not spatially bound? Again, this type of anthropomorphic consideration was strongest among the Greeks.
...But (Paul) had some marketing talent, so he junked the unpopular bits of Judaism like the dietary laws and circumcision, and the rest is history.
I should say so! In fact, that consideration diminishes Paul's singular genius. What he did, was nothing short of inventing, not a new religion, but a new kind of religion, the religion of faith: of "correct belief" rather than "correct practice". Before that, all religions were basically systems of practice, of ritual. This applies even to Jewish observance, for the observance of the 613 Torah mitzvoth (248 of them positive instructions, and 365 of them negative) by Jews are basically the ritual acts of the Jewish religion. In other words, Judaism is a religion of "correct practice" in which each man's faith is a personal matter. In the Pauline vision, though, each man's faith is the business of the community, of the Church as a whole. Even so, the earliest Christian churches, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy and their contemporaries, maintained strong ritual elements within their practices, but the practices which emanated from the Protestant Reformation can be seen as the fulfillment, the flowering, of the Pauline religious vision, where in ritual is diminished and faith is viewed as the way to achieve that other Christian invention: salvation. As one author wrote: "What matters (with Christianity) is individual salvation. And the way salvation is to be achieved is not (through) how one behaves externally with the rest of the world, but (by) how one is internally with God." This is the Pauline vision; it is Paul's essential contribution to the religion, and to the hitherto unforeseen type of religion, which is his (rather than Jesus') creation.

Equally bollocksy!
It appears to me that I may have offended your sensibilities. If so, then please accept my apologies. I should learn to better suppress the impulse towards such Dawkinsian rhetoric, especially since my belief is notably different from what his was.
I would ask what points you disagree with, but we are already deep into a tangent here, and I don't know what the tolerance for tangential discussions are on LD; I would not want Pacifica to be forced to reel us back in to being "on topic".
 
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Clemens

Civis Illustris
Etaoin, not having a great artistic sensibility, I am not well versed in art history, but I honestly cannot think of any Christian depictions of God the Father apart from the famous hand touching fingertips with Adam in the Sistine fresco.
First let me say, I was not offended by the term bollocksy. Secondly, God the Father is depicted in Christian art, apart from anything else, in numerous iterations of the "Coronation of the Virgin" theme, where Jesus and the Father place a crown on her head while the Holy Spirit hovers above in the form of a dove. A quick image search of "Trinity" or "Coronation of the Virgin" will show this. The Creation of Adam isn't even the only depiction of God the Father in the Sistine Chapel.
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
First let me say, I was not offended by the term bollocksy. Secondly, God the Father is depicted in Christian art, apart from anything else, in numerous iterations of the "Coronation of the Virgin" theme...
As I said, art has never been my thing. I find it to be...universally pretentious, and just as often obscurative of fact as elucidative of it. Picasso famously described art as "...a lie that makes us realize truth..." I have always thought that art is just as often a lie that diverts the mind from truth. The type of art presented.is determined by the motives, courage, honesty, and intellect of the artist. As a result, I have always shied away from art in general. So, I'll take your word about Christian artistic depictions of gods, holy ghosts, and virgins, which I would argue seem obscurative of truth. You should realize by now, that whether such depictions exist or not is a fact immaterial to my above-noted opinions. Because of said immateriality, I do not care to investigate such images as you indicate (I will resist calling them "silly images"). I was raised Roman Catholic, and so have undoubtedly seen their like in passing. My thoughts on the matter still stand, and I stand by their validity. If you have an intelligent counter- argument which may throw into high relief the bolloxity of my opinions, then please present it. I am ever gratified by having my opinions improved by others. Otherwise, please...enough of mannish gods, ghosts (holy or not) and perpetual virgins.
 
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Iáson

Cívis Illústris
since the official position of the Christian Church since at least the First Council of Nicaea in 325, and surely before that as well, has been that (following the Hebrew conception, for the God of both Christianity and Islam is the Hebrew God) God is ubiquitous and not bounded by space, time, or energy (though God may manifest variously at different times and places). This seems to differ from the assertions made Greek and Roman religious sculpture. The assertions in those cases seem to have been that the gods could choose to show themselves or not, but at the same time that they were discrete beings and had forms somehow similar to those of humans. How can the gods live on Mount Olimbos if they are not spatially bound? Again, this type of anthropomorphic consideration was strongest among the Greeks.
ut mī vidētur, haec nōtiō nōn propria est Christiānīs. vidēmus quoque apud Graecōs - quōrum nōnnūllī contrā deōs anthropomorphicōs locūtī sunt, dīversīs modīs (ut Xenophanēs). et fortasse hae contrāriae sententiae innātae sunt hominibus - volunt mundum esse ratiōnalem et hūmānum, ergo deōs faciunt imāgine hominum, sed quoque volunt deōs esse grandiōrēs et māiōrēs quam hominēs ipsī, ergo dant eīs potestātēs immēnsās, exemplī causā potestātem ubīque habitandī omniave movendī. addendum est plūrimōs Graecōs fortasse nōn crēdere imāginēs suās ipsās esse deōs, potius esse rem per quam possent cum deīs commercium habēre.

quoque suspicor multōs Christiānōs, etsī prīncipēs habēbant deum esse omnīnō sine corpore, rē vērā crēdisse deum aliquō modō habēre corpus et habitāre in caelō. aut omnīnō dē hāc rē nōn cōgitāsse...

What he did, was nothing short of inventing, not a new religion, but a new kind of religion, the religion of faith: of "correct belief" rather than "correct practice". Before that, all religions were basically systems of practice, of ritual.
hoc quoque dubitō. quid dē Platōne? aut dē Buddhā?
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
As I said, art has never been my thing. I find it to be...universally pretentious, and just as often obscurative of fact as elucidative of it. Picasso famously described art as "...a lie that makes us realize truth..." I have always thought that art is just as often a lie that diverts the mind from truth. The type of art presented.is determined by the motives, courage, honesty, and intellect of the artist. As a result, I have always shied away from art in general. So, I'll take your word about Christian artistic depictions of gods, holy ghosts, and virgins, which I would argue seem obscurative of truth. You should realize by now, that whether such depictions exist or not is a fact immaterial to my above-noted opinions. Because of said immateriality, I do not care to investigate such images as you indicate (I will resist calling them "silly images"). I was raised Roman Catholic, and so have undoubtedly seen their like in passing. My thoughts on the matter still stand, and I stand by their validity. If you have an intelligent counter- argument which may throw into high relief the bolloxity of my opinions, then please present it. I am ever gratified by having my opinions improved by others. Otherwise, please...enough of mannish gods, ghosts (holy or not) and perpetual virgins.
I'm not trying to argue about anything. I'm not a religious person myself. I'm simply pointing out a fact about Christian art.
 

Clemens

Civis Illustris
hoc quoque dubitō. quid dē Platōne? aut dē Buddhā?
I would also point out that within Hinduism itself, the Upanishads represent a turning away from the older ritualistic thinking of the Vedic religion, toward a more philosophical, "belief" oriented approach. I do think Michael has a point though, that there is some kind of categorical difference between a religion like Christianity or Islam or Buddhism, and, say, Vedic religion or Shinto or ancient Mediterranean religions.
 

Serenus

Civis Illustris
I would also point out that within Hinduism itself, the Upanishads represent a turning away from the older ritualistic thinking of the Vedic religion, toward a more philosophical, "belief" oriented approach. I do think Michael has a point though, that there is some kind of categorical difference between a religion like Christianity or Islam or Buddhism, and, say, Vedic religion or Shinto or ancient Mediterranean religions.
Yeah, and quite noticeably the latter religions very much don't engage themselves in theology or religious/metaphysical philosophy too. They also seem to have AND recognize tremendous internal variation, with individuals possibly being quite different in beliefs and practice, sometimes approaching oligotheism or henotheism.

(I'd say Christianity, Islam etc. also have tremendous variation but it is NOT recognized or encouraged, and instead there's a large core insisted on. A Christian may believe in reincarnation, but at church they might only talk about Heaven.)
 
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Michael Zwingli

Active Member
...that there is some kind of categorical difference between a religion like Christianity or Islam or Buddhism, and, say, Vedic religion or Shinto or ancient Mediterranean religions.
In particular, Paul's concept that "salvation" from eternal torment is to be achieved by having correct belief (unaccompanied by anything else) was, I think, something absolutely novel and in the first century, and greatly innovative as a religious paradigm. Though the Upanishads may have represented an evolution from Vedic thought within Hinduism, the western religions developed independently of their Eastern counterparts, with no apparent influence in either direction. The Pauline religious paradigm cannot be thought to have been influenced by Eastern thought. I say that Paul's paradigm was only fully realized during the Reformation, because it is only in the less traditional Protestant churches (the further from Catholicism the more this is true) where in the assertion is made that one is "saved by faith (belief) and not by works (practice)".
hoc quoque dubitō. quid dē Platōne? aut dē Buddhā?
I would not consider Plato to have been active as a religious innovator. Your suggestion of the Buddha is prescient, but entails an essential difference from the Pauline model: for the Buddhist, correct thinking (not identical, but close enough to correct belief for admittance here) is a means to human liberation from suffering in this life, but (and I do not speak authoritatively here) as a means to eternal salvation, is it?
 
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