The Implements We Worship

Anonymous, Epistle to Diognetus 2

“Again, couldn’t those things which you worship be reshaped by humans into implements similar to the rest? Aren’t they all deaf? Aren’t they all blind? Aren’t they soulless and without perception? Aren’t they incapable of motion? Aren’t they rotting? Aren’t they decaying?

And you call these things gods. You are slaves to these things. You worship them. In the end, you will be like them.”

οὐ ταῦτα πάλιν, τὰ νῦν ὑφ᾿ ὑμῶν προσκυνούμενα, δύναιτ᾿ ἂν ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων σκεύη ὅμοια γενέσθαι τοῖς λοιποῖς; οὐ κωφὰ πάντα; οὐ τυφλά; οὐκ ἄψυχα; οὐκ ἀναίσθητα; οὐκ ἀκίνητα; οὐ πάντα σηπόμενα; οὐ πάντα φθειρόμενα;

ταῦτα θεοὺς καλεῖτε, τούτοις δουλεύετε, τούτοις προσκυνεῖτε, τέλεον δ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐξομοιοῦσθε.

Image result for ancient greek idols

An Ancient Chronology from Moses to the First Olympiad

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 1.21.136.3-137.4 (=BNJ 253F1 Thrasyllos of Rhodes)

‘Let’s summarize the timeline of the Greeks beginning with Moses. From the birth of Moses to the Jews’ escape from Egypt there were eighty years and then Moses died forty years later. The Exodus occurred at the time of Inachus. It was 340 years from the wandering of Sothis that Moses left Egypt. The amount of time from the leadership of Moses and the time of Inachus to the flood of Deucalion—and here I mean the second flood—as well as the immolation of Phaethon (which occurred at the time of Krotôpos) has been counted as forty generations when three generations are included in a hundred year period.

From the flood to the burning of Ida, the discovery of iron, and the Idaian Daktyls, seventy three years passed, according to Thrasyllos. And from the burning of Ida to the rape of Ganymede, sixty-five years passed. Following that period to Perseus’ expedition—when Glaukos established the Isthmian games in honor of Melikertês, there were fifteen years.

There were thirty-four years between Perseus’ expedition and the founding of Troy. After that, the voyage of the Argo happened 64 years later. 32 years passed from that time to the Theseus and the Minotaur. After this there were 10 years before the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes, three years until the founding of the Olympic games by Herakles in honor of Pelops and another nine years until the Amazons’ attack on Athens and Theseus’ abduction of Helen. The apotheosis of Herakles occurred 11 years after that. Four years later was Alexander’s rape of Helen. Then there were 20 years before the destruction of Troy followed by 10 years until Aeneas’ arrival after the fall of Troy and the founding of Lavinium. This means there were eight years before the reign of Ascanius. There were 61 years after this before the arrival of the Herakleidai. From then to the first Olympiad by Iphitos is 338 years.

[[ἄνωθεν οὖν ἀπὸ Μωυσέως συναγάγωμεν τὴν καθ᾽ ῞Ελληνας χρονογραφίαν· ἀπὸ τῆς Μωυσέως γενέσεως ἐπὶ τὴν ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τῶν ᾽Ιουδαίων ἔξοδον ἔτη ὀγδοήκοντα, καὶ τὰ μέχρι τῆς τελευτῆς αὐτοῦ ἄλλα τεσσαράκοντα· γίνεται ἡ ἔξοδος κατὰ ῎Ιναχον, πρὸ τῆς Σωθιακῆς περιόδου ἐξελθόντος ἀπ᾽ Αἰγύπτου Μωυσέως ἔτει πρότερον τριακοσίοις τεσσαράκοντα ε̄. (4) ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς Μωυσέως στρατηγίας καὶ ᾽Ινάχου ἐπὶ τὸν Δευκαλίωνος κατακλυσμόν (τὴν δευτέραν λέγω ἐπομβρίαν) καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Φαέθοντος ἐμπρησμόν, ἃ δὴ συμβαίνει κατὰ Κρότωπον, γενεαὶ † τεσσαράκοντα1 ἀριθμοῦνται· εἰς μέντοι τὰ ἑκατὸν ἔτη τρεῖς ἐγκαταλέγονται γενεαί]].

(5) ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ῎Ιδης ἐμπρησμὸν καὶ τὴν εὕρεσιν τοῦ σιδήρου καὶ ᾽Ιδαίους Δακτύλους ἔτη ἑβδομήκοντα τρία, ὥς φησι Θράσυλλος. καὶ ἀπὸ ῎Ιδης ἐμπρησμοῦ ἐπὶ Γανυμήδους ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη ἑξήκοντα πέντε. (1.137.1) ἐντεῦθεν δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν Περσέως στρατείαν, ὅτε καὶ Γλαῦκος ἐπὶ Μελικέρτηι τὰ ῎Ισθμια ἔθηκεν, ἔτη πεντεκαίδεκα. ἀπὸ δὲ Περσέως στρατείας ἐπὶ ᾽Ιλίου κτίσιν ἔτη τριάκοντα τέσσαρα. ἐντεῦθεν ἐπὶ τὸν ἔκπλουν τῆς ᾽Αργοῦς ἔτη ἑξήκοντα τέσσαρα. (2) ἐκ τούτου ἐπὶ Θησέα καὶ Μινώταυρον ἔτη τριάκοντα δύο. εἶτα ἐπὶ τοὺς ῾Επτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας ἔτη δέκα. ἐπὶ δὲ τὸν ᾽Ολυμπίασιν ἀγῶνα, ὃν ῾Ηρακλῆς ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ Πέλοπι, ἔτη τρία. εἴς τε τὴν ᾽Αμαζόνων εἰς ᾽Αθήνας στρατείαν καὶ τὴν ῾Ελένης ὐπὸ Θησέως ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη ἐννέα· (3) ἐντεῦθεν ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ηρακλέους ἀποθέωσιν ἔτη ἕνδεκα· εἶτα ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ελένης ὑπὸ ᾽Αλεξάνδρου ἁρπαγὴν ἔτη τέσσαρα· εἶτα ἐπὶ τὴν Τροίας ἅλωσιν ἔτη εἴκοσι· (4) ἀπὸ δὲ Τροίας ἁλώσεως ἐπὶ τὴν Αἰνείου κάθοδον καὶ κτίσιν Λαουινίου ἔτη δέκα· ἐπί τε τὴν ᾽Ασκανίου ἀρχὴν ἔτη ὀκτώ· καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ηρακλειδῶν κάθοδον ἔτη ἑξήκοντα ἕν· ἐπί τε τὴν ᾽Ιφίτου ὀλυμπιάδα ἔτη τριακόσια τριάκοντα ὀκτώ.

Sothis: is another name for Sirius (the “Dogstar”) whose appearance was associated with the ancient flooding of the Nile.

Inachus: the first king of Argos

Krotopos: [Crotopos] A king of Argos who condemned his daughter Psamathe to death when she gave birth to a child. Apollo brought a plague on the city.

Idaian Daktyls: A People of Mount Ida who invented the art of working metals with fire.

An Abbreviated Timeline

1533 BCE Flood of Deucalion
1385 Rape of Ganymede
1282 Voyage of the Argo
1240 Seven Against Thebes
1213 Rape of Helen
1193 Destruction of Troy
776 First Olympic Games

A few notes: If Helen was 1 when she was abducted by Theseus (1228), she was 16 when she was taken by Paris and 36 at the end of the Trojan War (which would make her 46 when she meets Telemachus in the Odyssey).

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Roman Virgil F101r

The Greeks Were Poetic Thieves (or, Clement Doesn’t Get Poetry)

Clement of Alexandria was an early church father who wrote a book of miscellany entitled the Stromata (“turnings”). In book 6, he takes on Greek plagiarism.

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata book 6.2 (Go here for a full translation of this masterpiece)

“Come on, let us put forth the Greeks as witnesses against themselves for their theft. For when they steal their material from one another they show that they are thieves and they illustrate, even if unwillingly, how they secretly expropriate the truth from us to their own tribes. If they do not spare themselves, they will hardly spare us.

I will not mention the beliefs of philosophers, since they all agree  in writing—lest they appear ungrateful—that they have gathered the precepts of their beliefs from those that hold the greatest authority through Socrates.

Once I have offered a few testimonies of the authors most famous and most frequented among the greats and I have unveiled their thieving ways—and after I have done this through a few periods—I will turn to what remains.”

After Orpheus wrote “There is nothing more doglike and frightening than a woman” and Homer wrote in the same way “there is nothing more dreadful and doglike than a woman”. After Musaios wrote “Since craft is much better than strength”, Homer wrote “the woodcutter is much better by wit than by force”.

Again, after Musaios wrote:

In the same way that the fertile field grows plants,
Some fall from the ash-trees and in turn others grow.
So too the tribe and race of man twists and turns.

And then Homer wrote later

The wind makes some leaves fall to the ground and tree
Blooms and grows others, when the spring’s season comes
That’s the way it is with the race of men: one grows, another dies.

And after Homer said: “It ain’t right to boast over men who have been killed.” Arkhilokhos and Kratinos said, “it is not noble to brag over men who have died.”

φέρε μάρτυρας τῆς κλοπῆς αὐτοὺς καθ’ ἑαυτῶν παραστήσωμεν τοὺς ῞Ελληνας· οἱ γὰρ τὰ οἰκεῖα οὕτως ἄντικρυς παρ’ ἀλλήλων ὑφαιρούμενοι βεβαιοῦσι μὲν τὸ κλέπται εἶναι, σφετερίζεσθαι δ’ ὅμως καὶ ἄκοντες τὴν παρ’ ἡμῶν ἀλήθειαν εἰς τοὺς
ὁμοφύλους λάθρᾳ διαδείκνυνται. οἱ γὰρ μηδὲ ἑαυτῶν, σχολῇ γ’ ἂν τῶν ἡμετέρων ἀφέξονται. καὶ τὰ μὲν κατὰ φιλοσοφίαν σιωπήσομαι δόγματα, αὐτῶν ὁμολογούντων ἐγγράφως τῶν τὰς αἱρέσεις διανεμομένων, ὡς μὴ ἀχάριστοι ἐλεγχθεῖεν, παρὰ Σωκράτους εἰληφέναι τὰ κυριώτατα τῶν δογμάτων. ὀλίγοις δὲ τῶν καθωμιλημένων καὶ παρὰ τοῖς ῞Ελλησιν εὐδοκίμων ἀνδρῶν χρησάμενος μαρτυρίοις, τὸ κλεπτικὸν διελέγξας εἶδος αὐτῶν, ἀδιαφόρως τοῖς χρόνοις καταχρώμενος, ἐπὶ τὰ ἑξῆς τρέψομαι.

᾿Ορφέως τοίνυν ποιήσαντος·
ὣς οὐ κύντερον ἦν καὶ ῥίγιον ἄλλο γυναικός,
῞Ομηρος ἄντικρυς λέγει·
ὣς οὐκ αἰνότερον καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο γυναικός.
Γράψαντός τε Μουσαίου·
ὡς αἰεὶ τέχνη μέγ’ ἀμείνων ἰσχύος ἐστίν,
῞Ομηρος λέγει
μήτι τοι δρυτόμος περιγίνεται ἠὲ βίηφι.

clemensvonalexandrien

Πάλιν τοῦ Μουσαίου ποιήσαντος·
ὡς δ’ αὔτως καὶ φύλλα φύει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα·
ἄλλα μὲν ἐν μελίῃσιν ἀποφθίνει, ἄλλα δὲ φύει·
ὣς δὲ καὶ ἀνθρώπων γενεὴν καὶ φῦλον ἑλίσσει.
῞Ομηρος μεταγράφει·
φύλλα τὰ μέν τ’ ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ’ ὕλη
τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ’ ἐπιγίνεται ὥρη·
ὣς ἀνδρῶν γενεὴ ἣ μὲν φύει, ἣ δ’ ἀπολήγει.
Πάλιν δ’ αὖ ῾Ομήρου εἰπόντος·
οὐχ ὁσίη κταμένοισιν ἐπ’ ἀνδράσιν εὐχετάασθαι,
᾿Αρχίλοχός τε καὶ Κρατῖνος γράφουσιν, ὃ μέν·
οὐ γὰρ ἐσθλὰ κατθανοῦσι κερτομεῖν ἐπ’ ἀνδράσιν,
Κρατῖνος δὲ ἐν τοῖς Λάκωσι·
φοβερὸν ἀνθρώποις τόδ’ αὖ,
κταμένοις ἐπ’ αἰζηοῖσι[ν] καυχᾶσθαι μέγα.
Αὖθίς τε ὁ ᾿Αρχίλοχος τὸ ῾Ομηρικὸν ἐκεῖνο μεταφέρων·
ἀασάμην, οὐδ’ αὐτὸς ἀναίνομαι· ἀντί νυ πολλῶν, ὧδέ πως γράφει·
ἤμβλακον, καί πού τινα ἄλλον ἥδ’ ἄτη κιχήσατο·