Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Greek Heroes Are Not Exclusive To Ancient Greek Local Communities

Some Hellenists believe that praying to ancient Greek Heroes, or worshiping them, outside of their local communities in ancient Greece, is not a valid or authentic practice for a Hellene who lives outside of Greece, that these Heroes are only reserved for the precise places where they were prayed to or worshiped. While it's most certainly true that we can have local Heroes of our time in our own land, and such Heroes do exist, it is an extreme fallacy, and simply illogical, to say that ancient Greek Heroes cannot be universal or invoked outside of their homeland, or that such a practice outside of Greece would somehow be "unhellenic."

The first reason why this is faulty logic is because we Hellenes outside of Greece follow the calendar of Attica, which is the calendar of a specific region of Greece, and we incorporate practices from this calendar in many different places in the world. So to say that local Greek Heroes cannot be legitimately honored, prayed to, or worshiped outside of their local areas, and then follow a local calendar of ancient Greece, is a walking contradiction. Why would it be acceptable and accurate to celebrate the observances and practices of Attica outside of Attica, but not to also honor and pray to the Heroes of Attica, like Theseus? 

Literally speaking, our entire religion comes from a different part of the world. If you live in the United States, no part of the Hellenic religion originated here, but we don't tell Americans they can't be Hellenists. Clearly, there is a system of universalism present within the religion. We're not talking about religion from a place like Egypt where it was explicitly tied to the geography in every way. For example, there is only one Nile, but there are rivers and seas all over the world. Why should that only mean those found in Greece?

We also have to consider that some of the Heroes did not stay in one area during their time of heroism. For example, Theseus was born in Troezen, and traveled to Athens, along the way demonstrating His heroism to the Greek people, and after His death, became a protector of the persecuted and oppressed. So which area would Theseus be more appropriately honored, Troezen or Athens? Or can we say that He is multi-regional? I would say most certainly. Theseus is not just the Hero of the Athenians, because the persecuted and oppressed exist all over the globe, and Athens was not the only place where He liberated such people. As long as one gives Him proper Greek respects, I don't see the issue, because as Plutarch said in his writings, Plutarch's Lives, Theseus always helped those who came to Him for help, He did not turn away those in need. Granted, I don't agree with Plutarch on everything, but this seems to be very much in line with the character of Theseus.

Certain Gods also held different levels of importance in ancient Greek areas. For example, Athene was of great importance in Athens, while Apollon was of dominant importance in Delphi, so which Deity should receive the most honor from us Hellenes? Some of the Greek Gods had origins outside of Greece itself, so which region is accurate and which region in Greece is more accurate than the other? Or shall we say that both of the Gods are of great importance to the lives of Hellenes and the religion of Hellenism? 

This is why locality really has no basis in the argument against the honoring of Greek Heroes, because we honor many Beings and things which were local, while we practice in other parts of the world. The simple fact of the matter is that the Heroes traveled about, doing heroic things. Spheres of influence are not exclusive, and sometimes cannot possibly be to, one area, whether we're talking about Heroes or Gods themselves. For example, Apollon is God of the Sun, Zeus is God of the Sky, and Poseidon is God of the Sea, and these things shine and cover over the entire world, not just in Greece. Essentially, I argue that Hellenism can be a universal system in that the Gods, Spirits, Heroes and practices themselves can extend outside of the Greek regions as long as they retain their Greek identity.

To finish by speaking on a UPG level, for what it's worth in the larger Hellenic community, I have had great experience praying to Greek Heroes, such as Theseus and Bellerophon. I can feel them with me when I ask for their presence, because I believe they hear all Hellenes. The Heroes now exist in a divine or spiritual state, which means they are beyond physical boundaries. 

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

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