Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The First Maxim - Follow God - and Its Meaning

The ancient Greeks were Polytheists. We know this for a fact. So why does the first Maxim of Delphi speak of Deity in a singular form? And even more so, the Maxims go on in the third to say that we should worship the Gods, as in plural. Obviously, people cannot be both Monotheistic and Polytheistic at the same time, and it's clear that the ancient Greeks were indeed Polytheistic. To argue that they were not would be beyond any realm of ridiculousness that no reputable historian would take even remotely seriously. Therefore, there are several possibilities behind the meaning of the first Maxim, and indeed, perhaps behind the meaning of the term God when it was used by philosophers in an apparent singular context.

In one instance, one could interpret it to mean Divinity in general. If I use the term God, I am using it to describe all that I believe is God, which would be all the Gods and Goddesses. I would think of the word as a house, and within it is all that is God, all that is Deity. We must also remember that in ancient times, and even today, there is the practice of Henotheism within Hellenism. This is acknowledging the existence of all the Gods and Goddesses, but choosing, for one reason or another, to focus your worship and practice on only, or mainly, one of them. In ancient times, there were also entire Cults devoted to individual Deities, and cities and localities often had their own Gods and Patrons of the area. For example, Athene being the Patroness of Athens. So to "Follow God" could also mean to follow the God of your order, state, or personal devotion. Likewise, since the Maxims came from Delphi, the first could also be referring to Apollon, since He is the God of Delphi and the prophetic adviser of the Greeks. 

I also think that it would not be outlandish to refer to Zeus as God in the highest form, for He holds that position in the Greek Pantheon. Among all of our speculating and philosophizing, there is one thing we know for sure, the Greeks were not Monotheists. They believed in a great multitude of Gods, and therefore, the first Maxim cannot be referring to Monotheism. Perhaps such a general term was left for us to interpret as we know best, based on the personal truths that occur to us, and our own relevance.

In the Goodness of the Dodekatheon,
Chris.

Original post made on the Official Website of Chris Aldridge on February 9th, 2016.

Source
The Commandments of the Seven, the copy of Sosiades preserved by Stobaeus.

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