Even as far back as ancient times, people have thought the Gods to be impressed, perhaps even to require, extravagant offerings and gifts for their favor. But one of my favorite stories of ancient Greece comes from the Oracle of Delphi herself. It is unknown when this occurred, as in an exact date or century, at least according to my own records. Nevertheless, the moral of the event teaches us a very strong lesson, especially if we are followers of ancient Greek religion.
The story has no title I have seen, so I shall name it The Poor Man's Offering. While we may not have a lot of official information, we do have the name of the man in question, Hermioneus. Surely by now, even the fragments of his bones have withered away as his soul rests hopefully in Elysium, but his story remains with us for all time.
A very rich man of Thessaly once went to offer to Apollon at the Delphic temple. Hermioneus was there as well. The rich man showered the God with splendid gifts that only the fullest of pockets and bank accounts could accrue, thinking that surely he now possessed the favor of the God. When Hermioneus came forth to present his gifts, he merely took from his pouch a small portion of barely and placed it upon the altar. No doubt, the rich man nearly died laughing, at least in his own mind. But through the Delphic Oracle, Apollon spoke, and said that He liked the offering of Hermioneus more.
You see, the rich man was concerned with vanity, whereas Hermioneus was concerned with sincere devotion. It was nothing for the rich man to give Apollon the best money could buy, because he had all the money. However, it was a very telling act of character for the poor man to give what he could, to do his best, in the face of the Gods. The fact of the matter is that the Gods do not need anything we can give them. Apollon could have gotten all of the gifts the rich man gave him entirely on his own. What the Gods enjoy seeing is devotion and supplication, that we humble ourselves and realize who the Gods are. It doesn't matter if you offer one slice of bread from the Dollar Store, or the finest gold in all of America. The gift itself means nothing to the God or Goddess because they already own it. All of the universe is theirs. What they don't own is your devotion, your worship, and your love. For you to give that freely, means the most of all.
In the Goodness of the Gods,
Source - Stagman, Myron, 100 Prophecies of the Delphic Oracle, City-State Press, 1999.
From the time of Hesiod it was known that 'those who have more shall give more', but that implies that 'those that have less may give less'. So this is understandable. Had the rich man only given what the poor man gave, I expect the Gods would not have been pleased.
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