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Cosmos of the Ancients

Comsos of the Ancients

The Greek Philosophers on Myth and Cosmology



Euripides

E uripides (480-406 BC) cannot be grouped among the philosophers, but in his plays some parts are serving well to illustrate by this one example, how questions on the gods and the myths of them could be treated by the writers of drama. He did, of course, allow discussions on cosmology and such to enter his plays through the mouths of their characters. That certainly does not imply their views being identical with his own, suffice it here to use him as example of in what manner these questions were discussed in his time.



Euripides        He lets one of his cha­racters reason in Bacchae: "The goddess Demeter, - she is earth, call her by whichever name you wish." In the same monologue, the legend of Dionysos being sewn into the thigh of Zeus is explained as a change of word through time. Not that what Euri­pides regards as the authen­tic version is any less fabu­lous: "Having broken off a part of the air of heaven that encircles the earth, he gave this as a hostage, removing Diony­sos from quarrels with Hera."

       Another view, downright atheist in its reasoning along the lines repeated innumerable times in the Christian era - according to Euripides old already at his time, questioning how a benevolent god could allow injustice, is expressed in Bellerophon, a drama remaining only in fragments:
     Does someone say that there are gods in heaven?
     There are not, there are not, if a man will
     not in folly rely on the old argument.
     Consider it yourselves; do not build your opinion
     on my words. I say that a tyranny
     kills many men and deprives them of their possessions,
     and breaking oaths destroys cities;
     and doing this they are more happy
     than those who live each day in pious peace.
     And I know of small cities that honor the gods
     which obey greater and more impious ones,
     overcome by the greater number of spears.


Literature

Euripides, Bacchae, translated by Richard Seaford, Warminster 1996.

Barnes, Jonathan, The Presocratic Philosophers, volume 2, London 1979.


© Stefan Stenudd 2000



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The Greek Philosophers.

The Greek Philosophers


Introduction
Thales
Anaximander
Anaximenes
Pherecydes of Syros
Pythagoras
Xenophanes
Theagenes
Hecataeus
Heraclitus
Pindar
Parmenides
Anaxagoras
Empedocles
Herodotus
Gorgias
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Protagoras
Euripides
Prodicus of Ceos
Leucippus
Democritus
Critias
Antisthenes
Diagoras of Melos
Plato
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Epicurus
Euhemerus
Table of the Greek Philosophers
Literature
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Aristotle


Aristotle's Life
Timeline
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle's Cosmology


Cosmos of the Ancients, by Stefan Stenudd.

Cosmos of the Ancients - the Book

The material on this website about the Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, is now a book. It can be ordered at the Internet bookstores - printed or as a Kindle ebook. Both contain the footnotes with additional explanations as well as literary sources. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


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All's End, science fiction novel by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained, by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes - The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
Cosmos of the Ancients, by Stefan Stenudd. Occasionally I Contemplate Murder, by Stefan Stenudd. QI - increase your life energy, by Stefan Stenudd.
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