Thursday, May 08, 2014



Norman Douglas (1868-1952), How About Europe? Some Footnotes on East and West (London: Chatto and Windus, 1930), pp. 118-119:
A system of polytheism such as we find in Homer can be evolved only among men who are really free, men of good health, of sensitive and alert minds; men who possess constructive imagination and a deep sympathy—a kind of masonic feeling—for the processes of nature. These are the qualifications; and we no longer have them. The Christian theory that polytheism points to a low state of culture is refuted by the life described in these poems, which reveal an ethical outlook cleaner than our own; the morality, private and public, of these polytheists has extorted praise from all scholars, including the sanctimonious Mr. Gladstone. Their standard of female virtue, for example, contrasts favourably with what our monotheistic teachers have told us about women. And that is a crucial test. Gladstone cannot avoid making his usual reservation in favour of Christianity; he says, nevertheless, that 'it would be hard to discover any period of history, or country of the world, not being Christian, in which women stood so high as with the Greeks of the heroic age.'
Id., p. 121:
If we must have gods, let us have them by the score—it is the only way out of the difficulty. Let us have them numerous as in the streets of old Naples, where, according to Symmachus, it was easier to encounter a god than a man. The more the merrier. Then we shall know on whom to fix the blame, when anything disagreeable happens to us. At present, God being good, we are up a tree.
According to Symmachus, or Petronius? See Petronius, Satyricon 17.5:
utique nostra regio tam praesentibus plena est numinibus ut facilius possis deum quam hominem invenire.
Related post: Pound on Polytheism.

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