Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Effects of a Decline in Religious Belief
Lucian, Zeus Tragoedus 3 (tr. Lionel Casson):
Hera, the gods' situation is desperate. We're on the razor's edge, as the saying goes. It's anybody's guess whether we'll continue to be worshiped and respected on earth or be considered nobodies and be completely ignored.Id. 18:
ἐν ἐσχάτοις, ὦ Ἥρα, τὰ θεῶν πράγματα, καὶ τοῦτο δὴ τὸ τοῦ λόγου, ἐπὶ ξυροῦ ἕστηκεν εἴτε χρὴ τιμᾶσθαι ἡμᾶς ἔτι καὶ τὰ γέρα ἔχειν τἀν τῇ γῇ εἴτε καὶ ἠμελῆσθαι παντάπασι καὶ τὸ μηδὲν εἶναι δοκεῖν.
Fellow gods, this is why I have called you together—no small reason when you consider that our honor, our prestige, and our revenues all depend upon men. If they're convinced that gods don't exist or that, if we do, we take no thought for them, it means the end of sacrifices, gifts, and honors for us from down below. We'll sit around uselessly in heaven and starve, since our traditional holidays, celebrations, games, sacrifices, festivals, and parades will be taken away from us.
ταῦτ᾽ ἔστιν ἐφ᾽ οἷς ὑμᾶς συνεκάλεσα, οὐ μικρά, ὦ θεοί, εἰ λογιεῖσθε ὡς ἡ ἡ πᾶσα μὲν ἡμῖν τιμὴ καὶ δόξα καὶ πρόσοδος οἱ ἄνθρωποὶ εἰσιν εἰ δ᾽ οὗτοι πεισθεῖεν ἢ μηδὲ ὅλως θεοὺς εἶναι ἢ ὄντας ἀπρονοήτους εἶναι σφῶν αὐτῶν, ἄθυτα καὶ ἀγέραστα καὶ ἀτίμητα ἡμῖν ἔσται τὰ ἐκ γῆς καὶ μάτην ἐν οὐρανῷ καθεδούμεθα λιμῷ ἐχόμενοι, ἑορτῶν ἐκείνων καὶ πανηγύρεων καὶ ἀγώνων καὶ θυσιῶν καὶ παννυχίδων καὶ πομπῶν στερούμενοι.