Friday, May 13, 2022


The Gods

C.M. Bowra, The Greek Experience (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1957), p. 45:
If the Greeks thought of their gods as possessing human shape and a nature like that of men, they recognized that between gods and men there are enormous differences. The first is that the gods suffer from neither old age nor death. They are able to live as men would like to live if they were not continually dogged by care for the morrow and the consciousness that at any moment they may pass into nothingness. In their undecaying strength and beauty the gods have something denied to men, which makes them objects of awe and wonder. The Greek sense of the holy was based much less on a feeling of the goodness of the gods than on a devout respect for their incorruptible beauty and unfailing strength. If this was a price which the Greeks paid for seeing the gods in human shape, it had vast compensations; for it both made the gods more real than many religions can and gave to men an increased self-respect because they resembled them. It presented an ideal which was indeed not possible to rival but which by its fascinating challenge made men feel that it was good to possess, even in the humblest degree, qualities shared with the gods, and when they saw an unusual manifestation of these in their fellows, it was a matter for delight and pride.

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