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Author Topic: Hebraism vs Hellenism: Discuss
Richard Dey
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I refer to Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy (1882) so often in my private and public life that I thought perhaps it ought to be more familiar in the circles in which I travel [Wink] — and would no doubt find your comments on some of the original text illuminating (since for 50 years it has remained somewhat in the penumbra of my understanding but forever lurking about my interests). In postmodern English, it 'informs' me [Frown] -- but seems to less informative to others.

Arnold, a paradoxical British social critic (and, of course, famous poet) now in hoary age, has here already set up two opposing forces of influence in British imperial thought which, of course, is Western Civilization ( [Wink] ):

Hebraism and Hellenism,

and is here simply discussing them but — since he is, like myself, an artificially paratactic thinker, not to mention, ma'haps, an even-more highly parenthetical writer, he reïterates and reïterates to the point where his original definitions (which are chapters long) are at every point unnecessary to redefine that one might comprehend the discoveries upon which he ruminates. Let it just 'happen' [Smile] ; it will.

Since he is addressing an association of very-very-very high-church clergy, tah-tah, including not only the archbishops but those who would seek to understand the most-esoteric episcopal pulpiteering, I have removed some of his Victorian references and subtleties as being not only unnecessary but excresences of obsolecence.

He’s addressing them at this piont on the propriety, or lack thereof, of using paganism from the pulpit, but the large essay has far larger import since it necessarily discusses the propriety of the use of religion in running the secular state and world. (He has already dismissed the aristocracy, the Philistines, and the workers -- and, none too subtly, for being either too stupid, to vulgar, or too preoccupied -- and puts it to the clergy, far more subtly, if they themselves are up to running the Empire ... [Wink] .)

My comments are in italics.

Matthew Arnold: Culture and Anarchy (1882), Chapter IV: Hebraism and Hellenism, ¶¶ 2 pars, 3-5, 6 pars (I think).

2 … The aim and end of both Hebraism and Hellenism is, as I have said, one and the same, and this aim and end is august and admirable.

3 The final aim of both Hellenism and Hebraism … et al. … is no doubt the same: man's perfection or salvation. The very language which they both of them use in schooling us to reach this aim is often identical … (the final aim being) 'that we might be partakers of the divine nature.'

4 Still, they pursue this aim by very different courses. The uppermost idea with Hellenism is to see things as they really are; the uppermost idea with Hebraism is conduct and obedience. Nothing can do away with this ineffaceable difference. The Greek quarrel with the body and its desires is, that they hinder right thinking, the Hebrew quarrel with them is, that they hinder right acting.' He that keepeth the law, happy is he;' 'Blessed is the man that feareth the Eternal, that delighteth greatly in his commandments;' — that is the Hebrew notion of felicity; and, pursued with passion and tenacity, this notion would not let the Hebrew rest till, as is well known, he had at last got out of the law a network of prescriptions to enwrap his whole life, to govern every moment of it, every impulse, every action. The Greek notion of felicity, on the other hand, is perfectly conveyed in these words of a great French moralist: C'est le bonheur des hommes,* — when? when they abhor that which is evil? — no; when they exercise themselves in the law of the Lord day and night? — no; when they die daily? — no; when they walk about the New Jerusalem with palms in their hands? — no; but when they think aright, when their thought hits: ‘quand its pensent juste’. At the bottom of both the Greek and the Hebrew notion is the desire, native in man, for reason and the will of God, the feeling after the universal order — in a word, the love of God. But, while Hebraism seizes upon certain plain, capital intimations of the universal order, and rivets itself, one may say, with unequalled grandeur of earnestness and intensity on the study and observance of them, the bent of Hellenism is to follow, with flexible activity, the whole play of the universal order, to be apprehensive of missing any part of it, of sacrificing one part to another, to slip away from resting in this or that intimation of it, however capital. An unclouded clearness of mind, an unimpeded play of thought, is what this bent drives at. The governing idea of Hellenism is spontaneity of consciousness; that of Hebraism, strictness of conscience.

One might project that Arnold — an establishmentarian religious type but trained in the classics at Oxford — has described the separate home towns of morality, in Jerusalem, and ethics, in Athens, no?

5 Christianity changed nothing in this essential bent of Hebraism to set doing above knowing. Self-conquest, self-devotion, the following not our own individual will, but the will of God, obedience, is the fundamental idea of this form, also, of the discipline to which we have attached the general name of Hebraism. Only, as the old law and the network of prescriptions with which it enveloped human life were evidently a motive-power not driving and searching enough to produce the result aimed at — patient continuance in well doing, self-conquest — Christianity substituted for them boundless devotion to that inspiring and affecting pattern of self-conquest offered by Jesus Christ; and by the new motive-power, of which the essence was this, though the love and admiration of Christian churches have for centuries been employed in varying, amplifying, and adorning the plain description of it, Christianity, as St. Paul truly says, 'establishes the law,' and in the strength of the ampler power which she has thus supplied to fulfil it, has accomplished the miracles, which we all see, of her history.

I think you see where his argument is going.. Where do you take this argument? beyond, of course, Religion vs Science? (In his text, btw, one must substitute 'technology' for 'machinery', but he's referring to the same thing.

* i.e., It is the 'happy hour' of man, the good times, whatever, ... when ....

¶ Search: CHAPTER IV in:
http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/nonfiction_u/arnoldm_ca/ca_titlepage.html

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TomDavidson
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Hm. I believe he defines Hebraism unnecessarily narrowly and Hellenism unnecessarily broadly, unfairly criticizing the former and unfairly idealizing the latter. In arguing that the Hebrews, for example, prized ritual and obedience instead of "right-thinking," he glosses quickly past the obvious objection: that in a universe ruled by a God as described in the Old Testament, obeying the rules and restrictions of that God is definitionally the rightest thinking of all. The Hellenes, by imagining gods which were not embodiments of virtue, were freed from this logical trap only to bind themselves into another: they made Virtue into a sort of god, and their definitions of Virtue thus became the equivalent of religious argument.

That said, the observation that Jewish culture is at heart a culture of morality and Greek culture was at heart a culture of ethics is (IMO) a fair one. But I think he does Jewish culture a disservice by pretending that any religion which believes in an omnipotent, omniscient God could evolve in any other way -- and does Christianity a disservice by not recognizing how extensively certain elements of Greek philosophy have been shoehorned into Christian theology. It's an awkward fit, but I think the tension between "God is Good" and "Good is God" has produced most of the great works of our culture.

[ June 25, 2006, 09:39 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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flydye45
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The Greeks also fought the battle versus the flesh, viewing anyone who sought only fulfillment of their appetites as the cultural kin of the Centaurs at the Wedding party; not something to emulate. Self Control was paramount to both cultures in seeking the path to enlightenment or perfection. Both had their described paths, one the Law of God, the other the Golden Mean of education, with philosophy, sports, mathematics and military arts as the way to...whatever. The fact that such a path led to Alcibiades, a paragon of this program, never made them question the roots of their system any more then a Talmuddists questioned his.

However, the Greeks also had their share of flaws. Beauty was too dominant in their culture. Would Alcibiades have had so many chances if he was a cleft palated hunchback? Club footed Hestephus was mocked and lampooned, Apollo held in high regard.

The lowly craftsman, who did more to improve life then most philosophies, was socially inferior simply by reason of their trade. The Grecian (and later Roman) ideal of land ownership being the only "socially acceptable" form of advancement may have had a long term negative impact on our history. China had some of the same outlooks, with their Confusian ideals of a gentleman. The only difference was the desperation of war to invoke innovation, something China lacked.

Oh yes, and the dominant religious figure of the Judeo-Christian template was a lowly craftsman. Totally irrelevant, I know [Wink] !

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Richard Dey
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TD:

¶ that "any religion which believes in an omnipotent, omniscient God could evolve in any other way". I'm not sure that he does that however much he suggests that to a group of very smug Victorian bishops [Wink] or, today, a group of very smug evangelists.

Arnold's very language, coiled and contorted for hundreds of pages, reminds me of a cobra keeping the very audience he's talking to at bay. In his twisted way, he is telling the bishops to back off, to play fair, that there are two sides to this game of tenses.

In one passage he actually refers to Hebraism as 'the past' and Hellenism as 'the future'. He's warning the clergy that they run the risk of losing the future.

I think he's describing the relationship between Hebraic parent and Hellenic child. Now, this would have been called in those days (as in myne [Eek!] ), a willful waif, perhaps an incorrigible child, but, because he has attacked the separatists and dissidents (the other Protestants) as being Philistines (the evangelicals) and ill-rounded and not-nearly so well-educated as The Queen's Own, he has already blamed Hebraism as being inherently overstrict and not spontaneous enough in its consciousness.

I nowhere see Arnold criticizing the rightness of what the ancient Hebrews preached, but I do hear him saying that the current rabbis, bishops, and preachers are not flexible enough. Indeed I think he's calling them inflexible old fogeys.

Now, I would suggest that your quip God is Good, Good is God is insightful -- but Arnold is preaching to the establishment and the establishment fully belives that what they have received from the ancients is good. How do they react when the childlike Hellenist says, but Greatgrandfather, it is not good for all, one size doesn't fit all anymore, and why don't you just drink your cocoa before it gets cold?

Hebraism, after all, seeks a monopoly; Arnold is arguing that Hellenism is not seeking a monopoly but, rather, seeks to deny Hebraism the monopoly on morality and its implementation. Rather, his complaint to the Hellenists is that they prefer to ignore "the truths of Hebraism" because they are too busy seeking "things as they are" and not, I presume, as they will be in the 2nd coming.

(And you will notice his ambiguous tweek of the bishops' boundless ... adornment of the simple truths of Jesus!!!, the Anglo-Catholics being very much into outfits, genuflections, grand chorales, and altar boys.

That, in any event, is why I chose sides in Arnold's discourse (it's like a symposium in a way), and why I chose the side I did. That was just 50 years ago June 21st -- when this stuff was still hot off the press [Big Grin] .

You amaze me, TD! When you are not "lazy", you are a good analyst. And I think you are right that Arnold, for the sake of argument, felt obliged to somewhat oversimply the confrontation of Hebraism and Hellenism because he was talking to Queen Victoria and her ecclesiastical minions. The only questioning they were good at was wondering why they weren't being obeyed.

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Richard Dey
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Ah yes, Flydye. I just knew you'd rush right to "the flesh" [Big Grin] .

Yes, the 'system' for which Socrates died did produce Alcibiades, the Gen Montgomery of his
day (also gay), but it also produced Epamanondas, the Gen Kitchener of his day (also gay).
Alcibiades was always held up as a warning. The system also saved Europe from Persia --
whereas the Jews embraced the Persian, and introduced its worst excesses into Europe.

The 'cult of beauty' was a little more subtle than that sheer lechery. The maxim of Apollon, who became the patron of it, was kalos kagathos which meant 'a beautiful mind in a beautiful body' or, as we know from both logic and the cognates, meant 'an exercised mind in an exercised body' which is why we've translated it since Shelley as a sound mind in a sound body . The 'beauty' part is perhaps a bit ov'rplayed.

So far as cripples be concerned, in fact the Greeks did a better job on this than the Jews,
notwithstanding Miriam in Ivanhoe, insofar as they were wayover advanced in medicine --
and allowed far more lenience to the mentally ill (i.e., the asocial). When it came to abandoning children to the streets, as the Christians did by the millions, the Greeks did not do that.

I would have thought too that the Greeks did better with clannishness, as indeed pederasty was
set forth to meliorate, than the Jews ever did who, indeed, had a clan for a priesthood regardless of competence. The Greeks, OTOH, had an aristos of intelligence -- even as the Spartans had an aristos of militaria. It was the Thebans, perhaps, who found 'the golden mean'.

At II:30, Arnold says: We want an authority, and we find nothing but jealous classes, checks, and
a deadlock; culture suggests the idea of the State. We find no basis for a firm State-power in our ordinary selves; culture suggests one to us in our best self.

This did not mean that, let's take Athens, the Greeks didn't have a surviving land-owning aristocracy! The whole chain of pederastic philosophers was of the aristocracy; indeed, Socrates was executed by the democrats , and Plato's Constitution is as slave-owning as the Bible is -- but, then, it may be read as a satire whereas the Bible probably oughtn't be [Wink] . Only Sparta had managed to eliminate the 'aristocracy' altogether -- and look what that sensationalist revolution led to (as Aunt Agatha put it) [Wink] . Indeed, whilst putting himself forward as exemplary of why the middle-class should not be the rulers, he likewise discredits the aristocracy by more-or-less describing your weakest Greek link:

... I have in my own mind often indulged myself with the fancy of employing, in order to designate our aristocratic class, the name of The Barbarians. The Barbarians, to whom we all
owe so much, and who reinvigorated and renewed our worn-out Europe, had, as is well known,
eminent merits; and in this country, where we are for the most part sprung from the Barbarians
we have never had the prejudice against them which prevails among the races of Latin origin.
The Barbarians brought with them that staunch individualism, as the modern phrase is, and that
passion for doing as one likes, for the assertion of personal liberty, which appears ... [the] central idea of English life, and of which we have, at any rate, a very rich supply. The stronghold and natural seat of this passion was in the nobles of whom our aristocratic class are the inheritors; and this class, accordingly, have signally manifested it, and have done much by their example to recommend it to the body of the nation, who already, indeed, had it in their blood. The Barbarians, again, had the passion for field-sports; and they have handed it on to our aristocratic class, who of this passion too, as of the passion for asserting one's personal liberty, are the great natural stronghold. The care of the Barbarians for the body, and for all manly exercises; the vigour, good looks, and fine complexion which they acquired and perpetuated in their families by these means, -- all this may be observed still in our aristocratic class.


Yet it in response to this aristos that democracy was born of two lovers (several pairs, in fact). Thus, to suggest that the Greeks were 'flawless' would be to suggest that 'democracy' was without its bumps! Is not the very suggestion a straw dog -- or is this dog the very aristos, gone ‘intellectual’, which the demos sought to overthrow?

Amongst the Jews, it was merely the priests or the uppity (who got executed for their pains).

I wouldn’t claim that the Greek aristos sought to democratize the whole of its society or that of any polis but, rather, ‘beauty’ (of mind or body) was, as it is amongst heterosexuals today, a way out of the demos (if not out of the slave class, as it came to be in Rome). Would Dolly Parton be a wealthy philanthropist today if she hadn’t had big tits? Would Shirley Temple Black be an activist homophobe today, cleaning up television, if she hadn’t be an adorable child?

The Greek ideal did not require meekness or peasantry or vulgarity to attain influence; it
require idea.

I often, therefore, when I want to distinguish clearly the aristocratic class from the Philistines proper, or middle class, name the former, in my own mind, the Barbarians. And when I go through the country, and see this and that beautiful and imposing seat of theirs crowning the landscape, 'There,' I say to myself, 'is a great fortified post of the Barbarians.' ibidem, II:8

As to Christians owning land, Arnold agrees with you; but how else did the Boston archdiocese
pay off its debts but by selling land and stock? And as for creating a hierarchy of the oppressed, it would have seemed to me that Christian feudalism actually set the standard.

As to the issue of land-ownership and, ultimately, capitalism, all the way down to rightful attribution of texts and copyright, let me only say that Jaweh’s granting of already-populated territories to Kurdish nomads set a very bad example indeed. But for that matter, neither the Jews nor their spiritual offspring the Christians ever condemned the ownership of houses and their land, the ownership of slaves and their lives, nor even the ownership of corpses! Nor was intellectual attainment decried as a socially acceptable form of advancement amongst the Greeks and Romans, for there were many peripatetic teachers amongst them who lived on their incomes.

That lowly craftsperson (really, Flydye! Spank-spank!), owned The Kingdom of God, for
heaven’s sake -- well, I don’t know if for heaven’s sake but “for His sake”.

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flydye45
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Richard,

Before we wallow in the flesh,(and put down that paddle!), one wonders why you selected this man, a time server of schools and a semi-famous poet, particularly given his lack of wide public recognition of his contributions to philosophy. Still, I tend to cherry pick those who agree with my points, so I cast no stones myself but simply note the curious shapes of your projectiles.

I will ignore the strategic and tactical problems of defending Israel from Persia, except to note, that like the Greeks, they also fought. They had the problem of losing and being a subject and stolen population, hardly the welcoming Vichy-like sycophants you portray.

Please excuse me if I was unclear about the "beauty" equation. I meant no mere lechery. Instead what I meant was simply that they put much more weight on personal beauty then was warrented. If Socrates was cute, he probably wouldn't have been killed [Smile] . The fact that the West does the same simply means that we also apply some of our Greco Roman heritage inappropriately. I mean, Leonardo DeCaprio meeting Clinton about the enviroment? Puh-LEEZE!

While I cannot speak of abandoning children on the streets as a uniquely Christian practice, the Greeks did not do so. They killed them by throwing them in valleys or abandoning them in hills. How many heros and demi-gods were abandoned at sea, left in the hills, attacked by serpents etc? But I suppose they were more rational because you couldn't hear the screams if you left them in the hills. But we were discussing Hebrews and Hellenes.

And then we go into a classic Richardism! When you start with dozens of citations, quickly switching ideas with paragraphs with little relation to one another; citations and exhortions bumping against one another, I check my metaphorical wallet! [Wink]

IIRC one of the major schisms during the War to Save the West was between the Equestrians, the landed aristos vs those that supported the navy. Landed money was more honest, it seemed. Definately so with the Romans. I don't see any contradiction to my point that there was a Greco-Roman bias towarded landed, agrarian based wealth as legitimate as opposed to "tradesmen and shopkeepers". Only with the advent of Imperial Athens was the benefits of trade appreciated...but as a mixed blessing, allowing a lowly oar puller a voice in the government. Who was his father? What training did he have? These were critiques leveled at the practice by Athenians. So much for ideas. Only pretty, well-born thinkers need apply. (Socrates was executed as a rabble rouser of the youth. Hardly someone valued by the vast majority of the populous. See "The Clouds")

Excepting Pericles, I wonder which tyrants, generals etc you feel were about ideas. Considering some of the boneheaded blunders the Greeks made, not the least of which was, if not the invention of, but the culimination of Civil War, I don't see a lot of support for the theory that they were an aristocracy of ideas. They valued education, yes. Did the wealthy Persians skimp on education? What of the Egyptians? They had no monopoly on thinking.

But what was the origin of philosophy? Trained seals who sang for their supper, spinning new and engaging ways of thinking to entertain their wealthy patron. IIRC, many of these philosophers lived elsewhere, supported by the wealth of Egypt, the Ionian Colonies, and not the Greeks themselves, who tended to banish and execute their revolutionary thinkers and victors.

And like most of the thinkers of the time, there are points of brilliant insight from, for example, Galen or Aristotle, smack next to incredible stupidity by the exact same thinker. But much like the market fortune teller, the hits are remembered more then the misses.

But this is carping. The fact is that they were brilliant...because their ideas survived and were valued. The same as with the Hebrews. Some resonance was valued across time and was supported. Because they also had amazing ideas, of Law being more universal then situational ethics, of a God better then a lighting farting adulterer, a pretty boy and the twin bitchs Nike and Ananke, those most mischevious Goddesses, who allowed the prized ethics to be twisted by the Sophists for "victory" and by "necessity", virtues they valued just as highly as honor.

To admit this diminishes the other not at all. This is another attempt to take a swipe at Hebreics, which has survived this and worse attacks. Swing away. [Wink]

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javelin
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All this time, and I never knew that flydye and Dey were the same person. Amazing! [Wink]
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quote:
Science has now made visible to everybody the great and pregnant elements of difference which lie in race, and in how signal a manner they make the genius and history of an Indo-European people vary from those of a Semitic people. Hellenism is of Indo-European growth, Hebraism is of Semitic growth; and we English, a nation of Indo-European stock, seem to belong naturally to the movement of Hellenism.
Mr. Dey,

I don't have time to wade through all of his writings, but you apparently have so perhaps you can answer me on this. Did the advent of a relatively large Zionist movement in Britain around the time of this writing effect him? How much of this is a contemporary treatsy with allusions to the turn of the century, and how much of it is universal? He seems to consider Britain to be a straddler between both worlds (which would put the US in a similar position, I suppose), so I'm not sure if this is an isolated incident or otherwise.

Potemkyn

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Richard Dey
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¶ How like our enemies we become [Wink] , but there are whole tomes on how the Jews Patty Hearsted it in Persia, most notable of which to my argument was their adoption of homophobia. Either that, or the Hebrews invented it.

¶ And one is at a loss to compare the capricious panoply of philosophies of the Greeks in the 1st millenium BC to the singular religion produced by the Jews. It necessarily reminds one of the crack that the French had dozens of sauces but only one religion, and the English dozens of religions but only one sauce. I would have thought that the flexibility of the mind which the Greeks produced was more characteristic of Western civilization than the inflexibility of the Jews.

In any event, the Occident could not in ethical good conscience adopt a religion morally tailored made for Orientals -- and grossly distorted it (to put it as one Rabbi did to me) by turning Yaweh into "a god of love" which never under the Jews did he pretend to be.

But I must indeed congratulate you on your metaphorical rapproachement: the Jews in Exile and the Vichyssoise! [Big Grin] Now I can never use it, but yes, from a homophilic point of view, it is indeed apt -- with Ezra playing the role of Pierre Laval after the fact [Eek!] , and Cyrus playing the role of a proto-Hitler.

How admired he is -- and what a despicable manipulator he was. "Bring in these Jews that I may know them!" Are the strong enough to defend our western borders from Egypt? Cyrus sent out many Persianized peoples to protect his borders. It was like the princes of Lululand going to Eton and Oxford. Indeed, if you will remember, only a few Jews took him up on the offer -- though others followed a generation later at the urging of a subsequent monarch who, in essence, told them to get out.

¶ Who is to deny that the Greco-Persian wars were not the result of some very shady deals gone sour? One can only contemplate, sadly, our own falling out with the Japanese Empire in the middle of the bygone century -- which, notwithstanding, was entirely due to the treachery and butchery of the sneeky little Japs. (CORRECTIONIST POLICE MARCH IN BLOWING WHISTLES!)

But I cannot for the life of me consider the Hebrew-Persian confrontation of the 6th C anything so consequential to Europe as it was and sought to be as the Greco-Persian confrontation at Marathon and Salamis!

¶ And as for interservice rivalry ..., well, I give you Napoleon's army and the British Admiralty, and yet the Allies could nevertheless bring the Philistine upstart to heel after all.

You are confusing, I hope, the Spartans with "the Greeks". Even amongst the Greeks the strict Lycurgean code was considered extraordinary, albeit militarily admirable until Epaminondas. We even have the case of Pelops, from the same area, winding up in a soup. But one of the things the Greeks prided themselves in was abandoning the cannibalism of matritheismand substituting animal sacrifice, as most of the Levant did.

But the idea that the Hewbrews were not theophagenous is ridiculous. Their theophageny (For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Jn. 6:55), survives into Christianity:-- "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." JC

Human sacrifice is sprinkled liberally throughout the Bible, and one doesn't even have to search out the stoned homosexuals or reluctant brides.

Try this one! 2 Kings 6:26-30 -- and then the King of Israel blames Jaweh! Or these: Deut. 28:53-57, Micah 3.

¶ This is the Abrahamic religion fundamentalists want taught in our schools [Eek!] ! Religions stemming from a barbarian patriarch who marries his sister, denies his wife, and seduces her handmaid; he who drives one child into the desert to starve, and prepares to butcher the other. This book wouldn't pass the smell test of the Sisters of Heresy!

But we digress.

¶ My quotations are all from the same chapter of Arnold, so referenced above with a click, and maintained in strict sequence, omnes ibidem. They were chosen to illustrate Arnold's preposition regarding your claim that the Hebrews were good share-and-share-alike communists, and that the Greeks were capitalist-pig-aristocratic slave-holding gentry. Arnold calls them in England, the Barbarians.

And when I go through the country, and see this and that beautiful and imposing seat of theirs crowning the landscape, 'There,' I say to myself, 'is a great fortified post of the Barbarians.

So yes, Arnold was ahead of you, knowing that this argument would be made against the Greeks -- but prima facie a false charge.

¶ Yes, scapegoating also occurred amongst the Greeks, but it was a common practice throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Indeed I hear it is still practice today! but, then, the Kings of Europe were banishing their subjects from court right into Victoria's time. It is not unheard of even to this day for trailer-camp folk to kick out their older children because they cannot maintain them.

For all that, I do not consider exile so extremist as stoning. The closest I can remember in classical times is a other who sealed her son up in a cave because she was ashamed of him.

¶ After Zeus threw Ganymeda off Olympus, and took on Ganymedes as his page, Zeus actually calmed down quite a bit. He did have, you know, a terrible marriage so static as that of Socrates and Xantippe.

But I can never remember his having demanded 50,000 foreskins or require that animals be strung up, have their throats slit, and induced to kick to death just to be ritually edible.

Well, at least the Greek philosophers discussed the matter of animal suffering -- if inevitably coming to different conclusions on the matter.

¶ Both the Greeks and the Jews made progress towards western civilization, as Arnold argues, but I would argue that the Greek idea traveled better than the Hebrew myth.

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Richard Dey
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Potemkyn:

Arnold is addressing "a word of exhortation" to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, but thereby the British Empire.

In the process of attempting to bring the clergy's "sweetness and light" campaign into contemporary "mechanistic" reality, he puts forth the thesis that western civilization is a kind of struggle between Hebraism (Britain's religious heritage) and Hellenism (Britain's intellectual heritage).

He differentiates them sufficiently to suggest that the one had no religious impact on Britain -- and the other no intellectual impact [Big Grin] , but he much, much more subtle and devious than that.

Yes, of course he knew Disraeli and Rosebery. They were all gay together at one level or another, though Arnold by far the least. Arnold's objet d'affection, and something of a disappointment to him intellectually and otherwise, had died young; his name was Arthur Hugh Clough, not gay. This kind of situation is called homoepithumeia, 'unrequited gay love'. The poem on that subject is the famous 'Thrysis'.

Oh, and of course he knew Bishop Benson who had I think 3 gay sons and a lesbian daughter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._C._Benson , all famous. Follow your nose. In his day, everybody knew who he was. He did the lecture circuit, also in the US, and knew all the great American minds of his day too.

But was Arnold "gay". I would say not. In the directories he gets 'pinked', i.e., we know he had a gay passion but we're almost certain that it was never consummated. The same is said of Emerson -- who loved a boy named Gay [Eek!] , never had an affair with Thoreau, and admired Whitman and Symonds.

In part, Arnold is famous not just because of everybody he knew and the enormous influence he had on them and their thinking, but because of his father. As headmaster of Rugby, his father sort of 'invented' school sports (thus is jibe).

Despite being called a second-rate poet, he comes 2nd only to Tennyson, IMHO, who was, in fact, gay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Arnold

Neither he nor Ruskin should be dismissed today as 'mere Victorians', a social critic and an art critic. They were not much in tune with the 20th C, nor even made it, but they are very much in tune with today. Arnold one can pick up and put down. Ruskin is very difficult to put down. But they're both extravagant thinkers.

So the short answer is both. Victorian England found itself on the top of the heap and was in a bit of a quandary what to think about itself. That's why he's so relevant to American politics and sociology today. We're at the top of the same heap and don't know what to think of ourselves. Rome, you see, knew what it was doing and why -- and back up its overbearing plot with Greek philosophical dialogue as background music (Flydye played just the right sour note [Big Grin] ).

But when the Christians took over the Empire, they hadn't a clue what to do with it (they made up draconian sex laws mostly, and staged mass executions -- like 15,000 at Thessalonicaf or protecting a gay bishop), but the idea of empire was so contrary to CHRIST-ian thinking and they so ignorant of how it ran, that it imploded.

Arnold was historically very worldly. He knew what to do with it, and was warning the clergy that they were just riding a wave and ought to get their act together because the Barbarians, the Philistines, and the Populace had no clue what they were doing. It was just stiff upper lip and carry on stuff. You know the results of the failure of the Church of England to get with it.

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flydye45
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Jav,

LMAO!

Your dyslexia has gotten the better of you again. Get treatment. [Smile]

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by flydye45:
Jav,

LMAO!

Your dyslexia has gotten the better of you again. Get treatment. [Smile]

I knew you'd just love the crazy assertion. (but is it true? [Wink] )

[ June 27, 2006, 03:35 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Richard Dey
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Potemkyn:

Are you asking if Arnold was "antisemitic"? If so, I would say that he was no more antisemitic, i.e., anti-Jewish, than most liberal people of his day. Yes, of course, he would have been offended by Jewish racism and homophobia. All right-thinking people are.

No, he's comparing the relative contributions of Hellenism and Hebraism to western civilization -- without assessing penalties.

Homophiles assess penalties because homosexuals generally assess penalties -- which is certainly their Hellenic right to do.

In his assessment, Hebraists hadn't contributed very much -- and nothing of the quality contributed by Hellenists.

Arnold is not saying that homosexuals were contributive, Jews not very, he is saying that Hellenists contributed more to civilization than hebraists. If that is moot, you'll have to explain to me how so. He's not saying anything that Sir Francis Bacon had said in another way. The irony is that Arnold is not gay and very much on the line between these two concepts.

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flydye45
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Richard, I always follow the Niven Law of Writing.

"When you have something to say; say it as plainly as possible. When you have nothing to say, say it however you want." [Wink]

Your last post was the clearest. Take it as an example for future endeavors.

[ June 28, 2006, 03:34 PM: Message edited by: flydye45 ]

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Richard Dey
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I'm writing a text for high-schoolers, Flydye. I have to write in plain, concise English what I know. That is nothing but hard work. [Frown]

Here we ought to have the luxury to write in the convoluted way that we think because we don't know [Big Grin] .

The complication you see is nothing but context -- the point being that Arnold's context in 1882 was so remindful of the American context when I last read Culture and Anarchy during Bush I, War I. We were wrestling with just the same problems in Bush II, War II. We didn't learn our lesson on Bush War I (too concerned with making a Vietnam II), so we're repeating ourselves -- in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

By Arnold's analysis, the absolute last thing we should allow is Christian missionaries amongst the campfollowers; it is bad enough that we have allowed free reign to Philistines in conquered territories -- what did we call them in the South? -- carpetbaggers.

One question Arnold is asking is that the commercial version of Judaism, i.e. Christianity, should be involved in foreign policy.

That I repeat: our middle-class is not competent to set up governments abroad, and certainly our upper- and lower-classes are incompetent.

As one Iraqi said it nicely, the Americans are last week's fish. Well, I would have thrown it back that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Sunni and Shi'ite) are last week's fish [Wink] . [Roll Eyes] None of them has a role to play in building a modern state.

Ergo, Hebraism and with it morality is a dead fish. The future llies with Hellenism and ethical culture to control it. One thing one sees in Arnold is the utter incapability of Hebraism to control Hellenism, the inability of religion to control (or even to direct) science and technology.

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livermeer kenmaile
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I enjoy Dey's convolutions for their inherently wrought ornations. He provides his chambers of cogitation with ample mirrors. The reflected reflections can sometimes be distracting but are almost always lovely in their own write.
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livermeer kenmaile
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"the inability of religion to control (or even to direct) science and technology."

Aye. Central AC cools modern churches; exhortations to God only make people sweat more.

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flydye45
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Richard, you can segway into the Spartans all you want to. Aristotle, Plato and many Romans wrote of the baby solution as natural, legal, nay even patriotic. And unlike the one section of Greek myth which dealt with cannibalism (nice dodge), Oedipus (abandoned with pierced feet), Perseus (shut in a chest with Mom and thrown in the sea) and any number of Dudes who would be king were exposed, thrown away, etc to avoid the natural progression of kings. Check your Hersiod. The consensus of scholars seem to think that ancient Greek infanticide was commonplace in all the polises (but I know how you eschew consensus. [Wink] )

Other scholars note with jaundiced eye that few second century Roman families had more then one daughter. Suspicious even. Statistically speaking, you'd think sexual parity would be called for. One might even question if the buggery for which you are so proud in these cultures was just an unintended consequence of girl baby abandonment. Which came first, misogeny or homosexuality? Questions, questions!

I'll write more later on stylistic differences, but I've done enough for now.

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Redskullvw
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Bravo Flydye well argued.
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flydye45
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Using that as a model, China will have to lose it's problem with gays if I'm not full of it. Either that or look out for the tramp of lots of little feet.

Jav,

Despite the dyslexia, the difference is simple.

Despite my religious affiliations, I would still appreciate the Judeo-Christian contribution (like the majority of scholars who don't wear Che t-shirts or have issues with their parents).

Richard can find every single scholar in the last three hundred year with a scintilla of respectability (and many who don't [Wink] ) who find no redeeming value in those pesky Hebrews/Christians. It takes some serious sifting.

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javelin
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Believe me flydye, I know. Sorry for the teasing.
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flydye45
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I took it exactly in the sense you meant it. I was winding up Richard. Feel free to tease, I don't break. I trust that Richard has the same sense.
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javelin
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That's why I went there in the first place - ya both seem to actually enjoy it, if it's kind spirited, and tolerate it, if it's not. Just don't want to go too far.
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Richard Dey
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Oh, anybody who can go the distance ought to go the distance [Smile] . As I say, Arnold has been intriguing and annoying me for 47 years. Maybe 48.

On the issue of going out of one's way to find historians critical of Christianity, one can't go back very far. They would have been put to death by all those nice Christians.

Nor does one have to go back to homosexual historians or theologians -- like Ficino, Servetus, or Carlyle. One needs only to go to Luther for 'a good Christian' who denounced the Roman Catholic Church (and then farted voluminously!). It's just that Christians are not properly critical of Christian critics. Southern Baptists might have been the least bit more-critical, for example, of the pastros of the Klu Klux Klan -- who swore members in on a Bible to uphold Christian ideals.

Judaism, Christianity, and, Islam have plenty of detractors on grounds quite unrelated to their campaigns to execute all homosexuals -- thereby saving the world from grasshoppers.

On the matter of human sacrifice in Greece, my point was that Greek myth dramatically delineates the process by which sacred kings were sacrificed to the mothergoddess, laid the blame on matriarchy, and overthrew it. As I suggested, there are references to human sacrifice in the Jewish testament as well -- but they are scattered, as if the practice was never quite done away with. Celts, Germans, and Slavs practiced human sacrifice. So is the death penalty a form of human sacrifice. Who's entirely opposed to it? The Greeks, let's put it, no more gave up the death penalty than the Persians, the Jews, or the Americans.

What the Greeks did was record the social revolution which eliminated the barbaric process of Sacred King sacrifice. I don't much agree with wikipedia's entry on SKS, but here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_king

Eventually, the sacred king refused to die, and that was a gay event. Robert Graves took all this several steps further; and Graves, I would contend, is far and away the most-interesting heterosexual theorizer in myth/religion of the 20th century. Met him once. He was interested in my last name (which means ultimately 'mothergoddess of the Voconti tribe' who were Celts -- but "they were indubitably Burgundians", according to him.

http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~rschumak/bio_rg.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Graves

I think he was one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century period -- despite the fact that he was full of nonsense on some issues.

I asked him, btw, if though the Christians had any redeeming social qualities -- and he said "marianism". He was thoroughly dedicated to 'the goddess' [Frown] . Dey is thoroughly dedicated to the god who overthrew 'the goddess' [Smile] .

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flydye45
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What then was Leonidas but a sacrifical king?

One could debate that the Athenian exile of all their successful leaders was a kind of surrogate sacrifice least hubris come crashing down on the population, at least if you're buying.

I am unclear on how this relates directly to the topic at hand, but if you want to drive, I'll admire the scenery.

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Richard Dey
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Follow me, follow Euripides, Flydye [Wink] . He is my usual guide.

Leonidas would not rank as a SKS (sacred-king sacrifice) -- and it is far more than a technicality.

(1) He was not a sacred king, i.e., he was not married to any heiress=queen of Sparta;

(2) Sparta had not had an heiress-queen for centuries (not since 0615);

(3) Leonidas was (military) king in his own right, by primogenture in the 17th generation (had to go look that one up [Smile] );

(4) Leonidas died for us, i.e., we Euros, defending us from the bad guys:-- the oriental Persians.

The term needs be separated from god-king (as in Christianity) but it is much the same as in other Mideastern religions such as Damuzi. A really good Greek example is Herakles -- accomplishes the 12 marriage labors of the zodiac, and is ultimately poisoned in a royal robe by his wife. His descendents revolted. Leonidas was descended from Herakles. Herakles had died that Leonidas might live -- to give his life for us (so to speak ...). I have a gratitude to Leonidas that some around here reserve for Jesus.

Agamemnon is a better example, and magnificently portrayed in the Oresteia (the living testament of the process of eliminating sacred-king sacrifice).

Agamemnon leaves his wife's queendom for 10 years of war (!) (and has gay sex whilst commanding the Greek army). On his return, his queen-wife, who's taken Aegisthus as her new sacred king, ritually drowns him in his bath.

Their son Orestes, who is now 16, takes offense at his father's murder -- perhaps because he'd spent his whole childhood waiting for his return. He and his lover Pylades decide to take revenge -- and kill not only the man they rank as no sacred king but a usurper. In other words, shortcutting the queen's natural right to take any lover she chooses, is given a rationale.

But Orestes and Pylades go a step further! They decide to kill Clytemnaestra. In the heat of the moment, perhaps, they decide to ignore the fact that she's the respresentative of the mothergoddess and her earth, that she's Orestes' own natural mother, and that matricide is the ultimate crime in a matritheistic matriarchy -- and not just any mother but the priestess of the goddess.

Needless to say, the two are arrested and charged with the most-heinous crime ever committed in Greece, and are put on trial.

So, when did this trial take place? We can date it, actually. The classical Greeks were probably right. The Trojan War was 1194–1184, possibly a generation earlier in the 13th century. But let's take Erotosthenes' date of 1184. It's reasonable. That means that the 13th century was mostly all of it under the matriarchy in Greece. Note also that it is 6 centuries at least before the introduction pederasty -- or, let's put it this way, the institutionalization of pederasty.

We know that Menelaus wasn't gay in any way; but the question arises whether Agamemnon was gay, whether his lover was Pylades, and whether homophilia even played a role in the process of eliminating sacred-king sacrifice. What we know is that Orestes put a dagger in the heart of the system.

Aeschylus, in Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides, however, gives us several clues that it does. Most-notably, it is Apollo who offers himself as defense attorney. That is extremely significant since he is a known bisexual solar god.

You know how the trial comes out, you know the social revolution that it brought about, and you know in thse carbon-dated times that the Greeks were not concocting stories about all this. It happened -- not in all the fine details no doubt, but the big event happened. A woman betrayed her kind, and Greek culture was turned upside-down in our best interests.

Despite the wrongness of Apollon's argument for the defense, it took 3,179 years to actually prove him wrong [Wink] -- by which time the fratriarchal social revolution had managed to survive and make its mark.

You see, Apollon never claimed to be an absolutist; he was and is merely an experimenter and a realist. Not as a lawyer, I hope, but as a scientist, he is the nonetheless the essential (not the archtypal) Hellene.

The question, then, since Jesus was never an archetypal Jew, was he the essential Jew?

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Richard Dey
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Relevant quote from Klaus Mann in regard to Stefan George who inspired most of the anti-Hitler gang (sorry, my inadequate translation):

George [I]designed his biography mythographically, making his (homoepithumeic) romance with the boy Maximin a modus vivendi which was a revelation (to the Georgekreis). The reunification of morality and beauty (ethics) were apparently realized in the mystery of Maximin. Here I found the reunification (reconciliation?) of Hellenic and Christian ethos. Stefan George's ordering mind had –- so I believed –- resolved the elemental conflict that Heinrich Heine analyses with intuition and perspicacity, that reigns as a leitmotiv tragique in Friedrich Nietzsche. -- My youth venerated in Stefan George the Templar whose mission and deed is described in a poem. When nihilism threatened to devour our culture (after WWI), he arrived, the militant seer, the knight of inspiration.

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