In this mini-commentary today, Tom McMahon takes us on his virtual magic carpet ride to the Temples of the Acropolis in Ancient Greece. What part did they play in the evolution of religion?
A world wind tour visiting the ancient gods...
Our magic carpet has had its tune up at the ancient site of the temple of Osaris in Memphis, Egypt and our return trip to Athens is ahead. We have a brief case filled with special parchment or biblos (my spell check wants to correct biblos to bible; biblos is special paper upon which ancient writings are found. We have modernized the process with the word Bible.) We have much work to do to appreciate the ancient texts. There is some four thousand years history of religion/human ties to the gods therein let alone all the folk lore tales handed down from the Stone Age era. I have a sense we need return when we study gods and death and the underworld.
Ah, the Parthenon is in sight. In 1967 our traveling youth group visited this ancient temple which is dedicated to the goddess Athena. Now I am a bit confused, having to ask our guide Alpha Beta if we are mixing two temples or is there just one, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. They look the same. I need some time to study Athena, a war type goddess of victory...
The Temple of Athena Nike (Greek: Ναός Αθηνάς Νίκης) is a temple on the Acropolis of Athens. Nike means victory in Greek, and Athena was worshiped in this form, as goddess of victory in war and wisdom. The temple is the earliest fully ionic temple on the Acropolis, compensated by its prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. There the citizens worshipped the goddess in hope of a prosperous outcome in the long war fought on land and sea against the Spartans and their allies. The Temple of Athena Nike was an expression of Athens' ambition to be the leading Greek city state. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Parthenon (Greek: Παρθενών) is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although decorations of the Parthenon continued until 432 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.
Hum! I wonder about this temple used as a treasury; I wonder if there is any connection to today’s churches and cathedrals as money banks? May I suggest Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church by Jason Berry [Jun 7, 2011 More Info]. It is also of my interest to see a temple built on the acropolis or high ground of the city, acro meaning high and polis = city. James A Michener in his books about ancient cultures makes much of the last ditch effort of citizens defending themselves in high places when under siege. War always brings the gods to people's minds, us humans calling on a higher power to protect or to win a battle. If the Greeks had not defeated the Persians in 480 b.c.e. we would today more than likely be speaking Farsi and Thomas Jefferson would have had no idea of democracy — which I consider a form of religion. Primarily the Greek victory preserved the concept of the dignity of the human being. (Could this be the problem today in Iraq and the foreign military presence?)
The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ('The Hot Gates').
How about if we climb Mount Olympus next week ... to we meet the biggies?
Tom McMahon , sorry I’m late Brian , on March 24.
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Tom in San Jose, with apologies for submitting this commentary late. 25Mar2012
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