Written by Brendan Heard, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
In 1903 Albrecht Dieterich translated The Mithras Liturgy, a Greek fragment from the Great Magical Papyrus of Paris. Its subject matter is of magical incantations, but with reference to Mithraic cosmography.
The text is thought to date to the 4th century AD, though Dieterich proposed a much earlier date. The liturgy details an initiation ceremony intended to invoke Helios-Mithras, in order to ultimately reveal to the initiate secrets of immortality, attaining the high celestial realm. It is even titled: Ritual for Immortalisation.
The process of the liturgy takes the mystic through seven stages, culminating in enactment of the liturgy. In the first stage, the speaker begins by invoking Providence and Psyche, followed by the four classical primal elements, referred to as “first origin of my origin” from which the speaker’s “complete body” is created.
By Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
The Roman city of Pompeii was famously destroyed in 79 A.D by an eruption of the volcano Vesuvius, which buried it beneath feet of ash and pumice. However, while the volcano ruined Pompeii, it also, perhaps ironically, preserved it for posterity. Today the city is arguably one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The early history of Pompeii
Pompeii was founded after a number of small Oscan villages were united to form the town in about the 8th century BC. It slowly grew until it came under the influence of Greek colonists and within the orbit of the Etruscan League of city-states. At this point, it was ringed by a double ring of tufa walls.
Written by Edward Whelan, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
Stoicism was one of the most popular and influential schools of philosophy in the Ancient World. Indeed, it is still popular to this day and is studied in Universities. One of the greatest of all Stoic philosophers was Epictetus (55-135 AD), a man who, despite being subjected to slavery, was one of the greatest and penetrating minds of his time.
Epictetus was born in c. 55 A.D. in Phrygia (what is now Southern Turkey). Epictetus was either born into slavery or was, at some point, enslaved. There are records that show that he was owned by a powerful former slave called Epaphroditos, who served in the administration of Nero, and who, despite his lowly social status, would have been a man of considerable influence and power.
By Visnja Bojovic, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
How antiquity is perceived and received has always depended on the era. Sometimes it was due to the prevalence of a certain political program (the promotion of Roman Empire under the rule of Napoleon and the advantage given to the Roman Republic during French revolution, for example). Most of the time, however, it’s because we observe antiquity through “modern eyes”.
When learning something new, we usually make either conscious or subconscious assumptions that are based on our own experience… and this is a natural process. However, it can lead us to wrong conclusions, and make us oversee some points that are crucial for understanding (or, more likely, trying to understand) the ancient world.
The most convenient example may be ancient Greek comedy. The word “comedy” triggers a completely different image in the mind of a modern reader from the one in the mind of a man born in classical Greece. In other words, if a reader of modern comedy (presumably the one without the knowledge of ancient Greek drama) approaches Aristophanes’ work in anticipation of an easy-to-understand humor that will make them break out in laughter, they may end up disappointed.
By Rodrigo Ferreyra, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
We are all familiar with Homer’s Iliad. We know about the Trojan War, the romance between Paris and Helen and the mighty Olympian gods. Most of all, we know the heroes. Whether it is Achilles, Odysseus or Ajax, they all possess outstanding characteristics such as bravery, physical skill, and virtue.
But we must also acknowledge that these Homeric heroes did not enjoy these attributes by mere chance. They, in fact, were conceived in this way as embodying another group of individuals, one which was to be portrayed as close to the gods.
In Homer’s Greek, Heroes meant lord, that is, the ruling class. In this way, the heroes were to some extent god-like, looking down on commoners, just as deities looked down on mortals.
Written by Katherine Kennedy, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom
The story of Perseus and Andromeda is well known from the hero’s side, but who really was the woman he saved? No one seems to know. For eons scholars and bards alike have argued and debated. Artists have studied her, represented her in statues, music, and paintings. Yet, the question remains: who is this mysterious woman of the Mediterranean?
We’ll begin Andromeda’s story with what we know. She is a princess—the daughter of King Cepheus of Aethiopia, and his queen, Cassiopeia—and has been promised to Cepheus’ brother, Phineus, as a bride.
Andromeda is beautiful, and her mother makes sure everyone knows just how beautiful her daughter is. It’s this hubris, or utter foolishness, that angers the immortals. Cassiopeia’s boasting goes so far as comparing her daughter’s beauty to be far greater than that of the Nereids, the nymph-daughters of Nereus, who accompany Poseidon.