greek philosophy really starts with Athena

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today I got to visit the Parthenon which is truly something to marvel at (other than the scaffolding on the front side). It was built in honor of Athena, the protector of Athens and the goddess of wisdom, civilization & warfare. Even though I studied mythology in high school, it’s way more interesting to learn about it as an adult in Athens.

Greece was really the first civilization to worship the Gods in our own image which is really fascinating. Up until then, man was pretty much at the mercy of Nature or the elements and their gods & sacrifices reflected that belief. Gods were mainly reflections of the elements or animals or mythical creatures. It was really the first time people started seeing the gods as having more human characteristics and I think as a result as more relatable. I think it was also the first time that people began to see a human image as a force behind Nature, or at least as governing it in some way.

It’s interesting that Athena became the most important God to the city of Athens because she represented “wisdom”. There was a strong need to figure out how people should interact with each other as well as how to act as a city-state. It’s easy to see how that led to the importance of the practice of philosophy at a time the Greek civilization was just becoming a civilization. There were lots of “rights & wrongs” to figure out. We could probably still use a lot more philosophy nowadays.

Every time I visit a place like the Parthenon I wish I could see it as it was back in time. It really must have been magnificent. It’s pretty amazing that a structure built so long ago in honor of “wisdom” would serve as the blueprint for so many of our own government buildings to reflect the impact of greek philosophy on democracy.

I know I’m probably simplifying a lot of this, but hey, it’s a blog, so I guess I get to just have my own interpretation. I’m excited to visit Delphi on weds to see the temple of Apollo, a God who was influential on philosophy in a whole other way.

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