Orpheus

music-painting-468x289

Philosopher, Astronomer, Physicist, Poet, Theologist, Musician (c.11.800 BC)

Orpheus the Thracian was the leader and founder of Orphism, a religious and philosophical mystery school concerned with the ancient knowledge of the universe and the Divine. He is also the author of the Orphic Hymns, a collection of hymns that only recently have been acknowledged to express a highly advanced philosophic and scientific knowledge on physics and astronomy. A teacher and a mystic, he has been regarded since antiquity as the Theologist of all the Greeks and the first to compile a comprehensive theogony. His teachings exerted tremendous influence to all subsequent philosophers of the ancient world, from Homer to Pythagoras and Plato.

Orpheus’ undisputed historicity is verified by at least 30 different writers of antiquity who have preserved some of his writings. He was born in Pieria and according to some he was an ancestor of Homer. He travelled to Crete, Egypt and Libya where he was initiated into the mystery schools and, according to other writers, introduced his own philosophical teachings to Egyptian worship. He furthermore founded the Dionysian mysteries in Thrace. The introduction of the Eleusinian Mysteries has also been ascribed to him. Orpheus wrote the theogony of the Greek mythology thousands of years before Hesiod, and as such, considered to be the Father of the theogony of the Greeks.

The Orphics’ primary teachings revolved around the worship of God Dionysos, who represented the savior (Διόνυσος Λυσεύς). Initiates of the Orphic Mysteries sought to unite themselves with God by means of ecstatic worship before undergoing katharsis of their souls. This was thought of as a form of lytrosis. The Orphics were the first to include the concept of man’s dual nature in their philosophy, which was later integrated into Platonic philosophy. Man’s body derived from the earth while his soul was of Divine origin and came from the stars (Γῆς παῖς εἰμὶ καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος). The soul derives from eternity and returns to it during death. Orphism, one of the most ancient mystery schools in the world, was a higher level of initiation and its teachings accessible and understood only by the initiates.

Man’s purpose during his time on Earth is to prepare his soul through a series of acts so as to achieve this spiritual union with the Divine. Initiates of the Orphic Mystery Schools were subjected to a process of spiritual cleansing by means of ritualistic rites, worships, divine teachings, most importantly living a life according to virtue and perhaps through Greek Meditation (Ἑλληνικὸς ΔΙΑ-Λογισμός) in order cease the endless cycle of reincarnation and to achieve union with the Divine in the afterlife.

All of Orpheus’ teachings were written in the form of hymns, in a hidden manner as to be understood only by those initiated into the Mystery Schools. These hymns simply known as the “Orphics” are hymns to Gods, deities, heroes and personified forces, representing philosophical concepts or properties of nature and the universe. The Orphic Hymns were written by Orpheus in 11.835 BC as proven mathematically by astronomer C.S. Chassapis in 1967. They revealed to the initiates truths from a higher divine plane of existence concerning the nature of the Divine, the creation of the Universe, the relationship between man’s soul and the Divine as well as the mysteries of life and death. His cosmogony describes the birth of Gods, their succession, their generations and their divine powers, all of which are allegories of properties and situations of the soul and the creation of the world. Hymns and myths were therefore a central part of the teachings of Orphism.

Apart from the philosophical and theological aspect, Orphism possessed an insuperably advanced knowledge on astronomy and physics that only recently has modern science managed to validate its accuracy. In the Orphic Hymns, Orpheus wrote about the flow of time, the photon and its properties (Hymn of Phanes) and the aether, the fifth element that fills space beyond the atmosphere and which modern science has still to acknowledge. He wrote about the creation of the universe from the cosmic egg in the Hymn to Protogonos, the Big Bang and the principle of duality.

Orpheus and the Orphics had conceived the heliocentric idea, knew about the equal time duration of the Earth’s rotation and the celestial spheres and attributed the motion of the world around the Sun to its attraction, something that millennia later Isaac Newton would prove. In addition, the Orphics knew the global shape of the sky as well as the first laws of the apparent motion of the celestial spheres, knew the ecliptic motion of the Earth around the Sun, that the rotation of the Earth around its axis and around the Sun are the result of natural laws, distinguished the stars into “fiery” and “shooting”, knew about the seven planets, which they named after today’s names and hence are of Orphic origin, introduced the zodiac, introduced the names of the zodiac as well as the names of numerous constellations. They developed astrology, introduced several “ancient” astronomical terms, determined the duration of each season, knew that the diffused light, the light of dawn and that of twilight were due to solar light and the presence of the atmosphere, accepted the existence of mountains on the Moon, used the lunar calendar of twelve conjunctive months, knew about the lunar phases as well as the Moon’s influence on the Earth, knew about the physical properties of lenses and accepted that all phenomena were governed by the universal law, which ensures the stability of the existence of the earth.

The following conclusions can be deducted from Orpheus and the Orphics. Orpheus was a spiritual leader of mankind, bringer of divine knowledge from the aetheric planes. A significant part of the Orphic philosophy was integrated into Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy. Every major philosopher of the ancient Greek world, from the Pre-Socratics to the Neoplatonists including Hesiod, Homer, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Socrates, Plato, Aeschylus, Pindar, Pletho were all initiates of Orphism. Homer, the immortal poet of all the oecumene deeply inspired by Orphism borrows multiple verses from Orpheus, as well as several concepts of his philosophy and cosmogony as seen in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Plato, righteously regarded as the greatest successor of Orphic philosophy adopted the symbolism of the black and white horses and the henioch representing man’s instincts, emotions and logic respectively. This comes to show that the Greek philosophy and religion is one continuum, constantly picked up by each successive philosopher and further developed, thus remaining unchanged in its core.

Orpheus was the first to speak of one God. The origin, therefore of monotheism is Orphic, not Jewish. The fact that Orpheus wrote the Orphic Hymns in 11.835 BC proves that the Greeks possessed their own writing system thousands of years before what is accepted by modern historians and that their language was highly evolved to the point where it could express all this knowledge in a poetic manner. It further confirms that at that distant time in the past, when history and mythology blend together, Greeks and especially the Orphics possessed an inexplicably advanced knowledge on the universe and astronomy when scientific instruments and technology were unavailable. That the Assyro-Babylonian priority on astronomy against the Greeks is false and completely unsupported by evidence, since they developed astronomy many thousands of years later and never reached the level that the ancient Greeks did. Greeks never inherited astronomical knowledge from the Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian astronomy, but on the contrary Greeks influenced the Babylonian, Assyrian and Egyptian astronomy in the distant past. Astronomy as a science originated from Greece, especially by the Orphic initiates.

Perhaps, however, the greatest conclusion to bear in mind is that Orpheus and his disciples are an undisputable example that proves what the Greek thought was concerned with. In such an ancient epoch, when other nations’ and tribes’ primary concern was survival, Greek thought was involved with the secrets of the universe.

Bibliography:

  1. “Orphics”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. N.I. Luvaris, Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Passas, Ioannis. The Orphics, Including English summary of the main remarks on the Orphic Texts by the astronomer K.S.Khassapis. Helios Encyclopaedia Publications. Athens, 1967. Print.
  3. Αϋφαντῆς, Γεώργιος. Ἄνθρωπος καὶ Ἐπιστήμη: Ἐνημέρωσις. Εκδόσεις Ἑλληνικὸν Σέλας. Ἀθῆναι, 2009. Print.
Advertisements
Orpheus

Peisistratos

ΠΕΙΣΙΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ

Tyrant (6th century BC)

Peisistratos, son of Hipparchus of the House of Philaidae was a Tyrant who ruled Athens for almost 30 years. A charismatic and ingenious leader, Peisistratos ruled with prudence and justice until his death, converting Athens into a thriving city-state unlike any other. Many of Athens’ works and temples were built under his supervision.

Before succeeding in becoming Tyrant of Athens, Peisistratos had attempted twice in imposing himself as ruler of Athens. While his attempts only resulted in a very short-lived tyranid, Peisistratos would solidify himself as Tyrant of Athens only after his 3rd attempt. In his first attempt, he occupied the Acropolis with his army of bodyguards before being apprehended and exiled by Lycurgus and Megacles. In his second attempt, with the help of Megacles, Peisistratos used the former’s wife as a means to seize Athens’ control, but his plans were thwarted, forcing him again into exile in Eretria.

During his exile in Eretria, Peisistratos received funding and support from other city-states, who supplied him with soldiers. He was able to defeat Athens’ army and impose himself as Tyrant of Athens in 545 BC. In the time of his governance, Athens underwent a period of massive overhaul, improvement and extraordinary development.

Peisistratos kept Solon’s laws, organized Athens’ oeconomy with the money used from the Thracian mines as well as from his own lands in Euvia and supported the agriculture by establishing the agricultural loan. He vigorously supported the poor by redistributing the land, imposed heavier taxation on the rich and on every product that was sold. Furthermore, Peisistratus built streets and improved the city’s water system. His foreign affair policy with other city-states was radical at the time, with Athenian products such as wine, oil, perfumes and pottery being exported to Egypt, Asia Minor and other nations outside of Greece for the first time. He established strong connections with Sparta, Delos and Argos, large city-states of powerful influence over Greece by strengthening Athens’ fleet and cementing its authority in the Aegean Sea.

As a man of high spiritual cultivation, Peisistratos made it one of his top priorities to promote the arts and to beautify the city. One of his most important works was collecting, copying and preserving all the works of Homer and Orpheus so that they would never be lost. He reorganized the Panathenian Games, built libraries open to the public, constructed temples of insuperable beauty and renovated the Temple of Athena Polias on the Acropolis. Moreover, there was an attempt to construct the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, a plan that came into fruition many years later. So much was his love for letters that it is postulated he had the greatest library in all of Greece at the time.

Peisistratos proved to be one of the greatest hegemons of Athens, as well as of all of Greece. Under his leadership, Athens became one of the most influential city-states of the Mediterranean, proving that the importance lies not on the political system itself but rather on the statesman that governs the state. Athens had flourished with tyranid, not with democracy.

Bibliography:

  1. “Pisistratus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Πεισίστρατος (605-527 π.Χ.). Λόγιος Ἑρμῆς. www.logiosermis.net. Web. September 26, 2018.
Peisistratos

Lysippus

Sculptor (c.395 BC – c.300 BC)

Lysippus was one of the greatest sculptors of the world, together with Skopas and Praxiteles. Active during the late Classical period, Lysippus was primarily a bronze sculptor, having sculptured a total of 1500 sculptures, according to Pliny. The personal sculptor of Alexander the Great, he was renowned for his excellence in art, characterized by his extraordinary detail.

Numerous modern and contemporary historians agree unanimously that Lysippus was highly innovative in bronze sculpture. Among his main contributions were attributing a more natural appearance to the hair, making the head smaller in comparison to the body, making the body with less flesh and better proportions overall as well as elongating the limbs.

Lysippus mainly sculptured Gods, mythical heroes, athletes, armaments, animals and allegorical beings. In addition, he made busts and statues, most notably those of Alexander the Great, as he was the only one allowed by the king to depict him while Apelles the only one to paint him. Of his 1500 sculptures, very few to almost none of the originals have survived. Roman copies, however, that have survived have allowed us to know today Lysippus’ magnificent art. Of them, 35 are mentioned by ancient historians.

Some of Lysippus’ best sculptures include the following:

  • Apoxyomenos (The Scraper) is among his most recognizable works, a Roman replica of the original bronze statue found in Rome. It depicts a young athlete scraping oil, dirt and sweat from his body using a strigil.
  • The bronze statue of Agias, part of a complex of Olympians.
  • An enormous statue of Heracles in Sicyon, a smaller copy of which is the famous Farnese Hercules by Glykon.
  • Eros Stringing the Bow
  • The Victorious Youth a bronze statue now in the United States.
  • The Horses of Saint Mark, a set of 4 bronze horses
  • Famous Olympian victors such as Troilus and Coridas
  • Apollo riding the chariot of the Sun with the four horses
  • A colossal bronze statue of Zeus situated in Tarentum.

The influence of Lysippus on subsequent sculptors was significant. Most of his students went on to become prominent sculptors, most importantly Chares of Lindos, who created the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today, Lysippus’ creations decorate museums all around the globe, except from Greece.

Bibliography:

    1. “Lysippus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
    2. Lysippos (c.395–305 BCE). Encyclopaedia of Sculpture. Visual-arts-cork.com. Web. September 16, 2018.

 

Lysippus

Aratus

Aratus Cilix

Poet, Astronomer (315 BC – 240 BC)

Aratus, an Alexandrian poet and astronomer from Soli of Cilicia flourished in 305 BC until 240 BC. A resident of King Antigonos II Gonatas of Macedonia’s court, Aratus was hailed as the Homer of Astronomy for his astronomical poems, most notably Phaenomena.

Aratus had a rich education. He studied next to poets such as Theocritus and Callimachus and met philosophers such as Zeno and Praxiphanes. As an art lover, King Antigonos II Gonatas hired Aratus on his court, where he compiled his first poem Hymn to Pan.

Not only was Aratus an exquisite poet, he had also studied mathematics and possessed profound knowledge in astronomy. He was tasked by King Antigonos to make the astronomical works of Eudoxus of Cnidus into a poetic form so that they were more accessible to the peoples. Aratus used the dactylic hexameter, the same one used by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey in order to further glorify Eudoxus (his name meaning good glory).

The result was Phaenomena, an astronomical poem that caused sheer amazement to the ancient world, widely regarded by scholars and contemporaries as his magnum opus. In the book, Aratus describes poetically several constellations and celestial phenomena, blending elements of mythology, legends and hymns.

Following a Persian raid to the kingdom, Aratus fled to Syria where he published Homer’s Odyssey with his own commentaries. Furthermore, he compiled treatises on medicine, anatomy, pharmacology, ornithology, astrology, wrote numerous hymns as well as eulogies. When things settled, back in King Antigonos’ kingdom, Aratus returned and died soon after in 240 BC.

Aratus was recognized as one of the greatest poets of his era even during his own lifetime. His book Phaenomena garnered significant attention from numerous wise men who wrote their own commentaries on it, most importantly Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer of antiquity and Theon of Alexandria, the father of Hypatia. Among his most noteworthy admirers were Callimachus, who dedicated him an epigram, comparing him to Hesiod; Ptolemy, who hailed his works as masterpieces, saying that as the Sun and the Moon are eternal, so is Aratus.

His works continued to enjoy a long-lasting audience well into the Roman era and the Byzantine Empire. Romans such as Cicero, Ovid and Germanicus translated them into Latin, Paul the Apostle was an avid reader of Aratus while Maximus of Tyre called him a poet not less glorious than Homer. Indeed Aratus became the prime representative of didactic poetry, occupying a unique position in the world of letters across ages.

Bibliography:

  1. “Aratus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1996. Print.
  3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Aratus. Encyclopaedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com. Web. September 6, 2018.
  4. Γιατί Ἄρατος Σολεὺς θεωρεῖται Ὅμηρος τῆς Ἀστρονομίας. Olympia.gr. Web. Posted on March 3, 3018.
Aratus

Euclid of Megara

canesso2922008t124054

Philosopher (450 BC – 380 BC)

Euclid was a philosopher from Megara, a student of Socrates and founder of the Megarean School of Philosophy. His work, although all of it lost, was profoundly influenced by Socratic and Eleatic philosophy and exerted important influence in the world of philosophy itself there after, most notably ethics of biology.

Euclid was one of Socrates’ most loyal students. After the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War Megara and Athens became rivals. As a result, in order to avoid being caught, Euclid would dress as a woman and go to Athens to listen to Socrates’ teachings. Euclid was one of the students who were present in Socrates’ death. Afterwards, Euclid became a student and close friend of Plato.

Euclid’s philosophy was a combination of Eleatic philosophy and the teachings of Socrates and Plato. He wrote 6 books, presumably similar in structure to Plato’s dialogues. According to Euclid the Being is one. Anything that different from the Being does not exist. Diogenes Laertius wrote that Euclid identified the Being as Socrates’ and Plato’s Agathon (Good). For him, anything that constituted an antithesis to the Good/Being did not exist. An example of this would be Evil. Furthermore, all motion and degeneration are non-existent. This ideology corresponds to the contemporary ethics of biology as well as Darwinism, according to which ethical is considered that which contributes to the integration of existence. In biological ethics, whatever promotes existence and living is good, while whatever harms it is evil.

Logic was another field with which Euclid was involved. He was characterized for his rigidity and his insistence on logical facts to prove a statement. Euclid proposed to always adhere to logical facts and to never overcome them with irrational generalizations.

Like most philosophers, Euclid was not without criticism. Disputes were one of the main teaching methods employed in the dialogues of his philosophical school and as such, he was accused of having spread eristic dialectic to the Megareans. These dialogues, as a result, would often take a more vehement tone. Nevertheless, Euclid is credited to have been an influential philosopher, revered by many for his ethos and dignity of his character.

Bibliography:

  1. Euclides. Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosphy. Iep.utm.edu.com. Web. August 28, 2018.
  2. “Euclides of Megara”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  3. Pleures, Konstantinos. Greek Philosophers. Hilektron Publications: Athens, 2013. Print.
Euclid of Megara

Eratosthenes

eratosthenes-sheila-terry

Mathematician, Astronomer, Geographer, Writer, Poet, Musician, Scholar (c.246 BC – c.194 BC)

Eratosthenes was one of the greatest sages of ancient Greece. He was headmaster of the Library of Alexandria and the founder of geography as a science as we know it today. His most famous achievement was the measurement of the circumference of the Earth.

He was born in Cyrene, a Greek colony of North Africa. He was 11 years older than Archimedes, with whom he was good friend. Eratosthenes studied mathematics and astronomy in the Academy of Athens under his teachers Ariston and Arcesilaus. He then continued his studies in Alexandria under his teacher Callimachus, where he remained and worked for the rest of his life. He was one of the many Greek intellectuals who comprised the staff of the Library of Alexandria, the greatest spiritual center of humanity as the time, including Ctesibius, Hipparchus, Apollonius of Perga, Apollonius of Rhodes, Conon, Aristarchus, Heron and Philon of Byzantium. He served as the third headmaster of the Library of Alexandria.

Eratosthenes was a polymath; he was nicknamed “Pentathlos” because he excelled in numerous fields such as mathematics, astronomy, physics, geography and music. By far his most notable contribution in the sciences is the measurement of the circumference of the Earth, a feat that is recorded for the first time in ancient history. Knowing that at the river Syene (modern Aswan), 500 km away from Alexandria, during the summer solstice, the sun’s rays fall vertically at noon and that at the same date and time at Alexandria, the rays fall with an angle of 7,2 degrees, Eratosthenes calculated the distance between the river and Alexandria at about 820 km. By accepting that the sun rays are parallel to each other and that the difference in the geographic latitude between Syene and Alexandria is equivalent to the angle the sun rays form during that time, Eratosthenes, using a rod and its shadow calculated the equatorial length of the Earth at 41.000 km, with a negligible error of 1000 km, because he miscalculated the distance of Alexandria and Syene instead of 800 km.

Eratosthenes was a prolific writer. He wrote several books ranging from mathematics and astronomy to poetry and philosophy, most of which do not survive today. In his treatise Catasterism he compiles a catalogue of constellations and their respective stars, calculates the Earth’s polar diameter with great accuracy as well as the distance of the Earth and the Sun. One of his most famous contributions to mathematics is the Sieve of Eratosthenes, a method for finding prime numbers, of which Eratosthenes is the inventor. He also solved the Delian problem, the doubling of the cube in his treatise Mesolavos.

The scientific foundations of geography were laid by Eratosthenes. In his now lost treatise Geographica, he presents the history of geography, mathematical and physical geography and perigraphic (discriptional) geography, including oeconomic and ethnographic elements. Furthermore, he created a world map as well as a calendar called Chronological Table, which covered 1076 years starting from the Fall of Troy, featuring most significant scientific and historical events recorded at the time for each date, regarded as a groundbreaking undertaking in the history of sciences. In philosophy, Eratosthenes was concerned mostly with ethics, poetry inspired from astronomy and comedy plays.

Eratosthenes had the rare privilege of being recognized as a great scientific mind during his own time. He was praised for his wisdom by notable intellectuals of his time such as Archimedes and Ptolemy Euergetes. The fact that he calculated the Earth’s circumference using nothing but geometry, a sacred science to the Greeks, proves Eratosthenes’ wisdom and justifies his influence on the ancient world and the Western civilization.

Bibliography:

  1. “Eratosthenes”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades: Athens, 1996. Print.
  3. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Eratosthenes. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Britannica.com. Web. July 15, 2018.
Eratosthenes

Diodorus of Sicily

diodorus

Historian, Writer (1st century BC)

Diodorus Siculus was one of the most famed historians of antiquity, widely considered today as a pioneer in historiography. His massive work Bibliotheca Historica comprises 40 books and spans the universal history of mankind, from the mythical era until the age of Julius Cesar. With the majority of the work having been destroyed, Diodorus nevertheless presents himself as a master of his art and an authority on world history.

As his name implies, Diodorus was born in Sicily and was active primarily in Rome. A restless spirit, he dedicated 30 years risking his life and subjecting himself to dangerous feats in order to accumulate the best material needed to compile his magnum opus, travelling to various parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. In Rome he learned Latin and researched the libraries, collecting information that could be found elsewhere.

Years of meticulous research resulted in the compilation of the largest history treatise that existed at the time, the Bibliotheca Historica. Diodorus follows a chronological order, describing not only the most significant events that occurred during each year, but also the geographical relations, the culture, the customs and the traditions of peoples. Furthermore, he names notable individuals in the fields of arts and poetry, not solely on politics and military affairs. Even though he did not possess the experience and the skill of his predecessors Thucydides and Xenophon, Diodorus adheres to the scientific method of historiography.

Bibliotheca Historica is divided into 3 parts. The first part covers the mythical era up until the fall of Troy. The second part contains the history from the fall of Troy until the death of Alexander the Great. The third part picks up from the second part ends and ends with the conquests of the Romans against the Britons. Out of the 40 books in total, only the first five and the second decade survive in their complete form.

In the remaining surviving books, Diodorus writes about the following: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Atlantians, the Assyrians, the Scythians, the Hyperboreans, the Persians, the Indians, the Arabs, the Africans, on the Greek mythology, the Greek islands and the Greek colonies, Xerxes’ campaigns against Greece and Cyprus up until the battle of Syracuse, the 30 Tyrants of Athens until the fall of Rome by the Galatians, King Philip’s rule of Macedonia, Alexander’s conquest of Asia, his death and the Diadochi up until the contemporary events of Diodorus.

Overall, Diodorus’ ambitious undertaking of writing down the entire history of mankind from the beginning until his contemporary times places him among Greece’s most acclaimed historians Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius. His writings are the only surviving source of certain parts of history that are considered as landmarks at a time when the Greek history was synonymous to universal history.

Bibliography:

  1. “Diodorus Siculus”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Badian, Ernst. Diodorus Siculus. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Iranicaonline.org. December 15, 1995. Web
Diodorus of Sicily