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vendredi, 20 décembre 2019

The 3,000-Year-Old European Social and Moral Code


The 3,000-Year-Old European Social and Moral Code

The Iliad and the Odyssey can be read as a guide to common sense as well as a guide to cultural assimilation.

homere-buste.JPGEuropean culture formally began with the books of Homer. These European cultural stories were popularized in Europe approximately 3,000 years ago and then written down by the poet Homer about 2,700 years ago. One of the major themes in Homer is the concept of Xenia. Xenia defines the behavior expected from local European residents toward travelers, strangers, and even immigrants. Xenia also defines the behavior that is expected in return from these guests, these strangers in a strange land. The concepts presented in the Iliad and the Odyssey are considered the foundation of the European cultural tradition termed the code of hospitality or the code of courtesy.

The European tradition of Xenia was incorporated into the emerging Christian traditions in the 1st through 4th centuries. The tradition of Xenia has lasted far better in Eastern Orthodox European cultures than in Western Europe and the English speaking colonial nations. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the countries of Eastern Europe have struggled against many invasions by strangers for over a thousand years. There was the Tartar invasions, Muslim invasions, Roman Catholic inspired invasions and even Communist invasions inspired by the western banking cartels. Xenia remains an important cultural touchstone that is a useful tool in the preservation of European cultural norms. Nowhere in the study of Xenia does the concept of Xenophobia arise. There was no fear of the stranger. Strangers were expected to abide by the European social code defined by Xenia or they could expect to be beaten senselessly or simply killed for their transgressions.

The Iliad and the Odyssey can be read as a guide to common sense as well as a guide to cultural assimilation. In the Iliad we have the hubris and errors of youth presented that destroy great families and great nations. In the Odyssey similar subjects are presented on a more personal level. Odysseus, King of Ithaca, offended the Gods and found himself on a journey for ten years trying to get back home. The better part of the Odyssey can be seen as a study of good Xenia Vs. bad Xenia. The moral lesson of the Odyssey is don’t offend God and practice good hospitality.

So what is Xenia? Good Xenia is to treat a traveler as a guest and give them food, warm clothing if needed, sleeping quarters, protection, entertainment and perhaps a ride home. The guest is expected to return gratitude, courtesy, loyalty, an appropriate gift and then tell their story and revel who they are. It is considered in bad form to lie to make your story sound more impressive.

After the host has provided the guest with hospitality he may reasonably ask the guest who he/she is and what is the nature of their business. The general theory is that the guest could be God in disguise. God could be testing the character of the host to see if he/she has good moral character. If a person is a good host he/she avoids sinning and the resulting punishment and potential retribution of God.

A guest must never overstay their welcome or eat up all the food, or take advantage of the host, or be disloyal. The guest must not be violent or force sex upon women. The reward for bad Xenia is a severe beating or death. Generally speaking, any display of hubris will result in punishment from God. One of the worst things that can happen to anyone is to have the wrath of God fall upon him or her.


In Eastern Europe these traditions of Xenia are less formal today than they were in earlier centuries, but they are still very much a part of the cultural norm. If you plan on visiting Eastern Europe or doing business there, it is important to study up on Xenia and to follow the general formula of Xenia. Some common traditions are to never eat the last piece of food. Never drink the last of the wine or beer or coffee. It is considered rude. If your host is poor it may place a hardship upon them. If you do business in Eastern Europe, put all your cards on the table. Always bring people appropriate gifts and bring food and drink to meetings. Always buy them the best meal you can reasonably afford.

If you think that you can behave in Eastern Europe like people do in New York City, guess again. If you think that cheating people proves what a cleaver businessman you are, you may get exactly what you deserve. Consider yourself fortunate if they only act like “thugs” and beat you up. You may well succeed in getting the best of an Eastern European in a business deal, but it is unlikely you will live to enjoy it. The reason can be explained in the 3000-year-old cultural tradition of Xenia. Western Europeans would be well advised to dust off their copies of Homer.

jeudi, 17 mars 2016

War and the Iliad ~ Simone Weil


War and the Iliad ~ Simone Weil

THE ILIAD, or the Poem of Force

(L’Iliade, ou le poeme de la force)

Ex: https://chazzw.wordpress.com

The true hero, the true subject, the center of the “Iliad” is force.

Thus opens Simone Weil’s essay. She calls the Iliad the purest and loveliest of mirrors for the way it shows force as being always at the center of human history. Force is that x that turns those who are subjected to it into a thing. As the Iliad shows us time and time again, this force is relentless and deadly. But force not only works upon the object of itself, its victims – it works on those who posses it as well. It is pitiless to both. It crushes those who are its victims, and it intoxicates those who wield it. But in truth, no man ever really posseses it. As the Iliad clearly shows, one day you may wield force, and the next day you are the object of it.

In this poem there is not a single man who does not at one time or another have to bow his neck to force.

Weil points out that the proud hero of Homer’s poem, the warrior, is first seen weeping. Agamemnon has purposely humiliated Achilles, to show him who is master and who is slave. Ah, but later it is Agamemnon who is seen weeping. Hector is later seen challenging the whole Greek army and they know fear. When Ajax calls him out, the fear is in Hector. As quickly as that. Later in the poem its Ajax who is fearful: Zeus the father on high, makes fear rise in Ajax [Homer]. Every single man in the Iliad (Achilles excepted) tastes a moment of defeat in battle. 

Weil catches things, subtle things that show us the marvel of the Iliad. The tenet of justice being blind for instance, and its being meted out to all in the same way, without favoritism. He who lives by force shall die by force was established in the Iliad long before the Gospels recognized this truism.

Ares is just, and kills those who kill [Homer]

The weak and the strong both belong to the same species: the weak are never without some power, and the strong are never without some weakness. Achilles, of course, is Exhibit A. The powerful feel themselves indestructible, invulnerable. The fact of their power contains the seeds of weakness. Chickens, my friends, will always come home to roost. The very powerful see no possibility of their power being dimished – they feel it unlimited. But it is not. And this is where Weil gets deep into the heart of the matter. If we believe we are of the powerless then we see those who have what seems to be unlimited power as of another species, apart. And vice versa. The weak cannot possibly inherit the earth. They are …well. too weak, too different too apart, too unlike that powerful me. Dangerous thinking.

Thus it happens that those who have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed. 

But at that moment in time, this seems inconceivable, failing to realize that the power they have is not inexhaustible, not infinite. Meeting no resistance, the powerful can only feel that their destiny is total domination. This is the very point where the domineering are vulnerable to domination. The have exceeded the measure of the force that is actually at their disposal. Inevitably they exceed it since they are not aware that it is limited. And now we see them commited irretrievably to chance; suddenly things cease to obey them. Sometimes chance is kind to them, sometimes cruel. But in any case, there they are, exposed, open to misfortune; gone is the armor of power that formerly protected their naked souls; nothing, no shield, stands between them and tears.

Iliade-ou-le-poeme-de-la-force_8907.jpegOverreaching man is for Weil the main subject of Greek thought. Retribution, Nemesis. These are buried in the soul of Greek epic poetry. So starts the discussion on the nature of man. Kharma. We think we are favored by the gods. Do we stop and consider that they think they are favored by the gods. If we do, we quickly (as do they) put it out of our heads. Time and time again in the see-saw battle that Homer relates to us, we see one side (or the other) have an honorable victory almost in hand, and then want more. Overreaching again. Hector imagines people saying this about him.

Weil writes chillingly on death. We all know that we are fated to die one day. Life ends and the end of it is death. The future has a limit put on it by that fact. For the soldier, death is the future. Very similar to the way a person struggling with a surely deadly disease looks at death. It’s his future. As I struggle to deal with my brain cancer, struggle for the way to align it with the life remaining to me, I realize that my future is already defined by my death which is straight ahead. The future is death. It’s very much in my thoughts. Generally we live with a realization that we all die, as I’ve said. But the very indeterminate nature of that death, of that murky future, allows us to put it out of our minds. We go about the task of living. Terminal diseases make us think about the task of dying.

Once the experience of war makes visible the possibility of death that lies locked up in each moment, our thoughts cannot travel from one day to the next without meeting death’s face.

Weill tells us that the Iliad reveals to the reader the last secret of war. This secret is revealed in its similes. Warriors, those on the giving end of force, are turned into things. Things like fire, things like flood waters, things like heavy winds or wild beasts of the fields. But Homer has just enough examples of man’s higher aspirations, of his noble soul, to contrast with force, and give us what might be. Love, brotherhood, friendship. The seeds of these attributes, of these moments of grace, of these values in man, make the use of force by man all the more tragic and life denying.

I recall thinking as I read the Iliad that it was uncanny how many times I thought of the phrase ‘God is on our side’, so we shall prevail. The irony, or the bitter truth of this position is that the two opposing sides, if they had only one thing in common, it would be this simple belief: We are on the right side, and ‘they’ are on the wrong side.

Throughout twenty centuries of Christianity, the Romans and the Hebrews have been admired, read, imitated,  both in deed and word; their masterpieces have yielded an appropriate quotation every time anybody had a crime they wanted to justify.

Simone Weill concludes with her belief that since the Iliad only flickers of the genius of Greek epic has been seen. Quite the opposite, she laments.

Perhaps they will yet rediscover the epic genius, when they learn that there is no refuge from fate, learn not to admire force, not to hate the enemy, not to scorn the unfortunate.

Amen to that, Simone.       

lundi, 24 août 2015

Iliad Book 23 - Read by Dr. Stanley Lombardo

The Iliad Book 23 (62-107)

Read by Dr. Stanley Lombardo

A reading of Iliad Book 23, Lines 62-107 in Greek, by Dr. Stanley Lombardo, University of Kansas. Achilles is visited in a dream by the dead Patroclus. This is a particularly beautiful reading by Dr. Lombardo of a beautiful and emotional passage. To read along in Greek: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/t...

Dr. Lombardo's translation of this passage:

When sleep finally took him, unknotting his heart
And enveloping his shining limbs—so fatigued
From chasing Hector to windy Ilion—
Patroclus' sad spirit came, with his same form
And with his beautiful eyes and his voice
And wearing the same clothes. He stood
Above Achilles' head, and said to him:
"You're asleep and have forgotten me, Achilles.
You never neglected me when I was alive,
But now, when I am dead! Bury me quickly
So I may pass through Hades' gates.
For the spirits keep me at a distance, the phantoms
Of men outworn, and will not yet allow me
To join them beyond the river. I wander
Aimlessly through Hades' wide-doored house.
And give me your hand, for never again
Will I come back from Hades, once you burn me
In my share of fire. Never more in life
Shall we sit apart from our companions and talk.
The fate I was born to has swallowed me,
And it is your destiny, though you are like the gods,
Achilles, to die beneath the wall of Troy.
And one more thing, Achilles. Do not lay my bones
Apart from yours, but let them be together,
Just as we were reared together in your house
After Menoetius brought me, still a boy,
From Opoeis to your land because I had killed
Amphidamas' son on that day we played dice
And I foolishly became angry. I didn't mean to,
Peleus took me into his house then and reared me
With kindness, and he named me your comrade.
So let one coffer enfold the bones of us both,
The two-handled gold one your mother gave you."
And Achilles answered him, saying:
"Why have you come to me here, dear heart,
With all these instructions? I promise you
I will do everything just as you ask.
But come closer. Let us give in to grief,
However briefly, in each other's arms."
Saying this, Achilles reached out with his hands
But could not touch him. His spirit vanished like smoke,
Gone under the earth, with a last, shrill cry.
Awestruck, Achilles leapt up, clapping
His palms together, and said lamenting:
"Ah, so there is something in Death's house,
A phantom spirit, although not in a body.
All night long poor Patroclus' spirit
Stood over me, weeping and wailing,
And giving me detailed instructions
About everything. He looked so like himself."
(Full book: http://www.amazon.com/Iliad-Homer/dp/...)

vendredi, 24 avril 2015

Jean Soler rend son sourire à Homère


Bernard Revel:

Photo Bernard Revel

« Le Sourire d’Homère » de Jean Soler, Editions de Fallois, 236 pages, 18 euros.

jean-soler-couv.jpgAuteur d’ouvrages éclairants sur les origines du Dieu unique, le Roussillonnais Jean Soler avait consacré dans « La violence monothéiste » un chapitre au « modèle grec », véritable livre dans le livre et magistrale synthèse qu’il met en parallèle avec son exploration du « modèle hébraïque ». On devine sans peine sa préférence pour une civilisation que deux vers de Pindare résument admirablement : « N’aspire pas, chère âme, à la vie immortelle, mais épuise le champ du possible ». Aussi n’est-il pas étonnant qu’après avoir consacré tant d’années à démonter sans les œillères de la foi les « vérités » de la Bible, il se soit à nouveau tourné avec plaisir vers sa chère Grèce antique dont il enseigna jadis la langue injustement délaissée aujourd’hui. Avec une évidente jubilation, il s’est lancé dans la relecture des œuvres d’Homère qui, il y a 2.900 ans « ont inauguré la littérature occidentale ». Jean Soler a le rare talent de dépoussiérer les textes anciens pour en tirer la signification profonde. Si la Bible n’est pas sortie grandie de l’exercice, il n’en est pas de même de l’Iliade et l’Odyssée, ces deux épopées bien connues mais peu lues, auxquelles son livre donne une résonance actuelle qui rend tout son sens au mot de Charles Péguy : « Homère est nouveau ce matin ».

D’une œuvre comptant 28.000 vers, Jean Soler extrait une douzaine de thèmes qui illustrent la pensée grecque. Son point de départ est le bouclier d’Achille sur lequel le dieu forgeron Héphaïstos a ciselé des tableaux qui sont une représentation complète de l’univers grec. Un univers circonscrit dans la voûte céleste et le fleuve mythique Océanos. « La pensée grecque est une pensée des limites », relève Jean Soler. « L’aspiration à l’infini n’est pas grecque ». Dans les illustrations du bouclier apparaissent les valeurs essentielles de la Grèce : la démocratie en germe dans l’agora, le théâtre dans le chœur, le goût du travail dans des scènes montrant des ouvriers, des paysans, des artisans. Dans la Bible, au contraire, le travail est un châtiment infligé par le Créateur. Voilà qui ne viendrait pas à l’esprit des dieux grecs puisqu’ils travaillent eux aussi. Ils habitent l’Olympe situé dans le monde terrestre. Ils sont immortels mais ils ont les qualités et les défauts des humains. « Le monde réel des hommes prime sur le monde imaginaire des dieux », affirme Jean Soler constatant qu’Homère ne prend pas ceux-ci au sérieux. Ils ne sont qu’une divinisation, « plus poétique que religieuse », de phénomènes naturels. « Un dieu qui possède sur la terre une île où il élève du bétail : nous sommes là plus près d’un conte pour enfant que d’une doctrine religieuse. Et nous restons de grands enfants, comme le public d’Homère, quand nous aimons entendre des contes pareils ».

Les Grecs pourraient goûter sans souci le bonheur de vivre en Méditerranée s’il n’y avait la guerre. Elle est au cœur de l’Iliade. Homère montre les hommes tels qu’ils sont, cruels, violents, sanguinaires. Ceux qui l’écoutent sont avides de récits de batailles, de combats, et la guerre de Troie qui dure dix ans en fournit à profusion. Les scènes réalistes d’Homère évoquent pour Jean Soler « les désastres de la guerre » peints pas Goya. « Il n’y a pas de belle mort, de mort glorieuse dans l’Iliade », note-t-il. Ni Achille ni Ulysse ne rêvent de mourir en héros. Ils rêvent d’une vieillesse heureuse dans leur chère patrie. « Il ne faudrait pas me forcer beaucoup pour me faire dire, dans le langage d’aujourd’hui, qu’Homère est un auteur antimilitariste », commente-t-il malicieusement.

Car rien ne vaut le plaisir de la vie. C’est pourquoi les Grecs ont fait « le choix de la clairvoyance ». Et notamment vis-à-vis des dieux qui, bien que partout chez Homère, n’existent que dans l’imaginaire. Donc, pas de lois tombées du ciel (commandements, interdits sexuels ou alimentaires, paradis perdu, peuple élu, etc.). Mais cela n’empêche pas d’aimer le bien et le beau. Jean Soler met en avant, dans les œuvres homériques, les liens du sang et de la patrie, l’importance de la parole, du jeu, l’amitié, le sens de l’honneur, l’hospitalité. Et surtout, cela n’empêche pas d’être curieux, de vouloir comprendre. Les Grecs sont de grands penseurs, des découvreurs, des inventeurs, cherchant toujours, comme le préconisait Pindare, à épuiser le champ du possible. Aucun dieu ne leur a interdit l’arbre de la connaissance. Ce qui caractérise Homère et qu’exprime ce « sourire » dont l’éclaire Jean Soler, c’est « l’amour de la vie ». Il est donc urgent de le lire et de le relire en dépit de ses traducteurs français qui ont trop tendance à rendre pompeux son style « simple et naturel ». Jean Soler trouve le procédé inadmissible : « Quand Homère écrit bateau, pourquoi traduire par nef ? Pourquoi dire, au lieu d’épée, glaive ? au lieu de bronze, airain ? au lieu d’eau, onde ? au lieu de maison, manoir. Au lieu d’entendre ouïr ? etc. » Avis aux futurs traducteurs. En attendant, suivons la prescription du bon docteur Soler. Contre le fanatisme et l’extrémisme, pour l’amour de la vie et de l’intelligence, il nous souffle la recette : « Faire des cures d’Homère ».

Bernard Revel

samedi, 07 septembre 2013

Nietzsche e o Mundo Homérico


Nietzsche e o Mundo Homérico

Por Carolina Figueroa León*
Ex: http://legio-victrix.blogspot.com
nag1.jpgNietzsche desde o princípio apresentou um apego ao mundo grego, uma idealização deste como estrutura social, ideológica e intelectual. Esta aproximação não é especificamente com a época clássica, mas com a época arcaica que é representada através dos poemas homéricos.
Tomando em conta que o ideal que surge neste período se baseia na luta de poder, na excelência de uma classe aristocrática que é representada através dos heróis e através da areté. Neste período em que o filósofo encontra a essência do grego, porque é o momento em que se desenvolve da melhor forma a condição inerente ao ser humano: o instinto e a vontade de poder. Portanto, ao tomar esta leitura deixamos de lado a visão de que estes poemas remetem necessariamente à época micênica, senão que por sua vez estão carregados de elementos ideológicos, morais e sociais correspondentes à época em que escreve Homero.
Para compreender como este ideal guerreiro baseado em uma moral agonística se encontra na sociedade aristocrática arcaica é necessário analisar a obra homérica, a qual se deve relacionar com o contexto do século VIII a.c. e desde aí contrastar com as posturas de Nietzsche, as quais se encontram em seus primeiros escritos mais filológicos como O Estado grego e A luta de Homero.
Portanto, é importante analisar o contexto histórico de enunciação destas epopeias, ver se este realmente se vê representado em ditas obras e finalmente analisar o problema a partir da leitura nietzschiana da cultura grega.
O mundo homérico e a moral agonística
O chamado mundo homérico é o que historicamente corresponde à época arcaica da cultura grega, em que se assentam as bases do crescimento e surgimento das grandes polis. Para Nietzsche é neste momento específico em que se daria o apogeu da cultura grega, não o mundo clássico que foi modificado pelo Romantismo e os filólogos classicistas: “Mas os gregos aparecem ante nós, já que a priori, precisamente pela grandeza de sua arte, como os homens políticos por excelência (...) Tão excessivo era nos gregos tal instinto (...) a expressão triunfal de tigres que mostravam ante o cadáver do inimigo; em suma, a incessante renovação daquelas cenas da guerra de Tróia, em cuja contemplação se embriagava Homero como puro heleno”[1].
Para começar esta análise é necessário nos remeter à época arcaica em si, para logo trabalha-la em comparação à homérica. A época arcaica é quando se destaca a imagem de um governo aristocrático precedente à democracia. Para autores como Francisco Rodríguez Adrados, este período é denominado a sociedade homérica, já que se baseia na mesma estruturação social que dão conta os poemas homéricos, posto que na cabeça da sociedade está o rei (Basileus) e este é secundado por aristocracia que na épica é representada na imagem dos heróis. Portanto, os pontos de reconstrução do ideal aristocrático se dão em Homero, quem logra encarná-los em seus poemas. Para Rodríguez Adrados isto se deveria a que o pensamento racional em que foi constituído esta aristocracia se baseia no mito principalmente.  Portanto, Homero plasma através de suas obras tal realidade, a qual se mescla com a mitologia existente de Micenas, mas por sua vez e com maior força aludindo a seu século [2].
Frente à utilização dos mitos como reconstrução de identidade e histórica, Rodríguez Adrados refere: “Se trata de uma sabedoria tradicional, de um espelho de conduta posto no passado e no aceitado tradicionalmente, que não tem porque ter uma coerência absolutamente rigorosa” [3].
Dentro deste tipo de sociedade vemos a imagem do homem que é similar aos deuses, com a única diferença que é mortal. Esta aristocracia por sua vez se caracteriza por uma moral agonística que se assenta nos valores como honra (time) e virtude ou excelência (aretê). Estes se encontram presentes já em grande medida na epopeia grega: “A moral da aristocracia grega é na epopeia essencialmente competitiva ou agonística” [4].
Esta imagem podemos percebê-la já que na maior parte do pensamento dos heróis, no caso da Ilíada, por exemplo: Glauco narra como seu pai Hipóloco o manda lutar a Tróia, o dizendo que é preferível que regresse morto, antes que derrotado e sem lograr ser o primeiro em batalha: “Me insto muitas vezes a ser o primeiro e me destacar entre os outros e a não desonrar a linhagem de meus pais que foram os primeiros em Feira e na vasta Licia” [5].
Frente a esta imagem da desonra da linhagem surge a noção de que o herói sempre deve ser virtuoso e é a partir deste elemento que surge o conceito de aretê. Esta excelência em primeiro momento se dá a nível de linhagem, já que sempre o herói é de uma família nobre. Esta traz o prêmio e a fama, o qual se demonstra através das botinhas que se recebia (Geras) logo depois da façanha.
A aretê que surge no ideal heroico é o que conforma a excelência da nobreza da sociedade arcaica, já que neste ideal assentam suas bases, que resgatam esses reis e heróis, porque são a representação de sua classe.
Finley também se refere á idéia que a aretê heroica é símbolo da nobreza quando nos afirma que isto se faz patente em Odisséia: “Particularmente na Odisséia, a palavra “herói” é uma expressão de classe para toda a aristocracia, e as vezes até parece compreender todos os homens livres”[6].
Podemos tomar o afirmado por Finley no seguinte fragmento da Odisséia: “Amanhã – indicou Atena a Telêmaco – convoca no ágora os heróis aqueus” [7]. É nesse sentido que a aretê se converte em um valor de ensinamento frente a esta sociedade. O que já é afirmado por Jeager em A Paideia [8] Para ele, o ideal de aretê é exemplificado através dos mitos heroicos. Precisamente neste sentido a educação do século VIII se baseia nas epopeias. Os cantos épicos se convertem em uma educação moral, em que se ensina que a aristocracia possui uma excelência que é natural. Mas apesar de ser uma condição imanente ao nobre, a aretê se deve demonstrar individualmente. Portanto, há que esforçar-se para conseguí-la, o que se vê na Ilíada quando nos narra que Aquiles foi treinado para vencer na arte da guerra por Fênix. O que nos apresente no canto IX quando Fênix trata de persuadir Aquiles para que volte a lutar com os aqueus: “O ancião cavaleiro Peleo quis que eu te acompanhasse no dia em que te enviar de Ptía a Agamenon. Todavia criança e sem experiência da funesta guerra nem do ágora (...) e me mandou que te ensinará a falar e a realizar grandes feitos (...) te criei até fazer-te o que és”[9].
Neste ponto vemos que não só importa a natureza especial do nobre, mas que há que desenvolvê-la e a partir disto é que se reconhece seu mérito.
Seguindo com as características desta excelência, surge a imagem da doxa, que se relaciona com a opinião que o resto possui do herói, é esta a que da posteridade e transcendência encarnada na Fama. Portanto, como antes mencionei, tal valor se representa através dos objetos materiais como os despojos de guerra. Portanto, a culminação desta doxa é a Glória ou kleos. Neste sentido ocorre a disputa entre Aquiles e Agamenon, já que ninguém dos dois pôde ficar sem uma escrava, que seja o exemplo tangível de seu triunfo. É por isso que a única forma para que Agamenon não perca sua honra ao entregar sua escrava a Apolo é remover a de Aquiles, posto que este é um igual.
Ao revistar este exemplo de Ilíada vemos que no mundo aristocrático não há uma diferença entre o parecer e o ser, ambos elementos são a mesma coisa, portanto, o que prima é a aparência principalmente. Devido a esta visão do homem é que surgiria a antes mencionada doxa que é a opinião, a que afirma o reconhecimento por parte do outro. Ao conseguir tal aceitação o herói pode chegar a tal (euphrosyne), que se representa através do despojo e do banquete “ O agathós ou homem destacado tem alguns meios de fortuna proporcionados. Isto se deduz do paralelismo que se estabelece entre a time ou honra de cada chefe e a parte de despojo que recebe”[10].
Outro ponto importante é o das riquezas, que também é outro componente da excelência. O qual se representa através das pertenças do oikos, tais como terras, gado, criados, escravos, etc. Todos estes bens se transmitem diretamente por via de herança. Daqui podemos desprender como nos afirma Rodríguez Adrados que, quando o nobre não pratica a guerra, desfruta da riqueza em seu lugar. Isto nos fica bastante claro na imagem do Banquete em Odisséia [11].
Para concluir este imaginário do mundo homérico me parece importante ressaltar que: “É uma sociedade voltada para o mundo, não a outra vida nem ao homem interior; mas com um ideal de heroísmo ao próprio tempo. O ideal se encarna no nobre, o homem superior ou excelente, cuja aretê é fundamentalmente competitiva, mas pode desembocar no sacrifício ou na alegria de um viver refinado” [12].
Diane-Kruger-Troie.jpgTomando esta citação compreendemos que a aristocracia se conforma a partir de sua riqueza, e devido a isto é fundamental entre os nobres fomentar vínculos com seus iguais, o qual se dá através da hospitalidade, já que se atende a alguém do mesmo valor moral e social. Neste sentido também se volta importante uma espécie de relação de parentesco dentro da que surge certo intercâmbio econômico representado em presentes (hedna). Na Odisséia se faz patente esta relação de hospitalidade através da narração da viagem de Telêmaco pelas cortes gregas, onde é bem recebido e por sua vez se atende tal como se formara parte da família, sem importar de onde venha, nem as fronteiras que os separam. Outro exemplo chave é o fato que conduz à Guerra de Tróia, a falta da hospitalidade de Paris (Alexandre) frente a Menelau ao raptar Helena.
A luta de Nietzsche
 O fascínio do filósofo pelo grego parte já de sua infância, na época em que vive com seu avô materno, quem o aproximará ao grego a partir das leituras de Homero que realiza. É neste ponto que o grego se converte em um refúgio para Nietzsche, quem detesta a educação petista na que cresceu, já que o grego se converte na antítese e anti-utopia frente á miséria de sua existência cotidiana cristã-protestante. A partir deste fascínio surge uma imagem do grego que irá contra o pensamento filológico de sua época, para quem a essência do grego se daria no século V ateniense, em pleno Classicismo. Para Nietzsche isto não é o grego, mas o pré-clássico, principalmente assentado no pré-socrático e em Homero.
O que se relaciona com as afirmações de Arsênio Ginzo em seu artigo “Nietzsche e os gregos”: “Nietzsche havia chegado cedo à conclusão de que a visão da Grécia transmitida pelo Classicismo alemão era instatisfatória. Já com anterioridade à publicação de O nascimento da tragédia, Nietzsche havia distanciado da imagem da Grécia dos clássicos alemães (...) A partir de 1869, quando começa sua atividade como professor em Basiléia, Nietzsche mostra claramente que resulta insatisfatória essa imagem da Grécia (...) A razão do rechaço nietzschiano consistia em que primeiro os clássicos e depois seus epígonos nos haviam transmitido uma imagem falsa da Antiguidade, uma <<falsa Antiguidade>>, idealizada, unilateral, domesticada” [13].
Este distanciamente o leva a afirmar que o centro de gravidade do grego já não é o século de Péricles, como afirmava o resto dos filósofos alemães de sua época, mas antes o século VI ou talvez antes: “Aqui se encontrariam a seu juízo os verdadeiros gregos, uma cultura grega todavia não falsificada nem debilitada, aqui residiria a <<origem criadora>> de uma cultura ocidental, a modo de referente paradigmático que lamentavelmente havia caído em esquecimento ou bem havia diluído seus perfis”[14].
Partindo desta imagem do grego contextualizada na época arcaica vemos que Nietzsche descobre neste o melhor exemplo da vontade de poder, a idéia de luta, de sobrepor-se ao outro, que define ao ser humano, o que estaria representado em Homero. E é neste contexto que se percebe a crueldade, a inveja, um gosto pela destruição, dando conta que a destruição é algo próprio do ser humano. Os gregos não forma deshumanos, mas os homems mais humanos dos tempos antigos. Aceitam, não inventam nada papra criar outra humanidade alternativa. A luta para Nietzsche é antes o fim da cultura e educação. E isto é o que afirma em seu texto A luta de Homero, onde a força do agon é o valor mais transcendente dentro da sociedade homérica. Esta imagem apontaria no pensamento do filósofo à noção de um grande desenvolvimento cultural, que só se havia logrado em tal sociedade. Ele não queria pensar na humanidade da antiga Grécia sem sua selvageria, na cultura em sua vigorosa natureza, nem na beleza de seu mundo sem todo o terrível e feio que formavam parte dele:
Assim vemos que os gregos, os homens mais humanos da antiguidade, apresentam certos traços de crueldade, de frieza destrutiva; traço que se reflete de uma maneira muito visível no grotesco espelho de aumento dos helenos (...) Quando Alexandre perfurou os pés de Batis, o valente defensor de Gaza, e atou seu corpo vivo ás rodas de seu carro para arrastá-lo entre as provocações de seus soldados, esta soberba nos parece como uma caricatura de Aquiles, que tratou o cadáver de Heitor de uma maneira semelhante (...)” [15]
Ao afirmar isto vai contra o otimismo do progresso que foi instaurado a partir do Iluminismo. Para Nietzsche o grego é a antítese do que odeia de sua época. Para ele os gregos seguem sendo o que haviam sido para os clássicos: paradigmas da humanidade, cultura do homem político, mas a imagem que tinha começou a oscilar entre a simplicidade da concepção clássico e o vigor, inclusive a atrocidade de uma cultura pagã, cujos valores representavam a antítese da história cristã.
É em meio a este ideal que começa a afirmar seu projeto de desmascaramento da cultura ocidental como uma luta, uma conquista e a partir disto se homologa com a sociedade homérica. Para ele tudo é visto como uma missão, os gregos eram construtores de cultura, de sua cidade, este não era um agon pessoal. De aí que Nietzsche não entenda o conceito de fama só como um reconhecimento egoísta que se comprova através dos bens materiais. E sim antes é outorgada pela coletividade. Por exemplo, a fama à que apela Aquiles tem que ver antes com a doxa, o que nos fica clarro através da idéia que os aqueus veem possível triunfo em Tróia se Aquiles não decide voltar a lutar. A partir deste exemplo podemos situar a idéia da individualidade que representa o herói para Nietzsche:
Cada ateniense, por exemplo, devia desenvolver sua individualidade naquela medida que podia ser mais útil a Atenas e que menos pudesse prejudica-la (...) cada jovem pensava no bem-estar de sua cidade natal, quando se lançava, bem à carreira, ou a tirar ou cantar; queria aumentar sua fama entre os seus; sua infância ardia em desejos de mostrar-se nas lutas civis como um instrumento de salvação para sua pátria (...)” [16] 
Analisando o texto O Estado grego de Nietzsche se visualiza seu ideal de um Estado orientado para a cultura, mas que deve ser fundamentalmente hierarquizado e fundamentado em base à escravidão. Nietzsche glorifica a pólis grega antiga como um arquétipo anti-socialista e anti-liberal. Uma sociedade hierarquicamente estruturada, cruelmente opressiva, cuja excelência cultural provém da implacável exploração dos escravos. Este ideal iria contra a organização burguesa da modernidade. Finalmente, quando conclui seu ensaio louva Platão como o grande teórico do Estado, mas o critica por ser o artífice da Idéia, que será o que ficará na criação do Cristianismo e uma filosofia metafísica. [17]
Outro dos pontos que resgata neste texto em relação á sociedade homérica é a noção de indivíduo excepcional que de desprende da imagem do herói, que possui virtude (aretê) e que é quem logra levar a cabo a culminaçãp da grande cultura e determinam o curso da história.
Em relação a esta idéia do homem excepcional podemos tomar em contra a noção do herói homérico seguindo as afirmações de Moses Finley em seu texto O mundo de Odisseu: “A idade dos heróis, tal como entendia Homero, foi, pois, uma época em que os homens superavam os padrões sucessivos de um grupo de qualidades específicas e severamente limitadas” [18].
A partir dessa noção de Finley podemos relacionar a visão do termo da individuação e por sua vez a imagem do gênio excepcional afirmada por Burckhardt.
Burckhardt em seus estudos relacionados com o Renascimento começa a afirmar que esta é a época em que surge a imagem do gênio, a idéia do desenvolvimento da individualidade do artista, elemento que romperia com o anonimato presente na arte da Idade Média. O que para ele se entenderia a partir do descobrimento do homem como homem. O artista agora aspira à fama terrestre, já não à espiritual tal como se via na Idade Média. Seu móvel é a glória, ser reconhecido por seus logros artísticos. Se perde totalmente a idéia medievalista do homem que vê a atividade terrestre como um passo ou preparação à vida celestial. O homem moderno ou renascentista para Burckhardt vê antes que a atividade que realiza  recai em seu presente e em suas glórias futuras, é antes um benefício imediato ao que pode ascender. É assim como Burckhardt afirma que este novo homem já não é passivo e receptivo, mas que antes se transforma em um grande criador. Um produtor de cultura. [19].
Esta idéia logo é aplicada por Nietzsche, quem entende a este gênio como um indivíduo excepcional que surge em toda sociedade como o artista ou militar. Tomando esta idéia, Nietzsche afirma o princípio de individuação que estará presente em sua obra O nascimento da tragédia. Este princípio se relaciona com a vontade individual que propõe Schopenhauer, a qual se relaciona com a denominada volição individual que é antes uma maniestação limitada da vontade que se daria a nível do mundo objetivo. Portanto, a vontade seria algo inconsciente que se manifesta no amor à vida de cada um dos indivíduos. A partir destas idéias afirma que o mais importante é entender que todos os fins que persegue o homem estão impulsionados por uma vontade que é original. A essência do mundo é a vontade, levada à vida mesma, sendo esta algo íntimo do ser, o que relacionamos com a noção do núcleo do indivíduo, com sua natureza humana [20].


E é neste sentido que se afirma que o Estado deve preocupar-se deste indivíduo excepcional, que afirma uma vontade natural de aspirar à glória, seguindo as afirmações de Burckhardt. Devido a sua genialidade, Nietzsche afirma que o resto do povo (laos) deve se submeter, já que graças a esta escravidão estes gênios podem ter o tempo suficiente para o ofício e em meio dele criar cultura:
Com o fim de que haja um terreno amplo, profundo e fértil para o desenvolvimento da arte, a imensa maioria, ao serviço de uma minoria e mais além de suas necessidades individuais, há de submeter-se como escrava à necessidade da vida a seus gastos, por seu plus de trabalho, a classe privilegiada há de ser subtraída à luta pela existência, par que crê e satisfaça um novo mundo de necessidades” [21].
Ao ofício a que se refere Nietzsche não é o que atualmente entendemos como Estado de não atividade, senão que pelo contrário tomando a noção de ofício grega em que os artistas só se dedicavam a produzir cultura. É a partir desta idéia que Nietzsche nos propõe que para os gregos o trabalho era vergonhoso e frente a isto os disse:
O trabalho é uma vergonha porque a existência não tem nenhum valor em si: mas se adornamos esta existência por meio de ilusões artísticas sedutoras, e lhe conferimos deste modo um valor aparente, ainda assim podemos repetir nossa afirmação de que o trabalho é uma vergonha, e por certo na segurança de que o homem que se esforça unicamente por conservar a existência não pode ser um artista” [22].
Neste texto também podemos ver que se desprende esta defesa da moral agonística grega, da luta, o uso da violência para poder criar cultura, de aqui que para ele a escravidão se converta em uma horrível necessidade:
Os gregos se revelaram com seu certeiro instinto político, que ainda nos estágios mais elevados de sua civilização e humanidade não cessou de advertir-lhes com acento bronzeado: “o vencido pertence ao vencedor, com sua mulher e seus filhos, com seus bens e com seu sangue. A força se impõe ao direito, e não há direito que em sua origem não seja demasia, usurpação violenta” [23]. 
Por sua vez através desta visão violenta, de destruição e força, Nietzsche nos afirma como exemplo Iliáda: “a expressão triunfal de tigres que mostravam ante o cadáver do inimigo; em suma, a incessante renovação daquelas cenas da guerra de Tróia, em cuja contemplação se embriagava Homero como puro heleno” [24].
Em relação à imagem do gênio extraordinário, Nietzsche toma Homero, o qual se afirma em seu texto Homero e a filologia clássica. Neste trabalho, apresentado na inauguração de sua cátedra de filologia em Basiléia, não se mete na questão homérica, senão que antes interessa o que este como figura em si simboliza. Deste ponto de vista para o filósofo, Homero se converte em um modo de viver, uma política, um ideal religioso e na criação de um panteão de deuses.
Resgata Homero como o indivíduo excepcional que logra sublimar  a tradição, posto que já não é o poeta quem possui uma vontade racional, portanto, nega o conceito de tradição homérica. Há para Nietzsche o desenvolvimento dinâmico de um poeta que se eterniza em um futuro. Para os filólogos da época, Homero recolhe uma tradição de muitos séculos, a concretiza e a escreve. Mas Nietzsche disse que Homero não é isso, que não há uma vontade, e sim uma dinâmica. Para ele a única forma de abordar Homero é através da arte, não da razão, escrevê-lo através da experiência: “a possibilidade de um Homero se faz cada vez mais necessária. Se desde aquele ponto culminante voltamos atrás, encontramos logo a concepção aristotélica do problema homérico. Para Aristóteles é o artista imaculado e infalível que tem perfeita consciência de seus meios e de seus fins; com isto se revela também com a ingênua inclinação a aceitar a opinião do povo que adjudicava Homero a origem de todos os poemas cômicos, um ponto de vista contrário á tradição oral na crítica histórica (...) é necessário perguntar-se se existe uma diferença característica entre as manifestações do indivíduo genial e a alma poética de um povo” [25].
A excelência da alma individual que não inventa nada, que eleva a outra categoria à alma popular. O que nos leva a entender que personagens como Homero não são mais uns, senão que sublimam, que são excepcionais e que levam a outra categoria a uma tradição, dado por sua individualidade, seu caráter excepcional: “Agora se compreende pela primeira vez o poder sentido das grandes individualidades e das manifestações de vontade que constituem o mínimo evanescente da Humanidade; agora se compreende que toda verdadeira grandeza e transcendência no reino da vontade não pode ter suas raízes no fenômeno efímero e passageiro de uma vontade particular; se concebem os instintos da massa, o impulso inconsciente do povo como a única primavera, como o único palanque da chamada história do mundo” [26].
Para Nietzsche. Homero não só recompilou a poesia oral, visto que sem a figura do bardo não existiria Ilíada Odisséia: “Nós acreditamos em um grande poeta autor da Ilídia e Odisséia; sem embargo, não acreditamos que este poeta seja Homero” [27]. Esta é uma visão muito distinta da que afirmam os estudiosos da questão homérica. Nietzsche afirma uma terceira visão, diferente da noção que foi afirmado, em que se vê Homero como um personagem qualquer. Nietzsche ao invés disso disse que suas obras são produto de uma excepcionalidade, o que se relacionaria com o princípio de individualidade que aparece em o nascimento da tragédia. De onde se desprende a idéia que os personagens individuais determinam o curso da história.
Como temos visto, Nietzsche é muito certeiro ao realizar uma leitura do mundo homérico, e tomar deste aquela idéia que através do ideal guerreiro se pode lograr antes de tudo produzir cultura, portanto, não é tão azaroso que em Grécia se tenha dado a grande formação da cultura de Ocidenten, o qual claramente só se pode conseguir a partir da guerra, a que eles chamavam polemos. Daqui que a educação que se recebera aludira exatamente a um ideal guerreiro baseado na noção de aretê, a qual se lograva tanto a nível de trabalho individual como por sua vez pelo simples fato de nascer nobre. Portanto, os gregos foram uma cultura que se educou e conformou na base da noção de uma moral agonística, em que sempre há um que é superior ao outro. Mas ambos heróis estão na mesma altura, já que ambos possuem as mesmas características de nobreza, entendida através do termo aristoi. Daqui que se repete potentemente a imagem de Heitor, quem Homero nos apresenta como o único herói que poderia competir com a potencialidade de Aquiles. Desde este ponto me parece interessante o resgate que realiza Nietzsche frente ao que o resto de seus contemporâneos haviam considerado dentro dos estudos filológicos o menos importante, o mais bestial, que não teria comparação com ao nível artístico do século V. E é neste sentido que depois da conclusão que se a sociedade arcaica não tivesse sido constituída a partir desta noção de agon, não se tivesse logrado mais adiante tais manifestações culturais tão magnânimas que nos tem deixado o século V ateniense.
*Carolina Figueroa León é bacharel em Humanidades e Ciências Sociais. Licenciada em Literatura Criativa da Universidade Diego Portais com um Menor em menção em Cultura Clássica. Estudante do Programa de Magíster em Estudos Clássicos da Universidade Metropolitana de Ciências na Educação (UMCE).
[1] Nietzsche, Friedrich, O Estado grego. (Obra Póstuma) Prólogo de um livro que não foi escrito, 1871, p. 6
[2] Ver Rodríguez Adrados, Francisco, La democracia ateniense, Editorial Alianza, España, 1998.
[3] Ibíd., p. 32
[4] Ibíd., p. 36
[5] Homero, La Ilíada, Canto VI, Editorial Plaza y Janés, Barcelona, 1961, p. 154
[6] Finley, M.I., El mundo de Odiseo, Fondo de Cultura Económica, España, 1995, p. 30
[7] Ibíd., p. 20
[8] Ver Jaeger, Werner. “Capítulo II: Cultura y educación de la nobleza homérica” en Paideia: los ideales de la cultura griega, Editorial Fondo de Cultura Económica. México, 2001, pp. 32-47.
[9] Homero, Op. cit., pp.226-228
[10] Rodríguez Adrados, Op. cit., p.39
[11] Ver Homero, La Odisea, Canto XVII. Se menciona um banquete no cual se encontram os pretendentes de Penélope.
[12] Rodríguez Adrados, Op.cit., p.38
[13] Ginzo, Arsenio, “Nietzsche y los griegos”, Polis. Revista de ideas y formas políticas de la Antigüedad Clásica, núm. 12, 2000, p.103
[14] Ibíd., p.106
[15] Nietzsche, Friedrich, La lucha de Homero. Prólogo para um libro que não foi escrito (Obra póstuma) (1871-72).
[16] Ibíd.
[17] Nietzsche, Friedrich, Op. cit., pp.1-9
[18] Finley, M. I., Op.cit., p.30
[19] Burckhardt, Jacob, La Civilización del Renacimiento en Italia, Vol. I (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1958), pp.143-174
[20] Véase Schopenhauer, Arthur, El mundo como voluntad y representación, 1844 (2º Edición, con los Suplementos).
[21] Nietzsche, Friedrich, Op. cit., 1871.
[22] Ibíd.
[23] Ibíd.
[24] Ibíd.
[25] Nietzsche, Friedrich, Homero y la filología clásica. Trabalho apresentado em Basilea no ano de 1869.
[26] Ibíd.
[27] Ibíd.

mardi, 07 mai 2013

Quel rôle les dieux grecs ont-ils joué dans la guerre de Troie ?


Quel rôle les dieux grecs ont-ils joué dans la guerre de Troie ?

Pierre Sineux

Ex: http://linformationnationaliste.hautetfort.com/

Au chant III de l'Iliade, Priam s'adresse à Hélène : "Tu n'es, pour moi, cause de rien, les dieux seuls sont cause de tout : ce sont eux qui ont déchaîné cette guerre" (III, 164-165). Les vieux Troyens, au demeurant, quand ils voient Hélène marcher sur les remparts, sont prêts à excuser tout à la fois Troyens et Achéens "si pour telle femme, ils souffrent si longs maux. Elle a terriblement l'air, quand on l'a devant soi, des déesses immortelles" (III, 156158). Hélène n'y serait pour rien ou plutôt, quand bien même y serait-elle pour quelque chose, ce serait la faute de cette part "divine" qui est en elle, cette beauté qui, précisément, la met du côté des dieux et matérialise une destinée de nature divine. Voyons les faits. Dans l'Iliade, il faut se rendre au chant XXIV pour trouver une allusion à l'événement qui déclencha la guerre de Troie alors que les dieux délibèrent au sujet du cadavre d'Hector, Héra, Poséidon et Athéna conservent leur rancune à l'égard de Troie et de Priam : "ils pensent à l'affront qu'en son aveuglement Pâris à ces déesses autrefois infligea : lors, dans sa bergerie elles étaient venues, mais il leur préféra celle qui lui fit don d'un objet de douloureux désir" (XXIV, 28-30). À Héra et à Athéna Pâris-Alexandre préféra Aphrodite qui lui fit don d'Hélène. Mais Pâris n'était en fait que l'instrument d'une querelle qu'aux noces de Thétis et de Pélée, Éris avait suscitée entre les trois déesses pour savoir laquelle des trois était la plus belle.

L'épisode figure dans les Chants Cypriens, une épopée perdue qui racontait les événements antérieurs à ceux qui sont évoqués dans l'Iliade, depuis les noces de Thétis et de Pélée jusqu'à la capture de Chryséis, la fille d'un prêtre d'Apollon, par Agamemnon. La guerre de Troie y apparaît en définitive comme le fruit d'un complot ourdi par Zeus et par Thémis. Zeus cherchait, en effet, à délivrer la terre du poids de tant de mortels ; Gaia, accablée par le nombre des hommes et par leur impiété, s'était plainte auprès de lui qui, d'abord, provoqua la guerre des Sept contre Thèbes puis qui, sur les conseils de Mômos ("Sarcasme"), maria Thétis à un mortel (ce sera Pélée et de l'union naîtra Achille) et engendra lui-même une fille très belle (de son union avec Léda naîtra Hélène). C'est ce qu'Euripide rappellera en faisant d'Hélène un instrument dont les dieux se sont servi pour dresser Grecs et Phrygiens les uns contre les autres "et provoquer des morts afin d'alléger la Terre outragée par les mortels sans nombre qui la couvraient" (Hélène, 1639-1642).

De l'origine de la guerre à l'histoire des batailles, tout, en apparence, dépend d'eux, l'idée même qui fait naître l'action puis le résultat d'une entreprise. D'emblée, à propos de la querelle entre Achille et Agamemnon, le poète le dit : "Qui des dieux les mit donc aux prises en telle querelle et bataille ? Le fils de Létô et de Zeus" (I, 8-9) : Apollon a vu l'un de ses prêtres, Chrysès, méprisé par Agamemnon (à qui il a refusé de rendre sa fille) et il descend des cimes de l'Olympe décocher, neuf jours durant, ses traits à travers l'armée jusqu'à ce qu'Achille appelle les gens à l'assemblée et que Calchas révèle l'origine de son courroux. On le sait, Agamemnon contraint de rendre sa captive, fera enlever Briséis, la "part d'honneur" d'Achille qui s'en va alors implorer sa mère. C'est précisément au moment où Zeus répond à la plainte de Thétis outragée en la personne de son fils qu'il fait parvenir un message à Agamemnon sous la forme d'un songe mensonger qui vient, alors que celui-ci est endormi, se poster au-dessus de son front : "Je suis, sache-le, messager de Zeus... Il t'enjoint d'appeler aux armes tous les Achéens chevelus – vite, en masse. L'heure est venue où tu peux prendre la vaste cité des Troyens. Les Immortels, habitants de l'Olympe, n'ont plus sur ce point d'avis qui divergent. Tous se sont laissé fléchir à la prière d'Héra. Les Troyens désormais sont voués aux chagrins. Zeus le veut" (Iliade, II, 26-33). Et puisqu'Agamemnon croit qu'il va le jour même prendre la cité de Priam, ignorant l'oeuvre que médite Zeus, il relance l'affrontement... Le monde homérique est donc peuplé de divinités en relation pour ainsi dire permanente avec les humains. Le dieu peut être favorable, défavorable, hostile ou bienveillant mais dans tous les cas de figures, il va de soi que son intervention est normale. On peut même aller jusqu'à dire que l'intervention des dieux est au coeur de la psychologie des héros d'Homère (Chantraine, 1952 : 48), ce que deux vers de l'Odyssée résument : "les dieux peuvent rendre fou l'homme le plus sage, tout comme ils savent inspirer la sagesse au moins raisonnable" (XXIII, 11-13).  

Si le dieu inspire la crainte ou la colère, donne l'élan de l'action, cela ne signifie pas que les héros sont dépourvus d'une volonté et d'un caractère qui leur sont propres. Causalité divine et causalité humaine coexistent, se doublent et se combinent comme le montre particulièrement la collaboration, voire la symbiose, qui se manifeste entre Athéna et Ulysse. Et lorsqu'à la fin de l'Iliade, Achille s'entend dire par Thétis que, selon la volonté de Zeus, il faut rendre le corps d'Hector, lui-même se laisse toucher par la pensée de son père que lui rappelle Priam, manque de se fâcher à nouveau, puis accepte... Dans de nombreux cas, au demeurant, ce sont les décisions prises par les héros et leurs actions qui poussent les dieux à intervenir : ainsi, quand Achille se bat avec Memnon, les deux mères divines, Thétis et Éos, entrent en scène. 

Ce rapprochement du divin et de l'humain commande en définitive la place des dieux dans l'épopée où le seuil que constitue l'immortalité tend à être sans cesse franchi. Achille est le fils de Thétis, Énée est le fils d'Aphrodite, Hélène est la fille de Zeus... Ces liens de parenté ne sont qu'un élément qui explique l'intérêt que les dieux manifestent à l'égard des hommes. Leur acharnement dans la lutte vient d'une façon générale de leur attachement pour certains mortels, leurs mérites ou leur piété – ou, inversement de leur aversion – et de la nécessité qu'il y a pour eux à exiger des honneurs de la part des hommes. Prenant parti pour les uns ou pour les autres – Héra, Athéna, Poséidon sont de tout coeur avec les Achéens, Apollon est tout entier du côté des Troyens, Aphrodite n'a d'yeux que pour Énée... – les dieux se retrouvent combattant les uns contre les autres.  

Or, précisément, tout à leur passion pour les affaires des hommes les dieux agissent et réagissent comme des hommes. Zeus a beau y faire, lui, le roi, l'aîné, le père souverain, il doit constamment rappeler à l'ordre sa famille prête à désobéir et à en découdre, ce qui ne manque pas de donner à l'épopée ici et là des allures de comédie. Et chacun de se quereller, de venir se plaindre à lui, de se moquer des uns et des autres. Et lui d'interdire aux dieux de se mêler de la guerre, de menacer de ses coups, de promettre le "Tartare brumeux" à ceux qui désobéissent. Lui-même craint sa femme, Héra, toujours prompte à le tancer : "... même sans cause, elle est toujours là à me chercher querelle en présence des dieux immortels, prétendant que je porte aide aux Troyens dans les combats" (Iliade, I, 518-521). Celle-ci peut le berner, en éveillant son désir puis en l'endormant (Iliade, XIV, 158-350) pour laisser Poséidon donner toute sa mesure dans le secours qu'il apporte aux Achéens. Ces histoires tout humaines dont l'épopée regorge mettent en lumière le caractère anthropomorphique des dieux et les limites de leurs pouvoirs.

On comprend alors que lorsque les dieux descendent de l'Olympe pour intervenir directement dans la mêlée, c'est sous une forme humaine, en prenant, le plus souvent, l'aspect d'un proche de la personne à qui ils veulent apparaître. Ce type d'épiphanie est fréquent : Aphrodite apparaît à Hélène sous les traits d'une ancienne servante mais elle est reconnue : sa gorge splendide, sa belle poitrine, ses yeux fulgurants sont ceux d'une déesse (Iliade, III, 396-398). Athéna vient au secours de Diomède qui la reconnaît et s'installe sur son char, saisissant le fouet et les rênes pour conduire les chevaux contre... le dieu Arès (Iliade, V, 839-842). Souvent, le dieu se cache dans une nuée aux yeux de la foule et ne se laisse voir que par le personnage à qui il veut se manifester : Apollon se fait reconnaître auprès d'Hector (Iliade, XV, 247-266) mais, au milieu des Troyens, il s'enveloppe d'un nuage (307). Parfois, lorsque le dieu apparaît sous les traits d'un proche, il peut laisser les mortels dans l'illusion : Apollon apparaît à Hector sous les traits de son oncle maternel, le vieil Asios, l'encourage à repartir au combat mais reste incognito (Iliade, XVI, 718). Les personnages d'Homère s'attendent à tout moment à rencontrer un dieu sous une forme humaine ; d'où la crainte, dans la bataille, de se trouver face à face avec un dieu : "Serais-tu quelque Immortel descendu des cieux ? Je ne saurais combattre une des divinités célestes" crie Diomède à Glaucos (Iliade, VI, 128). S'il arrive parfois que les dieux interviennent dissimulés, par une métamorphose, dans le corps d'un animal par exemple, la norme est bien une représentation anthropomorphique des dieux.  

On peut donc dire qu'en jouant leur rôle dans la guerre de Troie, les dieux révèlent, par la grâce du poète, leur anthropomorphisme, non seulement plastique mais fondamental : les dieux agissent et se conduisent comme des hommes. Autrement dit, la poésie épique donne une forme organique et visible à la sphère du divin et, en faisant des dieux les protagonistes d'un récit, elle leur attribue les qualités spécifiques aux individus : ils ont un nom, une "personnalité" et un caractère particuliers (Vegetti, 1993 : 388). Et pourtant... Les dieux sont bien différents. D'une certaine façon, ils apparaissent comme des héros dont l'areté (la valeur) aurait été poussée jusqu'à ses extrêmes limites : ils les surpassent par la beauté, la force, l'intelligence. L'éclat surgit dès qu'il est question d'un dieu. Laissons parler Thétis : "Zeus à la grande voix, assis à l'écart, sur le plus haut sommet de l'Olympe aux cimes sans nombre" (Iliade, I, 498-499). À cette image de la majesté divine, il faut ajouter ce trait qui change tout : les dieux sont immortels. Après avoir donné à Pélée des chevaux immortels qui pleurent la mort imminente de leur jeune maître Achille, Zeus se lamente : "Pauvres bêtes ! Pourquoi vous ai-je donc données à Sire Pélée - un mortel ! – vous que ne touche ni l'âge ni la mort ? Est-ce donc pour que vous ayez votre part de douleurs avec les malheurs humains ? Rien n'est plus misérable que l'homme entre tous les êtres qui respirent et marchent sur la terre" (Iliade, XVII, 443-447). Affirmation d'une supériorité qui fait des dieux des maîtres fondamentalement séparés des hommes.  

Nul doute que lorsqu'elle prend forme, l'épopée a pour toile de fond quantité de récits mythiques traditionnels sur les divinités et les puissances naturelles qui habitent et dominent le monde. Mais le plus remarquable est que pour faire le récit des derniers jours de la guerre de Troie, le poète, en sélectionnant, en mettant en œuvre et en réélaborant un immense matériau, a esquissé pour les siècles à venir la figure de ce qu'est un dieu grec.

Editions Klincksieck

jeudi, 26 juillet 2012

The Homeric Gods

The Homeric Gods

By Mark Dyal 

Ex. http://www.counter-currents.com



Walter F. Otto
The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion [2]
Translated by Moses Hadas
North Stratford, N.H.: Ayer Company Publishers, 2001

“My goal is to create total enmity between our current ‘culture’ and Antiquity. Whoever wants to serve the former must hate the latter.”—Friedrich Nietzsche[1]

“Every religion and every worldview is entitled to be judged not by the levels where it is flattened, coarsened, and, for want of character, is like any other, but by the clear and large contours of its heights. It is only there that it is what it truly is and what others are not.”—Walter F. Otto[2]

Along with Homer, Nietzsche, Evola, and Schmitt, a name with which every New Right thinker should be familiar is Walter F. Otto. Otto (1874–1958) was a German philologist who held positions in Switzerland and Germany, becoming one of National Socialist Germany’s leading scholars of the Classical world. From 1933 to 1945 he was a member, and administrator, of the Scientific Committee of the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar—at the time a sacred site amongst the Nazi “Nietzsche cult.”

Besides writing few books that have been translated in multiple languages, Otto and his blend of Nietzschean and Homeric political philosophy, helped lay the foundation for the contemporary manifestation of the Counter-Enlightenment, which we call the New Right. Indeed, Otto was part of the political evolution of many European New Right thinkers—Guillaume Faye, Alain de Benoist, and Pierre Krebs, to name but three; yet he remains virtually unknown in America, even among scholars.

In Europe, though, the Classical inheritance is lived and understood differently than in America. As Krebs explains, the vitalist natural spirit of the Homeric/Greek religion has stood in continual opposition to Asiatic/Judaic metaphysics since the dawn of the Homeric Age, some 3000 years ago.[3] In America, what we stood to inherit from the Greeks has been, at worst, perverted by Judeo-Christianity’s war on European nobility, and at best, subsumed within the multicultural system of racial and cultural commodity fetishism.

In other words, the Classical world matters to Europeans because they still live in the geographical and geopolitical world of the Greeks and Romans; while in America, bored bourgeois consumers think about Greece and Rome only when Hollywood promotes some democratic and ethically Christian version of a formerly noble tale of heroism and glory.

[3]Thus, it is to the North American New Right’s credit that the Classics and pre-Christian paganism is discussed at all. But even as we occasionally discuss them, they still seem foreign to the essential discourse of creating and being a new American Right. While there are Nazis, Norse pagans, atheists, and Christians—always quick to de-Jew Jesus—aplenty, Olympian, Roman, or even Augustan reform, pagans are seldom identified. Given the lack of Classical feeling in the American psyche, one must assume that these pagans simply do not exist here. Even in the European New Right’s best explanation of paganism, Alain de Benoist’s On Being a Pagan, Athena and Apollo—the most well developed and useful Homeric deities—are never brought to life.[4] Nor is one given a sense of what one would actually believe and do as a result of associating with these gods.

Collin Cleary sensed the “lack of gods” in Benoist’s On Being a Pagan and took offense with its overtly Nietzschean humanism and “moral relativism.”[5] Although the gods are present in The Homeric Gods, Otto’s project, like Benoist’s, is entirely and inherently Nietzschean. In fact, to properly understand Otto’s book, one should begin with Nietzsche, and not Homer.[6]

But this is understandable, assuming that one comprehends why Nietzsche is so central to how and why we know the Greeks today. As the first epigraph makes clear, Nietzsche uses the Greeks (and Romans) as a counter-valuation to the modern Judeo-Christian world. From his first notebooks and lectures to his last written words, Nietzsche’s ideal human types are Greek, nay, Homeric in origin. For it was these men that fought, struggled, killed, and died in a life-affirming quest for glory.

Nietzsche’s ideal form of life, which glorifies warfare, strife, and beauty, is Greek. Indeed, Nietzsche’s naturalization of morality can be found 2200 years prior in Herodotus’Histories. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra virtually summarizes the first book of Histories when he says that, “No people could live that did not first esteem; but if they want to preserve themselves, then they must not esteem as their neighbor esteems.”[7] For while Herodotus included the narratives that brought war to the barbarian peoples of the east, he did so to show that, while each people is motivated by what is good, the only good that matters is that of the Greeks.[8]

Even if Herodotus understood that each of Greece’s enemies had their own moral and ethical system, these systems did not apply to Greeks. The world beyond Greece simply did not exist in moralistic/altruistic terms. This is similar to the motivational thrust of Nietzsche’s critique of Judeo-Christian morality: it might be good for a certain human type, but not for us.

This “us” is a key to understanding why Nietzsche is often embraced by the Left (and New Right thinker Collin Cleary) as a moral relativist, for it assumes a preexisting knowledge of each of Nietzsche’s “mature” works that the large majority of his postmodern readers simply do not have.[9] Everything from Book Five of The Gay Science to the last notebook of the Nachlass is written for a fictitious audience of like-minded “free thinkers” who already embrace Nietzsche’s transvaluative project.

Thus, he never naturalizes morality “in general” but always in contrast to what is useful for a particular (heroic, strong, courageous, harsh) audience. Ultimately, moralities are important because every form of life has one, or some such system of valuation and evaluation; and each morality is the basis of a particular human type—one of which is democratic, soft, lazy, smug, complacent, flabby, in a word, decadent. But, because that human type is the optimal embodiment of its morality, the form of life’s truth regime also promotes its optimal status.

And again, because Nietzsche explains that truth is unknowable without valuation (thus linking truth and morality), and that there are as many truths as there are forms of life, i.e. perspectives, historically speaking, the Left embraces him as a general relativist;[10] just as it critiques Herodotus (and the Greeks) as ethnocentric and xenophobic, and Homer as a violence-obsessed savage.[11]

Otto’s The Homeric Gods embraces this generalization of Nietzsche and sets the Homeric gods in opposition not only to Judeo-Christianity but also to the bourgeois form of life in general. What makes Otto’s book unique and useful is that he actually uses Homer and other archaic and Classical sources to explain the gods. Thus, Judeo-Christian and modern notions of sin, soul, piety, and redemption are nonexistent.

Writing in the Nietzschean spirit, he celebrates the absence of “the holy” in the Homeric Greek worldview. “The somber religious reverberation, that melody of ineffable exaltation and consecration . . . seems to be wanting . . . This religion is so natural that holiness seems to have no place in it” (p. 3).

What we miss, then, is the “moral earnestness” that Judeo-Christianity, as the paradigm of religion, commands us to expect in a religion. Instead, we have gods that are “too natural and joyous to reckon morality as the supreme value” (p. 3). We have, as well, two key points to understanding how the religion works.

First, there is no communion between the gods and man. There is no sacrifice of the self, no intimacy, no oneness of god and man. Man and the gods are separated by each one’s nature.

Second, there is no promise of redemption in the religion. There is no need or desire to redeem man from his earthy existence because love of life and the natural capacities of man are the basis of Homeric religious feeling. As Faye said, “like Achilles [and Odysseus], the original European man does not prostrate himself before the gods, but stands upright.”[12] But as Otto explains, this is because the gods demand instead that one stands and fights—that one makes oneself worthy of the gods’ attention by courageous and heroic action. Otto brings this point home by reminding his readers that, while in the Old Testament, “Yahweh fights for his people, and without making any defense they are delivered from the pursuing Egyptians,” in Homer, “a god whispers a saving device to a baffled warrior at the right instant, we hear that he rouses spirit and kindles courage, that he makes limbs supple and nimble, and gives a right arm accuracy and strength” (p. 6). Man is not miraculously delivered by his God but is, instead, given the inspiration to command his own destiny.

The interaction between gods and man and between man and nature, then, is not only dependent upon man but upon nature. In other words, there is little to no magic, only the divinity of man in nature.

The faculty which in other religions is constantly being thwarted and inhibited here flowers forth with the admirable assurance of genius—the faculty of seeing the world in the light of the divine, not a world yearned for, aspired to, or mystically present in rare ecstatic experiences, but the world into which we were born, part of which we are, interwoven with it through our senses and, through our minds, obligated to it for all its abundance and vitality. (p. 11)

Speaking of its essence, the divine is a vital force that flows through each living thing. However, it is not “made divine” in the sense of the “holy spirit.” There is no need to feel universally connected to, or prohibited from attacking or devouring, one’s brothers-in man. For in nature, all life consumes and devours, but is still part of the richness of the world—a very Nietzschean naturalism this is! Homeric religion, in sum, dismisses morality, promises no redemption, and makes life itself divine.

It is in the descriptions of the gods, themselves that we find the true “plan” that the Homeric religion holds for man: that our divine nature demands that man act, and often heroically. “The gods belong on the side of life. In order to encounter them the living must move, go forward, be active. Then the gods encompass the living with their strength and majesty and in sudden revelation even show their heavenly countenance” (pp. 265–66). It matters not so much that man be patient, pious, or priestly, but that he not act cowardly, brutishly, or without dignity. “The purpose and goal of the Greeks,” Otto quotes Goethe, “is to deify man, not to humanize deity” (p. 236). Even as man in all of his nature is deified, Homer still presents a perfected vision of this nature.[13]

[4]Anyone who has read Homer (or Otto) can hardly disagree that Athena is the most extraordinary of the Homeric deities. Her role in the life of Achilles and Odysseus alone is enough to inspire men to war in hopes of garnering her attention. “First of all it is the warriors whose courage she kindles. Before battle begins they sense here inspiriting presence and yearn to perform heroic deeds worthy of her . . . the spirit of the goddess causes all hearts to thrill with battle glee” (p. 45).

Athena’s association with Heracles insured that she was the deity of choice for virile, athletic warriors, and his glory set the standard for Greek (and Roman) heroic endeavor. Remember correctly, though, that Heracles did not succeed through fury alone. Under Athena’s guidance, prudence and dignity are also necessary. Thus do we see her counseling Odysseus in moments which call not only for force but also shrewd calculation.

While her most celebrated recipients are, indeed, warriors and heroes, Athena’s influence can be seen across a wide spectrum of Greek life. She is a warrior, but she is also the goddess of wisdom. Moderns hear this, and their bourgeois form of life immediately informs them of a contradiction; for how can war and wisdom be unified and idealized to the point of divinity? That this unity is no contradiction, however, says all one needs to know of these Greeks and how far we have fallen from their glorious and heroic ideals.

[5]War and wisdom are related, through Athena, by the type of human perfection needed to be victorious at either. Precision. Precision under pressure. Precision under pressure of death. Precision under pressure of death when only the perfect movement or thought will preserve life and achieve one’s glory. Wisdom can only be gained in similar circumstances—through heroic or precise, pressure-filled, action.

Thoughts gained while sheepishly static and immobile, Nietzsche reminds us, are seldom heroic. Thus warriors in need of the perfect throw of a spear or slice of a sword, in the only instant that will kill their opponent, are united with artisans, artists, precision craftsmen—shipwrights, metalworkers, potters, weavers—and anyone needing intelligence and the will to decisiveness at every moment.

While Athena loves others beside the great heroes and warriors, her spirit and approach does not change circumstantially. She always desires “boldness, the will to victory, and courage,” but these are not fully useful without “directing reason and illuminating clarity” (p. 53). “Whenever in a life of action and heroism great things must be wrought, perfected, and struggled for, there Athena is present. Broad indeed is the spirit of a battle-loving people when it recognizes the same perfection wherever a clear and intelligent glance shows the path to achievement” (p. 53). Broad indeed is the spirit of a battle-loving people when it recognizes the same perfection wherever a clear and intelligent glance shows the path to achievement. Otto has just explained the crux of the Classical inheritance: the will to perfection. Stand alone in postmodern America and ponder the magnitude of a cultural impulse to perfection. Now also consider Otto’s National Socialist audience and one also begins to sense what National Socialism and Fascism were really up to—and how deep was the Fascist critique of modernity.[14]



The perfection attainable through Athena is immediate. The precision to which she inspires is corporeal. She is “the heavenly presence and direction as illumination and inspiration to victorious comprehension and consummation. To Hermes belongs what is clandestine, twilight, uncanny; Athena is bright as day. Dreaminess, yearning, languishing, are alien to her” (pp. 53–54). Similarly obvious is the contrast between Athena and Apollo:

In Apollo we recognize the wholly masculine man. The aristocratic aloofness, the superiority of cognition, the sense of proportion, these and other related traits in a man, even music in the broadest sense of the word, are, in the last analysis, alien to a woman. Apollo is all these things. But perfection in the living present, untrammelled and victorious action, not in the service of some remote and infinite idea but for mastery over the moment—that is the triumph that has always delighted woman in a man, to which she inspires him, and whose high satisfaction he can learn from her. (p. 55)

Apollo is an archer, thus the will to precision is also present in him. But while Athena is immediate and near, Apollo is rational and distant. “In the figure of Apollo,” Otto explains, “man honors the nobility of serenity and freedom, the rays of the sun, which furnish light not for mysteries of the soul but for virile realization of life and worthy achievement” (p. 252). Once again, Otto makes sure we fully comprehend the cultural impetus of these deities. For like Athena, Apollo promotes a world of meaningful action and a life “capable of freedom, which neither follows impulses blindly nor is subjected to the categorical demands of a moral legislation. It is not to dutifulness or obedience that decision is allowed but to insight and taste; thus everywhere the intelligent is bound up with the beautiful” (p. 253).

It was the genius of the Greeks to promote the most exceptional and exemplary capabilities of man as divine; and not only divine but also natural. Thus man did not supplicate himself to a God, or, as Collin Cleary fears for neo-pagans, merely invoke the name of a deity. Instead he made himself worthy. “Wherever a great heart throbs and rages, wherever a liberating thought flares up, there Athena is present, summoned rather by heroic readiness than by humble supplication. From her own lips we hear that she is attracted by prowess, not by good will or devotion to her person” (pp. 238–239). In this we see that the agonic pulse that ran through the Greek world was more than just a will to prepare for war. It was also a means for men to maintain worthiness of the gods. For a perfect throw, a perfect hull, or a perfect word is still perfection and “for the Greeks, this is the prime meaning of insight and intelligence. Without these the truly divine is inconceivable” (p. 247).

Perhaps nothing separates modern man from the Greeks as much as his aversion to thinking about the human in terms of perfection. The artistic embodiment of the Homeric deities served as an optimal status criterion of the form and content of human perfection. Extremely elevated standards were maintained in physiognomy, creativity, and discernment, always with a view to the interconnectedness of warfare, wisdom, and beauty. Grandeur, prowess, dignity, and nobility seem available for all who act heroically and with nobility. However, this is only so because it is not the mediocrity of the rabble that is being elevated to the pinnacle of human worthiness.

Only a modern would think to celebrate (or even care about) the Helots and slaves that toiled in the shadow of greatness. Indeed, the moderns who glorify the non-victorious and the failures—the majority—at the expense of the heroic and life affirming few, dwell in eternal darkness compared to these Greeks.

Instead this is a religion (and form of life) for masters. This is the religion of those who value glory over justice. And, “for a spirit which craves glory rather than prosperity, the justice of divine sway is a different thing from what the husbandman or commoner intent on possessions and gain might wish it to be” (p. 258). Achilles, the bravest and “most loved by the gods” of the Greeks at Troy, has a short life, but it is a life filled with the greatest imaginable glory. As Otto deftly explains, only a spiritually poor age would think to reduce the human capacity for heroic action to a search for bourgeois comfort, safety, and happiness. Likewise, only a spiritually impoverished religion would feel it necessary to make God an arbiter of justice. While the “history of religions” (i.e., modern theology which makes Asiatic monotheistic religions the paradigm of religiontout court) considers it a deepening of divine providence to give God the power of justice, Otto explains that it as a sign of decadence (p. 257).

The Homeric gods, as mentioned above, are solely deities of life. Death, the only fate of man, is controlled by the furies—the archaic deities more closely related to elemental forces than the more spiritual Olympians. It is not fated that a man does anything but die. What he does with his life is up to him, including meting out justice. (In his Oresteia, Aeschylus presents a dramatic account of Athena and Apollo arguing successfully against the furies for the right of man to justice.) While the gods are powerless against death and care nothing for justice, they often work with a man’s fate to allow a maximum amount of honor and glory. For a form of life that spiritualizes life, honor, and glory, a “call to justice is . . . a sign of the de-deification of the world” and evidence of a mobbish right to prosperity and slavish assumption that someone may be blamed for one’s suffering a lack of prosperity (p. 258).

It is important to remember that Homer was the basis of Classical Greek culture. The deities and heroic men and women he described originated the shared values, mores, and conditions of possibility of the many Greek peoples. Homeric models of heroism and nobility became the boundary marker between the Greek and the barbarian. The metaphors used by the nobility and freemen alike came from Homer, as did the bases of truth, beauty, and good reasoning. The Homeric Gods gives ample reasons why this was so. With its Nietzschean undertones (Nietzsche is only mentioned once in the book) and its clear delineation of what separates the Homeric from the Judaic, Otto’s study must have been intended to bolster the Fascist reawakening of Classical feeling in European man; for it paints a picture of the very type anti-humanist (Nietzschean) humanism that characterizes so much of Fascist political mythology and philosophy. What makes Otto’s The Homeric Gods so important, in this light, is its sheer monumentality. It explains that Greek humanism was anything but secular, and deified the greatest potentials of human life. It places life clearly in the control of man, with the understanding that greatness is only achievable through actions worthy of the gods. The book is designed to inspire—to make Athena’s touch be felt again—and to give notice that bourgeois modern men will be unforgivingly outmatched by those seeking glory rather than comfort.

The Homeric Gods is no substitute for the remarkable experience of reading or hearing Homer’s epics. However, it is a companion that will deepen one’s experience of Homer so much that Dominique Venner’s suggestion that his epics act as a “European bible” will make perfect sense.[15] Of course, heroic men of the Homeric ideal have no need of a bible—just as the Nietzschean ideal would chafe at the blasphemy of suggesting Zarathustra as a bible. If bible is a strong word—intended only for the weakest ears, that is—perhaps Homer can instead act as guidebook of the European peoples’ capacity for greatness.

In any case Homer, and Homeric religion, is exemplary, and demonstrate a system of valuation at extraordinary odds with modern bourgeois man. Perhaps modernity has destroyed man’s ability to act as heroically as the ideals and deities of Homer would expect of their heirs. Certainly it has delimited his freedom to do so. But, “history,” Nietzsche advised in a notebook entry, “must speak only of the great and unique, of the model to be emulated.”[16] That, as Venner explains, is exactly what we have in Homer: “To be noble and brave for a man, to be gentle, loving, and faithful for a woman. [Homer] bequeathed a digest of what Greece offered thereafter to posterity: nature as model, the striving towards beauty, the creative force that strives always to surpass, excellence as the ideal of life.”[17]


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Writings from the Early Notebooks, ed. Raymond Geuss and Alexander Nehamas. Trans. Ladislaus Löb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 203.

[2] Walter F. Otto, The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion, Trans. Moses Hadas. Reprint Edition (North Stratford, NH: Ayer Company Publishers, 2001), p.12.

[3] Pierre Krebs, Fighting for the Essence: Western Enthnosuicide or European Renaissance? Trans. Dr. Alexander Jacob (London: Arktos, 2012), pp. 46–47.

[4] Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan, ed. Greg Johnson, trans. Jon Graham (Atlanta: Ultra, 2004).

[5] Collin Cleary, “Paganism Without Gods,” in Summoning The Gods, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2011), pp. 62–80.

[6] I assume everyone has read and re-read both The Iliad and The Odyssey. If not, drop everything, get an audiobook, and listen to these epics.

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ed. Adrian Del Caro and Robert B. Pippin. Trans. Adrian Del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 42.

[8] Herodotus, The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, ed. Robert B. Strassler. Trans. Andrea L. Purvis (New York: Pantheon, 2007), pp. 112–15.

[9] There is no distinction to be made between postmodern and Left.

[10] Maudemarie Clark, Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1990).

[11] Elizabeth Vandiver, Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History (New York: Peter Lang, 1991).

[12] Guillaume Faye, “Mars and Hephaestus: The Return of History,” trans. Greg Johnson, in North American New Right, Volume 1, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012), p. 239.

[13] Space and necessity permit only a focus on Athena and Apollo. The Homeric Gods offers chapter-length examinations of Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, and Hermes; while Ares, Poseidon, and Hephaestus also feature heavily.

[14] Zeev Sternhell, The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution, trans. David Maisel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).

[15] Dominique Venner, “Homer: The European Bible,” trans. Greg Johnson, in North American New Right, Volume 1, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012), pp. 220–36.

[16] Nietzsche, Early Notebooks, 95.

[17] Venner, 226.


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/07/the-homeric-gods/

samedi, 23 avril 2011

Homer in the Baltic - Summary

Homer in the Baltic. Summary

Autore: Felice Vinci

Ex: http://www.centrostudilaruna.it/


The real scene of the Iliad and the Odyssey can be identified not in the Mediterranean Sea, where it proves to be weakened by many incongruities, but in the north of Europe. The sagas that gave rise to the two poems came from the Baltic regions, where the Bronze Age flourished in the 2nd millennium B. C. and many Homeric places, such as Troy and Ithaca, can still be identified. The blond seafarers who founded the Mycenaean civilization in the 16th century B. C. brought these tales from Scandinavia to Greece after the decline of the “climatic optimum”. Then they rebuilt their original world, where the Trojan War and many other mythological events had taken place, in the Mediterranean; through many generations the memory of the heroic age and the feats performed by their ancestors in their lost homeland was preserved, and handed down to the following ages. This key allows us to easily open many doors that have been shut tight until now, as well as to consider the age-old question of the Indo-European diaspora and the origin of the Greek civilization from a new perspective.

Ever since ancient times, Homeric geography has given rise to problems and uncertainty. The conformity of towns, countries and islands, which the poet often describes with a wealth of detail, with traditional Mediterranean places is usually only partial or even nonexistent. We find various cases in Strabo (the Greek geographer and historian, 63 B. C. – 23 A.D.), who, for example, does not understand why the island of Pharos, situated right in front of the port of Alexandria, in the Odyssey inexplicably appears to lie a day’s sail from Egypt. There is also the question of the location of Ithaca, which, according to very precise indications found in the Odyssey, is the westernmost in an archipelago which includes three main islands, Dulichium, Same and Zacynthus. This does not correspond to the geographic reality of the Greek Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, located north of Zacynthus, east of Cephallenia and south of Leucas. And then, what of the Peloponnese, described in both poems as a plain?

In other words, Homeric geography refers to a context with a toponymy with which we are familiar, but which, if compared with the actual physical layout of the Greek world, reveals glaring anomalies, which are hard to explain, if only on account of their consistency throughout the two poems. For example, the “strange” Peloponnese appears to be a plain not sporadically but regularly, and Dulichium, the “Long Island” (in Greek “dolichos” means “long”) located by Ithaca, is repeatedly mentioned not only in the Odyssey but also in the Iliad, but was never discovered in the Mediterranean. Thus we are confronted with a world which appears actually closed and inaccessible, apart from some occasional convergences, although the names are familiar (this, however, tends to be more misleading than otherwise in solving the problem).

A possible key to finally penetrating this puzzling world is provided by Plutarch (46 – 120 A.D.). In his work De facie quae in orbe lunae apparet (“The face that appears in the moon circle”), he makes a surprising statement: the island of Ogygia, (where Calypso held Ulysses before allowing him to return to Ithaca) is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, “five days’ sail from Britain”.

Plutarch’s indications lead us to identify Ogygia with one of the Faroe Islands (where we also come across an island with a Greek-sounding name: Mykines). Starting from here, the route eastwards, which Ulysses follows (Book V of the Odyssey) in his voyage from Ogygia to Scheria allows us to locate the latter, i.e. the land of the Phaeacians, on the southern coast of Norway, in an area perfectly fitting the account of his arrival, where archaeological traces of the Bronze Age are plentiful. Moreover, while on the one hand “sker” in Old Norse means a «sea rock», on the other in the narration of Ulysses’s landing Homer introduces the reversal of the river current (Od., V, 451-453), which is unknown in the Mediterranean world but is typical of the Atlantic estuaries during high tide.

From here the Phaeacians took Ulysses to Ithaca, located on the far side of an archipelago, which Homer talks about in great detail. At this point, a series of precise parallels makes it possible to identify a group of Danish islands, in the south of the Baltic Sea, which correspond exactly to all of Homer’s indications. Actually, the South-Fyn Archipelago includes three main islands: Langeland (the “Long Island”; which finally unveils the puzzle of the mysterious island of Dulichium), Aerø (which corresponds perfectly to Homeric Same) and Tåsinge (ancient Zacynthus). The last island in the archipelago, located westwards, “facing the night”, is Ulysses’s Ithaca, now known as Lyø. It is astonishing how closely it coincides with the directions of the poet, not only in its position, but also its topographical and morphological features. And here, amongst this group of islands, we can also identify the little island «in the strait between Ithaca and Same», where Penelope’s suitors tried to waylay Telemachus.

Moreover, the Elis, i.e. one of the regions of the Peloponnese, is described as facing Dulichium, thus is easily identifiable with a part of the large Danish island of Zealand. Therefore, the latter is the original «Peloponnese», i.e. the “Island of Pelops”, in the real meaning of the word “island” (“nêsos” in Greek). On the other hand, the Greek Peloponnese (which lies in a similar position in the Aegean Sea, i.e. on its southwestern side) is not an island, despite its name. Furthermore, the details reported in the Odyssey regarding both Telemachus’s swift journey by chariot from Pylos to Lacedaemon, along «a wheat-producing plain», and the war between Pylians and Epeans, as narrated in Book XI of the Iliad, have always been considered inconsistent with Greece’s uneven geography, while they fit in perfectly with the flat island of Zealand.

Let us look for the region of Troy now. In the Iliad it is located along the Hellespont Sea, which is systematically described as being «wide» or even «boundless». We can, therefore, exclude the fact that it refers to the Strait of the Dardanelles, where the city found by Schliemann lies. The identification of this city with Homer’s Troy still raises strong doubts: we only have to think of Finley’s criticism in the World of Odysseus. It is also remarkable that Schliemann’s site corresponds to the location of the Greek-Roman Troy; however, Strabo categorically denies that the latter is identifiable with the Homeric city (Geography 13, 1, 27). On the other hand, the Danish Medieval historian Saxo Grammaticus, in his Gesta Danorum, often mentions a population known as «Hellespontians» and a region called Hellespont, which, strangely enough, seems to be located in the east of the Baltic Sea. Could it be Homer’s Hellespont? We can identify it with the Gulf of Finland, which is the geographic counterpart of the Dardanelles (as both of them lie northeast of their respective basins). Since Troy, as we can infer from a passage in the Iliad (XXI, 334-335), lay North-East of the sea (further reason to dispute Schliemann’s location), then it seems reasonable, for the purpose of this research, to look at a region of southern Finland, where the Gulf of Finland joins the Baltic Sea. In this area, west of Helsinki, we find a number of name-places which astonishingly resemble those mentioned in the Iliad and, in particular, those given to the allies of the Trojans: Askainen (Ascanius), Karjaa (Caria), Nästi (Nastes, the chief of the Carians), Lyökki (Lycia), Tenala (Tenedos), Kiila (Cilla), Raisio (Rhesus), Kiikoinen (the Ciconians) etc. There is also a Padva, which reminds us of Italian Padua, which was founded, according to tradition, by the Trojan Antenor and lies in Venetia (the «Eneti» or «Veneti» were allies of the Trojans). What is more, the place-names Tanttala and Sipilä (the mythical King Tantalus, famous for his torment, was buried on Mount Sipylus) indicate that this matter is not only limited to Homeric geography, but seems to extend to the whole world of Greek mythology.

What about Troy? Right in the middle of this area, halfway between Helsinki and Turku, we discover that King Priam’s city has survived the Achaean sack and fire. Its characteristics correspond exactly to those Homer handed down to us: the hilly area which dominates the valley with its two rivers, the plain which slopes down towards the coast, and the highlands in the background. It has even maintained its own name almost unchanged throughout all this time. Today, Toija is a peaceful Finnish village, unaware of its glorious and tragic past.

Various trips to these places, from July 11 1992 onwards, have confirmed the extraordinary correspondence between the Iliad‘s descriptions and the area surrounding Toija. What is more, there we come across many significant traces of the Bronze Age. Incredibly, towards the sea we find a place called Aijala, which recalls the “beach” («aigialos»), where, according to Homer, the Achaeans beached their ships (Il., XIV, 34). The correspondence extends to the neighbouring areas. For example, along the Swedish coast facing Southern Finland, 70 km north of Stockholm, the long and relatively narrow Bay of Norrtälje recalls Homeric Aulis, whence the Achaean fleet set sail for Troy. Nowadays, ferries leave here for Finland, following the same ancient course. They pass the island of Lemland, whose name reminds us of ancient Lemnos, where the Achaeans stopped and abandoned the hero Philoctetes. Nearby is Åland, the largest island of the homonymous archipelago, which probably coincides with Samothrace, the mythical site of the metalworking mysteries. The adjacent Gulf of Bothnia is easily identifiable with Homer’s Thracian Sea, and the ancient Thrace, which the poet places to the North-West of Troy on the opposite side of the sea, probably lay along the northern Swedish coast and its hinterland (it is remarkable that the Younger Edda identifies the home of the god Thor with Thrace). Further south, outside the Gulf of Finland, the island of Hiiumaa, situated opposite the Esthonian coast, corresponds exactly to Homer’s Chios, which, according to the Odyssey, lay on the return course of the Achaean fleet after the war.

In short, apart from the morphological features of this area, the geographic position of the Finnish Troas fits Homer’s directions like a glove. Actually, this explains why a «thick fog» often fell on those fighting on the Trojan plain, and Ulysses’s sea is never as bright as that of the Greek islands, but always «dark-wine» and «misty». As we travel through Homer’s world, we experience the harsh weather which is typical of the Northern world. Everywhere in the two poems the weather, with its fog, wind, rain, cold temperatures and snow (which falls on the plains and even out to sea), has little in common with the Mediterranean climate; moreover, sun and warm temperatures are hardly ever mentioned.

There are countless examples of this; for instance, when Ulysses recalls an episode of the Trojan War:

«The night was bad, after the north wind dropped,
and freezing; then the snow began to fall like icy frost
and ice congealed on our shields
» (Od., XIV, 475-477).

In a word, most of the time the weather is unsettled, so much so that a bronze-clad fighting warrior invokes a cloudless sky during the battle (Il., XVII, 643-646). We are worlds away from the torrid Anatolian lowlands. The way in which Homer’s characters are dressed is in perfect keeping with this kind of climate. In the sailing season they wear tunics and heavy cloaks which they never remove, not even during banquets. This attire corresponds exactly to the remains of clothing found in Bronze Age Danish graves, down to such details as the metal brooch which pinned the cloak at the shoulder (Od., XIX, 226). Moreover, this fits in perfectly with what Tacitus states on Germanic clothing:

«The suit for everyone is a cape with a buckle»
sagum fibula consertum»; Germania, 17, 1).

This northern collocation also explains the huge anomaly of the great battle which takes up the central books of the Iliad. The battle continues for two days (Il., XI, 86; XVI, 777) and one night (Il., XVI, 567). The fact that the darkness does not put a stop to the fighting is incomprehensible in the Mediterranean world, but it becomes clear in the Baltic setting. What allows Patroclus’s fresh troops to carry on fighting through to the following day, without a break, is the faint night light, which is typical of high latitudes during the summer solstice. This interpretation -corroborated by the overflowing of the Scamander during the following battle (in the northern regions this occurs in May or June owing to the thaw)- allows us to reconstruct the stages of the whole battle in a coherent manner, dispelling the present-day perplexities and strained interpretations. Furthermore, we even manage to pick out from a passage in the Iliad (VII, 433) the Greek word used to denominate the faintly-lit nights typical of the regions located near the Arctic Circle: the «amphilyke nyx» is a real “linguistic fossil” which, thanks to the Homeric epos, has survived the migration of the Achaeans to Southern Europe.

It is also important to note that the Trojan walls, as described by Homer, appear as a sort of rustic fence made of wood and stone, similar to the archaic Northern wooden enclosures (such as the Kremlin Walls up to the 15th century) much more than the mighty strongholds of the Aegean civilizations.

Troy, therefore, was not deserted after the Achaeans plundered and burnt it down, but was rebuilt, as the Iliad states:

«At this point Zeus has come to hate Priam’s stock,
so Aeneas’s power will rule the Trojans now
and then his children’s children and those who will come later on
» (Il., XX, 306-308).

On the contrary, Virgil’s quite tendentious, and much more recent, tale of Aeneas’s flight by sea from the burning city of Troy (a homage paid to the emperor Augustus’s family, considered Aeneas’s descendant) is absolutely unrelated to the real destiny of the Trojan hero and his city after the war. As regards this “Finnish” Aeneas, the first king of the dynasty that, according with Homer, ruled Troy after the war (that is a kingdom which, under Priam, dominated a vast area in southern Finland; Il., XXIV, 544-546) it should be very tempting to suppose a relationship between his name and «Aeningia», Finland’s name in Roman times (Pliny, Natural History, IV, 96).

It is remarkable that farmers often come across Bronze and Stone Age relics in the fields surrounding Toija. This is proof of human settlements in this territory many thousands of years ago. Further, in the area surrounding Salo (only 20 km from Toija), archaeologists have found splendid specimens of swords and spear points that date back to the Bronze Age and are now on display in the National Museum of Helsinki. These findings come from burial places, which include tumuli made of large mounds of stones that can be found at the top of certain hills, which rise from the plain today, but which, thousands of years ago, when the coastline was not as far back as it is nowadays, faced directly onto the sea. This relates to a passage in the Iliad, where Hector challenges an Achaean hero to a duel, undertaking, in case of victory, to give back the corpse of his opponent

«so that the long-haired Achaeans can bury him
and erect a mound for him on the broad Hellespont,
and some day one of the men to come,
sailing with a multioared ship on the wine-dark sea, will say:
“This is the mound of a man slain in ancient times,
he excelled but renowned Hector killed him”

(Il., VII, 85-90; the description of Achilles’ tomb in the last canto of the Odyssey is analogous).

These Homeric mounds «on the broad Hellespont» and the Bronze Age ones near Salo are remarkably similar.

Let us now examine the so-called Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad, that lists the twenty-nine Achaean fleets which took part in the Trojan War, together with the names of their captains and places of origin. This list unwinds in an anticlockwise direction, starting from Central Sweden, travelling along the Baltic coasts and finishing in Finland. If we combine this with the data contained in the two poems and in the rest of Greek mythology, we may completely reconstruct the Achaean world around the Baltic Sea, where, as archaeology confirms, the Bronze Age was flourishing in the 2nd millennium B. C., favoured by a warmer climate than today’s.

In this new geographical context, the entire universe belonging to Homer and Greek mythology finally discloses itself with its astonishing consistency. For example, by following the Catalogue sequence, we immediately locate Boeotia (corresponding to the area around Stockholm). Here it is easy to identify Oedipus’s Thebes and the mythical Mount Nysa (which was never found in the Greek world), where the Hyads nursed baby Dionysus. Homer’s Euboea coincides with today’s island of Öland, located off the Swedish coast in a similar position to that of its Mediterranean counterpart. Mythical Athens, Theseus’s native land, lay in the area of present day Karlskrona in southern Sweden (this explains why Plato, in his dialogue Critias, refers to it as being an undulating plain full of rivers, which is totally alien to Greece’s rough morphology). The features of other Achaean cities, such as Mycenae or Calydon, as described by Homer also appear completely different from those of their namesakes on Greek soil. In particular, Mycenae lay in the site of today’s Copenhagen, where the island of Amager possibly recalls its ancient name and explains why it was in the plural. Here, in the flat island of Zealand (i.e. the Homeric «Peloponnese»), we can easily identify Agamemnon’s and Menelaus’s kingdoms, Arcadia, the River Alpheus, and in particular, king Nestor’s Pylos, whose location was held to be a mystery even by the ancient Greeks. By setting Homer’s poems in the Baltic, this age-old puzzle is also solved at once. What is more, it is equally easy to solve the problem of the strange border between Argolis and Pylos, which is mentioned in the Iliad (IX, 153) but is “impossible” in the Greek world. After the Peloponnese, the Catalogue mentions Dulichium and continues with Ithaca’s archipelago, which was already identified by making use of the indications the Odyssey supplies. We are thus able to verify the consistency of the information contained in the two poems as well as their congruity with the Baltic geography. After Ithaca, the list continues with the Aetolians, who recall the ancient Jutes. They gave their name to Jutland, which actually lies near the South-Fyn Islands. Homer mentions Pylene in the Aetolian cities, which corresponds to today’s Plön, in Northern Germany, not far from Jutland. Opposite this region, in the North Sea, the name of Heligoland, one of the North Frisian Islands, recalls Helike, a sanctuary of the god Poseidon mentioned in the Iliad (it is remarkable that an old name for Heligoland was Fositesland, where «Fosite», an ancient Frisian god, is virtually identical to Poseidon).

As regards Crete, the «vast land» with «a hundred cities» and many rivers, which is never referred to as an island by Homer, it corresponds to the Pomeranian region in the southern Baltic area, which stretches from the German coast to the Polish same. This explains why in the rich pictorial productions of the Minoan civilization, which flourished in Aegean Crete, we find no hint of Greek mythology, and ships are so scantily represented. It would also be tempting to assume a relationship between the name «Polska» and the Pelasgians, the inhabitants of Homeric Crete. At this point, it is also easy to identify Naxos (where Theseus left Ariadne on his return journey from «Crete» to «Athens») with the island of Bornholm, situated between Poland and Sweden, where the town of Neksø still recalls the ancient name of the island. Likewise, we discover that the Odyssey‘s «River Egypt» probably coincides with the present-day Vistula, thus revealing the real origin of the name the Greeks gave to Pharaohs’ land, known as «Kem» in the local language. This explains the incongruous position of the Homeric Egyptian Thebes, which, according to the Odyssey, is located near the sea. Evidently the Egyptian capital, which on the contrary lies hundreds of kilometres from the Nile delta and was originally known as Wò’se, was renamed by the Achaeans with the name of a Baltic city, after they moved down to the Mediterranean. The real Thebes probably was the present-day Tczew, on the Vistula delta. To the north of the latter, in the centre of the Baltic Sea, the island of Fårö recalls the Homeric Pharos, which according to the Odyssey lay in the middle of the sea at a day’s sail from «Egypt» (whereas Mediterranean Pharos is not even a mile’s distance from the port of Alexandria). Here is the solution to another puzzle of Homeric geography that so perturbed Strabo.

The Catalogue of Ships now touches the Baltic Republics. Hellas lay on the coast of present-day Esthonia, and thus next to the Homeric Hellespont (i.e. the «Helle Sea»), today’s Gulf of Finland. In this area also lies Kurland -the Curians’ country, that is the mythical Curetes, linked with the worship of Zeus- where is found the figure of a supreme god, who is called Dievas in Lithuania and Dievs in Latvia; in local folklore he shows features typical of Hellenic Zeus (the genitive case of the name «Zeus» in Greek is «Diòs»; Il., I, 5). Moreover, Lithuanian has very archaic features and a notable affinity with the ancient Indo-European language. Phthia, Achilles’s homeland, lay on the fertile hills of southeastern Esthonia, along the border with Latvia and Russia, stretching as far as the Russian river Velikaja and the lake of Pskov. Myrmidons and Phthians lived there, ruled by Achilles and Protesilaus (the first Achaean captain who fell in the Trojan War) respectively. Next, proceeding with the sequence, we reach the Finnish coast, facing the Gulf of Bothnia, where we find Jolkka, which reminds us of Iolcus, Jason’s mythical city. Further north, we are also able to identify the region of Olympus, Styx and Pieria in Finnish Lapland (which in turn recalls the Homeric Lapithae, i.e. the sworn enemies of the Centaurs who also lived in this area). This location of Pieria north of the Arctic Circle is confirmed by an apparent astronomical anomaly, linked to the moon cycle, which is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes: it can only be explained by the high latitude. The «Home of Hades» was even further northwards, on the icy coasts of Russian Karelia: here Ulysses arrived, his journeys representing the last vestige of prehistoric routes in an era which was characterised by a very different climate from today’s.

In conclusion, from this review of the Baltic world, we find its astonishing consistency with the Catalogue of Ships -which is, therefore, an extraordinary “photograph” of the Northern Early Bronze Age peoples- as well as with the whole of Greek mythology. It is very unlikely that this immense number of geographic, climatic, toponymical and morphological parallels is to be ascribed to mere chance, even leaving aside the glaring contradictions arising from the Mediterranean setting.

As regards Ulysses’ trips, after the Trojan War, when he is about to reach Ithaca, a storm takes him away from his world; so he has many adventures in fabulous localities until he reaches Ogygia, that is one of the Faroe Islands. These adventures, presumably taken from tales of ancient seamen and elaborated again by the poet’s fantasy, represent the last memory of the sea routes followed by the ancient navigators of the Northern Bronze Age out of the Baltic, in the North Atlantic (where the «Ocean River» flows, i.e. the Gulf Stream), but they became unrecognizable because of their transposition into a totally different context. For example, the Eolian island, ruled by the «King of the winds», «son of the Knight», is one of the Shetlands (maybe Yell), where there are strong winds and ponies. Cyclops lived in the coast of Norway (near Tosenfjorden: the name of their mother is Toosa): they coincide with the Trolls of the Norwegian folklore. The land of Lestrigonians was in the same coast, towards the North; Homer says that there the days are very long (the famous scholar Robert Graves places the Lestrigonians in the North of Norway; moreover, in that area we find the island of Lamøj, which is probably the Homeric Lamos). The island of sorceress Circe -where there are clear hints at the midnight sun (Od., X, 190-192) and the revolving dawns (Od., XII, 3-4), typical phenomena of the Arctic regions- is one of the Lofoten, beyond the Arctic Circle. Charybdis is the well-known whirlpool named Maelstrom, south of the island of Moskenes (one of the Lofoten). South of Charybdis Odysseus meets the island Thrinakia, that means «trident»: really, near the Maelstrom lies Mosken, a three-tip island. The Sirens are shoals and shallows, off the western face of the Lofoten, before the Maelstrom area, which are made even more dangerous by the fog and the size of the tides. The sailors could be attracted by the misleading noise of the backwash (the «Sirens’ Song» is a metaphor similar to Norse «kenningar») on the half-hidden rocks into deceiving themselves that landing is at hand, but if they get near, shipwreck on the reefs is inevitable.

Besides, we can find remarkable parallels between Greek and Norse mythology: for example, Ulysses is similar to Ull, archer and warrior of Norse mythology; the sea giant Aegaeon (who gave his name to the Aegean Sea) is the counterpart of the Norse sea god Aegir, and Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea (who is a mythical shepherd of seals, who lives in the sea depths and is capable of foretelling the future) is similar to the «marmendill» (mentioned by the Hàlfs Saga ok Hàlfsrekka and the Landnàmabòk), a very odd creature, who resembles a misshapen man with a seal-shaped body below the waist, and has the gift of prophecy but only talks when he feels like it, just like Proteus. On the other hand, there are remarkable analogies between the Achaean and Viking ships: by comparing the details of Homeric ships with the remains of Viking ships found in the bay of Roskilde, we realize that their features were very similar. We refer to the flat keel (one infers this from Od., XIII, 114), the double prow (we can deduce this from the expression «amphiélissai» Homer frequently uses with regard to their double curve, i.e. at the stern and the prow), and the removable mast -this is a sophisticated feature typical of Viking ships, which was typical of Homeric ships, too: many passages in both the Iliad (I, 434; I, 480) and the Odyssey (II, 424-425; VIII, 52) confirm without a shadow of doubt that the operations of setting up and taking down the mast were customary at the beginning and the end of each mission.

More generally speaking, apart from the respective mythologies, remarkable parallels are found between the customs of the Achaeans and those of the populations of Northern Europe, although they are separated by almost 3000 years. The systems of social relations, interests and lifestyles of the Homeric world and Viking society, despite the elapsed years, are surprisingly similar. For instance, the «agorà», the public assembly in the Homeric world, corresponds to the «thing» of the Vikings: this was the most important political moment in the running of the community for both peoples. In his turn, Tacitus informs us that at his time the northern populations held public assemblies (Germania, chap. 11), that appear to be very similar to the «thing» (therefore, to the «agorà», too). In a word, the parallels between the Homeric Achaeans, who lived during the Bronze Age, the Germans of the Roman period, and the Medieval Vikings testify to the continuity of the Northern world throughout the ages.

We should note that many Homeric peoples, as the Danaans, Pelasgians, Dorians, Curetes, Lybians and Lapithae, whose traces are not found in the Mediterranean, probably still exist in the Baltic world: they find their present counterparts in the Danes, Poles, Thuringians, Kurlandians, Livonians and Lapps (this identification is supported by their respective geographic locations). Moreover, both poems mention the Sintians, mythical inhabitants of Lemnos who were linked with the smith god Hephaestus (Il., I, 594; Od., VIII, 294): their name is exactly the same as today’s Sintians, i.e. a tribe of Gypsies’, who traditionally are metalworkers and coppersmiths. We also note a possible relationship between the «Argives», another name for the Achaeans, «Argeioi» in Greek -i.e. (V)argeioi, considering the usual loss of the initial V (the «digamma») in the Homeric language- and the “Varangians” (Swedish Vikings).

As regards the Homeric DanaansDànaioi» in Greek, who were also Achaeans), at the beginning of the Gesta Danorum, Saxo Grammaticus states that «Dudon, who wrote a story about Aquitania, believes that the Danes owe their origins and name to the Danaans» (I, I, 1). This comparison has hitherto been interpreted as a means of exalting the origin of the Danes, but now one could start to see them in a new light. If we still dwell upon the digamma, we should consider now the relationship between the Greek words «areté» (valour) and «àte» (fault or error) and their Latin counterparts «virtus» and «vitium» respectively (apart from the initial V, the vowels A and I are often interchangeable: for example, «ambush» corresponds to the Italian «imboscata»). By applying the same alteration (i.e. A→VI) to the name of the AchaeansAchaioi» in Greek), we get the word “Vikings”. In a word, Argeioi, Danaioi, and Achaioi, i.e. the three main names Homer gives the peoples comprising the protagonists of his poems, possibly came down to modern times as Varangians, Danes, and Vikings (never found in the Mediterranean area, even in ancient times) respectively.

Here, therefore, is the “secret” which is hidden inside Homer’s poems and is responsible for all the oddities of Homeric geography: the Trojan War and the other events Greek mythology handed down were not set in the Mediterranean, but in the Baltic area, i.e. the primitive home of the blond, «long-haired» Achaeans (the Odyssey claims that Ulysses was fair-haired; XIII, 399; XIII, 431). On this subject, the distinguished Swedish scholar, Professor Martin P. Nilsson, in his works reports considerable archaeological evidence uncovered in the Mycenaean sites in Greece, corroborating their northern origin. Some examples are: the existence of a large quantity of baltic amber in the most ancient Mycenaean tombs in Greece (which is not to be ascribed to trade, because the amber is very scarce in the coeval Minoan tombs in Crete as well as in later graves on the continent); the typically Northern features of their architecture (the Mycenaean megaron is identical to the hall of the ancient Scandinavian Kings); the similarity of two stone slabs found in a tomb in Dendra with the menhirs known from the Bronze Age of Central Europe; the Northern-type skulls found in the necropolis of Kalkani, etc.. Moreover, Aegean art and Scandinavian remains dating back to the Bronze Age present a remarkable affinity -for example, the figures engraved on Kivik’s tomb in Sweden- so much so that a 19th century scholar suggested the monument was built by the Phoenicians.

Another sign of the Achaean presence in the Northern world in a very distant past is a Mycenaean graffito found in the megalithic complex of Stonehenge in Southern England. Other remains revealing the Mycenaean influence were found in the same area (“Wessex culture”), which date back to a period preceding the Mycenaean civilization in Greece. A trace of contact is found in the Odyssey, which mentions a market for bronze placed overseas, in a foreign country, named «Temese», never found in the Mediterranean area. Since bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, which in the North is only found in Cornwall, it is very likely that the mysterious Temese corresponds to the Thames, named «Tamesis» or «Tamensim» in ancient times. So, following Homer, we learn that, during the Bronze Age, the ancient Scandinavians used to sail to Temese-Thames, «placed overseas in a foreign country», to supply themselves with bronze.

This theory -which has already undergone a positive check by means of inspections carried out on the territories concerned, and meets Popper’s requirement on “falsifiability”- solves many other problems, such as the backwardness of the Homeric civilization compared to the Mycenaeans’; the absence of reference to seafaring and Greek mythology in the Minoan-Cretan world; the inconsistencies between the morphology of several Homeric cities, such as Mycenae and Calydon, and their Greek namesakes; the absurdities concerning the regions of the Peloponnese, and the distance of the allies of the Trojans from the Dardanelles area, and so on. We should also note that oxen are of the utmost importance in the Homeric world: this is the yet further evidence that we are not dealing with a Greek setting, undoubtedly more suitable for goats than oxen, but with a Northern one. Moreover, in a Greek environment one would expect a surfeit of pottery, but this is not the case: in both poems tableware is made solely of metal or wood, while pottery is absent. The poet talks of metal vases, usually of gold or silver.

For example, in Ulysses’s palace in Ithaca,

«a maid came to pour water from a beautiful
golden jug into a silver basin
» (Od., I, 136-137).

People poured wine «into gold goblets» (Od., III, 472) and «gold glasses» (Od., I, 142). Lamps (Od., XIX, 34), cruets (Od., VI, 79) and urns, like the one (Il., XXIII, 253) containing Patroclus’s bones, were made of gold. The vessels used for pouring wine were also of metal: when one of them fell to the ground, instead of breaking, it «boomed» (Od., XVIII, 397). In a word, on the one hand, the Homeric poems do not mention any ceramic pottery, which is typical of the Mediterranean world, but, on the other, they are strikingly congruent with the Northern world, where scholars find a stable and highly advanced bronze founding industry, compared to the pottery one, which was far more modest. As to the poor, they used wooden jugs (Od., IX, 346; XVI, 52), i.e. the cheapest and most natural form of vessel, considering the abundance of this material in the North: Esthonia and Latvia have a very ancient tradition of wooden beer tankards.

Therefore, it was along the Baltic coast that Homer’s events took place, before the Mycenaean migration southwards, in the 16th century B. C.. This period is close to the end of an exceptionally hot climate that had lasted several thousands of years, the “post-glacial climatic optimum”. It corresponds to the Atlantic phase of the Holocene, when temperatures in northern Europe were much higher than today (at that time the broad-leaved forests reached the Arctic Circle and the tundra disappeared even from the northernmost areas of Europe). The “climatic optimum” reached its peak around 2500 B. C. and began to drop around 2000 B. C. (“Sub-Boreal phase”), until it came to an end some centuries later. It is highly likely that this was the cause that obliged the Achaeans to move down to the Mediterranean for this reason. They probably followed the Dnieper river down to the Black Sea, as the Vikings (whose culture is, in many ways, quite similar) did many centuries later. The Mycenaean civilisation, which did not originate in Greece, was thus born and went on to flourish from the 16th century B. C., soon after the change in North European climate.

The migrants took their epos and geography along with them and attributed the same names they had left behind in their lost homeland to the various places where they eventually settled. This heritage was immortalized by the Homeric poems and Greek mythology (the latter lost the memory of the great migration from the North probably after the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, around the 12th century B. C., but kept a vague memory of its “hyperborean” links). Moreover, they renamed with Baltic names not only the new countries where they settled, but also other Mediterranean regions, such as Libya, Crete and Egypt, thus creating an enormous “geographical misunderstanding” which has lasted until now. The above-mentioned transpositions of Northern place-names were certainly encouraged, if not suggested, by a certain similarity (which the Mycenaeans realized owing to their inclination for seafaring) between Baltic geography and that of the Aegean: we only have to think of the analogy Öland-Euboea or Zealand-Peloponnese (where they were obliged to force the concept of island in order to maintain the original layout). The increasing presence of Greek-speaking populations in the Mediterranean basin, with their cultural and trade supremacy, later consolidated this phenomenon, from the time of Mycenaean civilization to the Hellenistic-Roman period.

In short, besides the geographic correspondences, in favour of this theory there is the remarkable temporal concurrence between the end of the “climatic optimum” in northern Europe and the settling of the Mycenaeans in the Aegean area. We should also note that a catastrophic event happened at that time: we refer to the eruption of the volcano of Thera (Santorini), around the year 1630 B. C., which presumably extinguished the Minoan civilization in Crete and certainly had severe climatic consequences worldwide (traces of it were found even in the annual rings of very ancient American trees), giving rise to atmospheric phenomena which must have terrorized the Bronze Age civilizations in Northern Europe. If we consider that the “optimum” had begun to decline some centuries before, this event probably started, or quickened, the final collapse.

This is the same age as the arising of Aryan, Hyksos, Hittite and Cassite settlements in India, Egypt, Anatolia and Mesopotamia respectively. In a word, the end of the “climatic optimum” can explain the cause of the contemporary migrations of other Indo-European populations (following a recent research carried on by Prof. Jahanshah Derakhshani of Teheran University, the Hyksos very likely belong to the Indo-European family). The original homeland of the Indo-Europeans was probably located in the furthest north of Europe, when the climate was much warmer than today’s. However, on the one hand G. B. Tilak in The Arctic home of the Vedas claims the Arctic origin of the Aryans, “cousins” of the Achaeans, on the other both Iranian and Norse mythology remember that the original homeland was destroyed by cold and ice. It is also remarkable that, following Tilak (The Orion), the original Aryan civilization flourished in the «Orionic period», when the constellation of Orion marked the spring equinox. It happened in the period from 4000 up to 2500 B. C., corresponding to the peak of the “climatic optimum”.

We also note the presence of a population known as the Tocharians in the Tarim Basin (northwest China) from the beginning of the 2nd millennium B. C. They spoke an Indo-European language and were tall, blond with Caucasian features. This dating provides us with yet another confirmation of the close relationship between the decline of the “climatic optimum” and the Indo-European diaspora from Scandinavia and other Northern regions. In this picture, it is amazing that the Bronze Age starts in China just between the 18th and the 16th centuries B. C. (Shang dynasty). We should note that the Chinese pictograph indicating the king is called «wang», which is very similar to the Homeric term «anax», i.e. “the king” (corresponding to «wanax» in Mycenaean Linear B tablets).

On the other hand, the terms «Yin» and «Yang» (which express two complementary principles of Chinese philosophy: Yin is feminine, Yang masculine) could be compared with the Greek roots «gyn-» and «andr-» respectively, which also refer to the “woman” and the “man” («anér edé gyné», “man and woman”, Od., VI, 184). Moreover, it is no accident that in this period the Steppe peoples -the Scythians, as the Greeks used to call them- who were blond or red-haired, flourished in the area where the Volga and the Dnieper run, the rivers that played such an important role as trade and transit routes between north and south. A passage from Herodotus about the origin of the Scythians corroborates this picture:

«They say that 1000 years elapsed from their origin and their first king Targitaos to Darius’s expedition against them» (History, IV, 7).

As this expedition dates back to 514 B. C., their origin would thus date back to the 16th century B. C., i.e. the epoch of the Mycenaean migration. One could venture to include in this picture the Olmecs also. They seem to have reached the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico in about the same period; thus, one could infer that they were a population who had formerly lived in the extreme north of the Americas (being connected to the Indo-European civilization through the Arctic Ocean, which was not frozen at that time), and then moved to the South when the climate collapsed (this, of course, could help to explain certain similarities with the Old World, apart from other possible contacts).

Returning to Homer, this reconstruction not only explains the extraordinary consistency between the Baltic-Scandinavian context and Homer’s world (compared to all the contradictions, over which the ancient Greek scholars racked their brains in vain, arising when one tries to place the Homeric geography in the Mediterranean), but also clarifies why the latter was decidedly more archaic than the Mycenaean civilization. Evidently, the contact with the refined Mediterranean and Eastern cultures favoured its rapid evolution, also considering their marked inclination for trade and seafaring which pervades not only the Homeric poems, but also all Greek mythology. Furthermore, this thesis fits in very well with the strong seafaring characterisation of the Mycenaeans. As a matter of fact, archaeologists confirm that the latter had been intensely practicing seafaring from their settling in Greece (their trade stations are found in many Mediterranean shores). Therefore, they had inherited a tradition dating back to a long time before, which implies that their original land lay near the sea. Further, the northern features of their architecture and their own physical traits fit in perfectly with the parallels between Homeric and Norse myths, which not only possess extremely archaic features, but also are of an undeniably seafaring nature. This is hard to explain with the current hypotheses about the continental origin of the Indo-Europeans, whereas the remains found in England fit in very well with the idea of a previous coastal homeland (by associating this with the typically northern features of their architecture we remove any doubt as to their place of origin).

Many signs prove the antiquity of the two poems and their temporal incongruity with Greek culture (this also explains why any reliable information regarding the author, or authors, of the poems had been lost before classical times), showing that they in fact belong to a “barbaric” European civilization, very far from the Aegean, as has been noticed by authoritative scholars, such as Prof. Stuart Piggott in his Ancient Europe. Moreover, Radiocarbon dating, corrected with dendrochronology (i.e. tree-ring calibration) has recently questioned the dogma of the Eastern origin of European civilization. Prof. Colin Renfrew describes the consequences for traditional chronology:

«These changes bring with them a whole series of alarming reversals in chronological relationships. The megalithic tombs of western Europe now become older than the Pyramids or the round tombs of Crete, their supposed predecessors. The early metal-using cultures of the Balkans antedate Troy and the early bronze age Aegean, from which they were supposedly derived. And in Britain, the final structure of Stonehenge, once thought to be the inspiration of Mycenaean architectural expertise, was complete well before the Mycenaean civilization began» (Before civilization, the radiocarbon revolution and prehistoric Europe, chap. 4, “The Tree-ring Calibration of Radiocarbon”).

Consequently, Prof. Renfrew goes so far as to say:

«The whole carefully constructed edifice comes crashing down, and the story-line of the standard textbooks must be discarded» (Before civilization, chap. 5, “The Collapse of the Traditional Framework”).

To conclude, this key could allow us to easily open many doors that have been shut tight until now, as well as to consider the age-old question of the Indo-European diaspora from a new perspective.


Felice Vinci

vendredi, 10 décembre 2010

La triade homérienne

La triade homérienne

par Dominique VENNER

Ex: http://engarda.hautetfort.com/

homere.jpgPour les Anciens, Homère était « le commencement, le milieu et la fin ». Une vision du monde et même une philosophie se déduisent implicitement de ses poèmes. Héraclite en a résumé le socle cosmique par une formulation bien à lui : « L’univers, le même pour tous les êtres, n’a été créé par aucun dieu ni par aucun homme ; mais il a toujours été, est et sera feu éternellement vivant… »

1. La nature comme socle

Chez Homère, la perception d’un cosmos incréé et ordonné s’accompagne d’une vision enchantée portée par les anciens mythes. Les mythes ne sont pas une croyance, mais la manifestation du divin dans le monde. Les forêts, les roches, les bêtes sauvages ont une âme que protège Artémis (Diane pour les Romains). La nature tout entière se confond avec le sacré, et les hommes n’en sont pas isolés. Mais elle n’est pas destinée à satisfaire leurs caprices. En elle, dans son immanence, ici et maintenant, ils trouvent en revanche des réponses à leurs angoisses :

« Comme naissent les feuilles, ainsi font les hommes. Les feuilles, tour à tour, c’est le vent qui les épand sur le sol et la forêt verdoyante qui les fait naître quand se lèvent les jours du printemps. Ainsi des hommes : une génération naît à l’instant où une autre s’efface » (Iliade, VI, 146). Tourne la roue des saisons et de la vie, chacun transmettant quelque chose de lui-même à ceux qui vont suivre, assuré ainsi d’être une parcelle d’éternité. Certitude affermie par la conscience du souvenir à laisser dans la mémoire du futur, ce que dit Hélène dans l’Iliade : « Zeus nous a fait un dur destin afin que nous soyons plus tard chantés par les hommes à venir » (VI, 357-358). Peut-être, mais la gloire d’un noble nom s’efface comme le reste. Ce qui ne passe pas est intérieur, face à soi-même, dans la vérité de la conscience : avoir vécu noblement, sans bassesse, avoir pu se maintenir en accord avec le modèle que l’on s’est fixé.

2. L’excellence comme but

A l’image des héros, les hommes véritables, nobles et accomplis (kalos agatos), cherchent dans le courage de l’action la mesure de leur excellence (arétê), comme les femmes cherchent dans l’amour ou le don de soi la lumière qui les fait exister. Aux uns et aux autres, importe seulement ce qui est beau et fort. « Etre toujours le meilleur, recommande Pelée à son fils Achille, l’emporter sur tous les autres » (Iliade, VI, 208). Quand Pénélope se tourmente à la pensée que son fils Télémaque pourrait être tué par les “prétendants” (usurpateurs), ce qu’elle redoute c’est qu’il meurt « sans gloire », avant d’avoir accompli ce qui ferait de lui un héros à l’égal de son père (Odyssée, IV, 728). Elle sait que les hommes ne doivent rien attendre des dieux et n’espérer d’autre ressource que d’eux-mêmes, ainsi que le dit Hector en rejetant un présage funeste : « Il n’est qu’un bon présage, c’est de combattre pour sa patrie » (Iliade, XII, 243). Lors du combat final de l’Iliade, comprenant qu’il est condamné par les dieux ou le destin, Hector s’arrache au désespoir par un sursaut d’héroïsme tragique : « Eh bien ! non, je n’entends pas mourir sans lutte ni sans gloire, ni sans quelque haut fait dont le récit parvienne aux hommes à venir » (XXII, 304-305).

3. La beauté comme horizon

L’Iliade commence par la colère d’Achille et se termine par son apaisement face à la douleur de Priam. Les héros d’Homère ne sont pas des modèles de perfection. Ils sont sujets à l’erreur et à la démesure en proportion même de leur vitalité. Pour cette raison, ils tombent sous le coup d’une loi immanente qui est le ressort des mythes grecs et de la tragédie. Toute faute comporte châtiment, celle d’Agamemnon comme celle d’Achille. Mais l’innocent peut lui aussi être soudain frappé par le sort, comme Hector et tant d’autres, car nul n’est à l’abri du tragique destin. Cette vision de la vie est étrangère à l’idée d’une justice transcendantale punissant le mal ou le péché. Chez Homère, ni le plaisir, ni le goût de la force, ni la sexualité ne sont jamais assimilés au mal. Hélène n’est pas coupable de la guerre voulue par les dieux (Iliade, III, 161-175). Seuls les dieux sont coupables des fatalités qui s’abattent sur les hommes. Les vertus chantées par Homère ne sont pas morales mais esthétiques. Il croit à l’unité de l’être humain que qualifient son style et ses actes. Les hommes se définissent donc au regard du beau et du laid, du noble et du vil, non du bien ou du mal. Ou, pour dire les choses autrement, l’effort vers la beauté est la condition du bien. Mais la beauté n’est rien sans loyauté ni vaillance. Ainsi Pâris ne peut être vraiment beau puisqu’il est couard. Ce n’est qu’un bellâtre que méprise son frère Hector et même Hellène qu’il a séduite par magie. En revanche, Nestor, en dépit de son âge, conserve la beauté de son courage. Une vie belle, but ultime du meilleur de la philosophie grecque, dont Homère fut l’expression primordiale, suppose le culte de la nature, le respect de la pudeur (Nausicaa ou Pénélope), la bienveillance du fort pour le faible (sauf dans les combats), le mépris pour la bassesse et la laideur, l’admiration pour le héros malheureux. Si l’observation de la nature apprend aux Grecs à mesurer leurs passions, à borner leurs désirs, l’idée qu’ils se font de la sagesse avant Platon est sans fadeur. Ils savent qu’elle est associée aux accords fondamentaux nés d’oppositions surmontées, masculin et féminin, violence et douceur, instinct et raison. Héraclite s’était mis à l’école d’Homère quand il a dit : « La nature aime les contraires : c’est avec elle qu’elle produit l’harmonie. »

Dominique Venner, « La Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire », n°43, juillet-août 2009. Mis en ligne sur le site de Dominique Venner.


dimanche, 13 juin 2010

L'Iliade et nous

L’Iliade et nous

par Claude BOURRINET

iliada.jpgLe monde homérique est un rêve. Et comme tout rêve, il est ce que nous possédons de plus intime et de plus lointain. Rien n’est plus légitime, pour les historiens, d’y chercher des indices de réalité. Je veux parler des reflets déformés, anachroniques ou non, de relations économiques, sociales, humaines, qui traduisent des conditions de civilisations entremêlées, entre la période mycénienne – et même avant, jusqu’aux souvenirs du monde minoen – et la fin de l’âge sombre, de 1500 à 750 avant notre ère, environ. L’érudition a ses raisons, et il est donné à notre âge scientiste de considérer un legs poétique comme un document d’étude à peu près comme un autre.

C’est évidemment une grave erreur, inévitable.

Les Hellènes ne considéraient pas l’Iliade et l’Odyssée ainsi, bien que les Alexandrins, rompus à la pédante habitude d’anatomiser les textes, les eussent alourdis d’exégèses allégoriques et de commentaires moralisateurs. Avant eux, Platon avait mis en garde : il dit, dans La République, qu’Homère « est l’instituteur de la Grèce et que pour l’administration et l’éducation des hommes il mérite qu’on le prenne et qu’on l’étudie, et qu’on règle selon ses préceptes toute sa conduite ». Il est vrai qu’il place cet éloge dans la bouche d’admirateurs que rencontrerait Glaucon, fils d’Ariston, et que lui, le philosophe des Idées, préférait « se souvenir qu’en fait de poésie il ne faut admettre dans la cité que des hymnes aux dieux et des éloges des gens de bien. »

Ce qui, il faut en convenir, constitue un programme certes admirable, mais fort réduit dans son ambition de rendre compte du monde, et tout autant limité dans ses qualités imaginatives, sans évoquer pour l’instant la réelle efficacité d’une telle manière d’aborder la création artistique, la poiêsis.

Comme le principe de l’art mimétique prévalut durant presque toute l’histoire de l’Europe, et que l’affirmation horatienne : Ut pictora poiêsis, y présida, il fallut bien qu’il restât quelque séquelle du soupçon jeté par Platon sur l’image, même chez le Poète par excellence, le père de l’Europe, le premier de tous les enchanteurs qui nourrirent l’esprit des Européens. La Fontaine lui-même, qui, pourtant, fit sienne la tentative somme toute assez bien réussie d’une résurrection du langage des dieux, répéta, dans Le Pouvoir des fables, cette dénonciation, pour ainsi dire pascalienne, de l’inévitable divertissement, du fatal détournement, qui fait oublier l’essentiel au peuple, à savoir que Philippe est sur le point d’avaler la Grèce.

À propos d’orateur, il y a, au chant II de l’Iliade, un épisode assez tumultueux où Odusseus (« en colère »), c’est-à-dire Ulysse, remet le demos dans le droit chemin. À notre tour, comme les Hellènes, regardons si nous pouvons trouver dans la fable matière à enseignement.

Rappelons les faits brièvement.

Je laisse de côté la raison ultime de la tuerie et des souffrances sans nom qui allaient suivre la « détestable colère d’Achille », le ressort secret de la Guerre de Troie, le dessein d’un Zeus qui, attentif aux demandes de la Terre, peinant sous le poids d’une humanité trop prolifique, avait décidé de décimer celle-ci par des guerres dévastatrices. Nil novi sub sole, rien de nouveau sous le Soleil, le passé est le miroir du futur. Les voies des dieux étant éternelles, tel sera notre avenir…

La querelle qui oppose Achille à Agamemnon au sujet des captives, Chryséis et Briséis, n’est que prétexte à soutenir son rang et à manifester son orgueil. L’assemblée des Achéens convoquée par le fils de Thétis se contente d’assister à la violente confrontation entre l’Atride et le roi des Myrmidons. Le monde homérique est un univers aristocrate, une cime où évoluent des aigles, une terre impitoyable où se donnent libre cours la férocité et l’avidité, sans rien de « moral », de prédateurs pour lesquels la nature a légué une place de choix. Le demos assiste sans intervenir à ce choc entre Grands. Il n’est que le témoin de ce duel oral, qui pourrait devenir rapidement physique, si n’était la vigilance d’Athéna. L’Iliade, comme l’Odyssée, privilégie le point de vue des nobles. Tout est perçu selon leurs codes. La hiérarchie des valeurs, les notions de convenance et de bienséance dépendent de leur vision du monde. Leur intérêt matériel est mis en parallèle avec leur fonction : il manifeste leur excellence et témoigne de leur bravoure, dont le fruit est le butin et les cadeaux. Nous avons affaire ici à un théâtre tragique, ostentatoire, tourné vers la vie, sensible, à l’extrême, à la caducité de celle-ci, et à la jouissance, sous toutes ses formes, de l’existence. L’éclat de la Geste doit, avant de disparaître dans l’Achéron aux ombres fuyantes et mélancoliques, jeter une lueur divine sur le terrible royaume de la destruction qu’est la Terre des mortels. Une telle destinée n’est réservée qu’à une élite, aux héros. Le « peuple » est inutile pour assurer la reconnaissance de leur valeur. Celle-ci ne peut s’exercer qu’inter pares.

Or, il est singulier, au regard d’un moderne imprégné par le mythe de la démocratie athénienne, de constater qu’une telle logique, qui se trouve aussi dans l’Odyssée, ait pu convenir aux aspirations de l’ensemble des Grecs pendant des siècles, et pas seulement des aristocrates. Il faut croire que ces tendances correspondent à une disposition de l’esprit humain, magnifiquement illustrée par Nietzsche dans son Zarathoustra. La tâche qui nous reviendrait serait de les traduire selon notre situation, qui est celle d’un monde dégénéré. Car le monde d’Homère, qui, déjà, notait combien le monde avait décliné, est mort. Nous sommes dans l’univers du dernier homme. Et pourtant, l’Iliade nous tient un langage que nous pouvons encore comprendre, qui va droit au cœur des êtres bien nés. Qui ne vivrait encore avec le chant du Poète, qui n’a guère son égal ? Il suffit de lire, même en français. Résonne alors un timbre sublime dans l’âme du lecteur, et les vibrations rehaussent le cœur.

Le chant II présente une assemblée encore plus chaotique que la précédente, celle du chant I. L’acteur principal de cet épisode est Ulysse. Nous allons nous attarder particulièrement sur la signification d’une péripétie, qui commence comme une farce, puisque Agamemnon, trompé par le Songe, messager de Zeus, est pris au mot lorsque, voulant imprudemment mettre à l’épreuve les Achéens, les hommes de troupe, pris de panique, se précipitent vers leurs nefs pour rejoindre leurs patries.

Ulysse, donc, désespérant de l’évolution d’une situation qui semble mettre fin à l’aventure troyenne, inspiré par Athéna, réagit vivement.

Son comportement obéit à deux systèmes de représentation : qu’il ait affaire aux pairs, il agit avec courtoisie, mais fermeté ; qu’il soit en présence du demos, il réagit plus brutalement, usant du sceptre d’Agamemnon comme d’une trique, un peu comme frère Jean des Entommeures se saisit du « baston de la croix, qui estoit de cueur de cormier, long comme une lance, rond à plain poing et quelque peu semé de fleurs de lys », pour donner sur les ennemis qui pillaient les vignes du Seigneur.

Arrêtons-nous sur cette figure du sceptre, emblème de roi et d’orateur.

Celui que tient Ulysse n’est pas n’importe lequel : c’est celui « que jadis a ouvré le labeur d’Héphaïstos. Celui-ci l’a remis à sire Zeus, fils de Cronos. Zeus alors l’a remis au Messager, Tueur d’Argos. Sire Hermès l’a remis à Pélops, piqueur de cavales. À son tour, Pélops l’a remis à Atrée, le pasteur d’hommes. Atrée mourant l’a laissé à Tyeste riche en troupeaux. Et Tyeste, à son tour, le laisse aux mains d’Agamemnon… ».

Si l’accent est mis sur l’origine de cet instrument hautement politique qu’est le sceptre, c’est qu’il permet d’appréhender une dimension de la prise de parole devant une assemblée que nous avons perdue avec la démocratisation de l’expression publique et la confusion des voix. Or, le politique pose des questions essentielles, souvent inavouées, liées à l’organisation de la société. Qui doit parler ? Qui possède un statut tel qu’il est naturel, convenable et incontestable qu’il en soit ainsi ? Le caractère inviolable de celui qui tient le sceptre rappelle ce privilège du tribun romain. Nous ne sommes pas ici dans le cas contemporain où le politique se trouve laïcisé, désacralisé, profané. Dans le monde archaïque d’Homère, la légitimité politique vient dans haut. Le mana du sceptre est d’origine divine, et ne puise pas sa puissance de l’assentiment du peuple. En fait, la démocratie donne l’illusion d’un pouvoir qui se passe bien d’une telle onction. Seulement, ce n’est qu’une illusion. Les Athéniens confiaient l’élection de leurs représentants au hasard. Ce n’était pas mal trouvé, si le hasard est le jouet des dieux. Nous faisons, quant à nous, comme s’ils étaient choisis par la libre volonté du peuple, comme si la libre volonté existait, sans parler du peuple, qui n’est qu’une hypothèse idéologique. Dans la réalité, la classe politique contemporaine n’est qu’une parodie de noblesse, qui se coopte hypocritement, et joue une pièce qui n’a certes pas la grandeur de celles de jadis. Autres temps, autres mœurs…

Si le sceptre est l’expression et l’illustration matérielle du politique, cela signifie qu’il traduit le monopole de la parole et celui de la violence. Tout pouvoir étatique, même embryonnaire, se réfère à ces deux compétences. Que fait Ulysse ? Il remet à la raison les rois et les héros, avec des termes persuasifs, « avec des mots apaisants », usant tour à tour de l’éloge et de la crainte. En revanche, quand il croise un « homme du peuple », du demos, il le frappe avec le sceptre et le remet à sa place, pour employer une formule triviale mais très vraie dans ce cas-là. « Chacun ne va pas devenir roi, ici, parmi nous, les Achéens », profère-t-il dans une profession de foi antidémocratique. « Avoir trop de chefs ne vaut rien : qu’un seul soit chef, qu’un seul soit roi… », ajoute-t-il. Et l’aède de conclure : « Ainsi il parle en chef et remet l’ordre au camp. »

Encore faut-il faire la part entre deux catégories au sein du peuple. Car intervient Thersite. Dans un monde où l’apparence est reine, il paraît normal que celui-ci soit pourvu, à l’encontre des héros, d’attributs physiques rédhibitoires, frisant la caricature. Son comportement aussi est inspiré par la haine des Grands, la jalousie, le ressentiment et la tentation de la désertion. Il est, pour ainsi dire, un subversif, un révolutionnaire, un bolchevik. Il souhaite presque la défaite de son propre pays. Au moins ne fera-t-il rien pour sa victoire, qui n’est pas la sienne, mais celle des aristocrates, « qui s’en mettent plein les poches ». Ulysse n’est pas tendre avec lui car, non content de l’agonir d’injures, il le corrige sévèrement, suscitant en même temps chez les autres pitié et contentement.

Il est utile de s’arrêter un moment pour peser cette anecdote très significative. La guerre, avant l’avènement de la cité-État grecque, la polis, relève d’un projet personnel. C’est parce qu’Hélène avait suivi, de grès ou de force, Alexandre Pâris à Troie qu’Agamemnon, pour venger Ménélas, avait rameuté un certain nombre de « rois », qui étaient soit des vassaux, soit des alliés, soit de simples aventuriers. Il ne s’agit pas à proprement parler d’une guerre nationale, car dans le monde homérique, c’est la famille qui prévaut, ou bien l’oïkos, c’est-à-dire ce que sera la « villa » latine, une cellule économique autarcique fondée sur des relations d’interdépendances fortes et hiérarchisées, un monde organique solidaire. Bien sûr, derrière le prétexte passionnel, il y a la rapacité : la guerre est pourvoyeuse de butin autant que de mort. C’est une occasion de s’enrichir. Mais c’est une affaire privée, et, à ce titre, le peuple (celui qui ne fait pas partie des troupiers, « serviteurs » (thérapôn) qui font le voyage guerrier, comme Mérion, thérapôn du roi Idoméné de Crète), la perçoit avec une certaine indifférence, pourvu qu’elle n’ait pas trop d’incidences dans sa propre existence. Le seul cas où il se trouve dans la nécessité d’y participer est lorsque la survie même de la communauté est en question, comme c’est le sort de Troie. Alors le peuple participe aux combats, d’une façon ou d’une autre. C’est une guerre totale.

Dans les temps modernes, les progrès de l’idée républicaine ont conduit à la l’idée de conscription, et à la guerre telle que nous en avons vu les ravages durant les deux dernières guerres mondiales. Dans l’avenir, étant donné que les conflits sont de plus en plus pris en charge par des professionnels et des techniciens, l’implication du « peuple » devient un paramètre de plus en plus malaisé à situer, si l’on écarte sa fonction invariable de servir de cible. Et dans le contexte actuel de mondialisation des oligarchies et des interventions militaires aux buts confus, la question est de savoir s’il est légitime de donner son assentiment à des actions guerrières qui paraissent ne satisfaire que les intérêts d’une pseudo-noblesse, en fait d’une ploutocratie, qui n’a rien à voir avec l’aristocratie achéenne. La question se pose évidemment autrement pour un soldat qui, sur le théâtre des opérations, est guidé par le sentiment de l’honneur et le sens de la camaraderie. Cependant, une telle réflexion doit être menée, car il n’est pas impossible qu’à un certain moment il ne faille prendre des résolument singulièrement concrètes.

Une fois l’ordre établi et l’assistance attentive, Ulysse prend la parole. Songeons qu’Ulysse n’a pas bonne presse dans la mémoire grecque et occidentale. Comme le déclare Philoctète, dans la pièce éponyme de Sophocle : « Il a toujours à la bouche, je le sais, le mensonge et la fourberie. » Aussi est-il un personnage ambivalent, quelque peu oriental dans sa gouaille et l’agilité de sa langue. Athéna le loue de savoir mentir. Il trompe Polyphème, le Cyclope. Il est celui qui use de cette faculté que les Grecs appellent la Métis, l’intelligence pratique, ou l’ingéniosité rusée. Après que Zeus eut avalé celle-ci, le père des dieux engendra Athéna de son crâne fendu par Héphaïstos. La déesse, chaste et guerrière, est la protectrice du Seigneur d’Ithaque, qui échappe à l’opprobre liée à l’emploi du mensonge grâce à son caractère héroïque. Ne réagit-il pas vivement, chez les Phéaciens, à la cour du roi Alcinoos, lorsqu’un noble insinue qu’il ressemblerait plutôt à un marchand phénicien (universellement méprisés) qu’à un héros ? Ulysse n’est pas couard, ni efféminé comme Pâris. Il ne trompe pas comme les négociants qui parcourent les mers en quête de bonnes affaires et qui manient tous les moyens de persuasion pour des buts mercantiles. Sa fourberie provient d’un esprit qui demeure paysan. Combien la bourde de Glaucos, qui échange, au nom des liens d’hospitalité, son armure d’or contre l’armure de bronze de Diomède (« habile comme un dieu ») est-elle susceptible d’être contée aux jeunes et aux anciens, autour de l’âtre, comme une bonne blague et une excellente affaire ? Il est vrai aussi que le monde des dieux n’est pas exempt de fourberies diverses. Quant à l’éthique guerrière, elle s’accommode de la ruse, non de celle de l’archet qui se cache pour décocher un carreau mortel, mais de celle que force la nécessité, Ulysse ayant par exemple à faire face à d’innombrables prétendants sans scrupule, ou qui relève d’une tactique militaire éprouvée : personne dans l’antiquité grecque n’aurait osé médire les Lacédémonien pour avoir mimé la fuite devant les Mèdes avant de retourner brusquement  les rangs serrés d’Hoplites pour massacrer l’ennemi approché trop près.

Il n’en demeure pas moins que le monde héroïque est solidement fondé sur la franchise, celle que la force librement déployée manifeste, la loyauté et la droiture.

Ulysse fait partie de cette catégorie de personnages, comme Nestor, à qui il a été accordé en plus de la prudence (la sagesse) l’art de la persuasion, notamment « politique ». Dans l’Odyssée, l’omniprésence des navires constitue un symbole. On sait que pour Platon, ce motif devint un exemplum philosophique. Ulysse commande, dirige, tente même des expériences lors de l’épisode des sirènes. Il n’est pas toujours obéi, loin de là. Ses compagnons sont ainsi tous tués pour avoir sacrifié les bœufs du dieu Soleil, Hélios, malgré les avis de leur chef.

Dans le chant II de l’Iliade, le futur concepteur du cheval dit « de Troie » s’adresse à des amis, non à ennemis. Une empathie virtuelle existe autour de valeurs communes, que son discours va explicitées (ces valeurs étant au demeurant partagées tout autant par les Troyens). Le résultat est atteint, car, à la fin de la harangue, « les Argiens poussent un grand cri, et les nefs, à l’entour, terriblement résonnent de la clameur des Achéens, qui applaudissent tous à l’avis du divin Ulysse », réaction populaire qui fait penser à celle produite par le discours de Marc Antoine, après l’assassinat de César, discours qui se déploie sur le même registre émotionnel.

Sur quoi insiste en substance ce discours ? D’abord sur le sentiment de honte : celle d’humilier son seigneur, d’avoir manqué à « la promesse qu’ils t’[Agamemnon] ont faite », de détruire Ilion. Celle de se comporter comme des « jeunes enfants ou des veuves » (c’est-à-dire des êtres sans grande importance dans un monde de guerriers). Le deuxième point, après la captatio benevolentiae, qui repose sur une certaine compréhension des souffrances endurées, est l’appel à la mémoire collective. L’orateur narre longuement un prodige (une mère oiseau dévorée avec ses huit petits par un serpent bientôt pétrifié par Zeus) s’étant déroulé à Aulis, interprété par le devin Calchas, qui annonçait l’issue heureuse du conflit au bout de dix ans. Muthos signifie parole, récit. Ulysse n’use pas de concepts, d’une explication (déroulement) argumentative rationnelle et serrée. Il utilise la fable (histoire), et pire pour nous, modernes sceptiques et quelque peu voltairiens, le récit d’un « miracle ». Personne ne met en doute la réalité du phénomène, parce que tous ont vu, mais aussi parce qu’un tel fait entre dans l’horizon mental et imaginaire des Grecs de cette époque (par la suite, on abordera le mythe selon deux instances : la croyance populaire, et l’instrumentalisation philosophique, allégorique, plus distanciée). Mais il n’existe pas de point de vue « laïc », dans l’Iliade. La pleine expansion de la vie s’appuie sur son amplification sacralisée dans la sphère divine. La rupture n’a pas encore eu lieu.

Le point commun de ces deux piliers que sont l’honneur et la mémoire est la fidélité : fidélité à un homme, à une parole, aux dieux qui ont fait signe. Les deux strates de réalité, celle des mortels et celle des immortels, sont inextricablement mêlées. Même si les dieux prennent parfois la distance qui est la leur, et laissent parfois entrevoir, dans leurs rires et leurs regards, une réalité cosmique extra humaine, ils prennent part aux circonstances « historiques », et les actes possèdent ainsi une signification qu’on pourrait nommer eschatologique.

Certes, un voltairien soupçonnerait volontiers Ulysse d’avoir berné, mené comme des enfants, les Achéens. Ses dons d’orateur sont ceux que les sophistes cultiveront de façon néfastes chez les rejetons de l’aristocratie athénienne. Ce sont des qualités que les Spartiates mépriseront. Les beaux parleurs ont mauvaise réputation chez les hommes d’action. Sauf quand la rhétorique est dirigée efficacement vers cette même action. Les grands généraux, César, Alexandre, Napoléon, étaient pourvus de ce talent d’entraîneurs d’hommes. Ce qui compte, c’est le résultat, l’efficacité, au demeurant, résidant aussi dans l’expression d’une volonté commune, qui confère au chef une représentativité indiscutable. Les discours rationnels, le logos pesant des arguments élaborés, froids, contrairement à ceux qui expriment violemment passions et affirmation des valeurs, sont, dans l’Iliade, presque aussi inexistants que l’argent. Ulysse ne fait que rappeler franchement le devoir. Dans une société de la honte, il n’est pas besoin de chercher la vérité. Elle est là, éclatante dans la parole déployée, comme le cœur du monde est là, devant les yeux, sous la lumière claire du Soleil.

Dans l’Iliade, on ne se voile que rarement (exception faite d’Ulysse, comme on l’a vu).

Aussi bien, finalement, l’Iliade est-elle moins un rêve qu’un tableau, d’un réalisme cru, de ce qu’était peut-être une société sans beaucoup de fards. Société qui doit beaucoup à la mentalité paysanne : les aristocrates hellènes détestaient la mer, étant des gens de la Terre (même si Homère rejette le culte de Déméter). Thalassa n’est pas un terme d’origine indo-européenne.  Le monde moderne issu de l’individualisme et du culte de l’argent ne peut comprendre combien l’horizon noble rencontre celui du peuple des champs et des montagnes. Les métaphores naturelles très nombreuses dans les deux épopées d’Homère ne sont pas présentes par hasard. Elles relèvent souvent d’un sens aiguisé de l’observation, comme on le voit chez le paysan ou le guerrier.

Reste le problème de l’utilisation du mythe dans l’action politique. Georges Sorel en avait fait un levier pour soulever et renverser le monde bourgeois.

Mais la question demeure de la nature d’un mythe qui réunirait autour de valeurs communes les contempteurs de la société moderne.

Quels sont donc actuellement les mythes assez puissants pour fédérer des groupes ou des nations autour de valeurs communes ?

Claude Bourrinet

Article printed from Europe Maxima: http://www.europemaxima.com

URL to article: http://www.europemaxima.com/?p=224

jeudi, 31 juillet 2008

Omero nel Baltico


Carlo Terracciano




Felice Vinci, Omero nel Baltico

Saggio sulla geografia omerica

Palombi Editori, Roma, 2002 (Terza edizione aggiornata), Pp.512, euro 22,50


Dove era situata veramente l’antica Troia che nell’Iliade destava l’ira funesta del pelìde Achille e di legioni di studenti costretti a studiarne le gesta? In Finlandia, naturalmente..! E Itaca ventosa, patria dell’astuto Ulisse (quello del “cavallo di Troia” appunto), alla quale l’eroe dell’Odissea tornò dopo anni di peregrinazioni per terra e per mare, a compiervi la nota vendetta su quei porci dei Proci, mentre Penelope [non] filava (salvo poi rifuggirsene via verso il folle volo di dantesca memoria)? Ma è ovvio: in Danimarca, patria d’origine di Nessuno ben qualche millennio prima che del principe Amleto. E l’Olimpo? A nord dello Stige e a sud dell’Ade, praticamente… sul Circolo Polare Artico! Per non parlare dell’Eden, della mitica “terra promessa”, stillante latte e miele alla confluenza dei quattro fiumi che si dipartono dal Paradiso Terrestre, il Pison, il Gihon, il Tigri e l’Eufrate; niente a che vedere con il nostro Medio Oriente oggi in fiamme. Qui siamo addirittura poco sotto Capo Nord, in piena Lapponia. Ci sono nella storia dello scibile umano delle opere, teorie, scoperte che improvvisamente ribaltano le conoscenze, presunte,  le radicate convinzioni di generazioni e generazioni durante i  secoli.


E la loro validità è data intuitivamente anche dal fatto che, leggendole come un romanzo appassionante, tutto ci sembra chiaro, lineare, consequenziale; e ci si meraviglia semmai di non averci pensato prima, tanto era evidente (a posteriori) quello che stava sotto gli occhi di tutti e, forse proprio per questo, non si era mai notato.  “Omero nel Baltico” di Felice Vinci (un nome un fato) è una di queste opere che con naturalezza e scientificità ribalta completamente tremila anni di cultura classica euro-mediterranea.  Il contenuto rivoluzionario di questo testo, arrivato in breve alla terza edizione, è sintetizzato dallo stesso autore in poche righe poste all’inizio delle “Conclusioni”: “Il reale scenario dell’Iliade e dell’Odissea è identificabile non nel mar Mediterraneo, ma nel nord dell’Europa. Le saghe che hanno dato origine ai due poemi provengono dal Baltico e dalla Scandinavia, dove nel II millennio a.C. fioriva l’età del bronzo e dove sono tuttora identificabili molti luoghi omerici, fra cui Troia e Itaca; le portarono in Grecia, in seguito al tracollo dell’ "optimum climatico", i grandi navigatori che nel XVI secolo a.C. fondarono la civiltà micenea: essi ricostruirono nel Mediterraneo il loro mondo originario, in cui si era svolta la guerra di Troia e le altre vicende della mitologia greca, e perpetuarono di generazione in generazione, trasmettendolo poi alle epoche successive, il ricordo dei tempi eroici e delle gesta compiute dai loro antenati nella patria perduta.


Ecco, in estrema sintesi, le conclusioni della nostra ricerca”. Un sintetico riassunto di cinquecento fitte pagine frutto di dieci anni di lavoro di un ingegnere romano di cinquantasette anni, appassionato ma critico conoscitore di quei classici sui quali si basa la nostra cultura europea. Felice Vinci prende spunto dalla segnalazione di Plutarco sulla collocazione geografica dell’isola di Ogigia, a lungo dimora di Odisseo trattenutovi dalla dea Calipso, “a cinque giorni dalla Britannia” per iniziare la sua indagine e ribaltare la geografia mediterraneo dei due poemi attribuiti al cieco Omero, ma notoriamente di diversi autori, spostando le gesta guerriere della conquista di Troia ed il viaggio di ritorno a casa di Ulisse dalle nostre latitudini a quelle nordiche: il Baltico in primis, la penisola scandinava, l’estremo nord circumpolare.


Ecco allora che ritroviamo la Colchide , le Sirene, Scilla e Cariddi e la stessa Trinacria lungo le frastagliate coste della Norvegia settentrionale, tra fiordi e la Corrente del Golfo. Mentre le originarie Cipro, Lemno, Chio, il Peloponneso, ma anche Atene o Sparta per fare solo qualche esempio, ritrovano l’originaria collocazione tutt’intorno al Mar Baltico. E Troia dalle imponenti mura, a controllare lo stretto strategico dei Dardanelli, le rotte tra Mar Nero e Mediterraneo? Uno sperduto, tranquillo paesino della Finlandia meridionale, a cento chilometri dalla capitale Helsinki: l’attuale Toija, risvegliata dalla silenziosa quiete plurimillenaria e proiettata da un ingegnere italiano dalle brume dell’oblio sotto i riflettori della cronaca. Più precisamente su un’altura boscosa tra Toija e la vicina Kisko si svolsero le battaglia tra Achei e Troiani per i begli occhi di Elena, anche se bisogna dimenticare le ciclopiche mura dell’area dell’attuale Hissarlik in Turchia e la scoperta di Schliemann, per più modesti fossati e palizzate di solido legno dei boschi circostanti, quelli dei tempi dell’età del bronzo. Biondi guerrieri nordici dagli occhi cerulei, coperti di mantelli e armature adeguate ad un clima non certo mediterraneo, anche se meno rigido dell’attuale, combattevano con spade di bronzo e asce di pietra.


La coalizione di popoli baltici contro Ilio era sbarcata da agili navi con doppia prua che possiamo immaginare molto simili a quelle vichinghe di duemila anni dopo. E non deve sembrare ardita l’ipotesi di marinai e guerrieri che, quattromila anni fa, corrono i flutti oceanici nord-atlantici fino all’Islanda e oltre, se solo si pensa a quello che riuscirono a fare i loro pronipoti vichinghi prima e dopo l’anno Mille; arrivare da una parte in America del nord ( la Groenlandia “Terra verde” e la Vinlandia , “Terra della vite”, a dimostrazione di un breve periodo di mutamento climatico favorevole) e dall’altra attraversare tutta la Russia fino al Mar Nero e Bisanzio. Per non parlare dell’epopea Normanna in Sicilia e nel Mediterraneo.


Oltre allo studio pignolo della toponomastica comparata, il Vinci poggia le basi delle sue straordinarie scoperte non solo sulle concordanze dei nomi, ma anche su solide basi geografiche, morfologiche, climatiche, descrittive, nonché storiche e mitologiche: una cultura di tipo olistico, veramente enciclopedica, che lo porta a smantellare pezzo per pezzo, passo per passo, riferimento per riferimento, mito per mito, l’ambientazione mediterranea dei poemi omerici, per ricollocarli nell’habitat originario, la Scandinavia ed il Baltico appunto. Uno dei punti di riferimento di Vinci è l’opera di Lokamanya Ba˘l Gangâdhar THILAK (1856-1920) il bramino e patriota indiano autore de “La dimora artica dei Veda” e “Orione.


A proposito dell’antichità dei Veda”. Secondo il Tilak il sacro testo dell’India, il più antico, come il popolo che lo creò, avrebbero avuto origine dal Polo Nord, che naturalmente in un lontano passato era terraferma ed aveva una temperatura mite. Uno sconvolgimento climatico forse dovuto allo spostamento dell’asse terrestre costrinse i nostri lontani progenitori, gli Arya, ad una migrazione ovviamente verso sud. Un ramo si diresse verso l’attuale penisola scandinava, la Finlandia ed il Baltico: proprio quello che Felice Vinci identifica con i popoli dell’elenco delle navi dell’Iliade ed i loro avversari alleati dei troiani. Altri rami sarebbero discesi, lungo i fiumi eurosiberiani sempre più a sud e ad est, dando quindi origine alle varie civiltà del Medio Oriente (i Sumeri ?), Persia (l’Avesta è quindi complementare ai Veda, sotto tale aspetto descrittivo di una sede artica originaria), India (con la sovrapposizione alle popolazioni scure precedenti, da cui nascerebbe poi il sistema castale), fino alla Cina e al Giappone (gli Ainu). E si possono ipotizzare anche scenari simili per le Americhe con il successivo sorgere di civiltà come quella Tolteca, Atzeca o pre-incaica del Lago Titicaca. Insomma in uno stesso periodo di tempo sorgono quasi d’incanto civiltà raffinate, templi imponenti, le piramidi, gli imperi da cui proviene la nostra civiltà eurasiatica.


Così i popoli dell’area baltico-nord atlantica, alla fine dell’optimum climatico dell’età del bronzo migrano ad ondate verso i territori più caldi ed il Mediterraneo, ma portandosi appresso la memoria storica delle aree d’origine, le saghe, le leggende, i miti e gli Dei. Un ricordo dei primordi che si riverserà in una trasposizione toponomastica dalle terre originarie  a quelle di nuova acquisizione tutt’attorno al Mediterraneo. Un’operazione di preservazione della propria memoria storica che d’altra parte non poteva essere perfettamente collimante, data la diversità sia geografica che climatica tra i due scenari geopolitici. Per tale motivo troviamo nell’Iliade e nell’Odissea una serie di riferimenti geografici, di collocazioni e ambientazioni completamente fuori luogo rispetto al Mediterraneo, ma che si adattano perfettamente alle latitudini nordiche; e questa è la grande “scoperta” di Felice Vinci destinata a rivoluzionare le nostre conoscenze classiche. E’ più che naturale, quasi ovvio, che un simile ribaltamento dell’impianto dei due poemi epici troverà una chiusura pressoché assoluta nel mondo accademico, tra i professoroni di greco e latino che hanno sempre pontificato sull’argomento.


Questo “Omero nel Baltico” sarà deriso e/o trattato con sprezzante sufficienza, quando non violentemente attaccato, anche perché un profano, un “ingegnere” è arrivato dove i cultori della classicità neanche supponevano si potesse ricercare. Peggio ancora  si tenterà di seppellire queste geniali intuizioni sotto il silenzio. Un’opera di ostracismo culturale già iniziata, se solo si consideri che questo testo così “sconvolgente” e rivoluzionario non è ancora stato neanche preso in considerazione dalla pseudocultura ex-cathedra. E non ultimo anche per certe implicazioni d’ordine storico e politico.


Per fare solo un esempio l’autore, ricollocando all’estremo nord l’area mesopotamica d’origine di Abramo e del monoteismo, la “Terra Promessa”, tende a ridare unità originaria alle stirpi “bibliche”, rispettivamente discese da Sem, Cam e Jafet. Anche il famoso “diluvio universale” potrebbe aver avuto un differente scenario, con la fine dell’optimum climatico, e l’Ararat con la sua Arca incagliata una verosimiglianza maggiore nel mutato contesto fisico e geografico. I cosiddetti “semiti” poi, ebrei compresi, sarebbero loro stessi nordici (a parte la conversione dei Cazari del VII-VIII secolo d.C.) e la loro “terra promessa” non sarebbe quindi la Palestina bensì l’estremo Nord, tra Norvegia e Finlandia: la Lapponia !


Tutto questo, è ovvio, non avrà particolari conseguenze politiche attuali, specie per il povero popolo palestinese d’oggi (i Filistei d’origine indoeuropea); tuttavia, fossi nei panni dei Lapponi, comincerei a preoccuparmi… Comunque sia  la verità di certe scoperte ha una tale forza d’impatto, una tale intrinseca vitalità per cui anche la congiura del silenzio sarà prima o poi destinata ad infrangersi. Lo dimostrano le tre edizioni in brevissimo tempo che hanno fatto di “Omero nel Baltico” un successo editoriale, senza bisogno di molta pubblicità o di una editrice di grido. Il testo di Felice Vinci è anche correlato di numerose cartine geografiche esplicative e, alla fine, di varie pagine di foto anche aeree che ci offrono l’immagine odierna dei luoghi trattati nel testo. Nella pianura ora allagata di Aijala correvano, tra Toija e il mare, gli eserciti di Achei e Troiani, tra un attacco ed una ritirata. Ai piedi di un’altura boscosa della Finlandia meridionale, in vista delle scure acque del Baltico Ettore e Achille si affrontavano 3500 anni or sono  in un epico duello mortale che sarebbe stato cantato attorno al fuoco dagli aedi a venire, fino ad approdare sotto un altro cielo, in un’altra terra, su un altro mare: il nostro, il Mediterraneo.

Carlo Terracciano