07 February 2013

The European Spirit

In ancient Greek worship there is revealed to us one of humanity's greatest religious ideas--we make bold to say the religious idea of the European spirit. It is very different from the religious idea of other civilisations, and particularly of those which customarily supply our religious scholarship and philosophy with examples of the origin of religion. But it is essentially related to all genuine thoughts and creations of Hellenism, and is conceived in the same spirit. Like other eternal achievements of the Greeks it stands before humanity large and imperishable. 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. And the figures in which this world was divinely revealed to the Greeks--do they not demonstrate their truth by the fact that they are still alive today, that we still encounter them when we raise ourselves out of petty contraints to an enlarged vision? Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, Dionysus, Aphrodite--wherever the ideas of the Greek spirit are honoured, there we must never forget that these were its greatest ideas, indeed in a sense the totality of its ideas in general; and they will endure as long as the European spirit, which in them has attained its most significant objectivation, is not wholly subjugated to the spirit of the Orient or to that of utilitarian rationality.

The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion, Walter F. Otto (1929)


GSL said...

Excellent post and profound sentiment. Mr. Otto's work now inbound via amazon adding to an impressive amount of shelfspace you have upgraded.

karaoulis said...

Great post. What a pity that today Europe is throwing away its foundation by succumbing to the despotic forces of globalization, turning into a melting pot or should I say an islamic colony, where any reference to tradition is labeled as right wing and even fascist. Because of Marathon,Thermopylae and Salamis,we have Socrates, Plato and Aristotle pushing back the despotic rule of the barbaric east.

v. Braun. said...

Not only his book on the Greek gods but also the one about Dionysos is note-worthy!