weak versus false

It’s interesting to me that the Illiad is really about a few different gods having a fight and then using humans as their pawns. The Trojan War is a relgious war in that sense, but it’s not a religious war in the sense that the Greeks worship the true gods and the Trojans false ones. I wonder if this dynamic of “my deities are stronger than your deities” was a common one in non Judeo-Christian-Muslim cultures. The religions of the book share, in the construction of their monotheism, a fundamental rejection of the validity of other faiths. The idols of others are false idols to false Gods, not weaker ones. In this sense they are fundamentally intolerant religions, at least if you accept the basic axioms.

Lest I get flamed, I want to point out that I’m not claiming that Jews/Christians/Muslims are fundamentally intolerant, nor that they are the only people with intolerant views. It’s just that the rhetoric in this country of Dobson-esque figures makes the GOP out to be Gods Own Party and others as not only wrong, but evil to boot.

0 thoughts on “weak versus false

  1. I believe that the Norse pantheon was the result of several cultures’ mythologies fusing together, hence, for example, some of the Vanir dwelling with the Aesir. The ancient Greeks and Romans also, of course, adopted new gods upon occasion, as well as subsuming the gods of the cultures they conquered into their own pantheon. (“Oh, yeah, well, your goddess Sulis is really just another name for our Minerva, honest….”)

    The Iliad works both ways. It’s about the gods fighting with each other, yes, but the humans aren’t just the gods’ pawns; the spats between the gods are also reflections of the human conflict. And don’t forget that none of the gods were worshipped solely by one side or the other. Athena even punishes one of the Greeks for raping a Trojan in her temple. And theoretically, Poseidon and Apollo should have the same grudge against the Trojans—lack of payment for services rendered—but Apollo is one of the “Trojans'” gods.

    So I wouldn’t say that the Trojan War is a religious war on any scale, in fact, despite the involvement of the gods.

  2. But can’t you read it as a religious war in the sense that this largely secular conflict is mirrored in some religious conflict? I know I’m conflating history with literature, but I guess that if we look at the conflicts writ large as conflicts between culture, it seems that a lot of ancient conflicts are not religiously motivated in the same way that, say, the Crusades were.

    I’m curious as to when this relgion-by-sword thing became fashionable.

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