Idolatry - Paganism

The belated idolaters, the "dodekatheists" (12 gods) as they are known, who have appeared in our time, do not have the simplicity of the lay pagans nor the maturity of those who seriously studied our ancient religion. They are simply intellectual, or pseudo-intellectual, who become rapturous and cause others through vanity to act likewise.

They relate this ancient worship as genuinely Greek, because the Byzantines used to call these idolaters, Greek. Of course the majority of the population of the Empire were Greeks and all adopted the Greek language and education. Justinian the Offender, was the first to call these idolaters Greek, to manipulate the national sentiment towards the religion of idols.

However, only our ancient ancestors can give us the most objective references for the adequacy of idolatry, to satisfy the religious need of the people. The ancient worshipers were attracted by the ethical licentiousness of the ancient gods and the nudity of the statues and other depictions and believed that somehow the debauchery within the religion was legitimized. It is well known however, that all the liberty of the flesh, and "sanctification" of pleasure did not bring the ancient idolaters to a lasting happiness. What is concluded from mythology and ancient tragedy, is that love affairs always led to crime and death. And homosexuality that the ancient worshippers presented as legitimate and ethically acceptable union, ancient Greek mythology includes it within the proven unholy works of men. The completely horrible situation of Idipoda started from (and as a result of) such perversions by Laius. His victim Chrysippus is said to have committed suicide due to his shame.

Of course all this criticism by the ancients on the human ethics did not certainly apply to the gods. The gods of our idolater ancestors and their incomprehensible recent followers showed in the descriptions of mythology, an obscene and inhuman attitude. This can be confirmed directly through a cursory look at mythology. From early times when the fear of the gods dominated the souls of the people, we have articles such as the Homeric Hymns, which expressed the bitter complaints of the people against the gods and their resentment on their fate. Hymns to Apollon, verses 190-193 "they hymn the eternal gifts of the gods, and the torments of the people, for those that are under the power of the people are incapable of thinking and acting, nor can they find a remedy against death or reverse ageing. In all the epic and tragic poetry, the caste of the gods is denounced for their substantial disregard of the fate of the people. In Homer it is written that when the death of Patroclou was greatly mourned by the immortal horses of Achilleus, Zeus not only did he feel sad for the brave man but regretted it angrily because they had granted to a mortal man, those immortal horses and thus forced them to share in the miserable fate of people. This was a most plain theological denunciation by Homer in the Iliad. And in Odyssey we have such references and in fact in 30 Odyssey, a gruesome description in Hades, that is gloomy for all humans, for both the just and the unjust. There people were condemned mercilessly just because they were humans.

Our great authors of tragedy, constantly speak about the inadequacy of the idolatric theology. Eschylus denounces the inhumanity of the gods and prophesies the fall of Zeus. Together with the fall of Zeus, he prophesies his own salvation from his martyrdom he suffered "due to his great love for the people". Chronologically, the end of Zeus authority is set by Eschylus at 13 generations later, namely exactly in the generation and time of the birth of Christ.

It is characteristic of the poet Eschylus, where we find the most condemning stance against the idolatric religion, in him we also find clear prophetic warnings about the future salvation of the human race. Any hope for the torments of Promytheus to cease, rested only if some god came forward and willingly became the bearer of pain and walked in place of man in the "never dawning" hades. It is important to note that all the writings about some hope of man's salvation rested outside the boundaries of idolatry.

We follow the traces of hopelessness of the ancients from their religion through the works of tragedy of poets, for they exhaust their scenarios in mythology, thus expressing the people's view.

The problematic Eurypides on the topic of religion, almost in all his works expresses his revulsion or at least his disappointment for the habits of the gods.

In his drama, Hippolytus for example denounces the great evil ways of Aphrodite who to achieve her plans against Hippolytus, shamefully exterminates Phedra, despite her prior recognition that she was an honourable person. And the disunity of the gods causes disunity of the people. As a result Hippolytus honours purity but hates marriage and the women in general.

In the drama "Helena" he expresses with anger his query on the beautiful Helena, how, while being goddess, she proved  to all the Greeks to be a "traitor, unjust, unfaithful and atheist". The poet declares that although his faith in the existence of gods is not shaken, he cannot say the same about their ethos.

Similarly Bachus  expresses in his drama, which is his last and his last lines of his work and last words of the poet's life, who notes that, "It should be that the gods should not resemble the humans in their wickedness.

More noteworthy though within the whole ancient Greek written works, there are the explicit messianic references by Solon, who describes the expected saviour of mankind as Isaiah of Greece, and like Plato who indicates in his dialogue "Alkiviades II", that he waits the coming of him who will remove the peg from our eyes, so that we can see properly and that we may finally know which God we must worship and with what type of sacrifices.

And the fortune teller Sibylla spoke with surprising prophetic clarity about the expected Messiah. All these expressed the national  view, as was apparent from the altar to the "Unknown God", that impressed the Apostle Paul when he preached in Athens.
     From all these points that were indicatively presented, it confirms that the Greek people from ancient times disclaimed their idolatric religion and because of that, when they were catechized in Christianity they underwrote with faith and martyric enthusiasm the noted act of the death of idolatry.

Since then our nation became immersed in Christianity and considers nothing to be Greek if it not Christian. It struggled hard for the anchoring of Orthodoxy and produced many martyrs for the confirmation of the Christian faith.

Because of this, the belated idolaters are outside the historical reality, they seek a resurrection from death of a utopia and the people characterize them rightly with the Satanists.

Our Church condemns every utopia, prays for the salvation of all the people, of both friends and foes, because man is the real proof of the love of God. May God have mercy on them

Greek Text

From the magazine Theodromia
Practicals of the Scientific Conference at Thessaloniki, 25-27 May 2003
Costas Ganotis
Translation by M.M



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