Friday, July 14, 2006

Sweetness & Light

Van said... I've been reading this series of post with great interest, but I suspect that you may be overplaying both the Pro's of the Jew's and the Con's of the Greco-Roman's.Recall that both cultures (Jew's & Greeks) were the first to begin to step out of the darkness, the Greeks with Reason, and the Jew's with the poetic idea of Goodness being one, what eventually became monotheism - keep in mind though, that the early Jew's weren't monotheists - they believed there were many God's, they just chose to keep it simple and attach themselves to just one (pardon the cheek).
While the Greeks, and later Roman's acceptance of pederasty is indeed strange, I think if you check deeper into your sources, you'll find that that was more of an aberration of the elite's, sort of like our current elite's adoration of all things "Will & Grace" swishy-ness gone wild. It may get approval in some parts of the city’s but step into the 'burbs and it gets a whole different kind of attention. Still though, it did exist, and accelerated as civilization grew, and that, as well as the norm of making women virtual shut-in's (more among the Greeks, lessening among the Roman's) couldn’t help but have a warpening affect upon their cultures.
I would argue that it was a bit of a vicious circle, in that the Greeks having raised Reason to the center of their admiration, found little of it being evident among their closeted women. I think Men are naturally drawn to femininity, and if the truly feminine - woman - who having been shut-in, demonstrated little or no evidence of their central focus of admiration, Reason, they out of necessity sought substitutes for the idealized mind & body femininity elsewhere, which left children as their hapless and sickening focus.
But cut them some slack, they were the first to step from the darkness and towards "Sweetness & Light"; the practices you mention were EVERYWHERE the norm. History gathers momentum so slowly, it takes a great deal of time to pick up speed. The Greeks, beginning with the philosophers & playwrights of the Periclean age were beginning to question why Woman was thought to be inferior, and in time I think they would have corrected themselves through the implacability of Reason as it continued to question all.
The Jews, on the other hand, may have been the first to value the children (I applaud your post's insight here, I hadn't thought of Abraham & Issac from that perspective before, or the idea of where else would Love thy Neighbor be heard, but among the Jews?), but if you've read the old testament lately, there's a whole lot of darkness persisted there, towards women, children & all else.
But please cut the Greeks & Romans some slack, take another look at Plato, Aristotle, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Cicero, and remember that they were the first of their kind to begin trying to shrug off the darkness of thousands of years, and your style of writing and analysis (not to mention the science that made Blogs possible) owes far more to them than to the Old Testament. (I’m trying to dash this off before being late for work – ooh, too late - and it looks more antagonistic than intended, sorry GOTTA GO!, I really enjoy your site) 6:14 AM
Gagdad Bob said...Van--Yes, we are necessarily speaking in large generalizations. And yet, there was a time that virtually all children had what we would call an abusive childhood. True, primitive and barbaric people were primitive and barbaric, including the ancient Hebrews. And yet, we clearly see the dawn of a new concern for children and women, that sliver of light I'm talkign about. You are correct that men are naturally drawn to femininity, but not without ambivalence. Likewise, almost all parents love their children, but not without ambivalence. It seems that the further back in history you go, the more ambivalence there is and the more it is acted out rather than internalized as a neurosis. And there is no doubt that some of the Greek philosophers intuited the light, especially, of course, Plato. But his ideas did not trickle down to the masses. 6:29 AM One Cosmos

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