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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - Shadows on the wall

Shadows on the wall

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Shadows on the wall

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:19 am

Lady Longina;

You are always so easy to talk to! Perhaps it is because we think alike; I certainly hope so! Anyway, your last comment about the Gods made me remember about a comment that I read once, I think it was a famous Greek philosopher who compared the gods to shadows on the wall. In his discussion, the gods were on a ledge above him in a great cave, and he was below out of their sight, As the gods walked on the ledge their shadows from their candlelight shown on the far wall of the cave. His philosophy was that it would be as difficult to determine what the gods were actually doing from the movement of the shadows on the wall. Now I have no idea what awaits me in a nether world beyond this one, if there is such. As I have said, there is just as likely to be a dog-headed god standing in the place that Christians have for Saint Peter at the Golden Gate as anyone else, or nothing at all. My view is whoever is at the gate or door, or passage, is taking care of other things, and has little time for me. Such was the reason I was given the ability to decide. Now, who gave me that ability over a tiger, lion, buffalo or bear, I have no idea. So, I can make up any story that I wish that suits my fancy, but that will not make it come true. However, I have never seen a man fly or get out of a casket three days after being declared dead. I am sure that neither julius Caesar or Augustus was/is a god, and as I said previously Neptune would surely have stopped by when we were in trouble. So I will continue to live my life by those few rules that I know well, and if there is some kind of a judge awaiting me, I am sure that I won't get a death penalty, so I will have no need to worry and will continue to speak in the cool dimness of a quiet forest or on the broad spread of the open sea, far from land with the voice that guides me silently. It has worked pretty well to date!

Respectfully;
Marcus Audens
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:31 am

Salve Audens!

I am glad we think a like!
Your comment quite reminds me of Plato's Cave! Here is a short video on it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6LUptADIww

Your view is also very Epicurean (quite like mine). Epicurus states:
Those things which without ceasing I have declared unto you, do them, and exercise yourself in them, holding them to be the elements of right life. First believe that God is a living being immortal and blessed, according to the notion of a god indicated by the common sense of mankind; and so believing, you shall not affirm of him anything that is foreign to his immortality or that is repugnant to his blessedness. Believe about him whatever may uphold both his blessedness and his immortality. For there are gods, and the knowledge of them is manifest; but they are not such as the multitude believe, seeing that men do not steadfastly maintain the notions they form respecting them. Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious. For the utterances of the multitude about the gods are not true preconceptions but false assumptions; hence it is that the greatest evils happen to the wicked and the greatest blessings happen to the good from the hand of the gods, seeing that they are always favorable to their own good qualities and take pleasure in men like themselves, but reject as alien whatever is not of their kind.
Accustom yourself to believing that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply the capacity for sensation, and death is the privation of all sentience; therefore a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life a limitless time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality. For life has no terrors for him who has thoroughly understood that there are no terrors for him in ceasing to live. Foolish, therefore, is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.

But in the world, at one time men shun death as the greatest of all evils, and at another time choose it as a respite from the evils in life. The wise man does not deprecate life nor does he fear the cessation of life. The thought of life is no offense to him, nor is the cessation of life regarded as an evil. And even as men choose of food not merely and simply the larger portion, but the more pleasant, so the wise seek to enjoy the time which is most pleasant and not merely that which is longest. And he who admonishes the young to live well and the old to make a good end speaks foolishly, not merely because of the desirability of life, but because the same exercise at once teaches to live well and to die well. Much worse is he who says that it were good not to be born, but when once one is born to pass quickly through the gates of Hades. For if he truly believes this, why does he not depart from life? It would be easy for him to do so once he were firmly convinced. If he speaks only in jest, his words are foolishness as those who hear him do not believe.

We must remember that the future is neither wholly ours nor wholly not ours, so that neither must we count upon it as quite certain to come nor despair of it as quite certain not to come.

[Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus]

Epicurus says that there are gods, but are not supremely blessed and happy beings. The gods have no concern for us. In fact, they are unaware of our existence. For Epicurus, the gods are ethical ideals, and whose wrath we should not fear. Epicurus is also one of the first philosophers to raise the problem of Evil. He argues that the world is not under the care of some loving deity by pointing out the suffering and pain in the world.

I agree with you - Julius Caesar was no god. But I am inclined to say this due to my family lineage which belongs to Cassius. I do not believe in the deification of people - we are only mortals - not gods. I do, however, believe in spirits and the afterlife, so I am not totally Epicurean and lean more towards Plato and Eastern traditions with the view of death.

I hope this helped!

I hope you are well,
C Cassia Longina
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:31 am

Salvete!
If the Senate decided that C. Julius Caesar was a god, who are we to say he was not?
A god is whoever is worshiped as such. Mutual tolerance requires that we do not dispute each other's gods. If something is a god for someone, then it is a god. I am not going to question it.
Valete!
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:51 am

Curio Longina Sal.

I am inclined to agree with Lupus on this regard. Despite our own personal feelings regarding who is or isn't a god, people are free to worship whoever they like as such. Just my personal thoughts on tolerance, of course. :)

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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:47 pm

But of course they are free to worship whomever they please! This was not saying that I deny those who do worship him - I am speaking from my own view - as with many of my posts. (: And as you both know, I am a huge supporter of religious tolerance to all.
Anything can be a god to anyone - it is their choice. But then the philosophical definition of a god becomes shadowy. So then - what makes a god? It is a simple force or a being? Maybe we'll never know! I have some ideas. What are yours?
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:12 pm

Master Gaius Florius Lupas;
In my long life, the Senate and the House of Representatives here in the US, as well as the Parliament of Great Britain and Scotland, together with a few others have made some horrenduus mistakes. Why would have the Roman Senate under a severe political pressure of the times been any different? The Senate did as it was told, because of politics, not religion. However, as both you and Master Curio have said, belief is with the individual, and I for one have a pretty good idea from my long experience that it is political pressure of the moment that can scare the devil out of people and cause them to do strange things. That is my view, and since there seems to be no way to change either of our views, perhaps we should simply drop the subject and let each go their own way, without further discussion. I told you once before that I disagreed when my view was asked, and I told you then what I believed and things have not changed. Apparently my view was not really desired when such was asked. I will not make that mistake again.

Respectfully;
Marcus Audens
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:47 pm

A god is not made by himself and his actual or claimed powers. A god is made by his worshipers and their willingness to accept him as such.

Magister Audens, as far as I know the divinity of an emperor was maintained even long after his death, when there was no political preasure anymore. Even the kings like Romulus and Numa kept their divine status, after the kingship was abolished and despised. Furthermore most emperors became gods only after their death, not during their lifetime.

I therefore think their worship was genuine. We can observe a similar phenomenon today in some Asian countries. In Thailand for example in many households there are shrines of worship for the king. This is not due to political pressure, but the people really believe that the blessing of the king is important for their well-being. In ancient Rome it was probably not different.
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Wed Jul 20, 2016 3:00 pm

Curio Sal.

I believe it was very much a belief in the matter of blessing upon them. One such example would be Emperor Aurelian, who only served as Emperor for 5 years who reunited the Empire during the Crisis of the 3rd Century, was deified. However, his deification took place a whole year after his death. His political enemies in the Senate succeeded in passing damnatio memoriae on him after his death and it lasted a full year before being overturned. That is why busts of Emperor Aurelian are so hard to come by. I don't see his deification as political pressure, but being raised to godhood for his accomplishments and actions during his life.

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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:25 pm

After studying the last century of the Roman Republic (100 BCE - 27), I do believe there was political pressure on the Senate to deify Caesar. That's my opinion - but it is made with a very solid foundation.
Anyway, I do think that they looked upon past emperors as a form of ancestor worship (to bring fortune on their communities, etc.) and its interesting that you bring this up. I do think that all things that pass should be honored (for the most part), but not necessarily worshipped.
For me, a god is something that was never part of the mortal world and cannot die. I personally used to believe in the Epicurean tradition of the gods and death, but certain events that took place in my life, have turned me from Epicurean, to Stoic, then onto believe in the gods, in a way. So maybe one can never know the truth until - as Plato says - we die.
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Re: Shadows on the wall

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:02 pm

For me a God per se is simply, as Ittai Gradel defined well in his academic work "Emperor Worship", a being that is venerated by someone else. That is the basic definition of a God. Now, if we analyse Specific Gods we can go further on this. If we look Hercules, Castor and Pollux we see Gods that were human before deification and seem to have just as much power as any one of the older gods. This contradicts the view that a Greater God needs to have never encarnated. My view is that this requesit of not being encarnated is an excessive separation of the Divine from the Mundain that has come from our modern christian upbringing. What is the primary difference between Iuppiter and Hercules? Age. Just that. Maybe power to a point, because he is the King of the Gods, but I wouldnt put Hercules as less powerful then, say, Mercurius.

For me all existence is part of one great divine well of life, and each living thing, be it encarnated in the flesh or a spirit, is simply a stream formed from this cosmic well, or from different streams of the well that fuse together or seperate. We are all apt for Godhood. What differentiates us from the Elder Gods is age, experience and the perfection of being that they aquired because of those two things. But that is not what Makes then Gods. It is simply what makes them better then us.
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