As a thought experiment, in what might have been [in ancient Greece] we can think of the close connection of Zeus and justice (dikē) beginning, tentatively, in Homer, becoming quite explicit in and central in Hesiod, powerfully applied to his immediate situation by Solon, and reiterated once again in the tragedies of Aeschylus. But although the concern for justice remains central for those we call the Presocratics, the connection with Zeus loosens drastically. We saw in the case of Israel that Yahweh emerged gradually from being one of many other gods, even the greatest god, to the status of the one and only true God. Zeus never underwent that fate, even though the possibility was never entirely lost: witness the Hymn to Zeus of the early third century BCE Stoic Cleanthes.—Religion in Human Evolution (2011)

Last stanzas from Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus:

O Thou most bounteous God that sittest throned
In clouds, the Lord of lightning, save mankind
From grievous ignorance!
Oh, scatter it far from their souls, and grant them to achieve
True knowledge, on whose might Thou dost rely
To govern all the world in righteousness;
That so, being honoured, we may Thee requite
With honour, chanting without pause Thy deeds,
As all men should: since greater guerdon ne’er
Befalls or man or god than evermore
Duly to praise the Universal Law.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *