Mark transvaluing Homer

Note of the Editor:

Those familiar with the critical literature of the New Testament know that there is only one original gospel, that of Mark. Luke and Matthew copied and pasted a bunch of verses from Mark’s gospel to add even more literary fiction from the pen of these two Synoptics (John the Evangelist would later do the same).

Richard Carrier needs no introduction on this site. The new visitor who is unfamiliar with his work can consult the links about Carrier on the sidebar. Precisely because Carrier is a typical left-wing scholar, the exact opposite of post-Nietzscheans like us, I am struck by how he talks about how the evangelist Mark transvalued—the word he uses—the axiology of the Greco-Roman world.

In his most recent debate, uploaded this morning, with Dennis R. MacDonald, the author of the book he reviews below, Carrier used again the word transvaluation a couple of times right at the beginning of the YouTube debate (just don’t pay attention to the degenerate music that their host chose).

The following is Carrier’s ‘Review of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark’, a book-review of the MacDonald book, Yale University, 2000 (bold-type added by me):

 

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This is an incredible book that must be read by everyone with an interest in Christianity. MacDonald’s shocking thesis is that the Gospel of Mark is a deliberate and conscious anti-epic, an inversion of the Greek ‘Bible’ of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which in a sense ‘updates’ and Judaizes the outdated heroic values presented by Homer, in the figure of a new hero, Jesus (whose name, of course, means ‘Savior’). When I first heard of this I assumed it would be yet another intriguing but only barely defensible search for parallels, stretching the evidence a little too far-tantalizing, but inconclusive. What I found was exactly the opposite. MacDonald’s case is thorough, and though many of his points are not as conclusive as he makes them out to be, when taken as a cumulative whole the evidence is so abundant and clear it cannot be denied. And being a skeptic to the thick, I would never say this lightly. Several scholars who reviewed or commented on it have said this book will revolutionize the field of Gospel studies and profoundly affect our understanding of the origins of Christianity, and though I had taken this for hype, after reading the book I now echo that very sentiment myself.

 
Background and purpose of Mark

MacDonald begins by describing what scholars of antiquity take for granted: anyone who learned to write Greek in the ancient world learned from Homer. Homer was the textbook. Students were taught to imitate Homer, even when writing on other subjects, or to rewrite passages of Homer in prose, using different vocabulary. Thus, we can know for certain that the author of Mark’s Gospel was thoroughly familiar with the works of Homer and well-trained in recasting Homeric verse into new prose tales. The status of Homer in basic education remained throughout antiquity, despite the fact that popular and intellectual sentiment had been sternly against the ethics and theology of his epics since the age of Classical Greece. Authors from Plato (400 b.c.e) to Plutarch (c. 100 c.e.) sought to resolve this problem by ‘reinterpreting’ Homer as allegory, or by expunging or avoiding offensive passages, neither of which was a perfect solution.

For the Latin language, the opportunity was afforded for Virgil to solve this problem by recasting the Homeric epic into Roman form, exhibiting Roman ideals and creating more virtuous heroes and gods. Likewise, borrowing and recasting from Homer is evident in numerous works of fiction, which often had a religious flavour, and were proliferating in the very same period as the Gospels. One prominent example (mentioned but not emphasised by MacDonald) is the Satyricon of Petronius, which can be decisively dated prior to 66 A.D. and thus is most likely earlier than any known Gospel, and since this novel was in Latin (and a satire), it is almost certain that many undatable Greek novels, which surely originated the form, long precede this. So rewriting Homer to depict new religious ideas and values was a standard phenomenon. In MacDonald’s words, ‘Homer was in the air that Mark’s readers breathed’ (p. 8), and all the more so among Mark’s Gentile audience. But to smartly recast Homer into a new Greek form, reflecting contemporary Graeco-Jewish ideals, was a task simply waiting to be done. If MacDonald is right, this is what Mark set out to do. So much is clear: the motive, ability, and inspiration were certainly present, and MacDonald rapidly presents all the evidence, backing it up with copious and scholarly endnotes in chapter 1.

Why? In MacDonald’s words, Mark ‘thoroughly, cleverly, and strategically emulated’ stories in Homer and the Old Testament, merging two great cultural classics, in order ‘to depict Jesus as more compassionate, powerful, noble, and inured to suffering than Odysseus’ (p. 6), and hence ‘the earliest evangelist was not writing a historical biography, as many interpreters suppose, but a novel, a prose anti-epic of sorts’ (p. 7). In particular, the differences between Mark and Homer need no explanation: the differences are the point, the very objective of the later author. Some of those differences are also the obvious result of a change of scene from the ancient Mediterranean to near-contemporary, Roman-occupied Judaea, or of literary borrowing from Jewish texts. Some may reflect some sort of traditional or historical core story, though it is almost impossible to tell when. Instead, it is the similarities that ‘cry out for explanation’, and contemporary apologists must now begin to address this issue.

Of particular use, for all those who want to develop (or attack) theories of literary borrowing—in the Gospels or elsewhere—is the set of six criteria for identifying textual influence outlined by MacDonald at the end of his first chapter, and demonstrated quite effectively on a passage in Acts. Though no one of these criteria alone carries very much weight, the more criteria that are met in a single instance, the stronger the case. However, one caveat MacDonald does not provide is in regard to his criterion of order. In many cases, matching sequences of passages or themes is indeed significant. However, some cases of matching sequence are such that any other sequence would be logically impossible. Therefore, correlation of this kind can in some cases be coincidence. Nevertheless, even engaging this caution, the sequential evidence MacDonald presents is very often, taken as a whole, not coincidental. Likewise, it should be known that much of Mark’s use of Homer is to shape and detail an otherwise non-Homeric story, and the task of deciding what that core story is, or whether this core story in any given case is a Biblical emulation, or a historical fact, or a legend, or something of the author’s deliberate creation, or any combination thereof, is not something MacDonald even intends to undertake in this book, although he makes some suggestions in his concluding paragraphs.

 
Modeling Odysseus

The Odyssey is rife with the theme of the suffering hero, and MacDonald builds a solid case in chapter 2 for the philosophical veneration of Odysseus as the best example of a man. If Jesus could be made to one-up and even replace Odysseus, Mark would achieve a literary and moral coup. And there are in the overall story obvious if not overly-telling similarities: ‘Both [men] faced supernatural opposition… Each travelled with companions unable to endure the hardships of the journey, and each returned to a home infested with rivals who would attempt to kill him as soon as they recognised him’, and ‘both heroes returned from Hades alive’ (p. 17). Some parallels are a little more startling but less significant to the historian than to the literary critic: the parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk. 12:1-12), and the passage capturing the famous phrase ‘for you do not know when the master of the house will come’ (Mk. 13:34-5), both evoke the image of Odysseus returning in disguise to surprise the suitors who have turned his house into a den of sin (MacDonald develops this theme further in chapter 5, and again in chapter 14, and in the conclusion). Do not be like them, Mark is saying to his readers. But of course Jesus himself could have said that, intending the very same allusion. Examples like these can make good material for sermons, and serve well the connoisseurs of visionary prose, yet don’t really prove whether Mark has himself deliberately crafted the story. But in conjunction with what follows, this becomes part of a cumulative case for Mark’s inversion of Homer.

Who knew, for instance, that Odysseus was also a carpenter? The companions are another general link with the Odyssey. MacDonald points out how Mark is the harshest evangelist in his treatment of the disciples, while the others sometimes go out of their way to omit or alter this disparagement when they borrow from Mark. Why were the disciples such embarrassing nitwits, ‘greedy, cowardly, potentially treacherous, and above all foolish’ (p. 20)? As history, it is hardly credible. As a play on Homer, it makes perfect sense: for the companions of Odysseus were exactly like this. Homer cleverly employed the ineptitudes of the crew to highlight the virtues of Odysseus, making him appear even more the hero, enhancing his ‘wisdom, courage, and self-control’ (p. 23). MacDonald briefly explores five other general similarities between the two ‘entourages’ in chapter 3, including the fact that in the one story we have sailors, while in the other, fishermen-who do a lot of going about in boats, even though the vast majority of Judaea is dry land.

Chief among these similarities is the comparison between Peter and Eurylochus. Both spoke on behalf of all the followers, both challenged the ‘doomsday predictions’ of their master to their own peril, both were accused by their leader of being under the influence of an evil demon, and both ‘broke their vows to the hero in the face of suffering’—in effect, both ‘represent[ed] the craven attitude toward life’ (p. 22-3). Again, this could be a mere veneer woven through an otherwise true story by Mark, and some of MacDonald’s ideas (such as developed in chapter 4) are intriguing but too weak to do much with. But it is true that both epics announce from the start a focus on a single individual, both center on a king and his son reestablishing authority over a kingdom, both involve an inordinate amount of events and travel at sea. Both works begin by summoning their own Muse: Homer, the Muse herself; Mark, the Prophet Isaiah. In both stories, the son’s patrimony is confirmed by a god in the form of a bird, and this confirmation prepares the hero to face an enemy in the very next scene: Telemachus, the suitors; Jesus, Satan. And eventually the odd links keep accumulating, and compel one to question the whole thing.
 

Stark examples

‘Once the evangelist linked the sufferings of Jesus to those of Odysseus, he found in the epic a reservoir of landscapes, characterisations, type-scenes, and plot devices useful for crafting his narrative’ (p. 19). Of course, all throughout MacDonald points out coinciding parallels with the Old Testament and other Jewish literature, but even these parallels have been moulded according to a Homeric model in every case he examines. Consider two of the many mysteries MacDonald’s theory explains, and these are even among the weakest parallels that he identifies in the book:

Why do the chief priests need Judas to identify Jesus in order to arrest him? This makes absolutely no sense, since many of their number had debated him in person, and his face, after a triumphal entry and a violent tirade in the temple square, could hardly have been more public. But MacDonald’s theory that Judas is a type of Melanthius solves this puzzle: Melanthius is the servant who betrays Odysseus and even fetches arms for the suitors to fight Odysseus—just as Judas brings armed guards to arrest Jesus—and since none of the suitors knew Odysseus, it required Melanthius to finally identify him. MacDonald also develops several points of comparison between the suitors and the Jewish authorities. Thus, this theme of ‘recognition’ stayed in the story even at the cost of self-contradiction. Of note is the fact that Homer names Melanthius with a literary point in mind: for his name means ‘The Black One’, whereas Mark seems to be maligning the Jews by associating Melanthius with Judas, whose name is simply ‘Judah’, i.e. the kingdom of the Jews, after which the Jews as a people, and the region of Judaea, were named.

Why does Pilate agree to free a prisoner as if it were a tradition to do so? Such a practice could hardly have been approved by Rome, since any popular rebel leader who happened to be in custody during the festival would always escape justice. And given Pilate’s reputation for callous ruthlessness and disregard for Jewish interests, it is most implausible to have him participating in such a self-defeating tradition—a tradition for which there is no other evidence of any kind, not even a precedent or similar practice elsewhere. But if Barabbas is understood as the type of Irus, Odysseus’ panhandling competitor in the hall of the suitors, the story makes sense as a clever fiction. Both Irus and Barabbas were scoundrels, both were competing with the story’s hero for the attention of the enemy (the suitors in one case, the Jews in the other), and both are symbolic of the enemy’s culpability.

Of course, Barabbas means ‘son of the father’ and thus is an obvious pun on Christ himself. He also represents the violent revolutionary, as opposed to the very different kind of saviour in Jesus (the real ‘Saviour’). On the other hand, Irus was a nickname derived from a goddess (Iris), and MacDonald fails to point out that her name means ‘rainbow’, which to Mark would have meant the sign from God that there would never again be a flood (Ge. 9:12-13). Moreover, Irus’ real name was Arnaeus, ‘the Lamb’. What more perfect model for Mark? The Jews thus choose the wrong ‘son of the father’ who represents the Old Covenant (symbolised by the rainbow, and represented by the ideal of the military messiah freeing Israel), as well as the scapegoat (the lamb) sent off, bearing the people’s sins into the wilderness, while its twin is sacrificed (Lev. 16:8-10, 23:27-32, Heb. 8-9). MacDonald’s own analysis is actually confirmed by this additional parallel that he missed, and that is impressive.

MacDonald goes on to develop many similar points that not only scream of Homer being on Mark’s mind, but also explain strange features of Mark. The list is surprisingly long:

Why did Jesus, who nevertheless taught openly and performed miracles everywhere, try to keep everything a secret? Why did Jesus stay asleep in a boat during a deadly storm? Why did Jesus drown two thousand pigs? Why does Mark invent a false story about John the Baptist’s execution, one that implicates women? Why are the disciples surprised that Jesus can multiply food even when they had already seen him do it before? Why does Jesus curse a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season? How does Mark know what Jesus said when he was alone at Gethsemane? What is the meaning of the mysterious naked boy at Jesus’ arrest? Why does Jesus, knowing full well God’s plan, still ask why God forsook him on the cross? Why does Mark never once mention Mary Magdalene, or the other two women at the crucifixion, or even Joseph of Arimathea, until after Jesus has died? Why is the temple veil specifically torn ‘top to bottom’ at Jesus’ death? Why is Joseph of Arimathea able to procure the body of a convict so soon from Pilate? Why do we never hear of Joseph of Arimathea again? Why does Jesus die so quickly? Why do the women go to anoint Jesus after he is buried? Why do they go at dawn, rather than the previous night when the Sabbath had already ended?

All these mysteries are explained by the same, single thesis. This is a sign of a good theory. With one theoretical concept, not only countless parallels are identified, but numerous oddities are explained. That is very unlikely to be due to chance. And there is evidence of so many plausible connections, that even though any one of them could perhaps with effort be argued away, the fact that there are so many more makes it increasingly unlikely that MacDonald is seeing an illusion. Finally, his entire theory is plausible within the context of what we can deduce to have been Mark’s cultural and educational background.

 
Crescendo of doom

MacDonald’s book is built like a crescendo: as one reads on, the cases not only accumulate, they actually get better and better, clearer and clearer. In the story of the Gerasene swine (Mk. 5:1ff) MacDonald finds that 18 verses have thematic parallels in the Odyssey, 13 of those in exactly the same order! And even with some of those out of order the order is not random but is inverted, and thus a connection remains evident. In the story of Salome and the execution of John, MacDonald finds seven thematic parallels with the Murder of Agamemnon, all of them in the same order, and on top of that he details two other general parallels. And the two food miracles, forming a doublet in Mark, contain details that match a similar doublet of feasts in the Odyssey, and contain them in the same respective order: ‘Details in the [first] story of Nestor’s feast not found in the [second] story of Menelaus appear in the [first] feeding of the five thousand and not in its twin’ while ‘details in the [second] story of Menelaus not found in the [first] story of Nestor appear in the [second] feeding of the four thousand and not in the first story’ so that ‘the chances of these correspondences deriving from accident are slim’ (p. 85).

(Editor’s interpolated note: A mosaic depicting Odysseus, from the villa of La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain, late 4th-5th centuries c.e. Both he and Homer are always depicted as whites.)

These examples of a connection between Mark and Homer are far denser than the two examples I detailed earlier, and cannot be explained away even by the most agile of thinkers. Consider the last case, which even has the fewest parallels relative to the other two: in the first feasts, the main characters go by sea, but in the second, by land; in the first, only men attend (even though there is no explanation in Mark of why this should be), but in the second there is no distinction; in the first, the masses assemble into smaller groups, and lie on soft spots, but not in the second; more attend the first than the second (and the numbers are about the same: 5000 in Mark, 4500 in Homer).

On the other hand, in the second feasts, unlike the first, someone asks the host a discouraging question and yet the host shows compassion anyway—in Mark, this is particularly strange, since after the first miracle the disciples have no excuse to be surprised that Jesus can multiply food, so the doubting question can only be explained by the Homeric parallel; finally, in the second feasts, as opposed to the first, there are two sequential courses—bread, then meat. In both authors, the feasts serve an overt educational role: in the one case to educate the hero’s son about hospitality, in the other to educate the disciples about Jesus’ power and compassion, drawing attention to the difference in each story’s moral values. There are even linguistic parallels—Homer’s feasts were called ‘symposia’ (drinking parties) even though that word usually referred to smaller gatherings; likewise, Mark writes that the first feast was organised by ‘symposia’, despite the fact that only food is mentioned, not water or wine. Several of these details in Mark, as noted, are simply odd by themselves, yet make perfect sense when we see the Homeric model, and therein again lies the power of MacDonald’s thesis.

MacDonald does similar work illuminating the Transfiguration, the healing of Bartimaeus, the Hydropatesis (water-walk), the Marcan Apocalypse, the Triumphal Entry, the Anointing, the Passover Feast (including a definite connection with cannibalism that offers a possible ideological origin for the Eucharist as a transvaluation of Homer), the Prayer and Arrest at Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, the Burial, and some details of the Empty Tomb narrative. His theory provides an excellent reason to suppose that the naked boy at Jesus’ arrest is the same as the boy the women find in the empty tomb—and he is a marker of resurrection: a type of the ill-fated Elpenor. Likewise, his theory puts a serious damper on the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea and the burial account in Mark: Joseph is a type of Priam, who rescued the body of Hector for burial in a similar way.

What I found additionally worthwhile is how MacDonald’s theory illuminates the theme of ‘reversal of expectation’ which so thoroughly characterises the Gospels—not only in the parables of Jesus, where the theme is obvious, but in the very story itself. Though MacDonald himself does not pursue this in any detail, his book helped me to see it even more clearly. James and John, who ask to sit at the right and left of Jesus in his glory, are replaced by the two thieves at Jesus’ crucifixion: Simon Peter, Jesus’ right-hand man who was told he had to ‘deny himself and take up his cross and follow’ (8:34), is replaced by Simon of Cyrene when it comes time to truly bear the cross; Jesus is anointed for burial before he dies; and when the women go to anoint him after his death, their expectations are reversed in finding his body missing.

Later Gospels added even more of these reversals: for instance in Matthew Jesus’ father, Joseph, is replaced by Joseph of Arimathea when the duty of burial arose—a duty that should have been fulfilled by the father; likewise, contrary to expectation, the Mary who laments his death and visits his tomb is not Mary his mother, but a prostitute; and while the Jews attack Jesus for healing and doing good on the Sabbath, they in turn hold an illegal meeting, set an illegal guard, and plot evil on the Sabbath, and then break the ninth commandment the next day. This theme occurs far too often to have been in every case historical, and its didactic meaning is made clear in the very parables of reversal told by Jesus himself, as well as, for instance, his teachings about family, or hypocrisy, and so on. These stories were crafted to show that what Jesus preached applied to the real world, real events, ‘the word made flesh’.
 

Death and resurrection

MacDonald’s book concludes with an analysis of how Jesus as a character in Mark is also an inversion of Hector and Achilles in the Iliad. Both Jesus and Achilles knew they were fated to die and spoke of this fate often, but whereas Achilles chose his fate in exchange for ‘eternal fame’, and for himself alone, Jesus chose it in exchange for ‘eternal life’, for all humankind. This is one among many examples of how Mark has updated the values in Homer, highlighting this fact by crafting his narrative in deliberate imitation of Homer’s epics. In a similar fashion, while the death of Hector doomed Troy to destruction, Jesus’ death doomed the Temple to destruction. According to MacDonald, these themes and others guide Mark’s construction of the passion narrative, and though borrowing from the Old Testament and other Jewish texts in the passion account is far more prevalent than anywhere else in his Gospel, there is still a play on the Iliad evident in various details.

For example, MacDonald finds more than 11 parallels between Mark’s account of the crucifixion and the death of Hector, all but one of those in the same order (and that one exception is in inverted order), and 11 more parallels between Mark’s account of the burial of Jesus and Homer’s account of the burial of Hector, all in the same order. It is notable that resurrection, anastasia, was a theme in the Iliad: the concept appears three times, twice in declarations of its impossibility, once in a metaphor for Hector’s survival of certain death. It thus contained a fitting challenge that Mark was happy to answer with a simple prose epic that everywhere flaunted the fact that anastasia was indeed possible, and real. While Hector, Elpenor, and Patroclus were all burned and buried at dawn, the tomb of Jesus was empty at dawn; while the Iliad and Odyssey were epics about mortality, the Gospel was an epic about immortality.

 
The ending of Mark

I have one point of criticism for chapter 21, where MacDonald diverges from his central thesis to explain why Mark ends his Gospel as he does. MacDonald proposes an explanation from the historical context of the author. It is quite likely that many Christians were killed, and the original Jerusalem church destroyed, in the Jewish War of 66-70 A.D. MacDonald in several places relates how Mark most likely wrote his Gospel after the conclusion of the war (there are, to be sure, ample references that assume this, as well as that the world would end soon thereafter—cf. especially MacDonald’s third appendix). So Mark, MacDonald argues, was faced with explaining why Jesus had not forewarned his disciples to evacuate Judaea. Mark’s explanation, so the theory goes, is that Jesus did warn them, but they never heard the warning—in particular, they were supposed to go to Galilee after the resurrection to see Jesus, but the women failed to report this to the disciples and so they never went (and this tactic also allows the disciples to get off the hook: those at fault were mere fickle women).

The problem with this theory should be obvious: it is not the fact that it fails to explain how Mark could know the story if no one told it—for this did not stop him from relating what Jesus said in private when no witnesses were at hand, nor did it stop Matthew from relating secret conversations of the Jews; rather, the problem is that it fails to explain how Christianity started. Even assuming Mark is inventing this account apologetically, how did Mark imagine that the resurrection ever began to be preached if no one was ever told about the empty tomb and no one saw the risen Jesus, even in visions or dreams? Since the earliest accounts, in Paul, clearly suggest post mortem sightings of Jesus, and even tie these to the origin of the Gospel itself (and I have in mind the revelation to Paul mentioned in Galatians, and the visions to Peter and the others mentioned in 1 Corinthians), it does not seem plausible for Mark to expect his readers to reject this tradition, as would be required for his alleged hidden point even to be noticed, much less understood. I thus cannot buy MacDonald’s theory on this point.

(Editor’s interpolated note: An icon of Saint Mark the Evangelist, 1657. Note that he’s depicted as swarthy.)

My own hypothesis is that Mark ended the Gospel thus in order to set up a pretext for why little of his particular story had been heard in the Christian community until he wrote it down. If we suppose that the resurrection as preached by Paul was of a spiritual nature, and therefore had nothing to do with empty tombs, then to suddenly disseminate such a story would raise eyebrows unless the author were ready with an explanation. And by building an explanation into his story he essentially covers himself. It is possible that Mark originally concluded his tale with an assertion that the women later reported the story to him, an ending that would be struck out and replaced to suit the new physicalist Christology that would follow, as well as in support of the new reliance on apostolic authority which seems never to have been a concern for Mark.

But it is also possible that this would not have mattered. The faithful would not necessarily be too bothered about Mark’s sources, since Revelation itself could always provide (in his letter to the Galatians, Paul himself claimed he learned the Gospel through direct revelation from God). Even if they were to ask, Mark or the sellers of his story could easily have provided persuasive oral explanations to satisfy any believer, who would be more than ready to believe anything that agreed with their values and doctrine and glorified and magnified the power of their beloved Lord. Ultimately, if Mark invented the empty tomb, he may also have inadvertently caused the invention of a physical resurrection—since an empty tomb, though meant as a symbol, if taken as a fact could imply a physical resurrection, leaving room for future evangelists to spin the yarn further still.

 
Conclusion

What is especially impressive is the vast quantity of cases of direct and indirect borrowing from Homer that can be found in Mark. One or two would be interesting, several would be significant. But we are presented with countless examples, and this is as cumulative as a case can get.

In the end, I came away from this book with a new appreciation for Mark, whose Gospel tends to be derided as the work of a rather poor, simple Greek author. Though Mark’s Greek is extremely colloquial, not at all in high literary style, this itself is surely a grand and ingenious transvaluation of Homer: whereas the great epics were archaic and difficult, only to be mastered by the educated elites, only to be understood completely by those with access to glossaries and commentaries and marked-up critical editions, Mark not only updated Homer’s values and theology, but inverted its entire character as an elite masterpiece, by making his own epic simple, thoroughly understandable by the common, the poor, the masses, and lacking in the overt pretension and cleverness of poetic verse, written in plain, ordinary language. The scope of genius evident in Mark’s reconstruction of Homeric motifs is undeniable and has convinced me that Mark was no simpleton: he was a literary master, whose achievement is all the greater in his choice of idiom-his ‘poor Greek’ was deliberate and artful, as was his story.

Another theme that becomes apparent throughout this book is how quickly Christians lost touch with this allegorical meaning. Even the other Evangelists, when borrowing from Mark, stripped out the key and telling details and thus obviously missed the point; and only one other author, that of the Acts of Andrew, did anything overtly comparable in comprehensively recrafting Homer. By itself, this might be evidence against such a meaning actually being in Mark. But the evidence that this meaning is present is overwhelming on its own terms, and we can only conclude of early Christian ignorance, instead, that the real origins and message of the earliest Christians was all but lost even to the second or third generation. By the time there was a church in a significant sense, Christianity had been radically changed by the throngs of its converts, and, amidst the din of outsiders who stole the reigns, the very essence of that original Church of Jerusalem faded, powerless to survive under the mass of superstition and arrogance.

Having read this book, I am now certain that the historicity of the Gospels and Acts is almost impossible to establish. The didactic objectives and methods of the authors have so clouded the truth with literary motifs and allusions and parabolic tales that we cannot know what is fact and what fiction. I do not believe that this entails that Jesus was a myth, however—and MacDonald himself is not a mythicist, but assumes that something of a historical Jesus lies behind the fictions of Mark. Although MacDonald’s book could be used to contribute to a mythicist’s case, everything this book proves about Mark is still compatible with there having been a real man, a teacher, even a real ‘miracle worker’ in a subjective sense, or a real event that inspired belief in some kind of resurrection, and so on, which was then suitably dressed up in allegory and symbol.

However, the inevitable conclusion is that we have all but lost this history forever. The Gospels can no longer support a rational belief in anything they allege to have occurred, at least not without external, unbiased corroboration, which we do not have for any of the essential, much less supernatural details of the story. And if Alvar Ellegård is right (Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ, Overlook, 1999), Mark was almost entirely fiction, written after the sack of Jerusalem to freeze in symbolic prose the metaphorical message of Christianity, a faith which began with a Jesus executed long before the Roman conquest, who then appeared in visions (like that which converted Paul) a century later, in the time of Pilate, to inspire the new creed.

What is important is not that this can be decisively proven—nothing can, as our information is too thin, too scarce, too unreliable to decisively prove anything about the origins of Christianity. What is important is that theories like Ellegård’s can’t be disproven, either—it is one among many distinctly possible accounts of what really happened at the dawn of Christianity, which MacDonald’s book now makes even more plausible. And so long as it remains possible, even plausible, that the bulk of Mark is fiction, the contrary belief that it is fact can never be secure.

The Iliad, book I

As we saw in the essay on Sparta in The Fair Race, around 1200 b.c.e. the Achaeans besieged and conquered Troy in a crusade that united the Hellenes in a common endeavour, so prone to war with each other. In The Iliad Homer describes them as a gang of barbarians with the mentality and appearance of Vikings who sweep the refined and civilised Troy.

The first book of The Iliad begins already after nine years of war between Achaeans and Trojans, when a plague breaks out on the Achaean camp. The soothsayer Calchas, consulted about it, predicts that the plague will not cease until the girl Chryseis, who Agamemnon had kidnapped, was returned to her father Chryses of Troy. Achilles’ wrath stems from the affront inflicted on him by Agamemnon, who, by yielding Chryseis to her father because of the threat of the soothsayer, now snatches from Achilles’ share of the spoils the young priestess Briseis. (In our times of feminised western males that feel no wrath when seeing a Negro with an English rose, how I wish the return of this blond beast of yore…!)

After all this, Achilles retires from the battle and ensures that he will only return when the Trojan fire reaches his own ships. He asks his mother Thetis to convince Zeus to help the Trojans and Zeus accepts.

More than once I have said that what must be studied are the phenomena that has captured, in a massive way, the popular imagination of the white man. In modern times, those who complain only about Jews look to, say, the Frankfurt School. But to understand the soul of the white man they should pay more attention to what whites have read voraciously; for example, the literary phenomena that marked recent centuries. I mean the gigantic bestsellers of the past that portray the suicidal infatuation of English speakers about Jews (for example Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur) or about blacks (e.g., Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin).

In our century, white madness is also noted in their delusional empowerment of women. As I have also said on this site, it is alarming that almost no one tore his garments at the most nefarious presentation of the ‘girl power’ ideology in Game of Thrones, exemplified in Arya Stark. Game of Thrones fans are such an alienated and degenerate folk that they disowned the grand finale, which is a masterpiece, and instead liked the empowerment of the girl Arya in previous seasons. Such feminism even reached a now-deceased neonazi novelist who wanted to create an Aryan republic in his state, as we saw in Daybreak’s ‘Freedom’s daughters’.

As a child I enjoyed Ivanhoe and Ben-Hur although never watched Uncle Tom’s Cabin that I saw advertised in the newspaper. I was ten years old then. Nowadays, from the current bestsellers of George Martin I would only rescue how the author portrayed Bran Stark.

But back to The Iliad, the monumental bestseller of the Greco-Roman world, although recited in private rather than read. Going into the details of the first book is important because it takes us back to the gods of the Homeric Greeks, so different from the meek Jesus. The first thing that strikes the attention in The Iliad compared to our meek times is that it represents the most absolute antithesis of the ethno-suicidal feminism that most westerners now accept, represented in Game of Thrones and in a myriad of other television series.

For example, in this first book of The Iliad the abducted girls Chryseis and Briseis have no voice or vote before their abductors: it is the men who fight for them and who complain, either the father of the kidnapped girl or the god Apollo who listened to such complaints; as well as Agamemnon and Achilles, the alpha males who can enjoy the spoils of war: young and pretty girls. Briseis, Achilles’ sex slave that Agamemnon later snatches from him, is called ‘the fair-cheeked one’ and ‘the one with a cute waist’.

Also notable in this first book of The Iliad is that the Homeric Greeks were very white people. Five times Hera is called ‘white-armed Hera’. Also ‘light-eyed Athena’ grabs Achilles ‘by his blond hair.’ Eos is ‘the one with the rosy fingers’, and ‘silver-footed Thetis’ is the mother of the main character of Homer’s tale.

With women like that it really makes you want to abduct one of them and breed…

Homer

A few decades ago I heard non-Christian Octavio Paz (1914-1998) assert on television that Dante was the quintessential poet of the West. Something rebelled in me when I listened to Paz, my then hero of the Cervantes language, but only until now can I answer such an aberration.

Like many other intellectuals, historians, and writers, Paz confused Western Christian civilisation with European civilisation. But Christendom is not the West. Christianity was the psychotic breakdown that the West has suffered since Constantine began to impose the god of the Jews on a race that has been non-Christian for much longer than Christian. What Albus said on this site when commenting on the sacred music of Johann Sebastian Bach we could apply equally to Dante’s great poem:

As a former Catholic I have stopped visiting any church building for all my life. Never again a famous cathedral will impress me, especially not out of an interest in art. It took me major efforts to recognise that Christian representations in art and ‘sacred music’ are without exception infectious material, propaganda means of subjugation, the original degenerate art for Aryans. One should shrink from letting any such product enter into perception as one would shrink from the sight of the mutilated corpses of children. Aryan Weltanschauung demands logical consistency and gravitas wherever we go.

That is very true, and we could also shrink from Dante’s Commedia. The white race won’t be cured of its ethno-suicidal drive until it dares to repudiate an alien religion. Dante is not the poet of the West as the Nobel Prize winner of literature said, but Homer. And if we want to reconnect with the world prior to the religious drift that now has reached a florid psychosis (see the psychological articles in my recently published Daybreak), we have to rescue our real European roots.

Before the traitorous Roman emperors imposed a Semitic cult on the white man, the Iliad was considered something like the Bible of the Greco-Roman world: which makes perfect sense as, unlike the Bible in which all heroes are Jews, in the Iliad all heroes are Aryans.

No wonder that much of the content in the Library of Alexandria that our ancient enemies burned was commentary on the Iliad. (Just as, after the destruction of the Aryan world, our treacherous libraries have contained a myriad of books commenting on biblical passages.)

I recently said that after my new book was published the character of The West’s Darkest Hour would change, and that I was going to follow Manu Rodríguez’s advice about creating a new ecclesia. To do this we have to build more centres like the Parthenon in Centennial Park, the large-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. But the difference is that these new temples, very small at the beginning, would be run by priests of the fourteen words and used to preach to the fair race. For example, instead of television and movies produced by our enemies, a song of the Homeric poem would have to be memorised and recited as it used to be performed and as Homer himself did without customs, sets or props but in a modest room, where even the children liked it.

How many have seen, performed live and from memory, at least one of the twenty-four songs of the Iliad as it used to be performed since Homer? The translated text that we can buy in bookstores is a dead letter. By contrast, in the ancient world Homer’s poem was represented by a single man who recited it with emotion. Compare such a bare performance with the mass-consumption poison that non-Gentiles make us see and hear thanks to billions of American dollars.

It is estimated that Homer could have lived in the 8th century b.c.e. in Ionia. To visualise the epic narrated by a single man you have to forget all the neoclassical paintings because the Homeric Hellenes were blond. See the articles in The Fair Race that prove it. Alas, after the Aryan apocalypse, also narrated in that same book that I compiled, Ionia, present-day Turkey, became a land of mudbloods…

Those who could really appreciate the Iliad would be those Aryans who wanted to re-conquer those lands for their race (e.g., the National Socialists), as the Iliad is circumscribed in the genre of the epic of the conquest of the peninsula and its islands by the blond beast of the north.

That tiny mustard seed…

‘Traditional Christianity is mature viper venom that has settled, whereas liberal, enlightened Christianity is recycled and of equal effect’. —Albus

Neochristianity, or following Jesus through secular self-immolation—e.g., white fans of BLM—is today’s religion. But how did such florid psychosis originate? How did the tiny mustard seed grow into such a huge weed that it’s now covering the West? Let’s take a good look at the smallest seed…

Watch this homey interview of Richard Carrier.

At 14:48 Carrier comments about the intention of the evangelist Mark (the other evangelists built upon him): ‘It’s all part of the gospel’s model reversing the order of society’.

23: 10: ‘Homer is the Bible, essentially, of the pagans… So what they want to do is called transvaluation. “I am taking stories from the Homeric tales”, rewrite them so that the value message is the value Mark wants to sell, not the value message you get from Homer, so that this book would even replace Homer… for this new society they want to create’.

28:30: ‘And it is political for them [early Christians], but subversively political’.

Later, Carrier talks about why in New Testament studies, replete of Christians, it is so hard that the most parsimonious hypothesis—the nonexistence of Jesus—is taken seriously.

Many critics of Christianity focus on the Apostle Paul, but the one who really brought this Semitic folly to the Gentile quarter was Mark’s literary genius, even if it was all pure literary fiction from his pen.

What race were the Greeks —

and Romans?

athena

The evidence is clear—but often ignored

by John Harrison Sims

 
Recent [1] films about ancient Greece such as Troy, Helen of Troy, and 300, have used actors who are of Anglo-Saxon or Celtic ancestry (e.g. Brad Pitt, Gerard Butler). Recent films about ancient Rome, such as Gladiator and HBO’s series Rome, have done the same (e.g. Russell Crowe). Were the directors right, from an historical point of view? Were the ancient Greeks and Romans of North European stock?

Most classical historians today are silent on the subject. For example, Paul Cartledge, a professor of Greek culture at Cambridge, writes about his specialty, Sparta, for educated but non-academic readers, yet nowhere that I can find does he discuss the racial origins of the Spartans. Some years ago I asked several classics professors about the race of the ancient Greeks only to be met with shrugs that suggested that no one knew, and that it was not something worth looking into. Today, an interest in the race of the ancients seems to be taken as an unhealthy sign, and any evidence of their Nordic origins discounted for fear it might give rise to dangerous sentiments.

A hundred years ago, however, Europeans took it for granted that many Greeks and Romans were the same race as themselves. The famed 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, published in 1911, noted that “survival of fair hair and complexion and light eyes among the upper classes in Thebes and some other localities shows that the blond type of mankind which is characteristic of north-western Europe had already penetrated into Greek lands before classical times.” It added that the early Greeks, or Hellenes, were Nordic, one of “the fair-haired tribes of upper Europe known to the ancients as Keltoi.” Sixty years ago even Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and socialist, believed that the Hellenes “were fair-haired invaders from the North, who brought the Greek language with them” (History of Western Philosophy, 1946).

Scholars today recoil at this pre-1960s consensus. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece, written in 1996, scoffs at the “undoubtedly dubious racial theories underlying much of this reconstruction,” but offers no theory to replace it, conceding only that “the origin of the Greeks remains a much-debated subject.” The Penguin author makes this startling admission, however: “Many of the ideas of racial origins were developed in the 19th century and, although they may have had some foundation in historical tradition, archaeology or linguistics, they were often combined with more dubious presumptions.” The author fails to list these dubious presumptions. Beth Cohen [editor’s note: a jew], author of Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (2000), asserts that the Thracians, distant cousins of the Greeks, had “the same dark hair and the same facial features as the Ancient Greeks.”

In fact, there was a good basis for the 1911 Britannica to write about blonds in Thebes. Thebes was the leading city of Boeotia, a rich agricultural region in south-central Greece. Fragments from an ancient 150 BC travelogue describe the women of Thebes as “the tallest, prettiest, and most graceful in all of Hellas. Their yellow hair is tied up in a knot on the top of their head.” Pindar, a fifth century Theban lyric poet, refers to the Greeks as “the fair-haired Danaoi,” using a poetical name for the Hellenes. Likewise, in his Partheneia, or “Maiden Songs,” the seventh century BC Spartan poet Alcman, praised the beauty of Spartan female athletes, with their “golden hair” and “violet eyes.” He also wrote of Spartan women with “silver eyes,” meaning light gray. The seventh-century BC Greek poet Archilochus praises the “yellow hair” of one of his lovers, and Sappho—also of the seventh century BC—writes of her “beautiful daughter, golden like a flower.”

As late as the fourth century AD, Adamantius, an Alexandrian physician and scientist, wrote in his Physiognominica, that “of all the nations the Greeks have the fairest eyes,” adding, that “wherever the Hellenic and Ionic race has been kept pure, we see tall men of fairly broad and straight build, of fairly light skin, and blond.” Several centuries of mixing had presumably changed the racial character of many Greeks, but blonds still survived, and Xanthos, which means “yellow” in Greek, was a common personal name.

Professor Nell Painter of Princeton [editor’s note: a negress], author of The History of White People (see “Whiting Out White People,” AR, July 2010), complains that “not a few Westerners have attempted to racialize antiquity, making ancient history into white race history.” She points out that the Greeks often painted their marble statues—“the originals were often dark in color”—that the paint wore off over time, and Europeans mistakenly concluded from the white marble that the Greeks were white.

Yes, the Greeks painted their statues, but the originals were not dark. Praxiteles’ Aphrodite, from the Greek city of Knidos, was the most famous and most copied statue in the ancient world. Hundreds of copies survive. Experts have determined from microscopic paint particles that Aphrodite was painted blonde. The Romans had their own name for this goddess, Venus, and likewise her “cult images” were ubiquitous and “painted with pale-coloured flesh and golden-blonde hair” (see Joanna Pitman’s On Blondes, 2003).

Phidias’ masterwork, the Athena Parthenos, stood in the Parthenon for nearly 1,000 years until it was lost, probably in the 5th century AD. When American sculptor Alan LeQuire set out to make a faithful copy for the full-scale Parthenon replica in Nashville’s Centennial Park he modeled it on descriptions of the original work. The 42-foot-tall Athena, unveiled in 1990, has light skin, blue eyes, and golden hair [editor’s note: see detail of this image above].

Many small terra-cotta figurines from Greece of the fourth century BC have survived with traces of paint. They show light hair, usually reddish brown, and blue eyes, as do larger statues from the time of the Persian Wars in the early fifth century BC. Even a cursory examination of ancient marble reliefs, statues, and busts reveals European features. Many of the faces could just as easily be those of Celtic chieftains or Viking kings.

There is more evidence of the appearance of the Greeks. Xenophanes, an Ionian Greek philosopher who lived in the fifth century BC, was amused to note that different peoples believed that the gods look like themselves: “Our gods have flat noses and black skins, say the Ethiopians. The Thracians (despite Prof. Cohen’s observations above) say our gods have red hair and hazel eyes.” Indeed, a fourth century BC fresco of a Thracian woman, found in the Ostrusha Mound in central Bulgaria, shows distinctly red hair and European features.

The Greek poet Hesiod (c. 700 BC) called Troy the “land of fair women.” According to the Roman historian Diodorus Sicilus, who lived in the first century BC, the Egyptian god Set had “reddish hair,” a color that was “rare in Egypt, but common among the Hellenes.” Plutarch (46–120 AD) tells us that while the Theban general Pelopidas (d. 364 BC) was campaigning in central Greece, he had a dream in which a ghost urged him to sacrifice a red-haired virgin if he wished to be victorious in the next day’s battle.
 

Two racial types

There were two racial types in ancient Greece: dark-haired whites and fair-haired whites, as well as gradations in between. The earliest known inhabitants were of the former type. These included the Minoans, who were not Greeks at all, and who built an impressive civilization on the island of Crete. The Pelasgians, which is the name later Greeks gave to the pre-Hellenic population of mainland Greece, were also dark. They tended to have black, curly hair and olive-shaped eyes. Their type is plainly visible on many Attic (Athenian) vases, and has lead some scholars to conclude that all Greeks looked as they did.

Neither the Minoans nor the Pelasgians spoke Greek—the linear A inscriptions of the Minoans have still not been deciphered—so the Greek language must have arrived with the light-haired conquerors who migrated from the north, most likely from the middle Danube River Valley. According to Greek national myth, the Hellenes were descended from Hellen (not to be confused with Helen of Troy), the son of Deucalion. Hellen had sons and grandsons, who correspond to the four main tribal divisions of ancient Greece: the Aeolians Achaeans, Ionians, and Dorians.

Scholars today tend to dismiss such myths but they would not have survived if they had not been generally consistent with the long folk memories of ancient peoples. In this case they point to what classical scholars have long believed was a series of Hellenic descents upon mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. The first Hellenes to arrive were the Ionians and Aeolians; then a few centuries later, the Achaeans, and finally the Dorians.

The early bronze-age Greek civilization (1600-1200 BC) was certainly influenced by Minoan and other eastern Mediterranean cultures, but it was unmistakably Greek. Linear B, which began to dominate Cretan culture around 1500 BC, has been deciphered and found to be an early form of Greek. Around the year 1200 BC this culture, known as Mycenaean, collapsed; its cities were destroyed and abandoned, and Greece entered a 400-year Dark Age. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions probably played a part in the destruction, and later Greeks attributed it to invasions from the north. Waves of Hellenic warriors swept down and burned the Mycenaean citadels and became the ruling race in Greece. They also sacked the city of Troy, and Homer’s Iliad is about them. They also seem to have snuffed out much of Mycenaean culture: Greeks stopped writing, and abandoned the arts, urban life, and trade with the outside world.

We know something about the early Hellenes from the Iliad. It was first written down in the late eighth century BC, at the end of the Greek Dark Age, after the Phoenicians taught the Greeks how to write again. It recounts events some four to five hundred years earlier. Although we think of the poem as being about the Greeks, Homer’s warrior heroes belong to the Achaean nobility, which suggests that it was the Achaeans who overthrew Mycenaean civilization, not the Dorians, who would descend upon Greece and displace the Achaeans a hundred years later. Archeology confirms this supposition, for Troy was burned around 1200 BC, and the traditional date for the Trojan War is 1184 BC. The Dorian invasion is dated by various ancient historians at 1149, 1100, or 1049 BC.

There is good reason to think that Homer was recording stories handed down during the Dark Age. He was a bard who lived in Ionia, a region on the Aegean coast of what is now Turkey, and if he were making the stories up he would have claimed that the heroes were Ionian. Instead, he sings praises to the light-haired Achaean nobility: Achilles, their greatest warrior, has “red-gold hair,” Odysseus, their greatest strategist, has “chestnut hair,” his wife Penelope has “white cheeks the color of pure snow,” Agamede, a healer and expert on medicinal plants, is “blonde,” and King Menelaus of Sparta, the husband of Helen, has “red hair.” Helen, likewise, has “fair hair,” and even slave girls are light-skinned: “fair-tressed Hecamede,” “fair-cheeked Chryseis,” and “blonde Briseis.” This is significant, for if even some of the slaves were blond it would mean the Nordic type was not unique to the Achaeans, that it was present elsewhere in the Aegean world.

Homer (and Pindar) describe most of the Olympian gods and goddesses as fair haired and “bright eyed,” meaning blue, grey or green. The goddess Demeter has “blond” or “yellow hair,” as does Leto, mother of Apollo, who is also described as “golden haired.” Aphrodite has “pale-gold” hair, and Athena is known as “the fair, bright-eyed one” and the “grey-eyed goddess.” Two of the gods, Poseidon and Hephaestus, are described as having black hair. As noted above, Xenophanes complained that all peoples imagine the gods to look like themselves.

It was the Dorians, the last Greek invaders, who ended Achaean rule and probably provoked a mass migration of Aeolian and Ionian Hellenes—no doubt including Homer’s ancestors—across the Aegean Sea to the coast of Asia Minor. The Dorians who settled in the fertile valley of the Eurotas in the southern Peloponnesus were the direct ancestors of the Spartans of the classical age, and they claimed to be the only pure Dorians.

Werner Jaeger, Director of the Institute of Classical Studies at Harvard, writes:

“The national type of the invader remained purest in Sparta. The Dorian race gave Pindar his ideal of the fair-haired warrior of proud descent, which he used to describe not only the Homeric Menelaus, but the greatest Greek hero, Achilles, and in fact all the ‘fair-haired Danaeans’ [another name for the Achaeans who fought at Troy] of the heroic age” (Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, 1939).

The classical Greeks made no claim to being autochthones, that is to say, “of the earth,” or the original inhabitants of the land. Rather, they took pride in being epeludes, the descendants of later settlers or conquerors. Two notable exceptions were the Arcadians and the Athenians, whose rocky soils presumably offered little temptation to armed colonizers. The historian Herodotus (484-420 BC) recorded that the Athenians were “a Pelasgian people [who] had occupied Attica and never moved from it,” as were the Arcadians. Language lends support to this view, for both the Athenians and Arcadians spoke unique dialects. They learned Greek from the northern invaders but retained Pelasgian elements.

Thus, classical Greece was a fusion, both cultural and racial, of these two types of whites. Some city-states, such as Thebes and Sparta, were predominantly Nordic. Others, such as Athens, were predominantly Mediterranean, and still others were mixtures of the two.

 
The Roman patricians

Nell Painter [the negress mentioned above], author of the above-mentioned History of White People, finds it “astonishing” that the American Nordicist Madison Grant (1865-1937) argued in The Passing of the Great Race (1916) that the Roman nobility was of Nordic origin, yet there is good evidence for this view. There are many lavishly illustrated books about ancient Rome with examples of death masks, busts, and statues that clearly depict the Roman patricians not simply as Europeans but as northern European.

R. Peterson’s fine study, The Classical World (1985), which includes an analysis of 43 Greek, and 32 Roman figures, is persuasive. Dr. Peterson explains that the Romans painted their death masks to preserve the color, as well as the shape, of their ancestors’ faces.

Blue eyes, fair hair, and light complexions are common. A good example of racial type is the famous portrait bust of Lucius Junius Brutus, the founder of the Roman Republic, which dates from the fourth century BC. Brutus’ face is identifiably Germanic, and so is the color of his eyes. The sculptor used ivory for the whites and blue glass for the pupils.

Or take the famous marble head of a patrician woman from the late first century AD, which is often included in illustrated surveys of imperial Rome to demonstrate the fashion for curled hair. Her features are typically northern European: a delicate, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, and a face angular and long rather than round. Another classic example is the famous fresco from the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, which shows four women undergoing ritual flagellation. They are tall, light-skinned, and brown-haired.

There is also evidence from Roman names. Rutilus means “red, gold, auburn” and stems from the verb rutilo, which means “to shine with a reddish gleam.” Rufus, meaning red, was a common Roman cognomen or nickname used for a personal characteristic, such as red hair. The Flavians were an aristocratic clan whose family name was derived from flavus, meaning golden-yellow. The Flaminians were another noble family whose clan name came from flamma, meaning flame, suggesting red hair.

According to Plutarch, Marcus Porcius Cato had “red hair and grey eyes,” Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the general and dictator, had “blue-grey eyes and blond hair,” and Gaius Octavius (Augustus), the first Roman emperor, had “bright eyes and yellow hair.” Recent analysis of an ancient marble bust of the emperor Caligula found particles of the original pigment trapped in the stone. Experts have restored the colors to show that the demented ruler had ruddy skin and red hair.

The love poetry of Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as Ovid, (43 BC to AD 17) offers much evidence of the color of upper-class Roman women during the early years of the empire. That Ovid ascribes blond hair to many goddesses—Aurora, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, and Venus—tells us something about the Roman ideal of beauty; that he describes many of his lovers the same way tells us that the Nordic type was still found in imperial Rome. “I’m crazy for girls who are fair-haired and pale-complexioned,” he writes in his Amores of 15 BC, but “brunettes make marvelous lovers too.” He admires the contrast of “dark-tresses against a snow-white neck,” and adores young girls who blush. One of his favorite lovers is “tall” with a “peaches-and-cream complexion,” “ivory cheeks,” and “bright eyes.” Another was a “smart Greek blonde.”

So where did the Romans come from? They were a Latin people, although according to legend that may have some basis in fact, there were also Greek colonists and Trojan refugees among the founding races. The Latins were one of eight Nordic Italic tribes—Apulii, Bruttii, Lucanians, Sabines, Samnites, Umbrians/Oscians and the Veneti—who migrated into the Italian peninsula around 1000 BC. Of course, Italy was not vacant. The Etruscans lived to the north of Rome in what is now Tuscany, and there were other darker-complexioned whites living in the peninsula. The Etruscans are likely to have been Carians from Asia Minor.

What became of the Nordic Greeks and Romans? Their numbers were reduced and thinned through war, imperialism, immigration, and slavery. Protracted internecine war was devastating. The Hellenes lost relatively few men in their two wars with the Persian Empire (490, 480-479 BC), but they were decimated by the ruinous series of inter-Hellenic wars that followed. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) pitted Athens and her subject Ionian cities against the Spartan Dorian confederacy. That was followed by 35 years of intermittent warfare between Sparta and Thebes (396-362 BC), which pitted Nordics against Nordics. These wars so weakened the Greek republics that they fell under Macedonian rule about 20 years later (338 BC), bringing to an end the classical age of Greece.

Money was, as always, a racial solvent. Theognis, a noble poet from the Dorian city of Megara wrote in the sixth century BC: “The noblest man will marry the lowest daughter of a base family, if only she brings in money. And a lady will share her bed with a foul rich man, preferring gold to pedigree. Money is all. Good breeds with bad and race is lost.”

The Roman experience was similarly tragic. All of her later historians agreed that the terrible losses inflicted by Hannibal during the Second Punic War (218-201 BC) were minor compared to the horrendous losses Rome inflicted on herself during the nearly 100 years of civil war that followed the murder of the reforming Tribune Tiberius Gracchus in 133 BC.

Immigration was the inevitable backwash of imperialism as slaves, adventurers, and traders swarmed into Rome. Over time, slaves were freed, foreigners gave birth to natives, non-Romans gained citizenship, and legal and social sanctions against intermarriage fell away. By the early empire, all that was left of the original Roman stock were a few patrician families.

The historian Appian lamented that “the city masses are now thoroughly mixed with foreign blood, the freed slave has the same rights as a native-born citizen, and those who are still slaves look no different from their masters.” Scipio Aemilianus (185–129 BC), a statesman and general of the famed clan of the Aemilii, called these heterogeneous subjects “step-children of Rome.”

One hundred and fifty years later, Horace (65–8 BC) wrote in Book III of the Odes:

Our grandfathers sired feeble children; theirs
Were weaker still—ourselves; and now our curse
Must be to breed even more degenerate heirs.

The last Roman writers therefore came to see their own people as both morally and physically degenerate. The subtext of Tacitus’ (56-117 AD) ethnological treatise Germania is a longing for the northern vigor and purity the Romans had lost. He saw the Gauls and Germans as superior to the Romans in morals and physique, and Roman women shared this admiration. Blond hair became the rage, and German and Gaulic slave women were shorn of their blond or reddish-brown hair to make wigs for wealthy women. By the time of Tertullian (160-225 AD), so many Roman women were dying their hair that he complained, “they are even ashamed of their country, sorry that they were not born in Germany or Gaul.” In the early second century AD, the satirist Juvenal complained of the dwindling stock of “the bluest patrician blood,” which is a figurative phrase for the nobility, whose veins appear blue through their light skin.

Viewed in a historical context, it is almost as if today’s northern Europeans have set out perfectly to imitate the ways in which the Greeks and Romans destroyed themselves. In both Europe and America, patriotic young men slaughtered each other in terrible fratricidal wars. In North America, the descendents of slaves are the majority in many great cities. Both continents have paid for imperial ambitions with mass immigration of aliens.

Will we be able to resist the forces that brought down the ancients?

 

________________

[1] This article was originally published in 2010 by American Renaissance. Mr. Sims is an historian and a native of Kentucky.

Day of Wrath, 5

Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind

In recent decades several historians without any link to the deMausean school have written about thirty books on histories of childhood. I will mention only a couple of those published in 2005: When Children Became People by Odd Magne Bakke and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context by Peter Stearns. DeMause has iteratively complained that books of this sort are presented to history students as if childrearing in the past had been as benign as Western childrearing in our times. Stearns for example is author and editor of more than forty books, but he attempts to absolve the parents by claiming that infanticide had an economic motivation; when it is well documented that in some periods infanticide was more common in well-off families.

Psychogenesis is the process of the evolution of empathy, and, therefore, of childrearing forms in an innovative group of human beings. In a particular individual it is an evolution of the architecture of his or her mentality, including the cognition of how the world is perceived. A “quantum leap” in “psychoclasses” depends on the parents’ breaking away from the abusive patterns in which they were educated; for example, stop killing their children: a prehistoric and historic practice that deMause calls “early infanticidal childrearing.”

A fascinating essay by Julian Jaynes throws light on how, by the end of the second millennium before our era, a huge alteration occurred in human mentality. In 1976 Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes calls “breakdown” the transit of bicameral mind—two chambers or brain hemispheres—to modern consciousness. The transit is relatively recent, and it represents a healing process from a divided self into a more unified or integrated one. Jaynes describes how society developed from a psychological structure based upon obedience to the god’s voices, to the subjective consciousness of present-day man. Like deMause’s psychohistory, Jaynes’ model caused many of his readers to see mankind from a new perspective. He elaborated a meta-narrative purporting to connect the loose pieces of previously unconnected fields—history, anthropology, ancient texts, psychiatry, language, poetry, neurology, religion, Hebrew and Greek studies, the art of ancestral societies, archaeological temples and cuneiform writing—to construct an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

Jaynes asked the bold question of whether the voices that people of the Ancient World heard could have been real, a common phenomenon in the hallucinated voices of present-day schizophrenics. He postulated that, in a specific lapse of history a metamorphosis of consciousness occurred from one level to another; that our present state of consciousness emerged a hundred or two hundred generations ago, and that previously human behavior derived from hearing voices in a world plagued with shamanism, magical thinking, animism and schizoidism.

In the Ancient World man had a bipartite personality: his mind was broken, bicameralized, schizophrenized. “Before the second millennium B.C., everyone was schizophrenic,” Jaynes claims about those who heard voices of advice or guides attributed to dead chiefs, parents or known personages. “Often it is in times of stress when a parent’s comforting voice may be heard.” It seems that this psychic structure of a divided or bicameral self went back to cavemen. Later in the first cities, the period that deMause calls “late infanticidal childrearing” (Jaynes never mentions deMause or psychohistory), the voices were attributed to deities. “The preposterous hypothesis we have come to is that at one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called god, and a follower part called man. Neither was conscious. This is almost incomprehensible to us.” Preconscious humans did not have an ego like ours; rational thought would spring up in a late stage of history, especially in Greece. However, orthodox Hellenists usually do not ask themselves why, for a millennium, many Greeks relied on instructions coming from a group of auditory hallucinating women in Delphi. To explain similar cultural phenomena, Jaynes lays emphasis upon the role that voices played in the identities, costumes and group interactions; and concludes that the high civilizations of Egypt, the Middle East, Homeric Greece and Mesoamerica were developed by a primitive unconscious.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind describes the theodicy in which, three thousand years ago, subjectivity and the ego flourished. For the common man consciousness is the state of awareness of the mind; say, the conscious state at walking. Jaynes uses the term in a more restricted way: consciousness as the subjective universe, the self-analyzing or self-conscious mind; the “I,” the will and morality of an individual, as well as the development of the linear concept of time (which used to be cyclic to the archaic mind, perhaps due to the observation of the stations of the year). The man who left behind his bicameral thinking developed a more robust sense of the self, and Jaynes finds narrative evidence of this acting self in the literary record. He examines Amos, the voice of the oldest Old Testament text and compares it with the Ecclesiastes, the most recent one. Likewise, Jaynes scrutinizes the Iliad looking for tracks of a subjective self, and finds nothing. The Homeric heroes did what Athena or Apollo told them; they literally heard their gods’ voices as the prophets listened to Yahweh’s. Their psyches did not display brightness of their own yet. (If we remember the metaphor of my first book, the mentality of ancient man was similar to what astronomers call a “maroon dwarf”: a failed star like Jupiter, not a sun with enough mass to cause nuclear fusion so that it could shine on its own.) Matters change with the texts of Odysseus’ adventures, and even more with the philosophers of the Ionian islands and of Athens. At last the individual had accumulated enough egocentric mass to explode and to shine by itself. Jaynes believes that it was not until the Greek civilization that the cataclysm that represented the psychogenic fusion consolidated itself.

By Solon’s times it may be said that the modern self, as we understand it, had finally exploded. The loquacious gods, including the Hebraic Yahweh, became silent never to speak again but through the bicameral prophets. After the breakdown of divine authority, with the gods virtually silenced in the times of the Deuteronomy, the Judean priests and governors embarked upon a frenetic project to register the legends and stories of the voices that, in times of yore, had guided them. It was no longer necessary to hallucinate sayings that the god had spoken: man himself was the standard upon which considerations, decisions, and behaviors on the world rested. In the dawning of history man had subserviently obeyed his gods, but when the voice of consciousness appears, rebelliousness, dissidence, and even heresy are possible.

Through his book, which may be called a treatise of psycho-archeology, Jaynes follows the track of how subjective consciousness emerged. His ambitious goal is to explain the birth of consciousness, and hence the origin of our civilization. Once the former “maroon dwarfs” achieve luminescence in a group of individuals’ selves, not only religious dissent comes about, but regicide, the pursuit of personal richness and, finally, individual autonomy. This evolution continues its course even today. Paradoxically, when the West reaches the stage that deMause calls “helping mode” in child-rearing, it entails ill-fated consequences such as Caucasian demographic dilution and the subsequent Islamization of Europe (as we will see).

Although Jaynes speculates that the breakdown of the bicameral mind could have been caused by crises in the environment, by ignoring deMause he does not present the specific mechanism that gave rise to the transition. Due to the foundational taboo of human species, explained by Alice Miller in my previous book and by Colin Ross in this one, Jaynes did not explore the decisive role played by the modes of childrearing. This blindness permeates The Origin of Consciousness to the point of giving credibility to the claims of biological psychiatry; for example, Jaynes believes in the genetic basis of schizophrenia, a pseudoscientific hypothesis, as shown in my previous essay. However, his thesis on bicameralism caused his 1976 essay to be repeatedly reprinted, including the 1993 Penguin Books edition and another edition with a 1990 afterword that is still in print.

In the bicameral kingdoms the hallucinated voices of ancient men were culturally accepted as part of the social fabric. But a psychogenic leap forward gives as much power to the new psychoclass as the Australopithecus character of 2001: A Space Odyssey grabbing a bone. “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” The conquest of the Inca Empire was one of a handful of military confrontations between the two states of consciousness. A deMausean interpretation would lead us to think that it was a clash between the infanticidal psychoclass and an intermediate state of ambivalent and intrusive modes of childrearing. The Spaniards were clearly up the scale of “psychogenic leaps” compared to the Incas.

This reading of history is diametrically opposed to Bartolomé de Las Casas, who in his Apologética Historia claimed that in some moral aspects the Amerindians were superior to the Spanish and even to Greeks and Romans. Today’s Western self-hatred had its precursor in Las Casas, who flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In identical fashion, in the 21st century it is irritating to see in educational TV programs an American in Peru saying that the Incas of the times of the Conquest “were much smarter than the Spanish.” The truth is that the Incas did not even know how to use the wheel and lacked written language. They literally heard their statues speak to them and their bicameral mind handicapped them before the more robust psyche of the Europeans: something like an Australopithecus clan clashing with another without bones in their hands. The Spaniards were, certainly, very religious; but not to the point of using magical thinking in their warfare stratagems. According to a 16th-century Spaniard, “the unhappy dupes believed the idols spoke to them and so sacrificed to it birds, dogs, their own blood and even men” (this quotation refers to Mesoamericans, the subject-matter of the next section). The Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa believes that his ancestors were defeated due to a pragmatic and basically modern European mentality in contrast to the magical thinking of the natives; and the Mexican Carlos Fuentes wrote that the conquest of the American continent was a great triumph of the scientific hypothesis over the indigenous physical perception.

Jaynes overemphasizes that the prophets of the Old Testament literally heard Yahweh’s voice. Because the minds in the Ancient World, like present-day schizoid personalities, were swarmed with sources of hallucination, humans still lacked an inner space for retrospection and introspection. Bible scholars have debated at length about what could have caused the loss of prophecy gifts in the Hebrew people after the Babylonian exile. I would say that the elimination of the sacrificial practice of infants meant a leap toward a superior psychoclass, with the consequent overcoming of the schizoid or bicameral personality.

But going back to Jaynes: Formerly terrestrial and loquacious, the later mute gods were transported to a heaven, making room for human divination: the consultation of human beings that (for having been raised by more regressive parents I may infer) still heard the fateful voices. Even though the divine voices made themselves unnecessary for the new kind of human, praying continued to a god who was incapable, centuries ago, of communicating through divine voices.

The entire succession of [Old Testament] works becomes majestically and wonderfully the birth pangs of our subjective consciousness. No other literature has recorded this absolutely important event at such length or with such fullness. Chinese literature jumps into subjectivity in the teaching of Confucius with little before it. Indian hurtles from the bicameral Veda into the ultra subjective Upanishads. Greek literature, like a series of steppingstones from The Iliad to the Odyssey and across the broken fragments of Sappho and Solon toward Plato, is the next best record, but still too incomplete. And Egypt is relatively silent.

Jaynes’ book is dense, closely argued, and despite its beautiful prose often boring. But the chapter on the Hebrew people titled “The Moral Consciousness of the Khabiru” is must reading. If he is right, it was not until the fifth century before the Common Era when the bicameral mind began to be seen as the incapacitating disorder that is presently labeled as psychosis. In contrast to the mystic psychohistorian Robert Godwin, I am closer to Jaynes in that one of the most persistent residues of bicameralism is our religious heritage.

Jaynes, who died in 1997, may be the proverbial author of a single book, but many people continue to read The Origin of Consciousness. Tor Norretranders, a popular author on scientific subjects, expanded the bicameral hypothesis in a book published a year after Jaynes died, The User Illusion, and he cites more recent investigations than those collected by Jaynes.
 
Popperian falsifiability

Despite the book’s popularity and the fact that Jaynes taught in Princeton University and did archaeological work, his colleagues did not pay him much attention. Many academics reject theories that have been presented through literary books. It is understandable that a book with such lyric passages has been ignored by the dry science taught in the psychology departments; by neurobiologists, and by evolutionary theorists. Jaynes, basically a humanist, had not presented his theory in a scientific or falsifiable format.

Adepts of social sciences grant such authority to the hard sciences that, when they run across a text that emphasizes the humanities, they want to see everything translated to the language of science. They do this in spite of the fact that, in the reign of subjectivity, hard sciences are incapable of producing something truly significant. Notwithstanding this scientific demand, I concede that if we humanists make claims that could be interpreted as scientific hypotheses, it doesn’t hurt to present them in such a way that they may be refuted, if per chance they are wrong. Consequently, I must make it very clear that the trauma model is falsifiable.

For instance, it occurs to me that, if the model is correct, in the Israeli kibbutz children cannot be easily schizophrenized. The cause of this would be, naturally, that in the kibbutz they are put farther away from potentially schizophrenogenic parents than the children in nuclear families. Something similar could be said about Jaynes’ ideas. His hypothesis can be presented in falsifiable form always provided that the presentation is done through a deMausean interpretation of it, as we will see almost by the end of this book.

Once it is conceded that even humanists who venture into foreign lands can present their theories in falsifiable form, I must point out that very few academics, including psychologists, are willing to delve into the darkest chambers of the human psyche. To them it is disturbing that prehistoric man, and a good deal of the historic man including their ancestors, had behaved as marionettes of hallucinated voices or nonexistent gods. Jaynes’ ideas represent a serious challenge to history as it is officially understood and even more to religion, anthropology, and psychiatry. He seems to postulate that a scant connectivity of the two brain hemispheres produced voices, and that the changes in consciousness caused the brain to become more interconnected through the corpus callosum. In case I have interpreted him correctly, I am afraid it is not possible to run tomographs on those who died millennia ago to compare, say, the brain of the bicameral pythoness against the brain of the intellectual Solon. Let’s ignore this non-falsifiable aspect and focus on hypotheses that may be advanced by epidemiologists in the field of social sciences. Studying the changes of incidence patterns of child mistreatment through history or contemporary cultures is a perfectly falsifiable scientific approach.

In the book reviews of The Origin of Consciousness available on the internet it can be gathered that the experience of many readers was as electrifying as a midnight ray that allowed them to see, albeit for a split second, the human reality. If the ultimate test for any theory is to explain the most data in the simplest way, we should not ignore the psychohistories of Jaynes and deMause. If they are right, the explanatory power of an unified model would help us understand part of the human mystery, especially religion and psychosis.

 
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The objective of the book is to present to the racialist community my philosophy of The Four Words on how to eliminate all unnecessary suffering. If life allows, next time I will publish here the section on schizophrenia theorist Silvano Arieti. Those interested in obtaining a copy of Day of Wrath can request it: here.

The face of Classical Europe (I)

Were the Greeks blond and blue-eyed?

 

In 2013 I translated this article from the Spanish blogsite Evropa Soberana in fragmented form. Now that I am reviewing The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour for the 2015 edition, I would like to see it reproduced here in a single entry:

 

I remember a movie that came out in 2004. Troy was called. Naturally, many fans of Greece went to see it quite interested; some of them because they sincerely admired Hellas and its legacy. But some uncultivated specimens attended the theaters too. Everyone knows that, in our day, Greece is regarded as a mark of snobbery and sophistication even though you do not know who Orion was, or what was the color of Achilles’ hair according to mythology. The movie’s Helen (one with a look of a neighborhood slut) and Achilles (Brad Pitt) were rather cute. Adding the special effects, advertising and usual movie attendance there was no reason not to see this movie that, incidentally, is crap except for a few redeemable moments.

Upon first glance at the big screen, one of the many reactions that could be heard from the mouth of alleged scholarly individuals, was something like the following:

Outrageous: Achilles and Helen, blond and blue-eyed! Oh tragedy! Oh tantrum! Such a huge stupidity! Irreparable affront! It is obvious that Nazism, fascism, Nordicism, Francoism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and sexism are booming in Hollywood, because who would have the crazy notion to represent the Greeks as blond, when their phenotype was Mediterranean? Only the Americans could be so uneducated and egocentric and ethnocentric and Eurocentric and fascists and Nazis and blah blah…

These good people were not outraged by the desecration of The Iliad; for the absurd and fallacious script, for representing Achilles like an Australian surfer, or Helen as a cunt or the great kings as truckers of a brothel. No. They didn’t give a hoot about that. What mattered was leaving very clearly that they were sophisticated people, conscious of what was happening and that, besides being progressive democrats and international multi-culturalists without blemish, and able to pronounce “phenotype” without binding the tongue, they were also sufficiently “sincere admirers of Greece” to be indignant and losing their monocles before a blond Achilles.

The same could be said about the ultra-educated reaction to the movie 300. When it was released, we could see an outraged mass (and when we say “outraged” we are saying really outraged) complaining in the most grotesque way, by the presence here and there, of blond Spartans throughout the movie—fascist xenophobia by Hollywood and the like. How easy it is for the big mouths when there are large doses of daring ignorance involved, and when they have no idea what it stands to reason.

What I did not expect was to hear similar statements from the admirers of classical culture: people that one generously assumes they have read the Greco-Roman works or that are minimally informed—at least enough to not put one’s foot in it in a such a loudly manner. For Achilles, considered the greatest warrior of all time, and sole and exclusive holder of the holy anger, is described in The Iliad as blond, along with an overwhelming proportion of heroes, heroines, gods, goddesses—and even slaves considered desirable and worthy for the harem of the Greek warriors to seed the world with good genes.

The same could be said of the Spartans if we consider the physical appearance of their northern Dorian ancestors, who had come “among the snows” according to Herodotus. In fact, the movie 300 was too generous with the number of Spartans of dark hair, and too stingy with the number of blonds.

Whoever declares himself an admirer of classical European culture (Greece and Rome) and, at the same time, asserts that it was founded by swarthy, Mediterraneans-like-me folks is placing himself in the most uncomfortable form of self-consciousness. As I have said, if such individual really admired the classical world and bothered to read the classical works, he would have ascertained to what extent Nordic blood prevailed in the leaders of both Greece and Rome—especially in Greece. In short, those who claim being ultra-fans of Greece, Rome or both only throw garbage on themselves by demonstrating that they had not even read the original writings.

There are many truths about Nordic blood and Hellas but perhaps the most eloquent and overwhelming truth is that Greek literature is full of references to the appearance of the heroes and gods because the Greeks liked to place adjectives on all the characters, and nicknames and epithets representing their presence. So much so that it is really hard to find a swarthy character. In the case, for example, of Pindar, it is a real scandal: there is not a single character that is not “blonde,” “golden,” “white,” “of snowy arms,” and therefore “godlike.”

The blue eyes were described as γλαυκώπισ (glaukopis), which derives from γλαῦκος (glaukos), “brilliant,” “shiny.” The Roman writer Aulus Gellius, in his Attic Nights describes the concept of colors in a conversation between a Greek and a Roman. The Roman tells the Greek that glaucum (from which derives the Castilian glaucous) means gray-blue, and the Greek translates glaukopis into Latin as caesia, “sky,” i.e., sky blue. As Günther observes, the very word “iris,” of Greek origin, that describes the color of the eye, could only have been chosen by a people whom clear and bright eye colors dominated (blue, green or gray), and that a predominately swarthy people would have never compared the eye color with the image of the rainbow.

The Greek word for blond was ξανθός (xanthus), “yellow,” “gold,” “blond.” The xanthus color in the hair, as well as extreme beauty, light skin, high height, athletic build and luminous eyes were considered by the Greeks as proof of divine descent.


The physical appearance of Greek gods and heroes

DemeterDemeter as it was conceived by the Greeks. We must remember that the statues had a deeply sacred and religious character for the Hellenes and that, in addition of being works of art, they were also the height of geometric feeling and engineering, since the balance had to be perfect. The Greeks, who had a great knowledge of the analyses of features, represented in their statues not only beautiful people, but beautiful people with a necessarily beautiful soul.

There is a persistent tendency among the Hellenes to describe their idols as “dazzling,” “radiant,” “shiny,” “bright,” “full of light,” etc., something that very obviously correspond to a barely pigmented, “Nordic” appearance. To be more direct, I’ll omit these ambiguous quotes and focus on the concrete: the specific references to the color of skin, eyes, hair, and more. Where possible I’ve inserted the works, specific chapters and verses so that anyone can refer to the original passage.

• Demeter is described as “the blonde Demeter” in The Iliad (Song V: 500) and in Hymn to Demeter (I: 302), based on the mysteries of Eleusis. It is generally considered a matriarchal and telluric goddess from the East and of the pre-Indo-European peoples of Greece. However, here we should be inclined to think that, at best, she was a Europeanized goddess by the Greeks, integrated into their pantheon. The very name of Demeter comes from Dea Mater (Mother Goddess) and therefore would, in a sense, be the counterpart of Deus Pater—Zeus Pater or Jupiter, Dyaus Piter.

• Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is described as “white-armed” by Hesiod (Theogony: 913). At least it is clear here that Persephone was not a brown skinned goddess, nor that her physique coincided with the “Mediterranean” type. It is more reasonable to assume that her appearance was, at best, predominantly Nordic.

• Athena, the daughter of Zeus, goddess of wisdom, insight, cunning and strategic warfare in The Iliad, is described no more no less than a total of 57 times as “blue eyed” (in some variations, “green eyed”), and in The Odyssey a comparable number of times. Pindar referred to her as xanthus and glaukopis, meaning “blonde, blue-eyed.” Hesiod is content to call her “of green eyes” in his Theogony (15, 573, 587, 890 and 924), as well as Alcaeus and Simonides; while the Roman Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, which tells the perdition of Arachne, calls the goddess “manly and blond maiden.”

• Hera, the heavenly wife of Zeus, is called “white-armed” by Hesiod (Theogony, 315), while Homer called her “of snowy arms” and “white-armed goddess” at least thirteen times in The Iliad (I: 55, 195, 208, 572. 595, III 121, V: 775, 784; VIII: 350, 381, 484; XV: 78, 130).

• Zephyrus, the progenitor of Eros along with Iris, is described by Alcaeus (VII-VI centuries BCE) as “golden hair Zephyr” (Hymn to Eros, fragment V, 327).

• Eros, the god of eroticism, considered “the most terrible of the gods,” is described by an unknown, archaic Greek author as “golden-haired Eros.”

Belvedere_Apollo

• Apollo as it was conceived by the very Greek sculptors. We are talking about a Nordic-white racial type slightly Armenized. Along with Athena, he was the most worshiped god throughout Greece, and particularly loved in Sparta.

Apollo is described by Alcaeus as “fair-haired Phoebus.” Phoebus is Apollo. On the other hand, Alcman of Sparta, Simonides (paean to Delos, 84), and an anonymous author, call Apollo “of golden hair,” while another epithet of his by Góngora—a Spanish author of the Renaissance but based on classic literary evidence—is “blond archpoet.” The famous Sappho of Lesbos speaks of “golden-haired Phoebus” in her hymn to Artemis.

• The god Rhadamanthus, son of Zeus and Europa, is described as blond in The Odyssey, and Strabo calls him “the blond Rhadamanthus” in his Geographica (Book III, 11-13).

• Dionysus is called by Hesiod “golden-haired” (Theogony 947).

• Hecate, goddess of the wilderness and also of the Parthians, is described by an unknown Greek poet as “golden haired Hecate, daughter of Zeus.”

Artemis

• Artemis (illustration), the sister of Apollo is described by Sappho and Anacreon (Hymn to Artemis) as “blond daughter of Zeus.”

• The goddess Thetis, mother of Achilles, is called by Hesiod “of silver feet” (Theogony 1007), and by Homer “of silvery feet” (Iliad, I: 538, 556, IX : 410; XVI : 574, XVIII : 369, 381, XIV:89). Needless to say that a brown-skinned woman cannot have silvery feet: this is an attribute of extremely pale women.

• The Eunice and Hipponoe mermaids are described as “rosy-armed” by Hesiod (Theogony, ll. 240-264).

• Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, goddess of love, beauty and female eroticism, is always described as a blonde. Its conventional title is almost always “Golden Aphrodite.” Ibycus (in Ode to Polycrates) calls Aphrodite “Cypris of blond hair.” Aphrodite held the title of Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) because the Greeks believed she was born in Cyprus, where she was particularly revered. In Hesiod’s Theogony she is called “golden Aphrodite” (824, 962, 975, 1006 and 1015) and “very golden Aphrodite” (980). In Homer’s Iliad we have “Aura Aphrodite” (IX: 389), and in The Odyssey as “golden haired.”

• The Graces were described by Ibycus as “green eyed” (fragment papery, PMG 288).

Above I listed Wilhelm Sieglin’s conclusions regarding the Hellenic pantheon as a whole. Let us now see the heroes.

• Helen, considered the most beautiful woman ever and an indirect cause of the Trojan War, was described by Stesichorus, Sappho (first book of poems, Alexandrian compilation) and Ibycus as “the blonde Helen” (Ode to Polycrates).

• King Menelaus of Sparta, absolute model of noble warrior, brother of Agamemnon and legitimate husband of Helen is many times “the blond Menelaus” both in The Iliad (a minimum of fourteen times, III: 284, IV: 183, 210, X: 240, XI: 125; XVII: 6, 18, 113, 124, 578, 673, 684, XXIII: 293, 438) and The Odyssey. Peisander described him as xanthokómes, mégas en glaukómmatos, meaning “blond of big blue eyes.” In Greek mythology, Menelaus is one of the few heroes who achieved immortality in the Islands of the Blessed.

• Cassandra, the daughter of Agamemnon and sister of Orestes, is described by Philoxenus of Cythera with “golden curls,” and by Ibycus as “green-eyed Cassandra.”

• Meleager is described as “the blond Meleager” by Homer (Iliad, II: 642), and in his Argonautica

Apollonius of Rhodes also describes him as blond.

• Patroclus, the teacher and friend of Achilles, is described as blond by Dion of Prusa.

• Heracles is described as strongly built and of curly blond hair, among others, by Apollonius of Rhodes in Argonautica.

• Achilles, considered the greatest warrior of the past, present and future, is described as blond by Homer in the Iliad when he is about to attack Agamemnon and, to avoid it, the goddess Athena retains him “and seized the son of Peleus by his yellow hair” (I:197).

• The Greek hero Ajax (Aias in the Iliad) is described as blond.

• Hector, the Trojan hero,[1] is described as swarthy in the Iliad.

• Odysseus, king of Ithaca, Achaean hero at Troy and protagonist of Homer’s Odyssey, is generally considered as swarthy. However, this can be tempered. Although he is described as white skinned and “dark bearded” in The Odyssey, his hair ishyakinthos, i.e., color of hyacinths. Traditionally this color was translated as “brown” but it was also said that the hyacinths grown in Greece were of a red variety. If true, that would make Odysseus red-haired.

• Odysseus in any case differs from the Greek hero prototype: tall, slender and blond. It was described as lower than Agamemnon but with broader shoulders and chest “like a ram” according to Priam, king of Troy. This could more likely be a physical type of a Red Nordid [2] than a typical white Nordid Greek hero. It should also be mentioned that Homer used so frequently to call “blonds” his heroes that, in two lapses, he described Odysseus’ hair as xanthos in The Odyssey.

• Laertes, the father of Odysseus, was blond according to Homer’s Odyssey.

• Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, and queen of Ithaca, was blonde in Homer’s Odyssey.

• Telemachus, son of Odysseus and Penelope, was blond in Homer’s Odyssey.

• Briseis, the favorite slave in the harem of Achilles—captured in one of his raids, and treated like a queen in golden captivity—was “golden haired.”

• Agamede, daughter of Augeas and wife of Mulius, was “the blonde Agamede” according to Homer (Iliad, XI: 740).

• In his Argonautica Apollonius of Rhodes describes Jason and all the Argonauts as blond. The Argonauts were a männerbund: a confederation of warriors which gathered early Greek heroes, many direct children of the gods who laid the foundations of the legends and fathered the later heroes, often with divine mediation. They took their name from Argos, the ship they were traveling and did their Viking-style landings.

Below I reproduce some passages of Nordic phenotypes in Greek literature. Note that these are only a few examples of what exists in all of Greek literature:

• “Blonder hairs than a torch” (Sappho of Lesbos, talking about her daughter in Book V of her Alexandrian compilation).

• “Galatea of golden hair” (Philoxenus of Cythera, The Cyclops or Galatea).

• “…with a hair of gold and a silver face” (Alcman of Sparta, praising a maiden during a car race).

• “…happy girl of golden curls” (Alcman of Sparta, in honor of a Spartan poetess).

Berlin_Painter_Ganymedes_Louvre

• “…blonde Lacedaemonians… of golden hair” (Bacchylides, talking about the young Spartans).

• Dicaearchus described Theban women as “blonde.”

The German scholar Wilhelm Sieglin (1855-1935) collected all the passages of Greek mythology which referred to the appearance of gods and heroes. From among the gods and goddesses, 60 were blond and 35 swarthy-skinned. Of the latter, 29 were chthonic-telluric divinities; marine deities such as Poseidon, or deities from the underworld. All of these came from the ancient pre-Aryan mythology of Greece. Of the mythological heroes, 140 were blond and 8 swarthy.

In this article, we have seen many instances of mythological characters, which is important because it provides us valuable information about the ideal of divinity and perfection of the ancient Greeks and points out that their values were identified with the North and the “Nordic” racial type. However, Sieglin also took into account the passages describing the appearance of real historical characters. Thus, of 122 prominent people of ancient Greece whose appearance is described in the texts, 109 were light haired (blond or red), and 13 swarthy.

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See also:

“The face of Classical Europe (II):
Were the Romans blond and blue-eyed?”

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Footnotes:

[1] “Trojan”—i.e., a non-Greek.

[2] An explanation of terms like “red Nordid,” “slightly Armenized,” etc., appears in other article of the website Evropa Soberana, also reproduced in this blog.

March of the Titans

The following paragraphs of the appendix of March of the Titans: The Complete History of the White Race by Arthur Kemp caught my attention:

Homeric references to race

References to race abound in the works of Homer, the blind poet to whom credit is given for the two classic epics, the Iliad, and the Odyssey.

The Iliad – Book I. “While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing his mighty sword from its scabbard, Minerva came down from heaven (for Juno had sent her in the love she bore to them both), and seized the son of Peleus by his yellow hair, visible to him alone, for of the others no man could see her.”

The Iliad – Book XV: “Then she said, “I have come, O dark-haired king that holds the world in his embrace, to bring you a message from Jove.”

The Iliad – Book XVII: “As a cow stands lowing over her first calf, even so did yellow-haired Menelaus bestride Patroclus.”

The Odyssey – Book 4: “There fair-haired Rhadamanthus reigns, and men lead an easier life than any where else in the world, for in Elysium there falls not rain, nor hail, nor snow, but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind that sings softly from the sea, and gives fresh life to all men.”

The Odyssey – Book 13: “Trust me for that,” said she (Minerva, talking to Odysseus),” I will begin by disguising you so that no human being shall know you; I will cover your body with wrinkles; you shall lose all your yellow hair; I will clothe you in a garment that shall fill all who see it with loathing.”

The Odyssey – Book 24: “On this Minerva came close up to him and said, “Son of Arceisius, best friend I have in the world- pray to the blue-eyed damsel, and to Jove her father; then poise your spear and hurl it.”


Hippolytus by Euripides

Antistrophe: “Was wasting on the bed of sickness, pent within her house, a thin veil o’ershadowing her head of golden hair.”

Phardra: “Away to the mountain take me! to the wood, to the pine-trees will go, where hounds pursue the prey, hard on the scent of dappled fawns. Ye gods! what joy to hark them on, to grasp the barbed dart, to poise Thessalian hunting-spears close to my golden hair, then let them fly.”

Hippolytus_Sir_Lawrence_Alma_Tadema

Chechar’s note: Above, The Death of Hippolytus (1860) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Note how virtually all modern artists have been clueless about the fact that the Greeks were depicted as Nordish blonds, not black-haired Mediterraneans, in the original texts—even the modern artists who loved the Greco-Roman cultures.

(For the rest of Kemp’s appendix, see: here.)

Published in: on November 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Were the Greeks blond and blue-eyed?

– XXXI –

ILIAD
 
This piece has been chosen for my collection The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour. It has also been merged within a single entry.

Published in: on November 4, 2013 at 10:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Were the Greeks blond and blue-eyed?

– XXX –

briseis
 
This piece has been chosen for my collection The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour. It has also been merged within a single entry.

Published in: on November 2, 2013 at 10:49 am  Comments (2)