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Sargon

Image via memory-alpha.wikia.com

In the original Star Trek TV series Sargon is a forceful, intelligent mind residing in a glowing orb. Sargon abducts Captain Kirk and plans to inhabit his body.¹

This fictional Sargon is named after two ancient Sargons who walked this Earth. Sargon I was a Akkadian king (2400 BCE) said to have built Babylon. Sargon II was an Assyrian king (around 700 BCE). Both were successful militarists.

More and more people are saying that the Star Trek franchise has created something of a modern myth. One of the ingredients for Star Trek‘s lasting success is the recasting of elements from history, myth and legend within an optimistic, socially progressive future.

King Sargon II and a Dignatary by Sharon Mollerus

King Sargon II and a Dignatary by Sharon Mollerus via Flickr

Depth psychologists and cultural theorists say that the use of history in storytelling sets off a subconscious resonance, giving a story charm, fascination and, as religious studies scholars would put it, numinous allure.

The use of Sargon in this episode is a good example of calling up the past, injecting it into the present while imagining the future.

¹ Excellent outline of the story » http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Return_to_Tomorrow_%28episode%29


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Sophists

 

Early Athenian Coin, an "owl"

Early Athenian Coin, an “owl” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sophists were independent Greek public speakers of the 5th century BCE, teaching for a fee about politics, philosophy and rhetoric.

Protagoras is usually regarded as the first with Gorgias being another prominent sophist. Wikipedia also lists Prodicus, Hippias, Thrasymachus, Lycophron, Callicles, Antiphon, and Cratylus.

Plato portrays them in his dialogues as foils for the sober, sound argumentation of Socrates.

In the most general sense sophists are usually depicted as denying the existence of ultimate reality and morality in favor of worldly pleasures derived from the senses.

Likewise, they’re often said to reject the Greek gods and advocate the perfection of humanity.

English: The School of Athens (detail). Fresco...

The School of Athens (detail). Fresco, Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In actual fact, there is no single school of Sophist thought. Plato’s response to the leading Sophists is as complex as their various positions.

Generally slighted by Plato, the sophists were quick and intelligent, contributing to knowledge about linguistics, drama and a prototypical form of applied sociology. And they were instrumental in helping young men to “better” themselves in terms of learning how to win arguments—a skill set essential to upward mobility and entrance into political life not only in ancient Greece but also for men and women today.¹

¹ See, for instance, the excellent introductory discussion about ancient Greek philosophy in this DVD set: http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/history-of-the-ancient-world-a-global-perspective.html

On the Web:

  • Video touching on some of the topics that the ancient Greeks debated, topics that continued through the Middle Ages, right up to contemporary debates.

Related Posts » Jean A. Baudrillard


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Tokugawa

Tokugawa Ieyasu by jpellgen

Tokugawa Ieyasu – The great commander of the Tokugawa forces and the first shogun of the Tokugawa period, Ieyasu (jpellgen via Flickr)

The Tokugawa were a powerful military family in medieval Japan whose members held power and ruled as Shoguns from 1603-1867.

The origins of the clan remain unclear. But under Tokugawa rule society was legitimized with Confucian hierarchical ideals. Social classes were ranked by status with warriors holding the highest position, followed by farmers, then workers and, last, merchants.

This is an interesting variant to the Hindu caste system, where the castes originated from a ritually dismembered Primal Cosmic Man, emerging in a different status order than in medieval Japan.

The highest, fair-skinned Brahman caste (priests, thinkers) emanated from the head, the lower and darker Kshatriya caste (rajas, warriors, persons of action) from the arms, while the next lower and darker Vaisna caste (merchants) originated from the thighs.

Later, the additional fourth, lowest and darkest Sudra caste (servants) was added, believed to be the “feet” of the purusa.¹

In recent times, the Shoguns and Samurai have taken a whole new mythic life with movies, TV, anime, and gaming.

¹ https://earthpages.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/caste/

Related Posts » Confucius, Confucianism

On the Web:

  • This documentary of Tokugawa Ieyasu was made using real pictures of the actual Samurai involved, and their Crests, set to The Lonely Shepard. There was one factual error in the movie, that of course beeing that Oda Nobunaga was not from peasant stock as implied, but that subtitle had been meant Hideyoshi, Toyotomi. Enjoy” (StaggerLeee)

 


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Michael Wood

MICHAEL WOOD

MICHAEL WOOD (Photo credit: RubyGoes)

Michael Wood (1948- ) is a British filmmaker and historian whose innovative, on-site productions are enjoyed by thinking persons around the world. Not quite as sensational as more recent productions by other UK notables, what makes Wood’s docs different is his sophisticated levity.

Other UK doc stars like Simon Schama have been criticized for oversimplifying. But Schama makes no apologies for this. To anyone who thinks it’s easy to make a documentary, he says “try it.” And I suppose that kind of challenge could be given to cynical critics everywhere. However, one doesn’t have to be an expert at creating in order to be an expert at comparing and critiquing something.

Related Posts » Troy

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Barbara G. Walker

Diana the huntress

Diana the huntress (Photo credit: katmary)

Barbara G. Walker (1930- ) is an American expert on knitting and a feminist writer on mythology, religion and spirituality.

Her Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, although of questionable accuracy at times, offers a compensatory perspective to not only chauvinist religious teachings but also to thinkers who ignore or gloss over Christianity’s ugly past.

From the standpoint of psycho-history, past atrocities tend to reemerge in novel, equally frightening forms if their underlying psychological dynamics remain unexamined and therefore unconscious.

By way of contrast, some researchers emphasize visible – instead of unconscious – motivational factors in their study of mankind. But to this, Thomas A Kohut says:

Because it is not possible to comprehend people without dealing with the psychological, historians, including those critical of psychohistory, have always written about it, even if they have rarely acknowledged the fact.¹

In the 1970’s Walker worked on a telephone hotline for battered women and pregnant teenagers. This sparked her interest in feminism and possibly contributed to her unique perspective on myth, religion and spirituality.

To this Rose White adds:

[Walker made] enormous contributions to female intellectual empowerment through her many collections of knitted stitch patterns. Of course her work benefited all knitters, not just women, but at the time she was writing, nearly all knitters were women.

The point of view which guided her to collect and produce her anthologies of stitch patterns was this: Crafters should not be beholden to crappy commercial garment designs, but should have the means to create their own original works. She has been an inspiration to multiple generations of knitters, and these books are still in print 40 years later. » See in context

And Mary Treherne comments about sex-role stereotypes and religion in general:

A change in the psycho-sexual paradigm of human nature, and the whole ‘chemistry’ of human relationship is taking place with a wholly new interpretation of the moral teachings of Christ, one that threatens to bring down the whole of ‘christian’ history and tradition and a lot more besides. To be truly free is to be free for an ignorance within human nature itself.

Anyone able to free themselves of their prejudices, who is interested in real progress that history has thus far denied us, should check out: http://www.energon.org.uk » See in context

¹ Thomas A. Kohut, “Psychohistory as History,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Apr., 1986: 336-354), p. 352.

Related Posts » Diana, Goddess vs. goddess, Neo-Paganism, Persephone, Torture, Witch, Witches Hammer, Inquisitions


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Antioch

Kurtuluş Caddesi, Antakya (Antioch), Hatay pro...

Kurtuluş Caddesi, Antakya (Antioch), Hatay province, Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the ancient world there were 16 cities and towns called Antioch by Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Empire. All were named in honor of his father, Antiochus.

The largest was Antioch in Syria, which he founded in 301 BCE. A commercial and intellectual hub, its inhabitants were noted for their caustic wit and bent for coining nicknames. The place was an ancient marvel, with nature reserves and temples dedicated to pagan deities like Daphne, Apollo and Demeter, along with a royal palace, fine carriages and other breathtaking (or, perhaps, intimidating) landmarks indicating economic wealth and power.

The first Gentile Christian Church was formed at Antioch in Syria. St. Paul made his missionary base at Antioch. Over time the significant Jewish population there didn’t appreciate Paul’s teachings about Christ (possibly also the growing number of converts to Christianity) and as a result harassed him.¹ At one point the Jewish population managed to evict Paul from the city, but that didn’t deter him from converting Hellenized Jews and Gentiles to Christianity.

English: Roman mosaic, Daphne (Antioch), Syria...

Roman mosaic, Daphne (Antioch), Syria, – Animals Hunting, Honolulu Academy of Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At this point, the city was quite cosmopolitan, composed of Romans, Greeks, Syrians and Jews. Christians appeared in droves, most likely being called “Christians” for the very first time at Antioch.

At Antioch a school of thought formed where scripture was interpreted literally. Sort of like the uncritical fundamentalists of today.

The early city was destroyed by an earthquake in 526. Antakya is now the capital of the Hatay province in Southern Turkey.

¹ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, 1987, p. 60-61.


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Amenhotep III

English: The eastern figure of the Colossi of ...

The eastern figure of the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, across the Nile from Luxor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amenhotep III (c. 1411–1375 BCE) was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty.

Amenhotep III ruled peacefully at home, advancing culture and art, while securing Egyptian power in Babylonia and Assyria. During his reign he rebuilt the ancient capital of Thebes, with stunning architecture like the Colossi of Memnon, the temple at Luxor and the Karnak pylon.

He has over 250 surviving statues, a number greater than any other Egyptian ruler.

From his mummified remains archaeologists can see that he had worn teeth and many dental cavities. And he invoked the goddess Ishtar (who figures in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh) to heal several illnesses, including his dental pain.

His son was Amenhotep IV, who renamed himself Akhenaten, fashioning after himself a solar-based monotheism.