Aeschylus wrote a famous tragedy, sort of satyr trilogy known as The Oresteia in which he tells the story of king Agamemnon and his family. Within the first play called Agamemnon, Aeschylus includes the legendary story of the Trojan war. Here he establishes his own view of the war.
This writer confirms the classical greek view and pretty much the view of many civilizations in ancient times about the relevance of the gods in pretty much everything that is done. The gods are territorial gods and each one holds specific authority over a city or geographical area. For example, some would rule over mountains, others over valleys, others over rivers, others over oceans, others over Athens, others over Troy, etc. An army’s victory depended greatly upon the area the war was fought and if the god of such army had jurisdiction upon that specific geographical area or city. In other words, while human beings fought with swords on their hands killing each other, the gods would fight amongst themselves to proportion the ultimate victory.
For this precise matter we see that while Agamemnon is on a boat with his soldiers undergoing a terrible storm due to the apparent causeless anger of the goddess of Artemis, there is a “harsh yoke of necessity” to sacrifice a human being to placate her. Agamemnon chooses in an “unholy” matter to sacrifice his own daughter. The sacrifice enabled the fleet to live and advance in war. However, the gods then punish the fleet by sinking it.
This comes to show that it is all an unethical world filled with revenge, hatred, death, irrational punishment, destruction, human sacrifice, sexual immorality, murder, etcetera and etcetera. Everything is caused by the gods, continued by the gods, and finished by the gods. Their strength and their whims are what determine the history of humanity causing many to engage in sinful affairs, according to the writings of Aeschylus.
Saint Augustine of Hippo lived from 354 to 430 and was a successful Christian theologian who wrote bountifully. He developed Christian thought and influenced Western philosophy along with many other philosophers after him, like Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica. Honestly, this man’s story truly impressed me.
He was a young man devoted to the pleasures of the flesh who was a hearer of Manichaeanism (philosophy that says there are two principles or gods in an infinite gigantic struggle; a good and an evil one). On the other hand, his mother, Monica, was a devoted Christian that cried unceasingly to God in prayer for her son. One day, she decided to go to her local bishop and expose her son’s living and he let her know that her unending clamor would save her son.
Meanwhile, lots of questions were being formed in Augustine’s mind. He wondered about the certainty of knowing an eternal truth if our carnal mind is limited. The need of understanding the reason of there being a conflict between the two gods of Manichaeanism also unsettled Augustine. One day, a Manichaean bishop known as Faustus was in Augustine’s town and he went to see the bishop to see if he could answer his questions. The bishop was unable to answer them leaving Augustine completely disappointed.
Later, he shortly abandoned manichaeanism, moved to Rome to teach rhetoric and became a Skeptic (philosophy that says nothing can be known as an absolute truth with certainty). In Rome he wasn’t cracking a good profit as the students didn’t pay for the lessons, so he moved to Milan. Not a lot of time passed until he became a Neo-Platonist (philosophy that followed Plato). In this philosophy he began to accept the possibility of there being an immaterial realm. Neo-Platonism also solved Augustine’s question of there being a conflict between the good and evil gods or principles. They said that evil is merely a privation of good, just as darkness is only the absence or privation of light. In other words, darkness has no substance, but light does. An unturned lightbulb is not shinig darkness, but it is actually not lighting or having substance. The same is true for good and evil, according to the Neo-Platonists explanation.
In Milan he went to listen to one of the greatest speakers of the time, St. Ambrose of Milan. Augustine went interested in the rhetoric techniques, but it came to be that the Saint and Augustine became close friends. Nevertheless, Augustine was not yet convinced of entering Christianity, despite the fact he was little by little abandoning Neo-Platonism. A time came when he was sitting in a garden with his friend Alypius talking about their spiritual journeys. Here Augustine wondered if his time had come to become a Christian and as he was wondering he heard a childlike voice from another side of the wall that said “tolle lege” (pick up and read). He thought this to mean that God was telling him to pick up the Bible and read the first passage that he came across to. This passage was the following:
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 14:13-14
Considering his sinful past, Augustine was practically slapped on the face by reading this. The scripture hit him right in the heart and was converted into Christianity in 386 to be baptized later by St. Ambrose of Milan in 387. It turned out that his mother, Monica, was still alive to see the fulfilment of her prayers. Four years later, St. Augustine was ordained into the priesthood and in a few years became the bishop of Hippo.
Two of the most famous writings that St. Augustine wrote are Confessions and the City of God. I find it very interesting to see how Augustine abandoned every philosophy tht he followed to permanently stay in the belief of Christianity. It is also attention grabbing to see how the prayers of a mother to God (not a Saint or man) for her son are answered.
St. Augustine’s Works
The two most well known literary works of St. Augustine are his very famous autobiography Confessions and his book City of God. His works are influenced by Plato like his philosophy of the eternal forms. This philosophy says that the material things we see are a copy of an invisible, immaterial, and indestructible form that is eternal. Forms are the reason why we have comparative judgment, which implies we have an absolute standard. The reason we know something is more beautiful than another thing is because we have an eternal standard or form of beauty. Plato was never really able to tell people the origin of the forms and Augustine simply said that they were in the mind of God.
In christianity Augustine acquired his answer about the capability of a limited, time-bound, and changeable mind to comprehend eternal, unchangeable truths. He said that our mind obviously needs outside help to understand what is unchangeable and beyond its capacity, this is divine illumination. Just as the sun makes things visible, divine light makes eternal truths visible so that we perceive that they are necessary and eternal truths. Simply speaking, our mind can’t create eternal truths but we get them from a changeless being who is God. Therefore, our soul, which apprehends the eternal and indestructible forms, is similar to them and is immortal.
Augustine’s moral theory is resemblant to that one of the greeks that says that the end of human conduct is happiness. Yet, Augustine’s eudaimonia is when you have achieved to possess God. God’s eternal laws are written in man’s heart and following these laws is what makes man what God meant him to be. Original sin doesn’t let us follow the laws, thus we need God’s grace to observe them. Moral perfection amounts to loving God, while evil is falling away from God.
That last statement is what most of City of God is about. In 410 Rome was being attacked and sacked by the Barbarians so they all blame the wimpy religion of Christianity that made them weak. Augustine disproves this argument in his book. He speaks of rome of a decadent and corrupt society that is responsible of its own fall, not Christianity. Augustine says that we should think in moral terms, not political or economic. Real human drama involves the salvation of individual souls and whether or not Rome survives is not relevant to this. Political systems do not save souls, but only God’s grace. Either we love God or we love ourselves that is the key question. The pagan empire of Rome is the embodiment of Babylon and its fall will not damage the city of God. The city of man and the city of God are found in the hearts of every single individual being and the love you have depends to which one you will belong.
Answering Augustine’s Questions
I would like to try to answer Augustine’s questions, if you don’t mind.
Let’s begin with the question of the ability of a limited mind to understand eternal truths. The Bible says that we are a tripartite being in Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Two thirds of our whole being (spirit and soul) are of eternal substance, while our body and all it contains, or all that conforms it, is perishable.
The mind that God gave us in essence is not limited but carnal or humane mind is because it’s corrupted and bounded by worldly structures. Augustine says that our minds can only grasp eternal truths by Divine illumination or revelation, however a person need not believe in God to comprehend that 2+2=4. Since they are created, our spirit and soul that are gifted by God already contain the ability to understand eternal truths. As a matter of fact, they were designed to know the Truth (Jesus whom is eternal). So our mind is not limited, but, as I have been saying throughout other essays, reason is. In other words, reason cannot completely grasp the absolue eternal Truth, but the mind of the Spirit can.
The mind of the flesh that is molded by reason develops all laws through what is physically and emotionally proven or experienced. That is to say that this previous mind will never discern spiritual reality, just ask science or psychology for that matter. This will necessarily take me to err in the illusive reality that I form because all true or real things come from the spiritual realm. They come from God or the devil, which are both spirits.
This leads me to answer Augustine’s next question, “Why is there a conflict between good and evil”. The truth is that there isn’t. Good and Evil are from the same real and substantial fruit in the garden of Eden, the real conflict resides in life and death. To understand this, we must know what real life is. Real life never dies, our soul and our spirit live forever, but our body dies. In other words, our body is not truly alive, but our eternal parts in it are. It is like a CPU. The cover of the CPU is not what makes the CPU function or be alive, but the mechanism within it. If the cover is destroyed and somehow the mechanism survives, all you do is change the cover. When our body returns to dust, our soul and spirit change residence, so to speak.
Therefore, we have a tree of life that gives life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil that gives death. To be blunt, doing good or doing evil causes no difference, but doing things that give life or death does. You can ask Adam and Eve when you see them in eternity or you can ask God now.
Knowing the last mentioned words we can better understand this scripture: For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5
Everything we think and do now determines what our tomorrow will look like. However, there are things we do that do not have any real impact. For example, we can create robots using the eternal truths of mathematics, but these creations will not have an impact in eternity because they are not done in the spiritual realm. That is to say that only what we do in what is purely eternal, which is our spirit, will touch or even shape eternity. There are people that are only remembered on earth, others are remembered in heaven and earth because they shook eternity. Where and how do you want to be remembered?
The Roman Empire is one of the greatest contributors to the development of Western civilization. Due to its considerable spread, Rome was able to influence not only the West, but a large amount of the East as well. Rome’s influence covers religion, art, architecture, philosophy, government, and other areas, too.
When it comes to religion we know that the spread of Christianity wouldn’t have been very easy. The Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion and all its territories were to practice it, thus the most part of Europe adopted the religion. Even after the fall of the empire, these territories remained largely influenced and even governed by the Catholic Church for centuries to come. This eventually led to the christianization of the New World.
Just as religion, the preservation and spread of Greek philosophy and culture was possible. This also comprises Latin literature. Writers like Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Seneca and others were continued to be read and studied deeply throughout the history of the Western world.
I believe that the key into making all of this proliferation and coservation possible is language. Latin is the foundation of five different languages (Romance languages) in the world, three of which are both spoken in Europe and the Americas. Other Germanic languages like English hold about 50% of Latin origin in their vocabulary. Additionally, Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously this opens an opportunity for a great number of people to learn different languages and therefore communicate with facility all around the world.
The idea of there being a Natural law and the propagation of it is owed to the Roman Empire. Natural law alludes to the concept of there being a single standard of justice that applies to all human beings disregarding race, wealth, age, sex, etcetera. For example, everyone has a right to private property and anyone who violates it is to be punished. We all have a right to life, to liberty, and property and those who do not follow these rights, without caring who they are, should be punished.
Finally, the Romans provided knowledge in art, architecture, and many inventions. Aqueducts, the Codex of the Bible, Roman arches, columns, domes, concrete and a great many other inventions were created and/or perfected by the Roman Empire. All of this is clearly seen and even used today.
After the third century, the Roman empire was entering its valley of doom. All sorts of political and economic problems were oppressing the people and the government. The icing on the cake came when the Barbarians (germanic origin peoples) began to struggle greatly in approximately the mid 4th century.
Years of neighborhood had accumulated between the Romans and the Barbarians, with these last ones surrounding the borders of the empire, sometimes mixing with the Roman civilization to annoy it or contribute in it. They were the inferior group of people who recognized the greatness of the Roman Empire and always sought participation within it. Emperor Augustus had given them the availability to settle in the empire peacefully and even become soldiers of Rome. However, as the decades went by, these people began to become authorities of Rome, while others returned to their tribes fusing the Roman culture with the Germanic one.
This fusion was ultimately the dissolving of Rome that accelerated dramatically around the years of 375 and 376 when the fearful, warlike Huns were persecuting the Germans. More specifically, these germans were the group known as the Visigoths that migrated westward urgently to beg for protection in Rome. Emperor Valens was the man in charge at the time and delegated the Visigoths entry to the empire. For a short time only, there remained tranquility between the Visigoths and Valens, due to the harsh treatment that arose from Romans to Barbarians, so they rebelled against the Emperor.
War was declared by Emperor Valens and this one culminated with his murder and defeat at the city of Adrianople, in the year of 378. This clearly demonstrated that what was once a powerful and conquering empire, had now been quickly degenerated by controlling emperors, ambitious political figures, price controls, debasing money, etc. The Visigoths conformed with this victory for only a minimum time, as in 395, their “King Alaric” plundered Italy once again, now in search for richer property.
On the verge of establishing a Germanic kingdom in Italy, Alaric died. Yet, the Visigothic victories opened the gates of Rome for other Barbarian groups, like the Vandals, to sack Rome, as well. The Roman defenses were left hopeless as they tried to cope with the German assaults by calling reinforcing troops from Britain, leaving those territories highly exposed and inevitably conquered by the Angles, Saxons, and other Germans. The West of Rome was practically gone and taken by the Barbarians at the ends of the 5th century, being the Visigoths the pioneers of this expedition.
I have been convinced that Hesiod is indeed a man that was influenced by the kingdom of darkness of the spiritual realm. Everything he writes is inspired by the governor of such kingdom or his workers, and I know I might be mocked at this, but truth is truth whether it is believed or not. It is indeed easier to believe he is a mere poet that writes myths and metaphors using the word “gods” in order to explain his worldview. Nevertheless, reasoning in this manner is ignoring the spiritual structures in his works that influence the mind of our spirits to deceive humanity from the truth.
His view of mankind’s past and future is basically about no hope or significance for human beings. Everything we do is either a reward or consequence of Zeus’ whims. He creates generations and destroys them however and whenever he desires. There have been, according to Hesiod, five generations of human races or types, a golden, a silver, a demi-god, a bronze, and an iron generation. Hesiod refers to today’s generation as the one of iron and the worst of all the five generations absolutely ending in evil. All past generations were better than this one, but still they all decayed to end in the iron age.
It is interesting that King Nebuchadnezzar had a vision where he saw a statue made of gold on the head, silver on the chest, bronze on the stomach and thighs, iron on the legs, and iron mixed with clay on the feet. Let’s check it: As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. –Daniel 2:29-35
In the Bible God is directly revealing to the Babylonian king the constitution of five kingdoms, including his and how all of them are destroyed by a rock. This was part of what was about to occur in the coming of Jesus Christ. Hesiod’s “false prophecy”, so to speak, is a lame copy or piracy of the truth by the father of all lies that tries to fool mankind and corrupt that which is eternal. Next is the interpretation of the dream: This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. For as much as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. -Daniel 2:36-45
The five kingdoms are Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. These kingdoms conform a whole spiritual structure or system that is ruled by darkness. In the natural they were a manifestation of spiritual entities that guard the form of government of the devil. Rome is the vulnerable kingdom, due to its tremendous expansion. A rule of war says that the more you expand, the more vulnerable you become. Rome fell because of its expansion. Notwithstanding, Jesus was not destroying the physical empire of Rome when he became flesh, or else Rome would have succumb to the rule of Jesus the instant He came to earth. As a matter of fact, Jesus was bringing down the whole structure built by the spiritual Babylon “mother of all prostitutes”. Unlike many protestant interpretations, Babylon is not the catholic church and it is not just a historic empire that ceased to exist. It is actually the spiritual city from which darkness, chaos, and confusion reign. In other words, it is the counter of the New Jerusalem.
The five kingdoms represent the whole system of iniquity and Jesus destroyed it on the cross to build and establish His Kingdom on the entire earth. Rome was and still is recognized through its judicial system or law (lex in latin). This lex ignored and ignores the true righteousness of God, which is through love and was manifested by the Holy Lamb. The righteousness of God is counter to the lex formed with iniquitous thoughts and it is the one that sustains the throne of God. Therefore, if you are capable to understand this, you will see that Hesiod is receiving actual revelation that is coming from spiritual entities that oppose to the Spirit of God and what He did when He became flesh. What these entities tried to do is deviate the Greeks from having faith, hope, and love which are given through the sacrifice of Jesus whom is the rock that destroyed the statue to become a mountain that filled the earth.
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