Monday, May 02, 2005

Who was Abraham? (12)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

While Keith Laidler, author of The Head of God admired Sigmund Freud’s piercing analysis that led to the identification of Moses as an Egyptian – bearing in mind this was in 1937 with its more limited reference material and very conservative Christian society - he felt that Freud was not bold enough to go further. In arguing his case, Laidler quoted one of Freud’s findings, that of the hero myths.

Hero myths around the world, particular those of the Mediterranean region, have always presented the story of a royal baby (or one fathered by a divine being, or even fathered ‘jointly’ by king and god) abandoned, or stolen, or failed to be killed by enemies but hidden successfully away etc, brought up by humble or poor foster parents, underwent dangerous trials and tribulations, and after succeeding all those obstacles would realise his royal birthrights (or realising his royal birthrights but forced to undergo trials and tribulations), and return to his royal origin. So we have the “royalty to humble upbringing, trials and tribulations, and back to royalty” process for heros.

A classic example of the hero myths is that related to Perseus from the House of Danaus. 

Perseus was the grandson of King Acrisius of Argos. Before he was born, an Oracle told the King that he would be killed by his grandson, born of his daughter Danae. In an attempt to prevent that, the King locked Danae up in a bronze underground chamber (or, in some books, a tower) to isolate her completely.

The myth told of Zeus, the Lord of Olympus who was known as a raunchy stud, entering the confines of Danae cell as a shower of gold. Perseus was the God’s progeny. He was brought up secretly in her mum’s chamber for several months before his grandfather heard a baby’s cry emanating from the supposedly secure cell.

When the King came to know that Danae had given birth to Perseus, the grandson that he dreaded, he put her and the baby into a wooden chest and threw it into the sea. As would have it, the chest stayed afloat, and was rescued by Dictys, a fisherman of another land. Brought up under humble surroundings Perseus grew up to be a handsome and courageous man (Some stories have Perseus being brought up by Dictys brother, Polydectes who was King of Seriphos).

Helped by the gods Athena and Hermes, Perseus killed Medusa of the Gorgons, rescued an Ethiopian princess Andromeda from a sea monster, sorted out those who wrong her, returned home, saved her mother from a lecherous king (Polydetes) by turning the bastard into stone with the use of the Gorgon’s head.

He then decided to make up with his granddad, went back to his native land. King Acrisius, on hearing the mighty Perseus (and consequentially his fate) was on his way, fled to another land where the king there so happened to have organized funeral games in honour of his deceased father.

Acricius was a spectator at the Games, when Perseus arrived to participate. As ordained by the Oracle, in the throwing event Perseus threw a discus (in some stories, a javelin) which hit and killed his grandfather.

Though he had accidentally killed his grandfather, he didn’t wish to return to Argos to claim his kingdom. He exchanged Argos with his cousin's kingdom, and became King of Tiryns instead.

Thus, in Perseus life, we see the typical pattern of a hero’s life progression, that from “royalty to humble unbringing, trials and tribulations, and back to royalty.”

Thus, were the stories of other Greek heroes like Amphion and Telephus. Romulus, the founder of Rome, and Sargon of Agade, the founder of Babylon also had similar life patterns.

But the hero of the biblical Exodus had a totally reverse story for his life.

To be continued ……..

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