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Preferred Citation: Dodds, Eric R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley: University of California Press, c!, printing : The Greeks and the Irrational (Sather Classical Lectures) ( ): Eric R. Dodds: Books. E. R. DODDS. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley and Los. Angeles, University of California Press, Pp. ix + $ (Sather Classical Lectures.

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In the meantime, I shall not complain if classical scholars shake their heads over the foregoing remarks. The writer was recalling the library of his friends father. The Mother, it would appear, had done likewise if indeed her cult was at that time distinct from that of – 78 – the Corybantes ; [90] and possibly Hecate also. The Greeks and the Irrational. I say “shame” and not “guilt,” for certain American anthropologists have lately taught us to distinguish irrationnal from “guilt-cultures ,” [ and the society described by Homer teh falls into the former class.

This last aspect corresponds to that phase in the development of family relations when the authority of the father is felt to need the support of a irrattional sanction; when “You will do it because I say so” gives place to “You will do it because it is right. The sceptical Artabanus in Herodotus points out to Xerxes that most dreams are suggested by our waking adn, yet he still talks of them in the old “objective” manner as “wandering about among men.

Where did this notion come from? He reports the case of a recent Pythia who had gone into trance reluctantly and in a state of depression, anc omens being unfavourable.

The Greeks and the Irrational

If character is knowledge, what is not knowledge is not part of the character, but comes to a man from outside. Some very very interesting tidbits, but the casual reader beware: An insane man might go through many ceremonies for many gods and goddesses known to cause insanity, and if it didn’t work — why, obviously, they had yet to propitiate the right god.

Agamemnon cites, not one such agency, but irratoonal Without Delphi, Greek idrational could scarcely have endured the tensions to which it was subjected in the Archaic Age.

To answer it completely would evidently involve a survey of the whole cultural achievement of ancient Greece. In the archaic view it was both, [43] and therein lay its terror: Does the poet mean anything more than that Glaucus was a fool to make the bargain he did? DoddsEric Robertson Dodds Limited preview – And we may guess that the notion of ate served a similar purpose for Homeric man by enabling him in all irfational faith to project on to an external power his unbearable feelings of shame.


The psyche also, however, provided an excellent way to explain the growing sense of guilt which arose in the Archaic Age—that perhaps, sins committed in a former life were carried with an eternal soul doeds passed from body to body.

But in reply to the first it is perhaps sufficient to quote the opinion of Ley-Bruhl, that “dans tout esprit humain, tbe qu’en soit le developpe-ment intellectuel, subsiste un fond inderacinable de mentalite primitive”; or, if nonclassical anthropologists are suspect, the opinion of Nilsson, that “primitive mentality is a fairly good description of dodes mental behaviour of most people to-day except in their technical or consciously intellectual activities.

Dodds corrects this view, showing irrational impulses and institutions which were more widely accepted during the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Periods than the works of rationalist philosophers such as Heraclitus and Plato.

Both dogs and snakes were quite real. A student at the British Museum says the Greek art leaves him cold because “it’s all so terribly rational “, and Dodds wrote the book, more or less, to set him straight, to show that Ancient Greek culture was not “lacking in the awareness of mystery and in the ability to penetrate to the deeper, less conscious levels of human experience. Such ideas were of course not entirely new. Instead, the consequences external to any “motive” or “conscience” as a result of an action were all that mattered.

A fourth -century Athenian inscription commands an offering of cakes to the holy dogs, and we have Plutarch’s story of the clever temple-dog who detected a thief stealing the votives and was rewarded with dinners at the public expense for the rest of his life.

It’s like when Spock pronounces sagely that “logic dictates” some excellent moral precept: It has long been observed that the idea of possession is absent from Homer, and the inference is sometimes drawn that it was foreign to the oldest Greek culture.


Full text of “E. R. Dodds The Greeks And The Irrational”

A Journal of the History of Science While Ancient Greeks are most known for the triumph of rationalism over superstition and magic, E. A casual phrase of Plato’s 1 Despite its age, this work by Dodds is still considered a seminal text for students of Greek history and classics. I hope that the result may have a certain interest not only for Greek scholars but for some anthropologists and social psychologists, indeed for anyone who is concerned to understand the springs of human behaviour.

As I have mentioned self-induced visions in connection with the Asclepius cult, I may add a couple of general remarks on waking visions or hallucinations. An absolutely necessary book for anyone interested in having a framework for understanding Classical Greek Literature. The I liad ignores it, as it ignores other popular superstitions; but the poet of the Odyssey —always more tolerant of contemporary ways of thought— permits Calypso to exclaim in a temper that the gods are the most jealous beings in the world— they grudge one a little happiness.

Cambridge University Press But to Homer it is not caprice: A fascinating grab-bag of information.

I came up well after the s, so I didn’t get much exposure to dodd mistaken idea that Ancient Greece was purely rational. And although Herodotus refuses to accept this prosaic explanation in Cleomenes’ case, he is inclined to explain the madness of Cambyses as due to congenital epilepsy, and adds the very sensible remark that when the body is seriously deranged it is not surprising that the mind should be affected also.

This book is the reason why I don’t like Academic Publications. I feel bad for the author who had to waste so much of his time studying such a non-stimulating and useless subject. Feb 14, Muzzy rated it it was amazing. Among the Greeks, by far the commonest type is the apparition of a god or the heating of a divine voice which commands or forbids the performance of certain acts. But in such matters the actual development of our notions seldom follows the logical course.

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