Winter Evenings at College
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:8/4/2009 - General Books LLC
By: Benjamin Thomas Holcott Cole
Excerpt from book: EVENING THE TWELFTH. " We are about to enter upon the subject of the religion of the Greeks," said Mr. Warner: " and I shall first point out to you from what sources it was originally derived : I shall then enumerate the heads of that superstition which was in credit with the vulgar: and afterwards endeavour to explain to you what were the private opinions of the best-informed philosophers upon the being and attributes of God. " Herodotus states it to have been his own conviction, that the religion of Greece was derived from the Egyptians: but Plutarch assigns as a reason for discrediting this account, that neither Homer, nor any of the ancient writers, have recorded a fact, which would have thrown considerable light upon their rites and ceremonies. Aristophanes, in his comedy of the Frogs, and Euripides, in his tragedy of Rhesus,impute to Orpheus the first instructions given to the Greeks in religious matters: and hence, according to Nonnus, devotion was called Thresceia, because it was invented by a Thracian. If we steer a middle course, we shall probably arrive at a correct conclusion: for the exact agreement of some of the Grecian rites with those instituted in Thrace, proves manifestly a Thracian origin: while the conformity of other ceremonies with the national worship of the Egyptians, argues them to have been originally brought from that country. The very great diversity of the numerous modes of worship established in Greece, makes it impossible that they could all have been borrowed from one particular nation: almost every city had different gods, and different ways of approaching them with supplication and sacrifice. It is much more probable, that the various colonies which settled in Greece, brought their own customs, and naturalized them in the land. The Thebans,...