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Divine Warfare: brute force and cunning artifice

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Aelfgifu View Drop Down
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Divine Warfare: brute force and cunning artifice
    Posted: 14-Jun-2007 at 09:56
Just in an instant, a question popped up in my head.
 
In the three best preserved European pantheons, the Greek, the Roman and the Teutonic, there is a seperate deity for the brute force (Ares, Mars, or) and the 'intelligent warfare' combined with knowledge (Athenae, Minerva, Oin).
 
Do you think this distiction is significant? Whas there a particular reason to divide violence and tactics? And was there a particular reason to connect warfare with knowledge in one personification?

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  Quote Giannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2007 at 10:14

Athena was considered the goddess of wisdom, propably because of her participation in the mythologic trojan war, she is considered a warrior-goddess. But, if this is the reason, then we should consider Poseidon as a naval engagement god too.Wink

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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2007 at 10:20
Originally posted by Aelfgifu

Just in an instant, a question popped up in my head.
 
In the three best preserved European pantheons, the Greek, the Roman and the Teutonic, there is a seperate deity for the brute force (Ares, Mars, or) and the 'intelligent warfare' combined with knowledge (Athenae, Minerva, Oin).
 
Do you think this distiction is significant? Whas there a particular reason to divide violence and tactics? And was there a particular reason to connect warfare with knowledge in one personification?
 
Ah, a very interesting question indeed! Star
 
I would suggest looking at the personifications of these particular distinctions in the literature:
 
In the Homer's accounts you have Achilles and Ajax personifying the side of war that is brute force and bloodlust.  They are personifications of Ares (not exactly incarnations).
 
On the other hand you have Odysseus and to a lesser extent Paris personifying the wisdom, speed, cunning, and ruse.  These are characteristics of Athena.  And we see Athena actively supporting Odysseus in battle if I am not mistaken.  Conversely, Achilles and those like him would scoff at Odysseus refusal to apply the "macho" tactics in all cases.  Similarly with Paris, they thought it unmanly to snipe at a distance using the bow.  If we look ahead to the Odyssey, we see that Odysseus indeed knew how to use brute force, which he did against the suitors, only after setting a clever trap! Big%20smile
 
In Roman and Byzantine warfare we can see the same principles and combinations thereof being applied.  The Romans knew how to "unleash Hell" (to quote Gladiator) and when to apply more conservative "Fabian" tactics of delay.  With the Byzantines, we see a more humane, conservative, dare I say "Christian" approach to warfare: it was better to ensnare the enemy with clever ruses, to woo them through bribery, to gain prisoners for ransom, than to throw the entire army into a battle costly in both resources and lives.  Of course, we see the "macho" warrior society of the West scoff at the Byzantines for this and propagate the stereotype of the "shifty and perfidious Greeks" throughout Europe.
 
So I guess there is a sort of connection between the two types of tactics.  There is also a division when it seems practical to apply one over the other.
 
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2007 at 10:32
Originally posted by Giannis

Athena was considered the goddess of wisdom, propably because of her participation in the mythologic trojan war, she is considered a warrior-goddess. But, if this is the reason, then we should consider Poseidon as a naval engagement god too.Wink

 
She is very commonly depicted in full armour, spear in hand and a helmet pushed backward on her head... The armour was given to her by her father Zeus, he must have had  reason for it, surey it was not intended for show... Wink
 
It is more than just her part in the Trojan war I think...
 
 
 


Edited by Aelfgifu - 14-Jun-2007 at 10:36

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  Quote konstantinius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2007 at 15:40
From an anthropological perspective, religion provides the moral basis for man's act of violence, including war. All three pantheons mentioned (Greek, Roman, Teutonic) are pre-christian and anthropomorphic and their depiction of gods/godesses. They (the pantheons) have assigned human qualities to all actions of the divine. War, perhaps one of the most complicated human interactions with myriad facades (logistical, manpower, tactical, diplomatic etc), is depicted in all its complexity in the different way different deities approached it. Since there is a subtle, tactical aspect to war it is going to be depicted somehow in the personality of the deity as well. In other words, the ancients assigned to the god's exactly what they did down here on earth. In my oppinion from studies of the pantheon we can deduce that the people who worship those deities realy knew their warfare well, or that warfare played a significant part in the economic system (essentialy how we put food on the table) of those cultures. 
   
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  Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jun-2007 at 07:48
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

On the other hand you have Odysseus and to a lesser extent Paris personifying the wisdom, speed, cunning, and ruse.  These are characteristics of Athena.  And we see Athena actively supporting Odysseus in battle if I am not mistaken.  Conversely, Achilles and those like him would scoff at Odysseus refusal to apply the "macho" tactics in all cases.  Similarly with Paris, they thought it unmanly to snipe at a distance using the bow.  
Do you think this is why the god in question is female? Or is that unrelated would you say? Wink
 
 
In Roman and Byzantine warfare we can see the same principles and combinations thereof being applied.  The Romans knew how to "unleash Hell" (to quote Gladiator) and when to apply more conservative "Fabian" tactics of delay.  With the Byzantines, we see a more humane, conservative, dare I say "Christian" approach to warfare: it was better to ensnare the enemy with clever ruses, to woo them through bribery, to gain prisoners for ransom, than to throw the entire army into a battle costly in both resources and lives.  Of course, we see the "macho" warrior society of the West scoff at the Byzantines for this and propagate the stereotype of the "shifty and perfidious Greeks" throughout Europe.
 
So I guess there is a sort of connection between the two types of tactics.  There is also a division when it seems practical to apply one over the other.
 
 
I think the 'macho west' was more scoffing at the Byzantians use of makeup than by their battle tactics: these spoke for themselves... Wink
 
That there is such a difference between brute violence and more subtle tactics I think is understandable, there are always several ways to win a battle. But still, the Trojan horse was a trick to get in, the burning of Troy was a matter of violence. In reality there is no clear cut line between the trickery and the fighting. The one is but a means to the other goal. Why not have one god of war in all its variations? Why is it so seperate in the minds of men that they need different personifications for them?
 
 


Edited by Aelfgifu - 18-Jun-2007 at 07:49

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  Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jun-2007 at 08:59
Originally posted by Aelfgifu

Just in an instant, a question popped up in my head.
 
In the three best preserved European pantheons, the Greek, the Roman and the Teutonic, there is a seperate deity for the brute force (Ares, Mars, or) and the 'intelligent warfare' combined with knowledge (Athenae, Minerva, Oin).
 
Do you think this distiction is significant? Whas there a particular reason to divide violence and tactics? And was there a particular reason to connect warfare with knowledge in one personification?


Some people prefer cunning, some brute force. Gods are just a reflection of humans. That'd be the simple explanation. Thor, god of thunder and smiter of giants was mightily popular among the farmers, the brute-force but pure-of-heart war-god Tyr was popular among the warriors and the cunning high-god Odin was the prefered target of reverence among the leaders.



Edited by Styrbiorn - 18-Jun-2007 at 09:03
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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Jun-2007 at 11:39
Originally posted by konstantinius

In my oppinion from studies of the pantheon we can deduce that the people who worship those deities realy knew their warfare well, or that warfare played a significant part in the economic system (essentialy how we put food on the table) of those cultures.
 
With the early hoplites, before the professionalization of the Greek army under the Macedonians, warfare actually could get in the way of putting food on the table.  Except for Sparta, the soldiers were also farmers and only fought during the designated campaign season.  At the end of this season, and sometimes during, if the there were no battles to be fought, the soldiers returned to their plots.  Yes,  even though they were not mercenaries, by fighting to protect their lands and families, the farmer-soldier hoplites were keeping food in the table.
 
In Byzantium, with the soldier-farmers of the Themes, the ideal situation was to have surplus left over with which to pay someone to do the actual farming.  This allowed the thematic soldier to train and be ready if the emperor called the muster.
 
Originally posted by Aelfgifu

Do you think this is why the god in question is female? Or is that unrelated would you say?
 
Originally posted by Aelfgifu

In reality there is no clear cut line between the trickery and the fighting. The one is but a means to the other goal. Why not have one god of war in all its variations? Why is it so seperate in the minds of men that they need different personifications for them?
 
It is a good question!  It is interesting that Athena and Minerva would have these characteristics and that the Greeks would keep their women cooped up in the gynakaeum.  In the mythical stories, you see these two goddesses displaying decidedly "manly" qualities in certain situations.  The Greeks did not always view their gods as beings to be admired or emulated, unlike how Christians viewed God and Christ.  The gods were beings who were meant to be feared and placated rather than emulated.  What I am getting at is perhaps ancient Greek women were expected to worship these goddesses for their "womanly" characteristics and the men for their "manly" ones when the situation called for it.
 
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  Quote Donasin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jun-2007 at 01:22
Barbarians fight with their muscle only, while we *insert civilization here* use cunning and tactics to overcome our foe.

I think that is most likely one of the main reasons behind the split.
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