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Was there ever a Mother-Goddess society?

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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Was there ever a Mother-Goddess society?
    Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 13:50
Originally posted by Chilbudios

Originally posted by gcle2003

Either you have some feeling for aesthetics or you don't. Religion is specifically relevant to aesthetic appreciation.
But not the topic at hand which is a discussion about mother goddesses, and certainly not the points I was making and you were replying to.
Mother goddesses have nothing to do with religion?

Yes I did.
No, you did not write on the difference between anthropology and archaeology "on purely aesthetic grounds", you did not write about how to understand the 'chthonic' "on purely aesthetic grounds" and this is to what I referred when I said "I don't think I'm in mood to always engage with your personal and often misunderstood concepts".
No I didn't. But that isn't what you challenged me on.  
It seems you're unable to track a simple discussion of few replies, let alone discuss something more serious.

This particular subthread is one I raised. It's certainly relevant to mother goddesses. The whole concept of 'mother' in religion is an aesthetic concept.
I did not reply to that 'subthread' of yours but now since you brought it up, I must say I find it a groundless, stupid statement. However I'll wait until we settle (if we will) the current issues, before addressing it in more detail.

I also fail entirely to see that my recognising something as a personal opinion (on how best to discriminate between the fields I would call 'anthropology' and 'archaeology') shows misunderstanding. That we should distinguish between studying extant live cultures and deducing social structures and beliefs from archaeological traces should surely be a given: to use the same word for both is therefore counterproductive.
It is certainly not counterproductive, as the wealth of anthropological research shows. If you feel this 'need', perhaps it is your own failure of understanding (and perhaps that's also why you 'fail entirely to see'). James Frazer, a name you dared to brag about (probably unknowing much of him and his work),

Just avoid the stupid comments. Of course I've read Frazer. 
researched long ago dead cultures (read The Golden Bough for instance). However he's an anthropologist, not an archaeologist. I don't think one can read Frazer and then affirm that he tends "to think of anthropologists as people who study existing peoples and archaeologists as people who study extinct ones".
It's laughable you accuse me of not having read Frazer, and then come up with such a ridiculous assertion. The Golden Bough is rife with examples from existing cultures (existing in his time anyway). He talks about the Bagabos of Mindanao, of African tribes like the Bunyoro, and on one page alone (picked pretty well at random - 70 in the Wordsworth Reference version of the abridged version) he mentions current practices in India (Poona), southern and western Russia, Armenia, North Africa, different parts of the Celebes and the Caucasus.
 
Moreover, there's another point, Frazer was not a field worker anyway. As wikipedia correctly puts it "His prime sources of data were ancient histories and questionnaires mailed to missionaries and Imperial officials all over the globe." Those questionnaires were about current practices in the various areas.
 
Along with the 'ancient histories' that raises the question of how studying at second-hand affects the 'extinctness' of the culture being studied. If by reading Malinowski or Leach or Lévi-Strauss as they describe happenings in Melanesia or Burma or South America I am being an anthropologist, then is not that the same as reading Servius or Plutarch or Juvenal describing happenings in Italy or Greece?
 
Contemporary descriptions are fieldwork (maybe not that rigorous of course) no matter when they were written. And Frazer is essentially a theorist basing himself on other people's fieldwork.
 
Of course there are people who may want to disqualify Frazer therefore as an anthropologist: there is a case for that I suppose. But that doen't mean the distinction between anthropology and archaeology isn't important.
So? And this didn't start with me attacking your position, it started with your objecting to my post introducing (to this thread) the concept of a dichotomy between sky father and earth mother.
Before your reply addressed to me on 27 Nov, I was discussing with Charlesbrough and Edgewaters, not with you. My post was about the reversed roles in Egyptian cosmology and was addressed to Charlesbrough. Your reply to me was about Nut not being a dominant god and other dominant Egyptian gods (irrelevant), about Roman Diana (irrelevant) and a complete misunderstanding of the term 'chthonic'.

I also wrote "whatever its etymology". (Same date, 15:48 CET if you feel like another challenge like the earlier one.)
Perhaps you need to improve your reading skills because in the same post you replied to I said: "You: 'Chthonic', whatever its etymology, pertains to the underworld, not the earth". I also instructed with "see below" (I noticed for a long while that you often reply before you actually finish reading).

Yes. Bad habit. However you're losing the thread. There wasn't much point in arguing that 'chthonic' etymologically would mean 'earthen' or something similar - as you do below - , when I'd indicated I already knew that, and thought the etymology irrelevant.

Again the point is there is a need to distinguish between divinities associated with the underworld (i.e. the world of the dead) and those associated with the fertility of the earth. It's pure happenstance that the Greeks, inter alia, thought the dead dwelt somewhere underground: most religions don't believe that. To blindly use 'chthonic' for both groups is therefore to generalise what is a specifically Greek situation. Hades and Demeter don't fall into the same category.
There was not such a need in my discourse and certainly not in the bunch of scholarly works I quoted from. The term 'chthonic' is already traditional in scholarship, it is not blindly used, on the contrary it is properly defined (some of my quotes were actually definitions). Hades and Demeter fall in the same category that of gods of the Earth. In particular Demeter was also known as Chthonia ( http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Chthonia.html ). The term 'chthonic' means more or less 'earthly', most religions have 'earthly gods', i.e. deities living in the earth, under earth's surface.
You steadfastly ignore the point. It so happens that in Greek mythology the dead are supposed to live in caverns underground. I don't think that's a unique belief but it's rare. However many religions have the belief in an afterlife, and some divinity (possibly several)that rule over those souls. It's also fairly common to find divinities associated with the fertility of the earth. The distinction between the divinities of the afterlife and the fertility divinities is an important one. The distinction between divinities who happen to have some connection with the earth (including being underneath it) and those who don't is trivial.
 
It's the function of the divinity that is important, not its attribute.
 
As I said before and as you repeat below I don't really mind which of the two groups 'chthonic' is used to refer to: my main objection is to using it in two different senses, which is confusing no matter who is doing the confusing.
There seems to be agreement that the word is used in two senses. That's what I'm objecting to. If no-one was doing it, I wouldn't be objecting. Using the same term to cover two different categories simply because of an accident in how the Greeks happened to view the underworld is confusing and should be avoided no matter who is doing it.

(I accept of course that the reverse of my position - using 'chthonic' to refer to fertilitiy divinities and not to underworld ones - would be just as logical. It's confusing the two that is, well, confusing.)

It is confusing for you, because you don't understand. The word is not used in two senses, but only one, referring to those gods (also in extension demigods, heroes, etc.) who live under the earth. 
Well that's not what your authorities said (between them). They said two senses. Moreover you've now restricted it to living under the earth, whereas earlier you used it to mean 'associated with the earth'. Demeter for instance doesn't live in the underworld: if she did the tale of Persephone would be nonsense.

It's not me failing to understand. There's an important distinction here you seem incapable of seeing, though I suspect it's because you don't want to admit it. 
A good part of the scholarly terminology is derived from Greek and Latin. 'Chthonic' comes from Greek, but 'religion' comes from Latin. They are mere words, but their meanings cover worldwide phenomena, unbounded by some Mediterranean focus. 

Your objection is ultimately irrelevant as long as it comes from someone manifesting deep ignorance and unfamiliarity with the relevant scholarship.

At least I've read The Golden Bough. Smile   It might interest you to know that after Managers and Magic in the early '70s I was shortlisted for the new job of Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and interviewed by a panel headed by Edmund Leach, a fan of my book. (I didn't get the job: in fact they decided against having a full-time director.
The world does not revolve around you, it will never will. I and also the most of the scholars will use the term 'chthonic' as we see fit, no access of aggressive misunderstanding will change that.
I may have gone to the wrong university but I'm still partial to lost causes, precision being sadly one of them.
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  Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 20:23

Originally posted by Gcle2003

Mother goddesses have nothing to do with religion?
But I didn't say such a thing. Not everything you say of religion is valid for each aspect or component of it. Not all the points of the view valid in general are also valid in particular.

No I didn't. But that isn't what you challenged me on.
Oh yes, that was exactly my challenge. Read entirely our exchange of replies, not just bits from a sentence. I hope this summary will close the issue:
1) I argued you're using some personal flawed concepts, particularly when defining anthropology (as opposed to archaeology) and when defining what 'chthonic' is
2) You replied to my first example and you defended yourself claiming that you were careful to add 'for purely aesthetic reasons' and if I want to criticize I must do it on 'aesthetic grounds'
3) I replied that we can't discuss about the difference between anthropology and archaeology on aesthetic grounds given these are disciplines in their own merit, and besides there're no such claim from your side, and I proceeded to show what you actually wrote of archaeology and anthropology. If for you it's not as obvious as it's for me, then I take blame for not being repetitive enough to add in each sentence from that text that I was talking about your concepts I found wrongly defined, not about whatever other claims.


Just avoid the stupid comments. Of course I've read Frazer.
Apparently not well enough. Even below you somehow avoid his work on ancient cultures and eventually resort to Wikipedia quotes to characterize his work. Were you to be a thoughtful reader I'd expect a direct summary of his work or quoting some other scholars (and yes, he's often referenced, though sometimes only for his pioneering work if not for the intrinsec value of his ideas).

It's laughable you accuse me of not having read Frazer, and then come up with such a ridiculous assertion. The Golden Bough is rife with examples from existing cultures (existing in his time anyway). He talks about the Bagabos of Mindanao, of African tribes like the Bunyoro, and on one page alone (picked pretty well at random - 70 in the Wordsworth Reference version of the abridged version) he mentions current practices in India (Poona), southern and western Russia, Armenia, North Africa, different parts of the Celebes and the Caucasus.
Frazer's work (The Golden Bough too) is rife with examples from extinct cultures (and peoples) and apparently you're not aware of that (IIRC one chapter from The Golden Bough is about Demeter and Persefone). That inept taxonomy would qualify Frazer also as an archaeologist!


Along with the 'ancient histories' that raises the question of how studying at second-hand affects the 'extinctness' of the culture being studied. If by reading Malinowski or Leach or Lévi-Strauss as they describe happenings in Melanesia or Burma or South America I am being an anthropologist, then is not that the same as reading Servius or Plutarch or Juvenal describing happenings in Italy or Greece?
However the studies of modern scholars on ancient Greeks or Romans through the accounts of that time make the former anthropologists, not the latter (though some of them are viewed as pioneering in anthropology, well mostly ethnography). And sometimes the modern anthropology does not study only what the testimonies say about others, but the testimonies/narrators themselves! The written acounts are also sometimes epigraphic records (Frazer, for instance, builds interpretations from Egyptian or Mesopotamian inscriptions). However anthropology studies the human behavior, beliefs, etc. even when no written accounts are available, but from the perspective of archaeology, of comparative religions and of course often it draws from multi-disciplinary premises (e.g. the religious beliefs of the Neolithic populations, to name something relevant to this thread). For someone bragging with his achievements as an anthropologist, you're amazingly unknowing of what anthropology really is. Let's check

scholarship:

http://books.google.com/books?id=zQOOlvTx8poC&pg=PA3
"anthropology, the study of man from a number of aspects" (plus multiple other considerations, read those pages)

universites:

http://anthropology.tamu.edu/
"Anthropology is the study of humankind over the entire world and throughout time. Anthropologists study existing cultures and human behavior (cultural anthropology), traditions (folklore), prehistoric cultures and lifeways (archaeology), the biological makeup and evolution of humans (physical anthropology), and the origin and nature of language (linguistics). "

http://www.anthro.ucsd.edu/
"Anthropology is the study of all things human. It is concerned with the past, the present, and the future, and is the nexus between the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Anthropology provides students with a comparative, theoretical, and global understanding of human culture and society from evolutionary, historical, and contemporary perspectives. "

professional associations:

http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm

"Nothing human is alien to anthropology. Indeed, of the many disciplines that study our species, Homo sapiens, only anthropology seeks to understand the whole panorama — in geographic space and evolutionary time — of human existence.

Though easy to define, anthropology is difficult to describe. Its subject matter is both exotic (e.g., star lore of the Australian aborigines) and commonplace (anatomy of the foot). And its focus is both sweeping (the evolution of language) and microscopic (the use-wear of obsidian tools). Anthropologists may study ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, the music of African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of a U.S. car manufacturer."

Not only that none of these agree with your definitions, some of them are plainly contradicting it "throughout time", "concerned with the past, the present, and the future", "the whole panorama - in [...] evolutionary time - of human existence"

To me seems rather clear that one claiming he tends "to think of anthropologists as people who study existing peoples and archaeologists as people who study extinct ones" proves he knows next to nothing of what anthropology is. Maybe as you say, you went to the wrong university, but why then don't you correct your views? There are many universities out there able to provide an outline on anthropology and probably also some operative definitions.

Of course there are people who may want to disqualify Frazer therefore as an anthropologist: there is a case for that I suppose. But that doen't mean the distinction between anthropology and archaeology isn't important.
Perhaps, but certainly there's none to qualify Frazer as an archaeologist, while your unthoughtul taxonomy suggests he's one.

Yes. Bad habit. However you're losing the thread. There wasn't much point in arguing that 'chthonic' etymologically would mean 'earthen' or something similar - as you do below - , when I'd indicated I already knew that, and thought the etymology irrelevant.
You miss again my point. I am not arguing that chthonic etymologically means 'earthen', I argue that chthonic means 'earthen' in studies of comparative religion, anthropology, etc. 'chthonic' means 'earthen' in current language, 'chthonic' means 'earthen' in my post which you objected to. I provided definitions from modern scholarship, not from a lexicon of Ancient Greek (do you know what 'etymology' means?)

You steadfastly ignore the point. It so happens that in Greek mythology the dead are supposed to live in caverns underground. I don't think that's a unique belief but it's rare. However many religions have the belief in an afterlife, and some divinity (possibly several)that rule over those souls. It's also fairly common to find divinities associated with the fertility of the earth. The distinction between the divinities of the afterlife and the fertility divinities is an important one. The distinction between divinities who happen to have some connection with the earth (including being underneath it) and those who don't is trivial.

It's the function of the divinity that is important, not its attribute.

But there's no point. There's such distinction already: some are gods of the agriculture, some are gods of the dead (and some are gods of both). If you want one word descriptions you can qualify the former as agrarian, the latter as funeral (or infernal, or some other suitable one-word epithet). That doesn't change the fact both type of gods can be 'chthonic' if their manifestation and/or habitat is sub-terranean. And with this meaning this word is used in modern scholarship. A god of the dead dwelling in a palace in the clouds and receiving the souls in some celestial paradise is not chthonic! A god of agriculture hidden in clouds and responsible only for watering the crops with beneficial rains is not chthonic! What part of the syntagm 'in the earth' is unclear to you?

As I said before and as you repeat below I don't really mind which of the two groups 'chthonic' is used to refer to: my main objection is to using it in two different senses, which is confusing no matter who is doing the confusing.
And as I said before your objection is irrelevant as long as it fails to draw from some serious references. It is confusing for you, not for me, not for those I quoted.

Well that's not what your authorities said (between them). They said two senses.
You didn't understand what they said. They all agreed the 'chthonic' gods are gods of the earth, which is only one sense. No one suggested that 'chthonic' does not pertain to earth as you erroneously claimed and refused to concede.


Moreover you've now restricted it to living under the earth, whereas earlier you used it to mean 'associated with the earth'. Demeter for instance doesn't live in the underworld: if she did the tale of Persephone would be nonsense.
You miss my point, I am not enforcing any restriction. Demeter "lives" under the Earth when she causes the buried seeds to give birth to plants (one of those references even describes her chthonic aspect like that!). Demeter is both chthonic and olympian. The two categories are not mutually exclusive. Why don't you actually read carefully my references before jumping to conclusions?


It's not me failing to understand. There's an important distinction here you seem incapable of seeing, though I suspect it's because you don't want to admit it.
Since you failed to provide any serious argument or reference to argue that "chtonic [...] pertains [...] not [to] the earth" the only reasonable conclusion is that you are the one lacking understanding. I provided more than enough references to support my view, and absolutely none of them argued that, well, the term 'chthonic' fails to distinguish gods of the soul of those of agriculture, thus we must change its meaning because we lack a necessary distinction. You set a false dilemma, that's why I am incapable of seeing.

It might interest you to know that after Managers and Magic in the early '70s I was shortlisted for the new job of Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and interviewed by a panel headed by Edmund Leach, a fan of my book. (I didn't get the job: in fact they decided against having a full-time director.

Actually I'm not intersted at all in that. Incompetence, shallowness, tentatives, compromises, half-measures exist everywhere and besides I am not sure how a glance in the world of secretaries, accountants, marketeers etc. (I admit to have not read your book, just browsed some half-dozen refernces to it, so if my assessment is incorrect I'll expect a rebuttal) gives you competence or authority to argue about general topics in anthropology or comparative religion.
You remind me of  some other member of the forum who bragged recently about his PhD after he exposed some really crazy theories refuted by virtually all his opponents. No one cares about such braggings when they are not backed up properly by discourse, skills, knowledge, bibliography. The level of discourse and understanding (of my own messages if not of deeper topics) is poor, the bibliography is quasi-absent, pending between vague (enumerating names), obsolete (Frazer, a good guy, but hey! we're in the 21st century), and trivial (Wikipedia), the knowledge displayed is arguably lacunar and often ends up contradicting with mainstream scholarly opinions, on no other grounds than personal views, needs and similar unreliable criteria. Are you to be a scholar you first will impress with intelligence and knowledge, and afterwards you are welcome to brag with credentials if you think they'll crown the opus.



I may have gone to the wrong university but I'm still partial to lost causes, precision being sadly one of them.
I would disagree with this self-assessment of yours. I used the term 'chthonic' awfully precise, yet it failed to provide satisfaction.

 



Edited by Chilbudios - 10-Dec-2008 at 20:34
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 21:31
Originally posted by Chilbudios

Originally posted by Gcle2003

Mother goddesses have nothing to do with religion?
But I didn't say such a thing. Not everything you say of religion is valid for each aspect or component of it. Not all the points of the view valid in general are also valid in particular.

No I didn't. But that isn't what you challenged me on.
Oh yes, that was exactly my challenge. Read entirely our exchange of replies, not just bits from a sentence. I hope this summary will close the issue:

What follows is a complete fudge. Just quote the quotes don't make up 'summaries'. It started with my putting forward a proposition based as I said on aesthetic grounds.  And it wasn't until some time later that I drew the distinction between (as i like to use the terms) 'archaeologists' and 'anthropologists'.
1) I argued you're using some personal flawed concepts, particularly when defining anthropology (as opposed to archaeology) and when defining what 'chthonic' is
2) You replied to my first example and you defended yourself claiming that you were careful to add 'for purely aesthetic reasons' and if I want to criticize I must do it on 'aesthetic grounds'
3) I replied that we can't discuss about the difference between anthropology and archaeology on aesthetic grounds given these are disciplines in their own merit, and besides there're no such claim from your side, and I proceeded to show what you actually wrote of archaeology and anthropology. If for you it's not as obvious as it's for me, then I take blame for not being repetitive enough to add in each sentence from that text that I was talking about your concepts I found wrongly defined, not about whatever other claims.


Just avoid the stupid comments. Of course I've read Frazer.
Apparently not well enough. Even below you somehow avoid his work on ancient cultures and eventually resort to Wikipedia quotes to characterize his work.

Nuts. You denied that Frazer studied existing cultures. I quoted directly from the book to show that he did. There's no point in quoting other sources whn I can quote from the book itself. It sits in the bookcases behind where I'm now typing, and has done for years, so if you want more quotes I can provide them.
 
You on the other hand are in a completely indefensible position because you're claimiing he never did things he did all the time. Here is what you actually said
James Frazer, a name you dared to brag about (probably unknowing much of him and his work), researched long ago dead cultures (read The Golden Bough for instance).
The implication is heavy that that was all he did (otherwise why bother bringing it up?) and that is flat out wrong, and displays a great deal of ignorance on your part.
Were you to be a thoughtful reader I'd expect a direct summary of his work or quoting some other scholars (and yes, he's often referenced, though sometimes only for his pioneering work if not for the intrinsec value of his ideas).
I quoted from his book, if not directly. I assumed since you pretend to all this knowledge you would have looked up the references themself in the index. In case that's a problem for you, I've posted the page I was referring to at http://www.cleverley.org/luxtheatre/frazer.html
If that's not enough the whole book is available at Gutenberg.
What's the point of quoting other people about what he did when you have the book itself?

It's laughable you accuse me of not having read Frazer, and then come up with such a ridiculous assertion. The Golden Bough is rife with examples from existing cultures (existing in his time anyway). He talks about the Bagabos of Mindanao, of African tribes like the Bunyoro, and on one page alone (picked pretty well at random - 70 in the Wordsworth Reference version of the abridged version) he mentions current practices in India (Poona), southern and western Russia, Armenia, North Africa, different parts of the Celebes and the Caucasus.
Frazer's work (The Golden Bough too) is rife with examples from extinct cultures (and peoples) and apparently you're not aware of that (IIRC one chapter from The Golden Bough is about Demeter and Persefone).

At least I can spell Persephone (and so could Frazer). The very first chapter - the whole concept of the search Frazer undertakes in the book - is concerned with the ancient world. Everybody knows that, even tyros who've only read references to the book and don't actually know for themselves what it is about.
 
However, had you read the rest of the post before replying to part of it, you would have noted what I said about Frazer being an anthropologist because he studied the workd of anthropologists, even ones that were long dead. The key difference here, as I keep trying to point out, is between people who study and write about things they see for themselves or tales they themselves are told by other people, as against people who deduce things from artefacts and other relics, including of course human remains.
That inept taxonomy would qualify Frazer also as an archaeologist!
No it wouldn't. Frazer doesn't study inanimate things and draw conclusions from them (except insofar as you class books and letters from missionaries and such as 'inanimate').
Of course the Golden Bough is concerned with ancient cultures as well as excisting ones. In fact, given how long ago it was written, probably none of the cultures involved exist now.

Along with the 'ancient histories' that raises the question of how studying at second-hand affects the 'extinctness' of the culture being studied. If by reading Malinowski or Leach or Lévi-Strauss as they describe happenings in Melanesia or Burma or South America I am being an anthropologist, then is not that the same as reading Servius or Plutarch or Juvenal describing happenings in Italy or Greece?
However the studies of modern scholars on ancient Greeks or Romans through the accounts of that time make the former anthropologists, not the latter (though some of them are viewed as pioneering in anthropology, well mostly ethnography). And sometimes the modern anthropology does not study only what the testimonies say about others, but the testimonies/narrators themselves! The written acounts are also sometimes epigraphic records (Frazer, for instance, builds interpretations from Egyptian or Mesopotamian inscriptions). However anthropology studies the human behavior, beliefs, etc. even when no written accounts are available, but from the perspective of archaeology, of comparative religions (e.g. the religious beliefs of the Neolithic populations, to name something relevant to this thread) and of course often it draws from multi-disciplinary premises.
I'd like to see how you're drawing trhe line that means there are no Roman anthropologists (assuming that a degree in the suvject isn't a necessary qualification). But at least you take my point that Frazer is an anthropologist even though he studies at second-hand, and he studies records of past as well as present (or late 19th or early 20th century) cultures.So that's a start.
 
For someone bragging with his achievements as an anthropologist, you're amazingly unknowning of what anthropology really is. Let's check
I regard anyone who claims that his subject covers everything as silly, and statements to that effect as pretentious and obfuscatiing. You might as well argue that history is the study of everything that has happened or might have happened as accept some of the definitions here.
 
Everything blurs in the face of this kind of status-grabbing: you end up with philosophy, history, anthropology, ... all meaning the same thing because they mean studying eveything or anything. Suddenly Shakespeare is an anthropologist. And so at the other end of the spectrum is Steve Martin. It's pointless.

scholarship:

http://books.google.com/books?id=zQOOlvTx8poC&pg=PA3
"anthropology, the study of man from a number of aspects" (plus multiple other considerations, read those pages)

universites:

http://anthropology.tamu.edu/
"Anthropology is the study of humankind over the entire world and throughout time. Anthropologists study existing cultures and human behavior (cultural anthropology), traditions (folklore), prehistoric cultures and lifeways (archaeology), the biological makeup and evolution of humans (physical anthropology), and the origin and nature of language (linguistics). "

http://www.anthro.ucsd.edu/
"Anthropology is the study of all things human. It is concerned with the past, the present, and the future, and is the nexus between the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Anthropology provides students with a comparative, theoretical, and global understanding of human culture and society from evolutionary, historical, and contemporary perspectives. "

professional associations:

http://www.aaanet.org/about/WhatisAnthropology.cfm

"Nothing human is alien to anthropology. Indeed, of the many disciplines that study our species, Homo sapiens, only anthropology seeks to understand the whole panorama — in geographic space and evolutionary time — of human existence.

Though easy to define, anthropology is difficult to describe. Its subject matter is both exotic (e.g., star lore of the Australian aborigines) and commonplace (anatomy of the foot). And its focus is both sweeping (the evolution of language) and microscopic (the use-wear of obsidian tools). Anthropologists may study ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, the music of African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of a U.S. car manufacturer."

Not only that none of these agree to your definitions, some of them are plainly contradicting it "throughout time", "concerned with the past, the present, and the future", "the whole panorama - in [...] evolutionary time - of human existence"

To me seems rather clear that one claiming he tends "to think of anthropologists as people who study existing peoples and archaeologists as people who study extinct ones" proves he knows next to nothing of what anthropology is. Maybe as you say, you went to the wrong university, but why then don't you correct your views?

It seems you rather missed the point of the joke. Get someone to explain it to you.
There are many universities out there able to provide an outline on anthropology and probably also some operative definitions.

Of course there are people who may want to disqualify Frazer therefore as an anthropologist: there is a case for that I suppose. But that doen't mean the distinction between anthropology and archaeology isn't important.
Perhaps, but certainly there's none to qualify Frazer as an archaeologist, while your unthoughtul taxonomy suggests he's one.

No it doesn't. I would have thought that was obvious by now.
Yes. Bad habit. However you're losing the thread. There wasn't much point in arguing that 'chthonic' etymologically would mean 'earthen' or something similar - as you do below - , when I'd indicated I already knew that, and thought the etymology irrelevant.
You miss again my point. I am not arguing that chthonic etymologically means 'earthen', I argue that chthonic means 'earthen' in studies of comparative religion, anthropology, etc. 'chthonic' means 'earthen' in current language, 'chthonic' means 'earthen' in my post which you objected to. I provided definitions from modern scholarship, not from a lexicon of Ancient Greek (do you know what 'etymology' means?)
Don't be childish.
I'm saying the definitions you quoted indicate (iondeed say outright) that the word is used in two senses, and I am objecting to that on the ground that it is obfuscatory. What the word meant in Greek is totally irrelevant to that point. And the fact that it is used in two senses is exactly the point I am making and that I'm complaining about. There's not much point telling me that people do what I'm complaining they do.
You steadfastly ignore the point. It so happens that in Greek mythology the dead are supposed to live in caverns underground. I don't think that's a unique belief but it's rare. However many religions have the belief in an afterlife, and some divinity (possibly several)that rule over those souls. It's also fairly common to find divinities associated with the fertility of the earth. The distinction between the divinities of the afterlife and the fertility divinities is an important one. The distinction between divinities who happen to have some connection with the earth (including being underneath it) and those who don't is trivial.

It's the function of the divinity that is important, not its attribute.

But there's no point. There's such distinction already: some are gods of the agriculture, some are gods of the dead (and some are gods of both). If you want one word descriptions you can qualify the former as agrarian, the latter as funeral (or infernal, or some other suitable one-word epithet). That doesn't change the fact both type of gods can be 'chthonic' if their manifestation and/or habitat is sub-terranean. And with this meaning this word is used in modern scholarship. A god of the dead dwelling in a palace in the clouds and receiving the souls in some celestial paradise is not chthonic! A god of agriculture hidden in clouds and responsible only for watering the crops with beneficial rains is not chthonic! What part of the syntagm 'in the earth' is unclear to you?

As I said before and as you repeat below I don't really mind which of the two groups 'chthonic' is used to refer to: my main objection is to using it in two different senses, which is confusing no matter who is doing the confusing.
And as I said before your objection is irrelevant as long as it fails to draw from some serious references. It is confusing for you, not for me, not for those I quoted.

Whether I give references or not has nothing to do with its relevance, though it may have to do with its effectiveness. To quote you, do you know what 'relevant' means? (And yes, I know that's childish of me, I'm just making the point.)
 
Well that's not what your authorities said (between them). They said two senses.
You didn't understand what they said. They all agreed the 'chthonic' gods are gods of the earth, which is only one sense. No one suggested that 'chthonic' does not pertain to earth as you erroneously claimed and refused to concede.


Moreover you've now restricted it to living under the earth, whereas earlier you used it to mean 'associated with the earth'. Demeter for instance doesn't live in the underworld: if she did the tale of Persephone would be nonsense.
You miss my point, I am not enforcing any restriction. Demeter "lives" under the Earth when she causes the buried seeds to give birth to plants (one of those references even describes her chthonic aspect like that!). Demeter is both chthonic and olympian. The two categories are not mutually exclusive. Why don't you actually read carefully my references before jumping to conclusions?

I don't see any reason to say Demeter 'lives' under the earth. In that case, how does snatching Persephone away to live under the earth make any difference to Demeter? In all the versions I've seen, Demeter lives on the earth or on Olympus. (Take Graves' account in chapter 24 of The Greek Myths for instance.) Demeter doesn't even descend into the earth to seek Persephone but waits at Eleusis for her return. If not on Olympus she lives in places like cornfields and sacred groves and wanders the surface of the earth but not under it.
 
Again it's not me that's showing unfamiliarity with the subject.

It's not me failing to understand. There's an important distinction here you seem incapable of seeing, though I suspect it's because you don't want to admit it.
Since you failed to provide any serious argument or reference to argue that "chtonic [...] pertains [...] not [to] the earth" the only reasonable conclusion is that you are the one lacking understanding. I provided more than enough references to support my view, and absolutely none of them argued that, well, the term 'chthonic' fails to distinguish gods of the soul of those of agriculture, thus we must change its meaning because we lack a necessary distinction. You set a false dilemma, that's why I am incapable of seeing.

It might interest you to know that after Managers and Magic in the early '70s I was shortlisted for the new job of Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and interviewed by a panel headed by Edmund Leach, a fan of my book. (I didn't get the job: in fact they decided against having a full-time director.

Actually I'm not intersted at all in that. Incompetence, shallowness, tentatives, compromises, half-measures exist everywhere and besides I am not sure how a glance in the world of secretaries, accountants, marketeers etc. (I admit to have not read your book, just browsed some half-dozen refernces to it, so if my assessment is incorrect I'll expect a rebuttal)
Read the book.
gives you competence or authority to argue about general topics in anthropology or comparative religion.
You remind me of  some other member of the forum who bragged recently about his PhD after he exposed some really crazy theories refuted by virtually all his opponents. No one cares about such braggings when they are not backed up properly by discourse, skills, knowledge, bibliography. The level of discourse and understanding (of my own messages if not of deeper topics) is poor, the bibliography is quasi-absent, pending between vague (enumerating names), obsolete (Frazer, a good guy, but hey! we're in the 21st century), and trivial (Wikipedia), the knowledge displayed is arguably lacunar and often ends up contradicting with mainstream scholarly opinions, on no other grounds than personal views, needs and similar unreliable criteria. Are you to be a scholar you first will impress with intelligence and knowledge, and afterwards you are welcome to brag with credentials if you think they'll crown the opus.



I may have gone to the wrong university but I'm still partial to lost causes, precision being sadly one of them.
I would disagree with this self-assessment of yours. I used the term 'chthonic' awfully precise, yet it failed to provide satisfaction.



Edited by gcle2003 - 10-Dec-2008 at 21:36
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  Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 23:55

Originally posted by gcle2003


What follows is a complete fudge. Just quote the quotes don't make up 'summaries'. It started with my putting forward a proposition based as I said on aesthetic grounds.  And it wasn't until some time later that I drew the distinction between (as i like to use the terms) 'archaeologists' and 'anthropologists'.
You're confused. You first drew the distinction between archaeology and anthropology (on page 1, I quoted from your posts from 23 and 24 Nov.) and you made another post some days after (on 27 Nov) arguing on aesthetic grounds, a post which I have not addressed and consequently I find it irrelevant.


Nuts. You denied that Frazer studied existing cultures. I quoted directly from the book to show that he did. There's no point in quoting other sources whn I can quote from the book itself. It sits in the bookcases behind where I'm now typing, and has done for years, so if you want more quotes I can provide them.
I said about Frazer that he "researched long ago dead cultures" which is true. I have not denied that he studied existing cultures. Your faulty logic and failure to understand the language are none of my concerns.

Some people use books to catch flies, don't give me the "I have a big bookcase behind me" line.

You on the other hand are in a completely indefensible position because you're claimiing he never did things he did all the time.
Where do you get the "he never did things" from my quote? I only referred to some things he did.


The implication is heavy that that was all he did (otherwise why bother bringing it up?) and that is flat out wrong, and displays a great deal of ignorance on your part.
You're barking at the wrong tree, I brought him up to prove your definition wrong, not to claim (to what purpose?) that all he did was to research ancient cultures.


At least I can spell Persephone (and so could Frazer). The very first chapter - the whole concept of the search Frazer undertakes in the book - is concerned with the ancient world. Everybody knows that, even tyros who've only read references to the book and don't actually know for themselves what it is about.
That's a cheap attack, in my native language her name is spelled Persefona like in many other languages where ph is casually spelled f (e.g. in Italian her name is Persefone). Gloat on my misspellings (or bad grammar, I'm sure you'll find enough material), that's the least you can do.

That Frazer deals (also!) with the ancient world was my argument.

No it wouldn't. Frazer doesn't study inanimate things and draw conclusions from them (except insofar as you class books and letters from missionaries and such as 'inanimate').

But at least you take my point that Frazer is an anthropologist even though he studies at second-hand, and he studies records of past as well as present (or late 19th or early 20th century) cultures.So that's a start.

No it doesn't. I would have thought that was obvious by now.

 My demonstration was all along that Frazer while being obviously an anthropologist he also researched extinct cultures. And yes, your definition makes him also an archeaologist, read it: "archaeologists as people who study extinct ones [peoples]". Was Frazer studying extinct cultures (in his time)? Yes or no?

I regard anyone who claims that his subject covers everything as silly, and statements to that effect as pretentious and obfuscatiing. You might as well argue that history is the study of everything that has happened or might have happened as accept some of the definitions here.
 
Everything blurs in the face of this kind of status-grabbing: you end up with philosophy, history, anthropology, ... all meaning the same thing because they mean studying eveything or anything. Suddenly Shakespeare is an anthropologist. And so at the other end of the spectrum is Steve Martin. It's pointless.

So you actually don't understand what anthropology is. I suspected that from a while, but now having confirmations I won't insist in the future. Perhaps that's also why you had to resort to that punk dichotomy between anthropology and archaeology.


It seems you rather missed the point of the joke. Get someone to explain it to you.
No, I did not miss the joke, I paraphrased it to suggest you some serious research. In vain you have a book case if you don't know how to use it. In vain you try to pose in an intellectual if you can't even browse a university site to get the basic description of a discipline studied there.


I'm saying the definitions you quoted indicate (indeed say outright) that the word is used in two senses, and I am objecting to that on the ground that it is obfuscatory. [...] And the fact that it is used in two senses is exactly the point I am making and that I'm complaining about.
You're saying it, but it's untrue.

What the word meant in Greek is totally irrelevant to that point.
That's what I've said, that I am not extracting the definition from Greek. You're the one bringing the etymology issue, not me. You accused me of things I haven't done, of "arguing that 'chthonic' etymologically would mean 'earthen' or something similar"


There's not much point telling me that people do what I'm complaining they do.
But I didn't, I repeated that the word is given with one single meaning: 'in the earth' (or well, under the earth, under the earth's surface and similar variants). Not two.


Whether I give references or not has nothing to do with its relevance, though it may have to do with its effectiveness. To quote you, do you know what 'relevant' means? (And yes, I know that's childish of me, I'm just making the point.)
If you don't know what 'relevant' means in this discussion, then shouldn't you quit it?
References are very important to relevance as long as we try to argue scholarly. If you can't give me references for your dubious definitions and concepts I'll discard them from start. I'm not interested to live in Graham's mind.


I don't see any reason to say Demeter 'lives' under the earth. In that case, how does snatching Persephone away to live under the earth make any difference to Demeter? In all the versions I've seen, Demeter lives on the earth or on Olympus. (Take Graves' account in chapter 24 of The Greek Myths for instance.) Demeter doesn't even descend into the earth to seek Persephone but waits at Eleusis for her return. If not on Olympus she lives in places like cornfields and sacred groves and wanders the surface of the earth but not under it.
 
Again it's not me that's showing unfamiliarity with the subject.
You don't show only unfamiliarity but real ignorance. In the early pantheon (Homer) Demeter was not among the Olympian gods, this status she acquired only in the later myths. But Demeter was celebrated also as a chthonic deity in the Greek cult (have you read that account from Pausanias?). She was thought to act at the root of the plants (in the earth) but not only, in the Eleusinian mysteries she was also regarded (IIRC a Homeric Hymn mentions it) as a protector of her followers after death (thus in the earth). She is also often depicted accompanied by a snake, a typically chthonic animal.
The manifestation of Demeter under earth's surface is what gives her a chthonic aspect. That's how she lives underground. The Greek gods acted themselves, they had no remote controls!

Graves gives a selective account of some Greek myths. If you take that as an absolute reference (so that you deny the chtonian aspects of Demeter just because your slim bibliography doesn't contain it), it's obvious you have no clue what scholarship means in this regard.

And now really, who would you believe? A dancer or http://books.google.com/books?q=chthonic+demeter ?

Read the book.
Considering what I already know of the author, I doubt I'll waste money on it. When it will be available online I might browse it in a boring afternoon. Tongue

 



Edited by Chilbudios - 11-Dec-2008 at 00:04
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 16:14

Originally posted by Chilbudios


Originally posted by gcle2003


What follows is a complete fudge. Just quote the quotes don't make up 'summaries'. It started with my putting forward a proposition based as I said on aesthetic grounds.  And it wasn't until some time later that I drew the distinction between (as i like to use the terms) 'archaeologists' and 'anthropologists'.
You're confused. You first drew the distinction between archaeology and anthropology (on page 1, I quoted from your posts from 23 and 24 Nov.) and you made another post some days after (on 27 Nov) arguing on aesthetic grounds, a post which I have not addressed and consequently I find it irrelevant.

Yes, it seems I did introduce that dichotomy (which I referred to as a personal preference, by the by - I don't see why I can't have what personal preferences I like: the important thing is to establish what I mean when I write something) on Nov 4. I got confused because what started this whole current debate was my post of Nov 27 - the 'aesthetic grounds' post. That post was not a response to anything else and introduced a completely new thought. It was later that you challenged me on the anthropology/archaeology thing, which is what I got confused.

Incidentally I have no idea why you say 'which I have not addressed'. The very next post in the thread has you contradicting my position - I don't mind being contradicted, but it's a bit much having the contradiction denied. I note your later edit of the post, which makes me think you may only have referred to mine as an afterthought - the original posting time being so closely after mine.



Nuts. You denied that Frazer studied existing cultures. I quoted directly from the book to show that he did. There's no point in quoting other sources whn I can quote from the book itself. It sits in the bookcases behind where I'm now typing, and has done for years, so if you want more quotes I can provide them.
I said about Frazer that he "researched long ago dead cultures" which is true. I have not denied that he studied existing cultures. Your faulty logic and failure to understand the language are none of my concerns.

Some people use books to catch flies, don't give me the "I have a big bookcase behind me" line.

You're being silly again.

You on the other hand are in a completely indefensible position because you're claimiing he never did things he did all the time.
Where do you get the "he never did things" from my quote? I only referred to some things he did.


The implication is heavy that that was all he did (otherwise why bother bringing it up?) and that is flat out wrong, and displays a great deal of ignorance on your part.
You're barking at the wrong tree, I brought him up to prove your definition wrong, not to claim (to what purpose?) that all he did was to research ancient cultures.


At least I can spell Persephone (and so could Frazer). The very first chapter - the whole concept of the search Frazer undertakes in the book - is concerned with the ancient world. Everybody knows that, even tyros who've only read references to the book and don't actually know for themselves what it is about.
That's a cheap attack, in my native language her name is spelled Persefona like in many other languages where ph is casually spelled f (e.g. in Italian her name is Persefone). Gloat on my misspellings (or bad grammar, I'm sure you'll find enough material), that's the least you can do.

It isn't me that boasts about 'scholarship'.

That Frazer deals (also!) with the ancient world was my argument.


No it wasn't. Your argument was that my definition of an anthropologist as someone who studies existing cultures would have excluded Frazer. It could only have excluded Frazer if Frazer did not study existing cultures. What else he may have studied is totally irrelevant, so the fact that he also studied extinct ones (but see below) is immaterial. You were obviously under the mistaken impression (because it is becoming obvious you haven't read the book in question) that Frazer ONLY studied extinct cultures. Which of course is totally false.

You now, as a result of my quoting him, and no doubt of having done some looking around yourself, realised how wrong you were and are seeking straws to clutch at.

You're in the position of someone who, told that the definition of an English international footballer is that he playxed football for England, retorts 'Then Denis Compton was not an English international footballer because he played cricket for England'. In other words you have egg all over your face.


No it wouldn't. Frazer doesn't study inanimate things and draw conclusions from them (except insofar as you class books and letters from missionaries and such as 'inanimate').

But at least you take my point that Frazer is an anthropologist even though he studies at second-hand, and he studies records of past as well as present (or late 19th or early 20th century) cultures.So that's a start.

No it doesn't. I would have thought that was obvious by now.

My demonstration was all along that Frazer while being obviously an anthropologist he also researched extinct cultures. And yes, your definition makes him also an archeaologist, read it: "archaeologists as people who study extinct ones [peoples]". Was Frazer studying extinct cultures (in his time)? Yes or no?

If you are childish enough to insist on a yes or no answer then the answer has to be no because Frazer didn't actually study any cultures at all.

From a more adult point of view, Frazer qualifies as an anthropologist because he studied the works of actual anthropologists - people who wrote about, and therefore to some degree studied, cultures that existed in their time,  irrespective of whether their time corresponded to his or not. As I explained at some length in my earlier expansion of the original definition.


I regard anyone who claims that his subject covers everything as silly, and statements to that effect as pretentious and obfuscatiing. You might as well argue that history is the study of everything that has happened or might have happened as accept some of the definitions here.
 
Everything blurs in the face of this kind of status-grabbing: you end up with philosophy, history, anthropology, ... all meaning the same thing because they mean studying eveything or anything. Suddenly Shakespeare is an anthropologist. And so at the other end of the spectrum is Steve Martin. It's pointless.

So you actually don't understand what anthropology is. I suspected that from a while, but now having confirmations I won't insist in the future. Perhaps that's also why you had to resort to that punk dichotomy between anthropology and archaeology.

Anthropology is whatever the person using the word considers it to be: For meaningful discussion to take place a joint working definition is necessary, which is why I explained mine. So I understand very well what anthropology is, but I don't agree with the definition of it you are using and quoting, because I think it is pointlessly vague and all-embracing..


It seems you rather missed the point of the joke. Get someone to explain it to you.
No, I did not miss the joke, I paraphrased it to suggest you some serious research. In vain you have a book case if you don't know how to use it. In vain you try to pose in an intellectual if you can't even browse a university site to get the basic description of a discipline studied there.

I can browse the site. I don't have to agree with it. In fact it would be rather more interesting to discover how, say, the medical or theological or history faculty define anthropology. I doubt very much that they would include medicine, theology or history as subjects for the 'anthropology' department to handle, whatever the etymology.

And I think it's very obvious, including from what you say now, that you didn't and don't see the joke. You cetainly didn't paraphrase it.



I'm saying the definitions you quoted indicate (indeed say outright) that the word is used in two senses, and I am objecting to that on the ground that it is obfuscatory. [...] And the fact that it is used in two senses is exactly the point I am making and that I'm complaining about.
You're saying it, but it's untrue.

Then you're denying your own sources. You quoted this yourself
after browsing some testimonies from ancient Greek authors he concludes about the "two meanings of the term 'chthonic' as applied to the gods - (a) a poetic term to denote a god associated with the souls, and (b) a cultus term to denote a god of agriculture"

What the word meant in Greek is totally irrelevant to that point.
That's what I've said, that I am not extracting the definition from Greek. You're the one bringing the etymology issue, not me. You accused me of things I haven't done, of "arguing that 'chthonic' etymologically would mean 'earthen' or something similar"

Well, on what other ground would you argue that 'chthonic' means 'of the earth' or something like that? It's not as though it is always used that way in English: you only have to type "chthonic definitions" into google and you'll get a whole swathe of sites saying it refers in English to the underworld, including all the dictionaries. But that's only normal usage of course.


There's not much point telling me that people do what I'm complaining they do.
But I didn't, I repeated that the word is given with one single meaning: 'in the earth' (or well, under the earth, under the earth's surface and similar variants). Not two.

Same rebuttal. You quoted people giving two definitions.


Whether I give references or not has nothing to do with its relevance, though it may have to do with its effectiveness. To quote you, do you know what 'relevant' means? (And yes, I know that's childish of me, I'm just making the point.)
If you don't know what 'relevant' means in this discussion, then shouldn't you quit it?
References are very important to relevance as long as we try to argue scholarly. If you can't give me references for your dubious definitions and concepts I'll discard them from start. I'm not interested to live in Graham's mind.

As I thought, you don't understand what 'relevant' means. You think it means 'reliable' or'important' or something similar. It doesn't. If I were now to introduce here a discussion of a recent performance of Handel's Messiah, that would be irrelevant. If I were to support my comments with a thousand scholarly references to the origin of the piece, the musical style, various other performances and so on that would STILL be irrelevant.

On the other hand if I were to produce an example of a dominant deity that goes completely against my suggested earth mother/sky father classification (which I could do because there is a glaringly obvious example) that would be relevant even if produced no 'scholarly' references at all.

After all I can type a couple of words into a google book search and copy out the results just as easily as you can.



I don't see any reason to say Demeter 'lives' under the earth. In that case, how does snatching Persephone away to live under the earth make any difference to Demeter? In all the versions I've seen, Demeter lives on the earth or on Olympus. (Take Graves' account in chapter 24 of The Greek Myths for instance.) Demeter doesn't even descend into the earth to seek Persephone but waits at Eleusis for her return. If not on Olympus she lives in places like cornfields and sacred groves and wanders the surface of the earth but not under it.
 
Again it's not me that's showing unfamiliarity with the subject.
You don't show only unfamiliarity but real ignorance.

Are you claiming Demeter went into the underworld to seek Persephone?
In the early pantheon (Homer) Demeter was not among the Olympian gods, this status she acquired only in the later myths.

So? I quoted a chapter that makes that clear. Moreover I actually wrote 'if not on Olympus...' to indicate my awareness that she was not always an Olympic deity.

But Demeter was celebrated also as a chthonic deity in the Greek cult (have you read that account from Pausanias?). She was thought to act at the root of the plants (in the earth) but not only, in the Eleusinian mysteries she was also regarded (IIRC a Homeric Hymn mentions it) as a protector of her followers after death (thus in the earth). She is also often depicted accompanied by a snake, a typically chthonic animal.

You're just continuing to use the word 'chthonic' with your meaning. Of course she is celebrated as an earth deity. But not an underworld one. Plant roots don't grow in the uinderworld. Living people can dig up roots. And while a snake is sometimes associated with the earth, not unreasonably, it isn't always so. It can represent wisdom as in Asclepius' rod or other magical powers as with the caduceus or kingship as with the uraeus: and neither Asclepius nor Hermes nor living Egyptian royalty are associated with the earth or the underworld.

The manifestation of Demeter under earth's surface is what gives her a chthonic aspect. That's how she lives underground. The Greek gods acted themselves, they had no remote controls!

They didn't cast thunderbolts? Raise winds?
Your argument boils down to Demeter is a chthonic deity because she is associated with the earth. She must be associated with the earth because she is a chthonic deity.

Graves gives a selective account of some Greek myths. If you take that as an absolute reference (so that you deny the chtonian aspects of Demeter just because your slim bibliography doesn't contain it), it's obvious you have no clue what scholarship means in this regard.

I don't deny that Demeter is an earth goddess. I will even accept if pushed that there may be some myths that have her associated with the roots of plants, even though everything I find has her living on the earth (or, later, on Olympus if that's not on the earth). My point is that she is not associated with the underworld - i.e. in Greek myth that ruled over by Hades, or in Egyptian by Osiris - and therefore not chthonic except in your overbroad sense of the term.

The 'underworld' as a concept in religious belief does not have to be under the earth. It is still chthonic in presnet-day common usage.


And now really, who would you believe? A dancer or http://books.google.com/books?q=chthonic+demeter ?

What on earth do you mean - 'a dancer'? Is that something like spelling Persephone wrong? Graves was a poet. And yes when considering the meaning of words I will take a poet over an anthropologist any time. Incidentally using your techique for finding references, you get more if you type in 'sky Demeter'. You get many many more of course if you type 'earth Demeter'. But Demeter's association with the earth is not in question.

Read the book.
Considering what I already know of the author, I doubt I'll waste money on it. When it will be available online I might browse it in a boring afternoon.

Your loss. Let me know when you publish, I'll look out for it.



Edited by gcle2003 - 11-Dec-2008 at 16:24
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  Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 18:13

Originally posted by gcle2003

Incidentally I have no idea why you say 'which I have not addressed'. The very next post in the thread has you contradicting my position - I don't mind being contradicted, but it's a bit much having the contradiction denied. I note your later edit of the post, which makes me think you may only have referred to mine as an afterthought - the original posting time being so closely after mine.
I said it once, I repeat it, I did not reply to you, but to Charlesbrough. Thus I did not address that post of yours you keep harassing me with.

It isn't me that boasts about 'scholarship'.
On the contrary, you bragged with your own "achivements" while I'm more modest, I defer scholarship to the real experts in the field. Wink

No it wasn't. Your argument was that my definition of an anthropologist as someone who studies existing cultures would have excluded Frazer. It could only have excluded Frazer if Frazer did not study existing cultures. What else he may have studied is totally irrelevant, so the fact that he also studied extinct ones (but see below) is immaterial. You were obviously under the mistaken impression (because it is becoming obvious you haven't read the book in question) that Frazer ONLY studied extinct cultures. Which of course is totally false.
You have a rich imagination, a weak reasoning and your conclusions are consequently faulty. My argument was that your definition would have made Frazer an archaeologist, not that would have excluded him from being an anthropologist.
I never claimed (or had the impression for that matter) that "Frazer studied ONLY extinct cultures". My affirmations can be verified above in the thread and I already rejected these idiotic accusations.

And who has read Frazer and who has not is clear enough from what we understand by anthropology.

You're in the position of someone who, told that the definition of an English international footballer is that he playxed football for England, retorts 'Then Denis Compton was not an English international footballer because he played cricket for England'. In other words you have egg all over your face.
Your analogy doesn't hold because unfortunately for your petty case, scripta manent. You described "archaeologists as people who study extinct ones [peoples]" and this is one of the things Frazer did, however without being an archaeologist.

If you are childish enough to insist on a yes or no answer then the answer has to be no because Frazer didn't actually study any cultures at all.
Hilarious, except for decoration what other use you found for Frazer's books?

From a more adult point of view, Frazer qualifies as an anthropologist because he studied the works of actual anthropologists - people who wrote about, and therefore to some degree studied, cultures that existed in their time,  irrespective of whether their time corresponded to his or not. As I explained at some length in my earlier expansion of the original definition.
That's a more stupid point of view if anything. The Egyptian and Mesopotamian inscriptions studied by Frazer are not "the works of actual anthropologists".
I can't follow any definition of yours which is not properly fundamented.

Anthropology is whatever the person using the word considers it to be: For meaningful discussion to take place a joint working definition is necessary, which is why I explained mine. So I understand very well what anthropology is, but I don't agree with the definition of it you are using and quoting, because I think it is pointlessly vague and all-embracing..
No Graham, we're not living in your imagination but in a real world. For any of your definitions to be operative you must provide proper references. You can claim anthropology is a three-legged locust wearing blue jeans, it doesn't mean that's what anthropology is, or that you understand what it is. You can claim a lot of crap, you can't back it up, I'm not interested in it. As simple as that.

I can browse the site. I don't have to agree with it. In fact it would be rather more interesting to discover how, say, the medical or theological or history faculty define anthropology. I doubt very much that they would include medicine, theology or history as subjects for the 'anthropology' department to handle, whatever the etymology.
However, you don't have any competence in anthropology and I referred you to proper authorities. If you want to enlarge the research, please do it. Perhaps for one first time in this discussion you'll write something useful.

And I think it's very obvious, including from what you say now, that you didn't and don't see the joke. You cetainly didn't paraphrase it.
I actually did, and given your chronic incapacity of understanding my points, I doubt you can say anything obvious about me.

Then you're denying your own sources. You quoted this yourself
I wrote an entire paragraph on that view and the argument was that chthonic is 'what is below the earth' (in the same paragraph, the first part of the sentence you ineptly massacrated). The term chthonic, in that author's view, is applied on two categories of gods, hence those two meanings. However, two meanings actually are joined in a single one: 'what is below the earth'. Which is full agreeement with all the other sources. Other authors find even more categories of chthonic divinites (see the definition below where besides the two types of gods, there are also heroes).

Well, on what other ground would you argue that 'chthonic' means 'of the earth' or something like that?
I told you that several times already, this is the current operative definition of the term, this is how the scholars define it. Let's recheck one of the definitions, because obviously you have missed most of them when you rejected them en masse:
"My definition of a chthonic god shall be the simplest possible. I employ the term to include all divine or semi-divine being supposed to dwell beneath the earth's surface, whether as gods of the dead or of the agriculture as the souls of the dead and such heroes as were conceived to dwell under the earth." (Hewitt)
As such I'm not relying on etymology.

It's not as though it is always used that way in English: you only have to type "chthonic definitions" into google and you'll get a whole swathe of sites saying it refers in English to the underworld, including all the dictionaries. But that's only normal usage of course.
Of course, it is, it only shows your brittle grasp on the semantics of English language. Underworld, according to a "whole swathe of sites" means "under the earth"
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/underworld
http://www.answers.com/topic/underworld
2. A region, realm, or dwelling place conceived to be below the surface of the earth.
4. Greek & Roman Mythology The world of the dead, located below the world of the living; Hades (this definiton arguably means the same thing, because in the Greek and Roman mythology the world of the dead was 'below the surface of the earth', thus contrary to some stupid claims you made, pertains to the earth).

As I thought, you don't understand what 'relevant' means. You think it means 'reliable' or'important' or something similar. It doesn't. If I were now to introduce here a discussion of a recent performance of Handel's Messiah, that would be irrelevant. If I were to support my comments with a thousand scholarly references to the origin of the piece, the musical style, various other performances and so on that would STILL be irrelevant.
No, that's not what I think. We're not talking about appreciations of art here, but about well-established definitions and concepts. Which can be relevant only when properly refered (by a dictionary, by a lexicon, or if also a technical term - like 'chtonic' - by scholarship). Your made-up definitions are useless. I don't care about them, I don't care how you choose to understand things, as long as you fail to follow an well-established track. It's not that I consider them unreliable or unimportant, but simply irrelevant.

On the other hand if I were to produce an example of a dominant deity that goes completely against my suggested earth mother/sky father classification (which I could do because there is a glaringly obvious example) that would be relevant even if produced no 'scholarly' references at all.
It was never about dominant deities.

Are you claiming Demeter went into the underworld to seek Persephone?
No, I am claiming what followed in that paragraph you chose to tear apart and misunderstand.

So? I quoted a chapter that makes that clear. Moreover I actually wrote 'if not on Olympus...' to indicate my awareness that she was not always an Olympic deity.
Not really, I was talking from a diachronic perspective, while your perspective was synchronic.

You're just continuing to use the word 'chthonic' with your meaning. Of course she is celebrated as an earth deity. But not an underworld one. Plant roots don't grow in the uinderworld. Living people can dig up roots. And while a snake is sometimes associated with the earth, not unreasonably, it isn't always so. It can represent wisdom as in Asclepius' rod or other magical powers as with the caduceus or kingship as with the uraeus: and neither Asclepius nor Hermes nor living Egyptian royalty are associated with the earth or the underworld.
It's not "my meaning", it's a meaning enforced by lots of scholars. Plant roots grow under the earth's surface which is in the underworld. The snake is a chthonic beast (virtually all scholars of comparative religion hold that). Asclepios and Hermes are chthonic deities. The ignorance is reeking from your posts.

They didn't cast thunderbolts? Raise winds?
Yes, and they did it themselves and these were considered manifestations of those gods. There's also a chthonic Zeus associated with the world of the dead, with thunderbolts shaking the earth, etc.

What on earth do you mean - 'a dancer'? Is that something like spelling Persephone wrong? Graves was a poet.
No, my unwitty companion, you're the dancer!


 And yes when considering the meaning of words I will take a poet over an anthropologist any time.
Because you're ignorant about anthropology.
 

 Incidentally using your techique for finding references, you get more if you type in 'sky Demeter'. You get many many more of course if you type 'earth Demeter'. But Demeter's association with the earth is not in question.
You misunderstood my technique, it only proves the concept is well established. I already said that olympian and chthonic are not mutually exclusive, therefore the rest of the comments are misguided (since I haven't claimed 'chthonic' is the most popular aspect of Demeter or anything similar to that)

Your loss. Let me know when you publish, I'll look out for it.
I can't see how I can be at loss when not buying books by unreliable, idiosyncratic and arguably intelectually repulsive authors, and also without proper recommendations. Especially when there are so many materials out there I'd read before it.

As for me, I certainly won't brag. Maybe I already published, but trust me, you'll never know. Wink

 

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  Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 19:02
Oh, I skipped some remarks.
 
 My point is that she is not associated with the underworld - i.e. in Greek myth that ruled over by Hades, or in Egyptian by Osiris - and therefore not chthonic except in your overbroad sense of the term.
But I already proved you wrong on that, because in her mysteries she was also protector of the dead.
 
The 'underworld' as a concept in religious belief does not have to be under the earth. It is still chthonic in presnet-day common usage.
 A celestial paradise is not 'chthonic'.
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  Quote Some Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 20:04
Some one might have allready mention this. But there signs that been shown that the  picts soceity and megalith in scandinavia might have been female based societies.
 
All love :)
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 20:39
Originally posted by Chilbudios

Oh, I skipped some remarks.
 
 My point is that she is not associated with the underworld - i.e. in Greek myth that ruled over by Hades, or in Egyptian by Osiris - and therefore not chthonic except in your overbroad sense of the term.
But I already proved you wrong on that, because in her mysteries she was also protector of the dead.
Asserting something is not proving it. Demeter protects those initiated into her rites after they die. As indeed she protects them in other ways while still alive: cf Apuleius. Similarly Christ protects the souls of those who believe in him. That's somewhat different from being an underworld deity. Christians pray to saints for intercession on behalf of the dead: that doesn't make saints underworld figures.
 
The 'underworld' as a concept in religious belief does not have to be under the earth. It is still chthonic in presnet-day common usage.
 A celestial paradise is not 'chthonic'.
Well yes it is. Loook up the definition of 'underworld' anywhere and you'll find it defined as the place where the dead go in the afterlife. It isn't necessarily below ground. It doesn't mean 'a place under the earth' except in Greek myth and probably a couple of other systems which I can't be bothered to check. ('World' in 'underworld' doesn't in fact mean 'earth' at all, but is equivalent to French 'monde' or Russian 'mir' not French 'terre' or Russian 'zyemlya': the 'world of people' if you like, to be distinguished from the 'under' world of the supernatural and the dead.)
 
You seem to have a fundamental lack of understanding of basic concepts in English, not just in anthropology, that, coupled with your refusal to admit the possibility you might be wrong, makes it very difficult to converse with you.
 
'Chthonic' = associated with the underworld. 'Underworld' = where the dead go to.
 
'Chthonic" = associated with the regions that the dead go to.
 
That's English. It has nothing to do with Greek (nor is it limited to use in Greek mythology).
 
Google returns for underworld:
  • Hell: (religion) the world of the dead; "No one goes to Hades with all his immense wealth"-Theognis
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

  • In the study of mythology and religion, the underworld is a generic term approximately equivalent to the lay term afterlife, referring to any place to which newly dead souls go. In most cultures the term refers to a neutral or dystopic realm of the afterlife, instead of a heavenly one.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underworld
  •  



    Edited by gcle2003 - 11-Dec-2008 at 20:47
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      Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 20:56
    Originally posted by Chilbudios

    If you are childish enough to insist on a yes or no answer then the answer has to be no because Frazer didn't actually study any cultures at all.
    Hilarious, except for decoration what other use you found for Frazer's books?

    I can't resist responding to this idiotic comment, though the rest may have to wait till tomorrow if I feel like it. But you're getting to be very tiresome indeed. 
     
    That Frazer did not study any societies at first-hand is a matter of simple fact. If you have facts that say otherwise then present them. I've presented the whole text of the abridged version on my side.
     
    He hmself never claimed to have done so, so this as it stands it simply just another piece if evidence that you have no real knowledge of his work at all, though I've no dooubt you've now done a few inadequate searches around the web and gleaned some mistaken impressions.
     
    Don't you know anything?
     
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 22:03
    Originally posted by gcle2003

    Asserting something is not proving it. Demeter protects those initiated into her rites after they die. As indeed she protects them in other ways while still alive: cf Apuleius. Similarly Christ protects the souls of those who believe in him. That's somewhat different from being an underworld deity. Christians pray to saints for intercession on behalf of the dead: that doesn't make saints underworld figures.
    But I did not merely assert it, I provided you a direct source (a Homeric Hymn), plus you'll find more on this in several of those books you haven't read about Chthonic Demeter.
    The analogy with Christ is irrelevant as long as his kingdom is not sub-terranean.
     
    Well yes it is. Loook up the definition of 'underworld' anywhere and you'll find it defined as the place where the dead go in the afterlife. It isn't necessarily below ground.
    If ignorance would hurt, you'd be on morphine.
    2. A region, realm, or dwelling place conceived to be below the surface of the earth.
    4. Greek & Roman Mythology The world of the dead, located below the world of the living; Hades.
     
    You seem to have a fundamental lack of understanding of basic concepts in English, not just in anthropology, that, coupled with your refusal to admit the possibility you might be wrong, makes it very difficult to converse with you.
    This is a nice self-portrait of yours.
     
    'Chthonic' = associated with the underworld. 'Underworld' = where the dead go to.
     
    'Chthonic" = associated with the regions that the dead go to.
     Chthonic means 'under the earth' and I provided more than enough resources to prove it. Your sophisms and inabilites won't change it. Gaia, Hades, Persephone, Demeter, Hermes, Hephaistos, Asclepios, even Zeus himself are deities having (also) a chthonic nature. Anyone at least familiarized with comparative religion knows that.
     
    That Frazer did not study any societies at first-hand is a matter of simple fact. If you have facts that say otherwise then present them. I've presented the whole text of the abridged version on my side. 
    You misrepresent Frazer if anything.
     
    He himself never claimed to have done so, so this as it stands it simply just another piece if evidence that you have no real knowledge of his work at all, though I've no dooubt you've now done a few inadequate searches around the web and gleaned some mistaken impressions.
     
    Don't you know anything?
    I know more than your narrowmindedness can ever understand. Read it (perhaps for the first time in your life): http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/frazer/
    and after you'll be done with it, archive.org has a lot of him:
     
    I won't bother to go in details, since you proved often enough inept in understanding my previous points. I'll tell you only that Frazer studied languages, rituals, beliefs, institutions, religions, behaviors, etc. in other words cultures and peoples. Thus my point stands while yours betrays an illiterate aggresivity.
     
     
     
     
     


    Edited by Chilbudios - 11-Dec-2008 at 22:28
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      Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Dec-2008 at 22:21
    Please, stop throwing "intellectual" axes to each other. It gets very tiring.
    "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. "
    --- Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky, 1991, Russian-American poet, b. St. Petersburg and exiled 1972 (1940-1996)
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      Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 10:22
    Originally posted by Spartakus

    Please, stop throwing "intellectual" axes to each other. It gets very tiring
    True.
    So I'll shut up. However, I can't resist this last point:
    Originally posted by Chilbudios

    If ignorance would hurt, you'd be on morphine.
    2. A region, realm, or dwelling place conceived to be below the surface of the earth.
    4. Greek & Roman Mythology The world of the dead, located below the world of the living; Hades.
    I'll accept that the missing definitions (1,3 and 5) are irrelevant[1] However, note that 4 simple says the world of the dead, located below the world of the living in Greek and Roman mythology. The more accurate definition wouldbe the world of the dead, located beneath the earth in Greek and Roman mythology, the point being that the underworld is only related to the earth in G&R (and some other) mythologies.
     
    The 'underworld' is always the world of the dead (and is a usage similar to that of the 'hidden world' of spiritualism - it means 'undercoverworld'). It may or may not be related to the physical earth. Similarly of course the 'world' may or may not be related to the physical earth as I went to some pains to point out.
     
    Since Chilbudios oddly thinks statements are irrelevant unless accompanied by the results of his hurried searches of the internet:

    underworld

    < name=entry =/dictionary method=post>One entry found.

    < = value=Dictionary name=book> < = value=underworld name=quer> < = name=jump> < = value=va:1,0,0,0|underworld=157626481 name=list>

    Main Entry:
    un·der·world &#10;%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Listen%20to%20the%20pronunciation%20of%20underworld
    Pronunciation:
    \-ˌwərld\
    Function:
    noun
    Date:
    1598
    1: the place of departed souls : hades
    2 archaic : earth
    3: the side of the earth opposite to one : antipodes
    4: a social sphere below the level of ordinary life <the town's seedy underworld> ; especially : the world of organized crime
     
    1 criminal element, criminals, gangland, gangsters, organized crime
    2 abode of the dead, Hades, hell, infernal region, nether regions, nether world, the inferno
    underworld
         n 1: (in various religions) the world of the dead; "he didn't
              want to go to hell when he died" [syn: Hel, Hell, Hades,
               infernal region, netherworld, Scheol]
         2: the criminal class

    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

    Underworld \Un"der*world`\, n.
       1. The lower of inferior world; the world which is under the
          heavens; the earth.
    
                That overspreads (with such a reverence) This
                underworld.                           --Daniel.
    
       2. The mythological place of departed souls; Hades.
    
       3. The portion of the world which is below the horizon; the
          opposite side of the world; the antipodes. [R.]
    
                Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That
                brings our friends up from the underworld.
                                                      --Tennyson.
    
       4. The inferior part of mankind. [R.] --Atterbury.
    or, as oddities, but still making the general point that the underworld can be anywhere:
     
    [1] Because they have nothing to do with the subject, not because they have no references to back them up. Under Chilbudios' peculiar definition of relevance however all the definitions here would be irrelevant because they have no references to back them up.


    Edited by gcle2003 - 12-Dec-2008 at 10:26
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 10:57
    Originally posted by gcle2003

    However, note that 4 simple says the world of the dead, located below the world of the living in Greek and Roman mythology.
    World of the living which is on the earth, consequently the world of the dead is below earth.
     
    The 'underworld' is always the world of the dead (and is a usage similar to that of the 'hidden world' of spiritualism - it means 'undercoverworld'). It may or may not be related to the physical earth. Similarly of course the 'world' may or may not be related to the physical earth as I went to some pains to point out.
    Not really, in all religions 'world of the living' is on the physical earth (well, when we'll have religions on Mars, we may need to expand our terminology, but until then ...). The world of the dead can be below earth (and then is chthonic) or some place else. Please note in Christianity there are basically two worlds of the dead: the hell (chthonic) and the paradise (celestial, ouranic) (however, in Christianity the latter are not really dead, but live forever)
     
    Since Chilbudios oddly thinks statements are irrelevant unless accompanied by the results of his hurried searches of the internet
    That's a misunderstanding. I require reputable references, not Internet results. I'm giving you Internet references so you can consult them yourself. I can quote articles from many materials unavailable online (at least, I don't know of them to be), e.g. The Encyclopedia of Religion (Mircea Eliade ed., 1987).
     
    but still making the general point that the underworld can be anywhere
    Not really, they all suggest Hades (below earth), inferior (below), nether (below). However, searching for 'oddities' (after all you can post on your own site a definition that underworld can be anywhere) is missing the point, because we're talking here about these words as commonly understood, you focused on dictionary definitons, while I focuses on comparative religion scholarship. Reverting to our initial point of debate, you won't find scholarship claiming 'chthonic' describes a world of the dead which is not below ground. You won't find scholarship claiming the 'kingdom of heaven' is chthonic. But you will find a lot of scholarship claiming gods of agrictulure, gods, spirits or actions manifesting in earthquakes, volcano eruptions or simply mythical accounts (like Hermes being a courier between the upper world and underworld) as 'chthonic'.
     
    Under Chilbudios' peculiar definition of relevance however all the definitions here would be irrelevant because they have no references to back them up.
    Not really, a reputable dictionary is a reference by itself. A reputable scholar is a reference. Multiple concording scholars form a well-established view.
    Words have meanings if they are acknowledged as such by many people using a language - be it natural language or just a technical language specific to a discipline. If you will come up with a definition with no reference it will be irrelevant because well, you may be the single person in the world understanding the concept in that way. Thus corrective attempts are only intrusive actions, of imposing some idiosyncrasies on the world, on how other people think and express themselves. Let's not forget that I used first the word 'chthonic' and you criticized it. I provided more than enough references to justify my choice of meaning, while you came up with some misunderstood dictionary definitions.


    Edited by Chilbudios - 12-Dec-2008 at 11:01
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      Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 14:07
    Originally posted by Chilbudios

    Originally posted by gcle2003

    However, note that 4 simple says the world of the dead, located below the world of the living in Greek and Roman mythology.
    World of the living which is on the earth, consequently the world of the dead is below earth.
    In Greek mythology, yes. Otherwise not necessarily. The earth after all is round: what's below it? Australia?
     
    The 'underworld' is always the world of the dead (and is a usage similar to that of the 'hidden world' of spiritualism - it means 'undercoverworld'). It may or may not be related to the physical earth. Similarly of course the 'world' may or may not be related to the physical earth as I went to some pains to point out.
    Not really, in all religions 'world of the living' is on the physical earth (well, when we'll have religions on Mars, we may need to expand our terminology, but until then ...).
    We have religion on a spherical earth already. Moreover Mars, the sun and the galaxies are already part of the world of the living, wiothout our having reached them.
     
    Even some Greeks thought of the earth as spherical. Plato's heavenly solids surrounded the earth: they weren't above or below it.
     
    Modern Christians (in English) refer to the 'underworld' - they don't mean some place beneath the earth.
     
    The world of the dead can be below earth (and then is chthonic) or some place else. Please note in Christianity there are basically two worlds of the dead: the hell (chthonic)
    I agree Hell is chthonic. However it isn't below the earth (a meaningless phrase in our current cosmology). So chthonic doesn't mean (any more) under or on or about the earth. Which was my original point.
    and the paradise (celestial, ouranic) (however, in Christianity the latter are not really dead, but live forever)
    The 'dead' aren't 'really dead' in most mythologies including the Greek. We wouldn't be talking about where they are supposed to live otherwise.
     
    Since Chilbudios oddly thinks statements are irrelevant unless accompanied by the results of his hurried searches of the internet
    That's a misunderstanding. I require reputable references, not Internet results. I'm giving you Internet references so you can consult them yourself. I can quote articles from many materials unavailable online (at least, I don't know of them to be), e.g. The Encyclopedia of Religion (Mircea Eliade ed., 1987).
    Whats odd about your belief is that it relates 'relevance' to 'sources' and 'references' whereas relevance is solely a matter of the relationship of a comment to a subject. You'r mixing up concepts like 'weightiness' or 'validity' or 'well-foundedness' or 'important' or something.
     
    Something can be relevant even though it is trivial, unfounded, unsourced and for that matter completely wrong. And something can be irrelevant no matter how well references or sound or important it is. If people are discussing relativity theory and someone shouts out 'Fire! Run for your lives!' that is irrelevant whether justified or not.
     
    but still making the general point that the underworld can be anywhere
    Not really, they all suggest Hades (below earth), inferior (below), nether (below). However, searching for 'oddities' (after all you can post on your own site a definition that underworld can be anywhere) is missing the point, because we're talking here about these words as commonly understood, you focused on dictionary definitons, while I focuses on comparative religion scholarship.
    Of course. If you look for common understandings you look in dictionaries, not in obscure works of scholarship, which pretty well by definition are not common understandings.
     
    Anyway why is it OK for you to quote dictionaries and not me?
    Reverting to our initial point of debate, you won't find scholarship claiming 'chthonic' describes a world of the dead which is not below ground. You won't find scholarship claiming the 'kingdom of heaven' is chthonic. But you will find a lot of scholarship claiming gods of agrictulure, gods, spirits or actions manifesting in earthquakes, volcano eruptions or simply mythical accounts (like Hermes being a courier between the upper world and underworld) as 'chthonic'.
     
    Under Chilbudios' peculiar definition of relevance however all the definitions here would be irrelevant because they have no references to back them up.
    Not really, a reputable dictionary is a reference by itself. A reputable scholar is a reference. Multiple concording scholars form a well-established view.
    That has nothing to do with relevance. A view can be well-established and totally irrelevant. It can be relevant and not be established at all. You wuite obviously still don't have any idea what 'relevance' means.
    Words have meanings if they are acknowledged as such by many people using a language - be it natural language or just a technical language specific to a discipline. If you will come up with a definition with no reference it will be irrelevant because well, you may be the single person in the world understanding the concept in that way.
    That doesn't make it irrelevant. Same point.
    Thus corrective attempts are only intrusive actions, of imposing some idiosyncrasies on the world, on how other people think and express themselves. Let's not forget that I used first the word 'chthonic' and you criticized it.
    True. At least I criticised the use of it in that way.
    I provided more than enough references to justify my choice of meaning, while you came up with some misunderstood dictionary definitions.
     
    I came up with dictionary definitions that demonstrated I was correct. You provided references to people who make the same mistake you do (which is not simply using the word to mean 'of the earth' but in using it in the dual sense of referring to both the 'of the earth' meaning and the 'of the underworld' meaning: a source of confusion which this exchange has made abundantly obvious).
     
    Of course you reject the dictionary definitions as 'misunderstood' when you disagree with them, no matter how clear and unambiguous they are.
     
    Disagreeing with you is after all your criterion for deciding something should be immediately rejected.
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 16:54
    Originally posted by gcle2003

    In Greek mythology, yes. Otherwise not necessarily. The earth after all is round: what's below it? Australia?
     
    We have religion on a spherical earth already. Moreover Mars, the sun and the galaxies are already part of the world of the living, wiothout our having reached them.
     
    Even some Greeks thought of the earth as spherical. Plato's heavenly solids surrounded the earth: they weren't above or below it.
     
    Modern Christians (in English) refer to the 'underworld' - they don't mean some place beneath the earth.
    That's nuts. When earth is regarded as spherical there's no below, nor above. "below earth" means 'under ground' (read it as 'below the surface of the earth')
     
    I agree Hell is chthonic. However it isn't below the earth (a meaningless phrase in our current cosmology). So chthonic doesn't mean (any more) under or on or about the earth. Which was my original point.
    The common representation of the chthonic Hell is as an abyss, an underground place. Other representations of the Hell which are not involving the sub-terranean are simply not 'chthonic'.
     
    Whats odd about your belief is that it relates 'relevance' to 'sources' and 'references' whereas relevance is solely a matter of the relationship of a comment to a subject. You'r mixing up concepts like 'weightiness' or 'validity' or 'well-foundedness' or 'important' or something.
     
    Something can be relevant even though it is trivial, unfounded, unsourced and for that matter completely wrong. And something can be irrelevant no matter how well references or sound or important it is. If people are discussing relativity theory and someone shouts out 'Fire! Run for your lives!' that is irrelevant whether justified or not.
    You don't understand my beliefs. I don't argue against comments, but against made-up definitions. And the last sentence of yours is exactly what you are doing. Imagine someone will interrupt this thread by saying "Kinley is a chthonic water!". Between his claim (and his consequent definition of 'chthonic') and yours there is no qualitative difference, they are both idiosyncractic, unreferenceable and thus irrelevant for discussing comparative religion.
    To claim a definition you need at least one valid reference (the more, the better). Otherwise you're just imagining things. Since we don't discuss about how you (or anyone else) imagines things, and moreover since you claimed a correction on how others use the term (you even dared to argue that reputable scholars 'blindly' use it), not bringing references throws this position of yours in irrelevance.
     
    Of course. If you look for common understandings you look in dictionaries, not in obscure works of scholarship, which pretty well by definition are not common understandings.
    Most scholars I quoted are rather famous (A. Fairbanks, Hewitt,  Ugo Bianchi, H. S. Versnel, Daniel Ogden, Apostolos Athanassakis - for his edition of Hesiod which I used it for source and last at not at least Mircea Eliade, and if you' have access to  that encyclopedia you'll find articles signed a by many other famous scholars). If you're not familiar with comparative religion, classical philology and other relevant disciplines it doesn't mean they are obscure. In other words qualifying such scholars to be 'blind' or 'obscure' only reveals who you are, it says nothing about them.
     
    Anyway why is it OK for you to quote dictionaries and not me?
    Where do you get that from? I simply suggested you not to search for 'oddities' but for reliable references. The dictionary definitions you quoted speak about inferior worlds, worlds below, nether worlds, which when related to the world of living (the surface of the earth) give the "below the earth" meaning I argued all along. The ultimate proof that my interpretation is correct is that virtually all scholars use this term as such. The ultimate proof that your interpretation is wrong is that you couldn't so far summon any scholar to argue otherwise (e.g. to describe the 'kingdom of heaven' as 'chthonic').
     
    That has nothing to do with relevance. A view can be well-established and totally irrelevant. It can be relevant and not be established at all. You wuite obviously still don't have any idea what 'relevance' means.
    I didn't say that "well-established views are always relevant to anything". I wonder if you can understand anything from English language which is more complicated  that a simple SVO sentence.
     
    That doesn't make it irrelevant. Same point.
    Of course it does. You can't give words meanings based on your moods or misunderstandings.
     
    I came up with dictionary definitions that demonstrated I was correct.
    False, all dictionary definitions suggested 'chthonic' pertains to the underworld which is below earth, in the earth.
     
    You provided references to people who make the same mistake you do (which is not simply using the word to mean 'of the earth' but in using it in the dual sense of referring to both the 'of the earth' meaning and the 'of the underworld' meaning: a source of confusion which this exchange has made abundantly obvious).
    I provided references from reputable scholarship. You have no qualifications whatsoever to assess their work, and you failed to provide any references. There's no 'dual sense' nor confusion neither for these schoalrs, nor for me, only for you. If you're confused, then you have understanding issues. A fact I remarked in our discussion all along.
     
    Of course you reject the dictionary definitions as 'misunderstood' when you disagree with them, no matter how clear and unambiguous they are.
    Understanding English language is obviously not among your strengths. I claimed that you misunderstood those definitions, not that they are 'misunderstood' in themselves. At most I could qualify them to be vague and thus misleading the unknowing people in error, like you prove with your interpretations.
     
    Disagreeing with you is after all your criterion for deciding something should be immediately rejected.
    Actually this is you, Graham. I provided a pile of references (so, contrary to your distorted view, it's not about me, but also about Eliade, Bianchi, Hewitt, etc.), you provided nothing but some groundless fallacies based on your flawed readings.
     
     


    Edited by Chilbudios - 12-Dec-2008 at 17:15
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      Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 20:08
    Originally posted by Chilbudios

    Originally posted by gcle2003

    In Greek mythology, yes. Otherwise not necessarily. The earth after all is round: what's below it? Australia?
     
    We have religion on a spherical earth already. Moreover Mars, the sun and the galaxies are already part of the world of the living, wiothout our having reached them.
     
    Even some Greeks thought of the earth as spherical. Plato's heavenly solids surrounded the earth: they weren't above or below it.
     
    Modern Christians (in English) refer to the 'underworld' - they don't mean some place beneath the earth.
    That's nuts. When earth is regarded as spherical there's no below, nor above. "below earth" means 'under ground' (read it as 'below the surface of the earth')
    I know it's nuts. That why I pointed it out. Incidentally 'underground' and 'underworld' are totally different things: there's a word for 'underground' in most languages I know anything of (e.g. 'souterrain' in French) but rarely is there one for 'underworld' that has any conncêction with the word for 'earth'. The closest French gets is 'les enfers' AFAIK - though there are plenty of French words for 'underworld' in the criminal sense.
    German of course, like I assume other Germanic languages, shares with English 'unterwelt' and 'untergrund' as corresponding pairs, but that's the same 'world'-'earth' distinction again.
     
    Apart from possibly Stephen King I'm not aware of anyone thinking that the dead live in the underground.
     
    However, there are universes of discourse in which 'below the earth' does have a sensible meaning, even with modern cosmology: it applies with extradimensional views of the totality of worlds in which different worlds are on different planes, some higher, some lower than others.
     
    'Lower' and 'under' do not necessarily mean physically beneath.
     
    I agree Hell is chthonic. However it isn't below the earth (a meaningless phrase in our current cosmology). So chthonic doesn't mean (any more) under or on or about the earth. Which was my original point.
    The common representation of the chthonic Hell is as an abyss, an underground place. Other representations of the Hell which are not involving the sub-terranean are simply not 'chthonic'.
    All you are doing is ceaselessly repeatingthat that is how you and others use the word. I agree that you do. I've never said that you didn't. I am simply saying that you are wrong, or at least misguided, to do so. because two different types of deity are getting confused. There is an important distinction to be made between gods 'of the underworld' - which may not be uinder the ground - and fertility earth divinities who, like Demeter, don't have anything to do with the underworld even though some of their activities may affect the roots of crops which are under the surface of the earth.
     
    The dead don't live, even in Greek mythology, among the roots of the cornfield.
     
    Whats odd about your belief is that it relates 'relevance' to 'sources' and 'references' whereas relevance is solely a matter of the relationship of a comment to a subject. You'r mixing up concepts like 'weightiness' or 'validity' or 'well-foundedness' or 'important' or something.
     
    Something can be relevant even though it is trivial, unfounded, unsourced and for that matter completely wrong. And something can be irrelevant no matter how well references or sound or important it is. If people are discussing relativity theory and someone shouts out 'Fire! Run for your lives!' that is irrelevant whether justified or not.
    You don't understand my beliefs. I don't argue against comments, but against made-up definitions. And the last sentence of yours is exactly what you are doing. Imagine someone will interrupt this thread by saying "Kinley is a chthonic water!". Between his claim (and his consequent definition of 'chthonic') and yours there is no qualitative difference, they are both idiosyncractic, unreferenceable and thus irrelevant for discussing comparative religion.
    They may well be idiosyncratic and unreferenceable. However that you say they are therefore irrelevant just shows you don't know what the word means. You just use it to mean you don't want to discuss it: that isn't what it means.
    To claim a definition you need at least one valid reference (the more, the better).
    Which is why I gave several. However, in your system when you quote a dictionary it counts as a reference: when someone who disagrees with you quotes a dictionary it's irrelevant or misunderstood and can be ignored.
     
    Surprising though it may be to you, you don't actually set the rules for debate here: it isn't up to you what should be discussed here or not, and it is certainly not up to you to determine what is right and what is wrong.
     
    That you may have some petty kingdom of you own where you do have such powers is entirely possible of course, and that could account for a lot.
     Otherwise you're just imagining things.
    So what? It does appear, I admit, that you lack any imagination, which may be why you are quick to suppress it in others. All theories, right or wrong, start in the imagination. If we don't discuss imaginings life becomes unbearably prosaic.
    Just as counting up references as scoring points leads away from any true understanding od anything into a dull world of a kind of academic accountancy.
     Since we don't discuss about how you (or anyone else) imagines things,
    Yes we do. You may not but the rest of us do.
     and moreover since you claimed a correction on how others use the term (you even dared to argue that reputable scholars 'blindly' use it), not bringing references throws this position of yours in irrelevance.
    Again a position is relevant or not dependent on its subject matter, not its correctness or value. Sice you would dismiss as irrelevant or misunderstood or otherwise non-viable and dictionary definition I might quote, why don't you look one up for yourself?
     
    I'm sure anyone else would, but they're probably not as convinced of their own superiority as you are.
     
    And there are incidentally plenty of eminent scholars around who are (metaphorically) blind on many issues. A very common way in which that occurs is when academics get carried away with jargon, ignoring how words are used in common usage. So, yed, I plenty willing to 'dare' criticise them for it, just as I would dare criticise them for drunken driving if I saw them do it.
     
    Of course. If you look for common understandings you look in dictionaries, not in obscure works of scholarship, which pretty well by definition are not common understandings.
    Most scholars I quoted are rather famous (A. Fairbanks, Hewitt,  Ugo Bianchi, H. S. Versnel, Daniel Ogden, Apostolos Athanassakis - for his edition of Hesiod which I used it for source and last at not at least Mircea Eliade, and if you' have access to  that encyclopedia you'll find articles signed a by many other famous scholars). If you're not familiar with comparative religion, classical philology and other relevant disciplines it doesn't mean they are obscure. In other words qualifying such scholars to be 'blind' or 'obscure' only reveals who you are, it says nothing about them.
    Famous is in the eye of the beholder. Being known by people in your own field is not being 'famous'. Frazer is famous, Graves, Lévi-Strauss, Mead, Benedict, Malinowski are famous. Of rhe ones you just listed the only one deserving the epither is Eliade.
     
    Anyway why is it OK for you to quote dictionaries and not me?
    Where do you get that from?
    You happily quote disctionary definitions at me, but then ignore or dismiss dictionary definitions I provide: indeed you even criticise me for relying on them.
    I simply suggested you not to search for 'oddities' but for reliable references.
    I didn't search for 'oddities', they just turned up and I thought someone might be interestied in them. I called them 'oddities' partly because they weren't terribly germane to the subject at hand, though interesting nevertheless: I don't just write thes posts for you, you know.
    The dictionary definitions you quoted speak about inferior worlds, worlds below, nether worlds, which when related to the world of living (the surface of the earth) give the "below the earth" meaning I argued all along.
    Only because you can't see the difference between 'world' and 'earth'. How about 'mundus' and 'terra'? Is that better?
     
    Once more with feeling: 'underworld' and 'underground' are not the same thing. That confusion seems to be at the heart of all this.
    The ultimate proof that my interpretation is correct is that virtually all scholars use this term as such. The ultimate proof that your interpretation is wrong is that you couldn't so far summon any scholar to argue otherwise (e.g. to describe the 'kingdom of heaven' as 'chthonic').
    Because 'chthonic' has only recently become a frequently used term in anthropology as opposed to literature. The word doesn't appear anywhere at all in The Golden Bough for instance. However, you could consider Jung's concept of the chthonic phallos as contrasted with the solar phallos, illustrating how 'chthonic' in the past has tended to mean 'dark' as opposed to 'light' - the underworld as opposed to the world.
     
    It's basically an unnecessary term as well as a confusing one, since the important distinction (at least an important distinction) is between underworld deities and earth deities, and 'underworld' and 'earth' are words enough. The difference between divinities connected in any way with the earth and others is trivial: in fact pretty pointless because deities who have no connection at all with the earth are pretty uncommon. Even Uranus, the archetypal sky father god, ruled over Tartarus, deep below the earth, and imprisoned his children there. Poseidon, who rules the sea, also governs earthquakes.
     
    If even Uranus and Poseidon have chthonic attributes what's the point of using the word 'chthonic'?
    That has nothing to do with relevance. A view can be well-established and totally irrelevant. It can be relevant and not be established at all. You wuite obviously still don't have any idea what 'relevance' means.
    I didn't say that "well-established views are always relevant to anything".
    And I didn't say you did. I was trying and failing of course to explain 'relevance' to you. It has nothing to do with how well arguments are founded or backed up or referenced. One day that may I suppose get through to you, though as I said I went to the wrong university.
     I wonder if you can understand anything from English language which is more complicated  that a simple SVO sentence.
    Don't be an idiot more than you can help.
     
    That doesn't make it irrelevant. Same point.
    Of course it does. You can't give words meanings based on your moods or misunderstandings.
    Maybe not, but that has nothing to do with relevance. You really should check what the word means.
     
    I came up with dictionary definitions that demonstrated I was correct.
    False, all dictionary definitions suggested 'chthonic' pertains to the underworld which is below earth, in the earth.
    The underworld is NOT necessarily below under or in the earth. The world is not the earth. I don't know what language you do speak but it surely isn't English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latin or Russian.
     
    You provided references to people who make the same mistake you do (which is not simply using the word to mean 'of the earth' but in using it in the dual sense of referring to both the 'of the earth' meaning and the 'of the underworld' meaning: a source of confusion which this exchange has made abundantly obvious).
    I provided references from reputable scholarship. You have no qualifications whatsoever to assess their work, and you failed to provide any references. There's no 'dual sense' nor confusion neither for these schoalrs, nor for me, only for you. If you're confused, then you have understanding issues. A fact I remarked in our discussion all along.
    I understand the situation very clearly, though I seem to be alone in doing so in this debate. 'Chthonic' is used by you and others to refer to deities like Hades, and also to deities like Demeter. Doing that inserts a meaningless distinction in place of a meaningful one. That they are both connected with the earth is trivial. The important categoriastion is triune (plus one if you include the sea): heavenly world, human world, underworld - sky, earth and under the earth in Greek terms.  Distinguishing on the basis of being connected to the earth or not is pointless.
     
    Of course you reject the dictionary definitions as 'misunderstood' when you disagree with them, no matter how clear and unambiguous they are.
    Understanding English language is obviously not among your strengths.  I claimed that you misunderstood those definitions, not that they are 'misunderstood' in themselves.
    That would be more impressive if you hadn't just show your own lack of ability to understand the language (from my ability in which I have, incidentally, earned my living for much of my life). If I misunderstood the definitions, then they were misunderstood. If you claimed that I misunderstood them, then you claimed that they were misunderstood. I asume you speak a language that doesn't have a passive aspect?
     
    'Misunderstood in themselves' doesn't make sense.
    At most I could qualify them to be vague and thus misleading the unknowing people in error, like you prove with your interpretations.
     
    Disagreeing with you is after all your criterion for deciding something should be immediately rejected.
    Actually this is you, Graham. I provided a pile of references (so, contrary to your distorted view, it's not about me, but also about Eliade, Bianchi, Hewitt, etc.), you provided nothing but some groundless fallacies based on your flawed readings.
    I could just as well retort that you were putting forward groundless fallacies based on your flawed readings.
     
    What I was putting forward was the criticism that you and the people you were quoting were misguided and mistaken in using 'chthonic' the way you and they do. I wasn't basing that only on my readings, flawed or otherwise: it follows from your readings too.
     
    We both agree about the content of what you are saying. I am not misniterpreting that unless you are too. The difference between us is that I think you and they are wrong. And my case is purely a taxonomic and linguistic one. There really is no point in your giving dozens of examples of people doing what I'm criticising them for doing. I know they do it or I wouldn't be criticising.
     
    What you are specifically NOT doing is giving any kind of counter argument except to say 'all these people do it so it must be right'. You even gave up on the possible argument based on the word's etymology.


    Edited by gcle2003 - 12-Dec-2008 at 20:10
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Dec-2008 at 22:59

    Originally posted by gcle2003


    I know it's nuts. That why I pointed it out. Incidentally 'underground' and 'underworld' are totally different things: there's a word for 'underground' in most languages I know anything of (e.g. 'souterrain' in French) but rarely is there one for 'underworld' that has any conncêction with the word for 'earth'. The closest French gets is 'les enfers' AFAIK - though there are plenty of French words for 'underworld' in the criminal sense.
    German of course, like I assume other Germanic languages, shares with English 'unterwelt' and 'untergrund' as corresponding pairs, but that's the same 'world'-'earth' distinction again.
    But I didn't equate underworld with underground, however I argued that the world of the living is on the surface of the earth, as such the underworld beneath is by necessity is under the surface of the earth. The 'below'/'under' have meanings only when in reference to the surface (or other references which we can 'horizontal'), not to the entire globe.


    Apart from possibly Stephen King I'm not aware of anyone thinking that the dead live in the underground.
    I'm aware of plenty such conceptions, from the ancient Greeks to modern representations (literature, movies, etc.). Arguably in the rural or underdeveloped areas there are people today believing that (in the relative recent Romanian folklore there are such beliefs, I guess it's the same in other areas).


    All you are doing is ceaselessly repeatingthat that is how you and others use the word. I agree that you do. I've never said that you didn't. I am simply saying that you are wrong, or at least misguided, to do so. because two different types of deity are getting confused.
    And you ceaselessly repeated that, without proving that anyone else but you gets confused, which makes it your misunderstanding, you being wrong. I don't see why words should change their meanings simply because you're confused. Perhaps you should change something about yourself ...

    There is an important distinction to be made between gods 'of the underworld' - which may not be uinder the ground - and fertility earth divinities who, like Demeter, don't have anything to do with the underworld even though some of their activities may affect the roots of crops which are under the surface of the earth.
    But 'chthonic' does not address this distinction. The gods of fertility are called in many ways (I already suggested 'agrarian'), the gods of the dead are called din many ways (I already suggested 'funeral', 'infernal' - only for the 'chtonic' ones, for those from the underworld). You just have a poor grasp on technical terminology, no one else but you needs the distinctions you claim.

    The dead don't live, even in Greek mythology, among the roots of the cornfield.
    The dead and the roots are in earth, which is the chthonic realm by definition. However this doesn't mean they are crowded all together in a cubic centimeter.

    They may well be idiosyncratic and unreferenceable. However that you say they are therefore irrelevant just shows you don't know what the word means. You just use it to mean you don't want to discuss it: that isn't what it means.
    But you don't know what I am saying. A made-up definition cannot be relevant to a subject which is not about how people make up definitions.

    Which is why I gave several. However, in your system when you quote a dictionary it counts as a reference: when someone who disagrees with you quotes a dictionary it's irrelevant or misunderstood and can be ignored.
    You know nothing of me, and prove yourself quite illiterate given I repeated my positions several times facing with your aggresivity. I agreed with all your definitions but none of them proved your point. Learn to read what I write before replying.

    Surprising though it may be to you, you don't actually set the rules for debate here: it isn't up to you what should be discussed here or not, and it is certainly not up to you to determine what is right and what is wrong.
     
    That you may have some petty kingdom of you own where you do have such powers is entirely possible of course, and that could account for a lot.
    You're hallucinating, I did not try to impose anything, at most I'm suggesting you an attitude which arguably will lead to a constructive discussion.

    So what? It does appear, I admit, that you lack any imagination, which may be why you are quick to suppress it in others. All theories, right or wrong, start in the imagination. If we don't discuss imaginings life becomes unbearably prosaic.
    No, my unwitty companion, scholarly theories start with the reality. 'Chthonic' is a term reflecting a certain dimension of Greek religion (and eventually was expanded to other religions), it is not a concept imagined by some people bored of a prosaic life.

    Yes we do. You may not but the rest of us do.
    Do you have multiple personality?

    Again a position is relevant or not dependent on its subject matter, not its correctness or value.
    I agree. A made-up definition cannot be proven to have any relation to a subject of comparative religion.


     Sice you would dismiss as irrelevant or misunderstood or otherwise non-viable and dictionary definition I might quote, why don't you look one up for yourself?
    And yet I didn't dismiss them.
     

    And there are incidentally plenty of eminent scholars around who are (metaphorically) blind on many issues. A very common way in which that occurs is when academics get carried away with jargon, ignoring how words are used in common usage. So, yed, I plenty willing to 'dare' criticise them for it, just as I would dare criticise them for drunken driving if I saw them do it.
    You seem to forget (or rather not to know) that 'chthonic' is a technical term, the common usage was taken from the academic world, not viceversa.
    That scholars can be blind, yes, it is possible. But in this case it is outside your competence to see that.

    Famous is in the eye of the beholder. Being known by people in your own field is not being 'famous'. Frazer is famous, Graves, Lévi-Strauss, Mead, Benedict, Malinowski are famous. Of rhe ones you just listed the only one deserving the epither is Eliade.
    That only shows your ignorance. All the scholars I quoted are known outside their field. On one hand I'm no anthropplogist or historian of religions or anything like that, nor comparative religion is my foremost interest and yet I know of them. On the other hand, most of them I've found out reading history, linguistics, or even more general topics, as such topics not directly connected with religion. Of some of them I discussed with friends, which also are not professionally related to this field.

    You happily quote disctionary definitions at me, but then ignore or dismiss dictionary definitions I provide: indeed you even criticise me for relying on them.
    Learn to read, I did not ignore nor dismiss any definition, on the contrary I argued they all agree with what I hold. I criticized only that tendency to search for 'oddities'.

    Only because you can't see the difference between 'world' and 'earth'. How about 'mundus' and 'terra'? Is that better?
    It's not about any world, it's about the world of the living and that of the dead. The world of the living is on the surface of the earth (nowhere else). The underworld which is below this one where is it? Come on, it is really simple.

    Because 'chthonic' has only recently become a frequently used term in anthropology as opposed to literature. The word doesn't appear anywhere at all in The Golden Bough for instance.
    Not really, you're just ignorant, the term 'chthonic' was used in scholarship even at that time. At least two of my references are from that period, and some other of my references even shed some light on the historiography of the concept.

    There are a lot of materials on religion not using the term 'chthonic'. A century ago and now. But this doesn't show the word doesn't exist.
     
    However, you could consider Jung's concept of the chthonic phallos as contrasted with the solar phallos, illustrating how 'chthonic' in the past has tended to mean 'dark' as opposed to 'light' - the underworld as opposed to the world.
    You obviously haven't read Jung on that, you only used Wikipedia's article on chthonic as a source. The opposition dark/night/under-the-surface vs light/day/above-the-surface is correct. But Jung's concept does not reflect how the word was used in the past. Just referring to my previous list, Fairbanks and Hewitt wrote their articles long before Jung wrote on 'chthonic'.
     
    It's basically an unnecessary term as well as a confusing one, since the important distinction (at least an important distinction) is between underworld deities and earth deities, and 'underworld' and 'earth' are words enough. The difference between divinities connected in any way with the earth and others is trivial: in fact pretty pointless because deities who have no connection at all with the earth are pretty uncommon. Even Uranus, the archetypal sky father god, ruled over Tartarus, deep below the earth, and imprisoned his children there. Poseidon, who rules the sea, also governs earthquakes.
     
    If even Uranus and Poseidon have chthonic attributes what's the point of using the word 'chthonic'?
    It's confusing and pointless only for you ('agrarian' or 'funeral' are not words enough?). If you'd be familiarized with scholarship you'd knew "what's the point of using the word 'chthonic'. Actually I already told you few times.


     I was trying and failing of course to explain 'relevance' to you. It has nothing to do with how well arguments are founded or backed up or referenced.
    But you don't explain anything, you don't even understand what I'm saying. I never said it has "to do with how well arguments are founded or backed up or referenced". I was not even talking about arguments, but about definitions and concepts.

    Maybe not, but that has nothing to do with relevance. You really should check what the word means.
    It has everything to do with it. If you come in this thread and talk about how you drink 'chthonic' water is utterly irrelevant. If come in this thread and talk about how 'chthonic' does not pertain to earth is equally irrelevant. If you want to make it relevant, refer to a word someone else but you can understand. Refer to a word legitimated by a source (no, those dictionary definitions do not hold the meaning you have claimed).

    The underworld is NOT necessarily below under or in the earth. The world is not the earth. I don't know what language you do speak but it surely isn't English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latin or Russian.
    It's not about any world, but about our world which incidentally is on earth, more accurately on the surface of the earth. I know several of those languagues and some of them even better than you.

    I understand the situation very clearly, though I seem to be alone in doing so in this debate. 'Chthonic' is used by you and others to refer to deities like Hades, and also to deities like Demeter. Doing that inserts a meaningless distinction in place of a meaningful one. That they are both connected with the earth is trivial. The important categoriastion is triune (plus one if you include the sea): heavenly world, human world, underworld - sky, earth and under the earth in Greek terms.  Distinguishing on the basis of being connected to the earth or not is pointless.
     Your claims of understanding are ludicrous given your manifested ignorance. 'Me and others' are virtually all people but you, because except you I found no one to deny that Demeter is a chthonic goddess.

    Demeter is both chthonic and ouranian. Demeter is agrarian, Hades is an infernal god. There are lots of distinctions, but you don't know of them or simply don't understand them. Chthonic is not a term to distinguish the gods of the dead from the rest of the other gods. Just because you choose  to misuse a term it doesn't mean you have a point by doing it.

    That would be more impressive if you hadn't just show your own lack of ability to understand the language (from my ability in which I have, incidentally, earned my living for much of my life).
    That's no warranty you understand the language properly, a lot of people earn their living though they are incompetents to a smaller or larger degree. And you certainly didn't earn your living in understanding me or most of the topics we debate. I know for a fact that you misunderstand me constantly, chronically. Sometimes it's a rushy reading (a bad habit you admitted yourself), some other times I'm just too subtle. As for my alleged lack of ability, the accusations that I misunderstood someone's sayings are rather rare, like this one, but let's see what is it about.

    If I misunderstood the definitions, then they were misunderstood. If you claimed that I misunderstood them, then you claimed that they were misunderstood. I asume you speak a language that doesn't have a passive aspect?
    That's exactly what I said (and you prove to be yourself once more ignorant, Romanian has a passive aspect). However you earlier said that I "reject the dictionary definitions as 'misunderstood' when I disagree with them, no matter how clear and unambiguous they are". But in my previous message which you replied to, I did not refer to the dictionary definitions (as you wrongly understood), but on how you interpret them. So I actually my understanding of English is fine, while yours is lacunar. Perhaps I should be more repetitive, use shorter sentences preferably of SOV type and try to cleanse my discourse of my native Romance influence.

    I could just as well retort that you were putting forward groundless fallacies based on your flawed readings.
    And you would prove yourself an ignorant, because I quoted clear-cut definitions which I did not interpret:
    ""My definition of a chthonic god shall be the simplest possible. I employ the term to include all divine or semi-divine being supposed to dwell beneath the earth's surface, whether as gods of the dead or of the agriculture as the souls of the dead and such heroes as were conceived to dwell under the earth." (Hewitt)
    while no definition you use doesn't hold your ludicrous claims that chthonic does not pertain to earth or that 'kingdom of heaven' is 'chthonic' (I see you avoided to bring a scholarly reference on that, I know you won't because there's none). You reached these conclusion only by sophisms and misinterpretations.

    What I was putting forward was the criticism that you and the people you were quoting were misguided and mistaken in using 'chthonic' the way you and they do. I wasn't basing that only on my readings, flawed or otherwise: it follows from your readings too.

    We both agree about the content of what you are saying. I am not misniterpreting that unless you are too. The difference between us is that I think you and they are wrong. And my case is purely a taxonomic and linguistic one. There really is no point in your giving dozens of examples of people doing what I'm criticising them for doing. I know they do it or I wouldn't be criticising.

    The criticism is actually a claim made by you, a nobody, who fails to 'distinguish', who fails to see a 'point'. Your linguistic case was a misinterpretation. Your taxonomic case was a false dilemma. Probably you don't want the word to have that meaning. And this is, like I said, irrelevant, a moody, made-up definition.

    What you are specifically NOT doing is giving any kind of counter argument except to say 'all these people do it so it must be right'. You even gave up on the possible argument based on the word's etymology.
      The foremost argument is that they invented it. It is a Greek word brought into modern languages by anthropologists, by scholars of religion (historians, scholars of comparative religion, etc.). Then they gave it weight by creating a scholarly tradition and using it. And when the word became famous enough, it was taken by dictionaries, by other authors from other disciplines.

    If I'm a mathematician and I say a triangle is a polygon with three corners (angles), it would be irrelevant and stupid for someone to claim my definition is flawed, that it fails to distinguish, that the corner of the room shows three angles or other similar claims showing misunderstandings and misguided criticisms.

     



    Edited by Chilbudios - 12-Dec-2008 at 23:19
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Dec-2008 at 17:18

    Since for the moment I don't have to address clowneries and defend my opinions against ill-directed misunderstandings, I decided to add some supplementary serious information on 'chthonic'.

    The word is not listed in Elisha Coles' English Dictionary from 1717 (explaining the difficult terms that are used ind divinity, husbandry, physick, philosophy, law, navigation, mathematicks, and other arts and sciences, containing many thousand of hard words, etc.), nor in Nathan Bailey's Universal Etymological English Dictionary from 1756, nor in Johnson and Walker's Dictionary of the English Language from 1828, nor in Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language from 1828, nor in the newer editions or abridgements of these latter dictionaries from the following decades. My search was certainly not exhaustive, my conclusions follow only from my findings. I don't know which is the first English dictionary to have this word registered, the earliest I found is Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary from 1913 ( http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?resource=Webster%27s&word=chthonic&use1913=on&use1828=on ): "Pertaining to the earth; earthy; as, chthonic religions". The later definitions (as already exemplified in the thread) refined this sense only to the underworldly side of the earth, of the sub-terranean.

    The word 'chthonic' first was employed in the modern languages as an untranslateable epithet of the Greek gods. For instance, in Recherches Historiques et Critiques sur Les Mystères du Paganisme published in 1817 ( http://books.google.com/books?id=d4QBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA287 ) 'chthonic' (chthonien, chthonienne) is an epithet of Mercur (Hermes), Iacchus (Dionysos), Proserpina (Persephone), Hecate, Ceres (Demeter).

    However in the 19th century, the comparative religion and in particular the study of Greek mythology flourished, especially with the precious contribution of German scholarship. The concept of 'chthonic gods' was born (or properly shaped, I don't really know who coined this concept), in the works of Karl Otfried Müller (e.g. his comments in his edition of Aeschylus' Eumenides from 1833), in Ludwig Preller's Demeter und Persephone (1837) ( http://books.google.com/books?id=CmUOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA183 ), in H. D. Müller's Mythologie der griech (1857), Hermann Diels' Sybillinische Blätter (1890), Paul Stengel's Die griech (1898). Perhaps the most famous of them would become Erwin Rohde's Psyche (1894). I'll use a recent English edition to get some relevant passages:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=EsVTr_6c7E0C&pg=PA158

    "The chief new feature revealing itself to comparative study in the development of religion in the post-Homeric period is the worship of chthonic deities, that is, of deities dwelling in the interior of the earth."

    "They are the gods of a settled, agricultural, inland population. Dwelling beneath the soil they guarantee two things to their worshippers: they bless the cultivation of the ground and ensure the increase of the fruits of the soil to the living; they receive the souls of the dead into their underworld. In certain places they also send up from the spirit-world reveleations of future events.
    The most exalted name we met with among these dwellers below the earth is that of Zeus Chthonios. This is at once the most general and the most exclusive designation of the god of the lower world; for the name 'Zeus' had in many local cults thus preserved the generalized meaning of 'god' in combination with a particularizing adjective. The Iliad also once speaks of 'Zeus of the lower world' though by this is meant none other than the ruler of the distant realm of the dead, Hades. Hades too, in the Hesiodic Theogony is once called 'Zeus the Chthonian'. But the agricultural poem of Hesiod bids the Boeotian contryman, when preparing his fields for sowing, pray for a blessing to the Chthonic Zeus. Zeus Chthonios was also sacrificed to in Mykonos for the 'fruits of the earth'."

    As such, all the dictionary definitions only attest and reflect this usage of the term in scholarship. When a dictionary defines 'chthonic' as 'of underworld' (which in turn can be defined as lower world, nether world, etc.), it refers to a sub-terranean world, under the world inhabited by men, by life. Further evidence for that are the clear references to scholarship and Greek mythology (e.g. in the Webster from 1913 the usage is illustrated with  a quote from Max Müller, while in most dictionaries the 'underworld' is defined in partial synonymy with Hades, the sub-terranean realm of the dead in Greek mythology).

    I already provided a consistent bibliography and I don't find necessary to add a large number of references which eventually they'll end unread by most viewers. I'll use just few texts I find relevant in understanding the meanings and the limits of this concept. From Mircea Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religions (1987), from the article "Zalmoxis" (authored by I. P. Coulianu and C. Poghirc):

    "On this basis Paul Kretschmer compared the metathetical form Zamolxis with the Phrygian zemelen ("barbarian slave"; Gr. barbaron andrapodon) with Zemelo, the name of a Thraco-Phrygian earth goddess (compare the Greek Semele), and with the Slavic zemlja ('earth') and thus explained Zamolxis as meaning 'lord of men' (for -xis, compare the Avestan xshaya-, 'lord, king'). Hence was developed (mainly by I. I. Russu) the theory of the chthonic character of this god, which led to the ongoing dispute over his real functions." (p. 551-552)

    "One the false problems connected with Zalmoxis that has received much attention from scholars is whether the god — if he was a god at all — ought to be interpreted as a chthonic or as a heavenly divinity. In fact, from the perspective of the history of religions, this is not a logical contradiction, since divinities of the sky can be strongly connected with the earth, and vice versa. Furthermore, even in Greek religion, which is usually the model according to which Zalmoxis is interpreted, such heavenly divinities as Zeus and Apollo were worshiped in caves, whereas such a typically chthonic divinity as Persephone was associated very early with heavenly immortality. Pythagoras himself. who was apparently connected with Apollo of Hyperborea, is also the character who descends to the underworld and who exhibits important features that establish his relationship with a chthonic goddess, or 'great mother'. Zalmoxis' "Pythagorean' structure connects him with both the earth and the sky." (p. 553)

    "The chthonic side of Epimenides is revealed by his dwelling in a cave and by his relationship with the nymphs. In the legends of Pythagoras and Zalmoxis this chthonic side is revealed by a detail that has only recently received a consistent interpretation. Walter Burkert (1972) has shown that Pythagoras was probably viewed as a representative of the chthonic goddess Demeter, a hypothesis confirmed by the tradition that Pythagoras once exhibited a "golden thigh". This probably means that the legend attributed to Pythagoras a tattoo on his thigh, which was the mark, or seal, of the Anatolian great goddess. At the same time it was an indication that Pythagoras could travel to Hades (Burkert, 1972, pp. 160-161)." (p. 553)

    The bibliographical reference on Burkert is on Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (1972), which I don't have nor found online. However, there's online an English edition (1987) on his book on Greek Religion. On 'chthonic':
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ekqJUZHVTzsC&pg=PA199 (endnotes: http://books.google.com/books?id=ekqJUZHVTzsC&pg=PA428 )

    "On the one side are those who belong to the earth, chthonioi, and on the other the heavenly gods thus it has become usual to speak of the Olympian as opposed to the Chthonic."

    "It is not only the dead who belong to the earth - there are also chthonic gods. Admittedly these gods are mentioned only with misgiving and usually only by the way of allusion. The rulers of the dead, Hades and Persephpone, are well known and openly recognized through the Homeric poems; but they are not alone. There are powers which bring only dangers and evil, powers which it is best not to name and which must be turned away be appropriate sacrifice in order be rid of them. In one place the Iliad names the Titans and in another place the Erinyes beneath the earth.  They are invoked in oaths and their terrible power is harnassed to curses and harming magic, when one's adversary is delivered up to the uncanny gods in the defixio.
    But the terror of destruction is only one side of the chthonic power. For as long as the land has bien tilled, it is been known that food and hence life grows from the depths of the earth: 'the corn comes from the dead'. Hades is also Pluto, the guardian and giver of wealth in corn; and the corn mother Demeter is in a very special sense the Chthonia in whose care the dead too are hidden. In Hermione the Demeter festival is called simply Chthonia. Pausanias describes the procession and the uncanny cow sacrifice inside the closed temple: he points out that the flowers woven into the garlands worn by the children in the procession signify mourning, and he also alludes to secret rites in the ancient stone circle. In the mysteries the crop-giving goddess makes death lose its terror. The secret of mysteries also surrounds the chthonic Dionysos, the son of Persephone. Chthonic is also found as an epithet of Hecate, the goddess of nocturnal sorcery who is able to enter the underworld; and naturally it is an epithet of Hermes, the escort of souls who crossed the boundary with the underworld. But the god who is mentioned most frequently is the chthonic Zeus, the other Zeus, a sub-terranean counterpart to the sky father. The other Zeus, the Zeus of the dead may simply be another name for Hades; but nevertheless it is from him that the growth of the crops is expected. When sowing the seed the farmer prays to chthonic Zeus and pure Demeter and sacrifices 'for the fruits' are made to the 'chthonic Zeus and the chthonic Earth'."



    Edited by Chilbudios - 14-Dec-2008 at 17:22
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      Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Dec-2008 at 22:40

    I'll abuse this period of peace to address another issue and possibly prevent further exposures of ridiculous ignorance. It was ludicrously claimed that Jung's usage of 'chthonic' was reflecting a different past (sic!) meaning of the word 'chthonic'. One making such a claim obviously hasn't read Jung. I'll use the Notes of the Seminars (Princeton ed.) to quote Jung on 'chthonic' (I'll focus on contexts where the 'earthly' dimension is clearly expressed, sometimes even the associations with fertility)

    Visions, 1930-1934, vol. II:

    "That time was characterized by earthly beauty and power, empire, great conquests, etc., all of a chthonic nature" (p. 727)

    "Then the black snake with the green pattern would go very well with the earth because all serpents are chthonic, That she has the chthonic attitude, that she is just earth, say in the very beginning of spring, would be the best interpretation according to my idea, because we are right at the beginning of the mandala psychology."
    (p. 822)

    "That idol was a goddess of the interior of the earth, an exceedingly chthonic figure; all the chhtonic goddesses have that element of incomprehensibility, grotesqueness, absurdity , and so on. [...] If you have read Der Tote Tag by Barlach, a sort of mythological drama, you will remember a figure there with the grotesque name Steissbart; he is also the dwarfish gnomelike mind of the mother. This figure is a most characteristic chthonic god. There were plenty of such divinities in the later syncretistic times also, in the Ptolemaic period. And the gods in primitive tribes usually look absurd and paradoxical, because they express the earth element." (p. 962)

    "It is the same primitive deity that we met in another form in the vision before, the earth mother, the earth itself taking possession of civilized cultural consciousness - the conscious personality partially overcome by the chthonic unconscious." (p. 970)

    "The Kundalini serpent corresponds to the dragon, but with us it would be the devil because we consider the thing coming up from the earth as chthonic, as spiritus immundus, an unclean spirit." (p. 1041)

    "The Indian squaw is the female principle, and being chthonic, she is obviously a personification of the earth mother. And inasmuch as the Mexican image is made of earth or gold or whatever it is, its stuff derives from the earth mother; but its meaning, its spirit, is the spiritual or Logos principle, the oppposite of the woman's principle, Eros. But those particular terms are not really appropriate in this case; here one would say, rather, that the Mexican image is a spiritual principle in contrast to the chthonic principle of the earth mother." (p. 1052)

    "When Dionysus appeared on earth he was persecuted by Titans and in order to escape their power, the power of fate that is, he transformed into all sorts of beings. Finally he changed into a bull, and in that form they caught him and dismembered him and ate him. Titanic means chthonic - the powers of the earth seized and god and killed and ate him." (p. 1127)


    Nietzsche's Zarathustra, 1934-1939, vol II:

    "Also keep in mind that the snake represents the chthonic mana of the ancestors that have gone underground; the snakes bring it up, and taking the snakes in their mouths means that they are eating their mana, one could say. It is a communion with the mana, the power, left by the ancestors. It is at bottom of course a magic fertility ritual, for purpose of increasing the fertility of the earth, as well as the fertility or the power of man. The idea is that life is strengthened by uniting oneself to those underground chthonic forces. Like the giant Antaeus in Greek mythology, who was powerful as long as he had his feet on the earth; in order to conquer him, Hercules had to lift him off the ground. So the ancient Greeks apparently had very much the same idea of the chthonic powers." (p. 1282)

    "Yes, they had a basket containing the snake on the communion table, and they made it crawl over the bread they were to use in communion, the host. They celebrated communion with the bread which had been magically endowed with power by the chthonic snake. Then it contained the proper nutritive quality, then it was right for use; it was what Christians called the panis immortalis, the food of immortality. It is the same idea that chthonic powers bring fertility, health, duration, strength, and so on." (p. 1283)

     

    Therefore, here we have C. G. Jung joining the 'blind scholars' using 'chthonic' to refer to the divine forces under the earth's surface, gods of the underworld but also of agriculture and fertility.



    Edited by Chilbudios - 14-Dec-2008 at 22:51
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