Crossroads (brief comments)

Time reflects eternity

CONSTITUTION of a legislature and governance comprise, in Plato's Republic, a grant of the philosophers with exclusive criterion the education of their fellow citizens (after the latter's own demand — cf. Aristotle's Politics, 1313 a7: «ten vasileian ekousion men archen einai») in the highest possible participation in the Good («omoiosis Theo»). Having in mind mainly the experience communist totalitarianism gave us, we tend to forget that possession of power and authority, even its unselfish usage, does not seem to exert any charm on the sovereigns of the philosopher's Republic, but, on the contrary, it comprises an imaginative property with absolutely negative content; besides this, the foundation of political life, and even of political activity of the sovereign, is the cultivation of wonder and study, paideia, "ex is erotan te kai apokrinesthai epistimonestata oioi te esontai» (Republic 534 d-e).

Politically fighting in Sicily, Plato showed also in deed his aversion to a violent and authoritarian power (cf. the Seventh Epistle, 327 d, 331 b-d, 332 e, 334 c, 336 a-b, 337 a-e, 351 c; this work, as E. Corbetis points out, "could be named the spiritual and political autobiography of Plato" — cf. E. Corbetis, ‘Plato's 7th Epistle: introduction, text, [modern Greek] translation and notes, in Epopteia, 109/1986), a power any way considered by him totally ineffective and also a start of all vice (cf. Republic, 580 a). Plato, to end with, exiled out of the city the owned and the desirable (cf. Aristotle's Politics, 1262 b22-24) no more than his misinterpreting accuser did, when he suggested as an ideal criterion of economical attitude the maxim "the things of friends are common" (ibid. 1263 a34). This was the reason that the producing classes were allowed private property.

There is in Timaeus a beautiful myth according to which time reflects eternity. If we found in the time of this myth a city, this city is going to reflect the divine reality. Whoever identifies the reflex with the divine brightest («phanotaton»), will start sleep-walking among exiled poets, persecuted babies and long-term convict atheists. But if one is forced to awake, the nightmares will prove symbolic and generous toys:
     "peirometha prosarmottontes te polei soi kathaper paides presvytai plattein to logo tous nomous.
     — «Iomen de kai me mellomen eti»

The two worlds

MAKRYGIANNIS commenting on the Greek revolution of 1821 writes (cf. Memories A2): "Because of the tyranny, when we could not control either our property, or honor, or life (...) we decided to pick up the guns". Thucydides refers to honor (timi), fear (deos) and material profit (ophelia) as to the three most powerful forces in a society and as to causes of war. Precisely because an akin inner basis ensues, we are probably in danger to confuse the two worlds, the world of Thucydides with that of Makrygiannis. When the later speaks of property, honor and life, he has in mind, as their extension and beyond them, his country's freedom and faith in God; when Thucydides speaks of fear, honor and profit he implies a commitment of Hybris: "they all have a sinful nature" (Histories A 45,3).

Gods' and men's origin in Theogony is considered the faceless Chaos: there exists not even a single being, mortal or immortal, totally desirable. Will for life suddenly becomes Hybris, and life is revealed as an endless accusation-strife (cf. Heracleitus DK B 80). In the myth of the internecine of Gods (Theogony 126-506) "there exists an element which later on is developed in the attic tragedy. We could call it a curse of the generations: they come to life with an unavoidable guilt and they vanish because of this same guilt", outlines Olof Gigon ("The origin of Greek Philosophy"; in Epopteia, 45/1980, p. 304). Theories about an harmony of the opposites (theories that conceive, pantheistically or atheistically, a global totality of meaning) or about a despite-the-constant-oppositions permanent essence (theories clearly dualist) constitute more or less important philosophical inspirations, without the life-giving support of adequate, religiously and mythologicaly expressed, shared ground in society. Therefore Timaeus will provide an anxious articulation of the philosophical demand for a new mythology, a mythology settled inside the horizon of the "even beyond essence, incomparable in age and power, good God." Yet even Platonic thinking did not completely escape from the persisting antithesis between good and evil (cf. e.g. Theaitetus 176a: "the ceaseless existence of a contraposition to the good is necessary"), between freedom and necessity (cf. the coexistence of the Creator and the matter in Timaius 30 a), a firm-set antithesis, under which (in all the aspects of the ancient Greek creativity) is depressly moving the primeval Chaos of Hesiod, the absolute plausibility of existence.

Holy wars

CHRISTIANITY has not simply transferred the time of a holy war: it could not incorporate such an ideology without refuting itself. God's commandment to the Apostles orders the teaching of the nations, not their extermination, neither their repression (cf. for example Mat. 16:24, 28:19-20). There does not exist in Christian tradition the Islamic distinction between "The House of Islam" (Dar-al-Islam) and "The House of War" (Dar-al-Harb). Even in the cases that Byzantine emperors or western rulers exploited the religious difference of their enemies in order to invigorate their troops, we can not speak of a holy war; these exploitations were about war inventions which those leaders materialized by arousing lower, at any rate, qualities of the soul, but without the cultural preconditions which would allow this arousement to become permanent.