Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Labours of Hercules

Expand Messages
  • dgallagher@aol.com
    In a message dated 12/31/2009 6:35:25 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, ... of the recent thread on Penelope s weaving. ... Stoic) allegorical interpretation of
    Message 1 of 15 , Dec 31, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      In a message dated 12/31/2009 6:35:25 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
      vaeringjar@... writes:


      --- In _neoplatonism@neoplatonismneo_ (mailto:neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com)
      , John Uebersax <john.uebersax@joh> wrote:
      >
      > Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in view
      of the recent thread on Penelope's weaving.
      >
      > Does anyone know of examples of Neoplatonist (or, for that matter,
      Stoic) allegorical interpretation of the 12 Labours of Hercules?
      >
      > Happy New Year to all!
      >
      > John Uebersax
      >

      I personally can't think of any from Antiquity, but your question did
      prompt my memory of the work by the early humanist, Collucio Salutati, <<De
      Laboribus Herculis>>. I have never actually read it, though I believe it in
      part is a defense of poetry. He is late 14th to early 15th century, so not
      sure there is much prospect of Neoplatonist influence as with the later
      Ficino et al, though he must have known at least the late Roman material such as
      in Macrobius and Martianus Capella who were in part influenced. I know him
      mostly because one of my undergraduate Latin professors studied at North
      Carolina with Ullman, the main modern editor of Salutati, and I in fact have
      his edition somewhere at home but can't find it just yet. At any rate, I
      noticed that the text is online now, not however Ullman's edition:

      _http://www.hs-http://wwhttp://www.http://www.hhttp://wwhttp://wwhttp://wwht
      tp_
      (http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chronologia/Lspost14/Salutati/sal_h000.html)

      Perhaps it's worth a look. I took a quick peak at Lamberton's book and saw
      no mention of Hercules in this context. Plotinus does mention him at some
      point, I noticed in some online digging, but not I think in relation to the
      labors.

      Dennis Clark

      Sole reference in Plotinus, I.1.12 (MacKenna):

      The poet, too, in the story of Hercules, seems to give this image separate
      existence; he puts the shade of Hercules in the lower world and Hercules
      himself
      among the gods: treating the hero as existing in the two realms at once,
      he gives
      us a twofold Hercules.

      It is not difficult to explain this distinction. Hercules was a hero of
      practical
      virtue. By his noble serviceableness he was worthy to be a God. On the
      other
      hand, his merit was action and not the Contemplation which would place him
      unreservedly in the higher realm. Therefore while he has place above,
      something
      of him remains below.

      David


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Goya
      ... Overall, you could do worse than to consult Alexandre Lenoir, Nouveaux essais sur les hiéroglyphiques, vol. IV, Paris 1821, p. 16ff. For an astrological
      Message 2 of 15 , Dec 31, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        >
        >
        > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
        > wrote:
        >>
        >> Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in view
        >> of the recent thread on Penelope's weaving.
        >>
        >> Does anyone know of examples of Neoplatonist (or, for that matter,
        >> Stoic) allegorical interpretation of the 12 Labours of Hercules? 
        >>
        >> Happy New Year to all!
        >>
        >> John Uebersax

        Overall, you could do worse than to consult Alexandre Lenoir, Nouveaux
        essais sur les hiéroglyphiques, vol. IV, Paris 1821, p. 16ff. For an
        astrological interpretation, see Nonnus, Dionysiaca bk. 40. On the use of
        Heracles’ labors in the propaganda of Imperial Rome, see J. Rufus Fears,
        “The theology of victory at Rome”, ANRW II.17.2 (1981), p. 819 ff. On
        Heracles among the Pythagoreans, see M. Detienne - Héraclès, héros
        pythagoricien. RHR 1960 CLVIII : 19-53, and in Neoplatonism : Jean Pépin,
        - Héraclès et son reflet dans le néoplatonisme. Le néoplatonisme :
        167-192. Finally, the influence of H. on earlier Greek philosophy, notably
        the Cynics, see Nicole Loraux, « Socrate, Platon, Heracles, sur un
        pardigme héroÎque du philosophe », in Histoire et structure : à la mémoire
        de Victor Goldschmidt, Paris 1985, p. 93ff.

        HTH, and Happy New Year,

        Mike
        >>
        >


        Michael Chase
        CNRS UPR 76
        Paris-Villejuif
        France
      • Tim Addey
        **** John Uebersax wrote: **** Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in view of the recent thread on Penelope s weaving. **** Does
        Message 3 of 15 , Jan 1, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          **** John Uebersax wrote:
          **** Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in
          view of the recent thread on Penelope's weaving.
          **** Does anyone know of examples of Neoplatonist (or, for that matter,
          Stoic) allegorical interpretation of the 12 Labours of Hercules? ***


          John

          I know of no surviving writings from antiquity - and I made a fairly
          careful search when I attempted such an exercise for myself. The only
          real reference is from Iamblichus, who mentions the labours in passing
          in his /Protreptics/ - to quote a Thomas Taylor note to Iamblichus' Life
          of Pythagoras:

          /"Do not assist a man in laying a burden down/. This in the Protreptics
          is the 11th Symbol, and is explained by Iamblichus as follows: "This
          Symbol exhorts to fortitude; for whoever takes up a burden, signifies
          that he undertakes an action of labour and energy; but he who lays one
          down, of rest and remission. So that the Symbol has the following
          meaning: Do not become either to yourself or another the cause of an
          indolent and effeminate mode of conduct; for every useful thing is
          acquired by labour. But the Pythagoreans celebrate this Symbol as
          Herculean, thus denominating it from the labours of Hercules. For
          during his association with men, he frequently returned from fire and
          every thing dreadful, indignantly rejecting indolence. For rectitude of
          conduct is produced from acting and operating, but not from sluggishness."

          Tim Addey








          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Tim Addey
          I ve just remembered another small reference to go with the one below, this one from Olympiodorus, On the Gorgias, 47.6 And this is also why Heracles
          Message 4 of 15 , Jan 1, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            I've just remembered another small reference to go with the one below,
            this one from Olympiodorus, On the Gorgias, 47.6 "And this is also why
            Heracles performed his final labour in the western regions - he laboured
            against the dark and earthly life, and finally he lived in the daytime,
            i.e. in truth and light." (tr. Jackson, Lycos, Tarrant)

            Tim


            Tim Addey wrote:
            >
            >
            >
            > **** John Uebersax wrote:
            > **** Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in
            > view of the recent thread on Penelope's weaving.
            > **** Does anyone know of examples of Neoplatonist (or, for that matter,
            > Stoic) allegorical interpretation of the 12 Labours of Hercules? ***
            >
            > John
            >
            > I know of no surviving writings from antiquity - and I made a fairly
            > careful search when I attempted such an exercise for myself. The only
            > real reference is from Iamblichus, who mentions the labours in passing
            > in his /Protreptics/ - to quote a Thomas Taylor note to Iamblichus' Life
            > of Pythagoras:
            >
            > /"Do not assist a man in laying a burden down/. This in the Protreptics
            > is the 11th Symbol, and is explained by Iamblichus as follows: "This
            > Symbol exhorts to fortitude; for whoever takes up a burden, signifies
            > that he undertakes an action of labour and energy; but he who lays one
            > down, of rest and remission. So that the Symbol has the following
            > meaning: Do not become either to yourself or another the cause of an
            > indolent and effeminate mode of conduct; for every useful thing is
            > acquired by labour. But the Pythagoreans celebrate this Symbol as
            > Herculean, thus denominating it from the labours of Hercules. For
            > during his association with men, he frequently returned from fire and
            > every thing dreadful, indignantly rejecting indolence. For rectitude of
            > conduct is produced from acting and operating, but not from sluggishness."
            >
            > Tim Addey
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
          • vaeringjar
            ... I found my copy of Salutati, and skimmed it a bit, and no, there does not appear to be any Neoplatonically influenced content there, though I did notice he
            Message 5 of 15 , Jan 1, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:
              >
              > Not an urgent question, but it seemed interesting enough to post in view of the recent thread on Penelope's weaving.
              >
              > Does anyone know of examples of Neoplatonist (or, for that matter, Stoic) allegorical interpretation of the 12 Labours of Hercules? 
              >
              > Happy New Year to all!
              >
              > John Uebersax
              >

              I found my copy of Salutati, and skimmed it a bit, and no, there does not appear to be any Neoplatonically influenced content there, though I did notice he quoted Pseudo-Dionysius at least once, in the Latin version of Eriugena. Salutati mostly gathers many relevant - or what he thinks relevant - citations from Ovid, Vergil, Servius on Vergil, Cicero, Augustine, but also medieval writers. I saw one reference to Martianus, but none to Macrobius - then again I don't know there's anything relevant in Macrobius in the first place.

              I would be especially interested to see what Pepin has to say in the article cited by Michael.

              Dennis Clark
            • John Uebersax
              Dennis, Michael, Tim, David -- many thanks for your replies. They were most helpful and gave even better leads than I d hoped for! ... ‘This is why’, she
              Message 6 of 15 , Jan 3, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Dennis, Michael, Tim, David -- many thanks for your replies. They were most helpful and gave even better leads than I'd hoped for!

                Dennis, I knew of Salutati, but not De Laboribus Herculis. Looking into that work revealed a tradition of Middle Ages commentaries on the Labors as mentioned in Boethius' Consolatio Philosophiae 4.7. Here's Boethius:

                >>>
                ‘This is why’, she went on, ‘the wise man ought not to chafe whenever he is locked in conflict with Fortune, just as it is unfitting for the courageous man to be resentful when the din of war resounds. For each of them the difficulty offers the opportunity; for the courageous man it is the chance of extending his fame, and for the wise man the chance of lending substance to his wisdom. Moreover, virtue (virtus) is so-called because it relies on its strength (vires) not to be overcome by adversity. Those of you who are in the course of attaining virtue have not travelled this road merely to wallow in luxury or to languish in pleasure. You join battle keenly in mind with every kind of fortune, to ensure that when it is harsh it does not overthrow you, or when it is pleasant it does not corrupt you. Maintain the middle ground with steadfast strength. Whatever falls short of it or goes beyond it holds happiness in contempt, and gains no reward for its
                toil. It lies in your own hands to fashion for yourselves the kind of fortune which you prefer; all fortune which seems harsh is punishment, unless it either tries or corrects you.
                >>>

                In the poem that follows Boethius then lists the Labors, concluding:

                Go now, intrepid ones, along the lofty highway,
                Following Hercules' conspicuous example.
                Why so sluggishly expose your backs unguarded?
                Once earth is overcome, the stars are yours for taking.’

                This is from an agreeable translation by Patrick Gerard Walsh (OUP, 1999):
                http://books.google.com/books?id=xKHuxmGlJH4C

                The Latin is here: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/latin/boethius/

                Elsewhere in the Consolatio, Boethius gives Odysseus and Circe (4.3) and Orpheus and Eurydice (3.12) similar sapiential/ethical treatments.

                What got me interested in Hercules, incidentally, was this section of the Crest-Jewel of Wisdom (Vivekachudamani) by Shankara:

                >>>
                As long as the Self is in bondage to the false personal self of evil, so long is there not even a possibility of freedom, for these two are contraries. [299]

                But when free from the grasp of selfish personality, he reaches his real nature; Bliss and Being shine forth by their own light, like the full moon, free from blackness. [300]

                But he who in the body thinks "this am I," a delusion built up by the mind through darkness; when this delusion is destroyed for him without remainder, there arises for him the realization of Self as the Eternal, free from all bondage. [301]

                The treasure of the bliss of the Eternal is guarded by the terrible serpent of personality, very powerful, enveloping the Self, with three fierce heads--the three nature-powers; cutting off these three heads with the great sword of discernment, guided by the divine teachings, and destroying the serpent, the wise man may enter into that joy-bringing treasure. [302]

                Charles Johnston (tr.)
                http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/cjw/cjw09.htm
                >>>

                Verse 302 in particular seemed to parallel Greek myths.

                Cheers,

                John Uebersax
              • leslie greenhill
                Thoughtful remarks and composition, John.   Les P.O. Box 314 Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia Email: neoplatonist2000@yahoo.com ... From: John Uebersax
                Message 7 of 15 , Jan 4, 2010
                • 0 Attachment
                  Thoughtful remarks and composition, John.
                   
                  Les

                  P.O. Box 314
                  Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                  Email: neoplatonist2000@...

                  --- On Mon, 4/1/10, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:


                  From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
                  Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Labours of Hercules
                  To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                  Received: Monday, 4 January, 2010, 6:06 PM


                   



                  Dennis, Michael, Tim, David -- many thanks for your replies. They were most helpful and gave even better leads than I'd hoped for!

                  Dennis, I knew of Salutati, but not De Laboribus Herculis. Looking into that work revealed a tradition of Middle Ages commentaries on the Labors as mentioned in Boethius' Consolatio Philosophiae 4.7. Here's Boethius:

                  >>>
                  ‘This is why’, she went on, ‘the wise man ought not to chafe whenever he is locked in conflict with Fortune, just as it is unfitting for the courageous man to be resentful when the din of war resounds. For each of them the difficulty offers the opportunity; for the courageous man it is the chance of extending his fame, and for the wise man the chance of lending substance to his wisdom. Moreover, virtue (virtus) is so-called because it relies on its strength (vires) not to be overcome by adversity. Those of you who are in the course of attaining virtue have not travelled this road merely to wallow in luxury or to languish in pleasure. You join battle keenly in mind with every kind of fortune, to ensure that when it is harsh it does not overthrow you, or when it is pleasant it does not corrupt you. Maintain the middle ground with steadfast strength. Whatever falls short of it or goes beyond it holds happiness in contempt, and gains no reward for its
                  toil. It lies in your own hands to fashion for yourselves the kind of fortune which you prefer; all fortune which seems harsh is punishment, unless it either tries or corrects you.
                  >>>

                  In the poem that follows Boethius then lists the Labors, concluding:

                  Go now, intrepid ones, along the lofty highway,
                  Following Hercules' conspicuous example.
                  Why so sluggishly expose your backs unguarded?
                  Once earth is overcome, the stars are yours for taking.’

                  This is from an agreeable translation by Patrick Gerard Walsh (OUP, 1999):
                  http://books. google.com/ books?id= xKHuxmGlJH4C

                  The Latin is here: http://etext. lib.virginia. edu/latin/ boethius/

                  Elsewhere in the Consolatio, Boethius gives Odysseus and Circe (4.3) and Orpheus and Eurydice (3.12) similar sapiential/ethical treatments.

                  What got me interested in Hercules, incidentally, was this section of the Crest-Jewel of Wisdom (Vivekachudamani) by Shankara:

                  >>>
                  As long as the Self is in bondage to the false personal self of evil, so long is there not even a possibility of freedom, for these two are contraries. [299]

                  But when free from the grasp of selfish personality, he reaches his real nature; Bliss and Being shine forth by their own light, like the full moon, free from blackness. [300]

                  But he who in the body thinks "this am I," a delusion built up by the mind through darkness; when this delusion is destroyed for him without remainder, there arises for him the realization of Self as the Eternal, free from all bondage. [301]

                  The treasure of the bliss of the Eternal is guarded by the terrible serpent of personality, very powerful, enveloping the Self, with three fierce heads--the three nature-powers; cutting off these three heads with the great sword of discernment, guided by the divine teachings, and destroying the serpent, the wise man may enter into that joy-bringing treasure. [302]

                  Charles Johnston (tr.)
                  http://www.sacred- texts.com/ hin/cjw/cjw09. htm
                  >>>

                  Verse 302 in particular seemed to parallel Greek myths.

                  Cheers,

                  John Uebersax








                  __________________________________________________________________________________
                  See what's on at the movies in your area. Find out now: http://au.movies.yahoo.com/session-times/

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • dgallagher@aol.com
                  John, Thanks for the lovely quotes. Shankara s allusion to contraries [299] brings to mind an idea I ve been contemplating for several years: that apparent
                  Message 8 of 15 , Jan 4, 2010
                  • 0 Attachment
                    John,

                    Thanks for the lovely quotes. Shankara's allusion to contraries [299]
                    brings to mind an idea I've been contemplating for several years: that apparent
                    opposites are actually complementarities when sensibles are realized as
                    images of intelligibles. The view seems implicate in what Plato is getting
                    at with his reasoning on the divided line and immediately ensuing teaching
                    on the power of dialectic. Extending this further via Plotinus (VI.6, and
                    elsewhere in the Enneads), the infinite power of the One is presenced in
                    Intellect, Soul, and Nature through number. Thus, the power to know is rooted
                    (immanent?) in ideal or substantial number. The sense of 'rootedness'
                    might be further suggestive of the Greeks' fascination with irrational root
                    ratios.

                    In the Boethius quote, virtue relies on its strength (power). It comes up
                    again in Shankara 302.

                    David




                    In a message dated 1/4/2010 2:12:17 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
                    john.uebersax@... writes:




                    Dennis, Michael, Tim, David -- many thanks for your replies. They were most
                    helpful and gave even better leads than I'd hoped for!

                    Dennis, I knew of Salutati, but not De Laboribus Herculis. Looking into
                    that work revealed a tradition of Middle Ages commentaries on the Labors as
                    mentioned in Boethius' Consolatio Philosophiae 4.7. Here's Boethius:

                    >>>
                    ‘This is why’, she went on, ‘the wise man ought not to chafe whenever he
                    is locked in conflict with Fortune, just as it is unfitting for the
                    courageous man to be resentful when the din of war resounds. For each of them the
                    difficulty offers the opportunity; for the courageous man it is the chance
                    of extending his fame, and for the wise man the chance of lending substance
                    to his wisdom. Moreover, virtue (virtus) is so-called because it relies on
                    its strength (vires) not to be overcome by adversity. Those of you who are
                    in the course of attaining virtue have not travelled this road merely to
                    wallow in luxury or to languish in pleasure. You join battle keenly in mind
                    with every kind of fortune, to ensure that when it is harsh it does not
                    overthrow you, or when it is pleasant it does not corrupt you. Maintain the
                    middle ground with steadfast strength. Whatever falls short of it or goes
                    beyond it holds happiness in contempt, and gains no reward for its
                    toil. It lies in your own hands to fashion for yourselves the kind of fort
                    une which you prefer; all fortune which seems harsh is punishment, unless
                    it either tries or corrects you.
                    >>>

                    In the poem that follows Boethius then lists the Labors, concluding:

                    Go now, intrepid ones, along the lofty highway,
                    Following Hercules' conspicuous example.
                    Why so sluggishly expose your backs unguarded?
                    Once earth is overcome, the stars are yours for taking.’

                    This is from an agreeable translation by Patrick Gerard Walsh (OUP, 1999):
                    _http://books.http://bookhttp://bohttp://books_
                    (http://books.google.com/books?id=xKHuxmGlJH4C)

                    The Latin is here: _http://etext.http://etext.http://etehttp://et_
                    (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/latin/boethius/)

                    Elsewhere in the Consolatio, Boethius gives Odysseus and Circe (4.3) and
                    Orpheus and Eurydice (3.12) similar sapiential/ethical treatments.

                    What got me interested in Hercules, incidentally, was this section of the
                    Crest-Jewel of Wisdom (Vivekachudamani) by Shankara:

                    >>>
                    As long as the Self is in bondage to the false personal self of evil, so
                    long is there not even a possibility of freedom, for these two are
                    contraries. [299]

                    But when free from the grasp of selfish personality, he reaches his real
                    nature; Bliss and Being shine forth by their own light, like the full moon,
                    free from blackness. [300]

                    But he who in the body thinks "this am I," a delusion built up by the mind
                    through darkness; when this delusion is destroyed for him without
                    remainder, there arises for him the realization of Self as the Eternal, free from
                    all bondage. [301]

                    The treasure of the bliss of the Eternal is guarded by the terrible
                    serpent of personality, very powerful, enveloping the Self, with three fierce
                    heads--the three nature-powers; cutting off these three heads with the great
                    sword of discernment, guided by the divine teachings, and destroying the
                    serpent, the wise man may enter into that joy-bringing treasure. [302]

                    Charles Johnston (tr.)
                    _http://www.sacred-http://wwwhttp://www.sachtt_
                    (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/cjw/cjw09.htm)
                    >>>

                    Verse 302 in particular seemed to parallel Greek myths.

                    Cheers,

                    John Uebersax






                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.