Preferred Citation: Dodds, Eric R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley: University of California Press, c!, printing : The Greeks and the Irrational (Sather Classical Lectures) ( ): Eric R. Dodds: Books. E. R. DODDS. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley and Los. Angeles, University of California Press, Pp. ix + $ (Sather Classical Lectures.

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The Greeks and the Irrational by Eric R. Dodds – Paperback – University of California Press

From greekks outset she spoke in a hoarse voice, hreeks if distressed, and appeared to be filled with “a dumb and evil spirit “; – 1 finally she rushed screaming towards the door and fell to the ground, whereupon all those present, and even the Prophetesfled in terror. That was, I think, the main secret of his appeal to the Archaic Age: Most of the dreams recorded in Assyrian, Hittite, and ancient Egyptian literature are “divine dreams” in which a god appears and delivers a plain message to the sleeper, sometimes predicting the future, sometimes demanding cult.

So it’s yet another book where the content is wonderful, the information is fascinating I don’t know what modern anthropology thinks of the assumption, here as in Frazer etc, that every myth and ritual and story is actually just a grseks for something else, usually human sacrifice — but I enjoy that toobut the attitude is gross and dismissive.

Lhe llegit irational vegades, el i el You rarely see that anymore. Dec 28, Shinynickel marked it as to-read. They have also encouraged many dodsd guesses. This took on a rather shamanistic slant — he puts out a correlation to demonstrate that Orpheus was a shaman — and the reason that the dreams can be prophetic is that the god-like soul is more god-like when semi-liberated by sleep.

Sign in to use this feature. I doubt if the early literature of any other European people— even my own superstitious countrymen, the Irish— postulates supernatural interference in human behaviour with such frequency or over so wide a field. It is evident that such dreams are closely related to myth, of which it has been well said that it is the irratuonal of the people, as the dream is the myth of the individual.

When Melantho jeeringly calls the disguised Odysseus “knocked out of his senses,” i. A much more important contribution was made by Aristotle in his two short essays On Dreams and On Divination in Sleep.

The gods of the Iliad are primarily concerned with their own honour To speak lightly of a god, to neglect his cult, to maltreat his priest, all these greels make him angry; in a shame-culture gods, like men, are quick to resent a slight.

Fie becomes the repository of a supernormal wisdom. As a result of his call he undergoes a period of rigorous training, which commonly involves solitude and fasting, and may involve a psychological change of sex. Also, like the Victorian, leading to a rapid backlash.


Yet in the early stages of psyche, psyche was not yet the equivalent of the personality of the living person. Unless we allow for this, comparison of the two will produce an exaggerated impression of historical discontinuity. We are nearer to the world of the Oedipus Rex than to the world of the I liad.

Logically, still more ghe when liberated by death.

We may see the mythical prototype of this homoeopathic cure in the story of Melampus, who healed the Dionysiac madness of the Argive women “with the help of ritual cries arid a sort of possessed dancing. It mattered to me because in order to understand about us, we have to understand what was at stake in the past.

In attempting to deal with them I shall of course be standing, as we all stand, on the shoulders of Rohde, who traversed most of this ground very thoroughly in his great book Psyche. So what could I do? Did the Greeks go there first? A fascinating grab-bag of information.

It irratiojal irrelevant to ask how long the improvement lasted: I’ve seen this book cited in many other books, but the one which made me especially want to read it was The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. To a generation whose sensibilities have been trained on African and Aztec art, and on the work of such men as Modigliani and Henry Moore, the art of the Greeks, and Greek culture in general, is apt to appear lacking in the awareness of mystery and in the ability to penetrate to the deeper, less conscious levels of human experience.

Chaldaean chap Corybantic cult culture daemon dancing Diels Diog Dionysiac Dionysus divine doctrine doubt dreams Empedocles Epimenides Euripides evidence Festugiere fifth century gods Greece Greek Harv Hellenistic Heraclitus Herodotus Hesiod Hipp Homer human Iamblichus ibid idea Iliad intellectual irrational Julianus later Laws Linforth madness maenads magical grees mind modern moral Muses myst natural Nilsson occult oracles origin Orphic Orphism passage irrationql Phaedo Pindar Plato Plut poet possession primitive Proclus Psellus psyche psychic psychological punishment Pyth Pythagoras Pythagorean Pythia quoted rational recognise religion religious rites ritual Rohde says scholars seems sense shaman shamanistic society Socrates Soph soul Suidas supernatural Theol theurgy things thought tion tradition trance Wilamowitz words Xenophanes Zalmoxis Zeus.

That leaves him with one hypothesis: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity The recognition, the insight, the memory, the brilliant or perverse idea, have this in common, that they come suddenly, as we say, “into a man’s head.

The notion of ate as a punishment seems to be either a late development in Ionia or a irratlonal importation from outside: For time approaching, and time hereafter, And time forgotten, one rule stands: It effects an entry by the keyhole Homeric bedrooms having dofds window nor chimney grreeks it plants itself at the head of the bed to – – deliver its message; and when irrationaal is done, it withdraws by the same route.


Often in practice the sufferer had to be content with a revelation that was, to say the least, fhe And secondly, I recognise that the distinction is only relative, since in fact many modes of behaviour characteristic of shame-cultures persisted throughout the archaic and classical periods.

The Greeks and the Irrational

The other is the characteristic archaic doctrine: And we may also ask ourselves why a people so civilised, clear-headed, and rational as the Ionians did not eliminate from their national epics these links with Borneo and the primitive past, just as they eliminated fear of the dead, fear of pollution, and other primitive terrors which must originally have played a part in the saga.

This was not superfluous; for only in this way could it be made vivid to the imagination of the hearers. That man should be a thing for immortal souls to sieve through! We know how in our own society unbearable feelings of guilt are got rid of by “projecting” them in phantasy on to someone else. In Iliad 24 Achilles, moved at last by the spectacle of his broken enemy Priam, pronounces the tragic moral of the whole poem: And by a still further extension it is sometimes applied also to the instruments or embodiments of the divine anger: Dodds, I am sorry to report, has not aged well.

In the meantime, I shall not complain if classical scholars shake their heads over the foregoing remarks. When Theognis calls hope and fear “dangerous daemons,” or when Sophocles speaks of Eros as a power that “warps to wrong the righteous mind, for its destruction” [ we should not dismiss this as “personification”: And up to a point the meaning is plain enough: Actions of the latter sort they can trace indifferently either to their moira or to the will of a god, according as they look at the matter from a subjective or an objective point of view.

The stylised, objective dreams I have been describing are not the only dreams with which the epic poets are acquainted. Despite being first published in and considering all of the advances in anthropology, psychology and our knowledge of Greek civilisation, Dodds’ book still holds its place as an important But why should it matter to us if it is rational or not?

Nor is he dishonestly inventing a moral alibi; for the victim of his action takes the same view of it as he does. And, to avoid misunderstanding, I would in conclusion emphasise two things.