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The Homeric Gods: The Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion (Mythology)
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And Professor Otto displays this spirituality throughout the book. I thoroughly appreciate as a student of myth, and deeply love as one committed to spirituality his approach. He is persuasive in portraying the ancient gods as believers felt their power and were convinced of their presence. His central thesis is that the Greek deities were gods of fully realized BEING, that they completely fulfilled their roles as lords of the universe, and that they were eminently worthy of the worship they inspired. Completely absent from his writing is any notion that Greek polytheism is a lesser spiritual reality than, say, Judaic monotheism; or that this religion (yes, religion, not mythology) can be reduced to the level of folktales as in the view of the Enlightenment. Poets over the intervening centuries have evoked these gods and goddesses with reverence approaching belief, Holderlin, Rilke, perhaps Keats. Otto is the scholar who provides an intellectual basis for such reverence. I have read this book twice; I hold it close to me, intellectually, emotionally, and yes - spiritually.
'In 1934, the Nazi regime forced Otto to accept the offer to serve as the successor to Paul Maas, who was removed from his position for being of Jewish descent, in Königsberg. From 1933 to 1945, Otto was a member - and from 1935, the administrator - of the "Scientific Committee" of the Nietzsche Archive. In 1939 and 1940, he, together with Karl Reinhardt and Ernesto Grassi, published a yearbook entitled Geistige Überlieferung ("Spiritual Tradition"). In the introduction, Otto expressed his concern regarding the destiny of the classical tradition, and the yearbook was subsequently banned by the government. He was able to flee Königsberg in 1944, but through the process lost all of his possessions, including his personal library and manuscripts. From that point until the end of the Second World War, Otto found refuge in Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, where he entertained the local community with lectures and small theatrical performances.'
This being the case, why is Otto neither read nor reprinted, while other members of the same generation - Eliade, Kerenyi, Dumezil - live vigorously in the bookstore and the classroom? Well, one obvious reason is the translation. I do not think that there has ever been a case in the history of human thought in which a mind of such exceptional poetic and imaginative power has been saddled with a translator so completely deaf to all the merits of language. I doubt that there is a single sentence in this English version that could not be recast to sound better. The sense of plod, plod, plod, seizes any sensitive reader from page one, and never leaves.
However, there are more substantial reasons.Read more ›