Science and Religion in Ancient Greece

Homer on Immortality and Parmenides at Delphi

Roger Sworder

San Rafael, CA: Sophia Perennis, 2009.
306 pages
Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59731-087-1
Price: $19.95 US
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How far has the Western intellect come since Homer and the earliest Greek philosophers? Nearly three millennia have passed and in our own eyes we have made enormous progress since those times, especially in the last five centuries. But this, of course, depends on our peculiar way of reading Homer and the first philosophers. We take it for granted that their knowledge of natural science was rudimentary, that it hardly qualified as science. But this book argues that Homer and Parmenides were accomplished astronomers, geographers, physiologists and psychologists. The book bases its argument on the detail of their works and on the testimony of ancient commentators. In the modern context this is a quite new way of reading Homer and Parmenides, but it is also a very old one

Over the last millennium the West has moved from a religion without a natural science to a natural science without a religion. The culture in our era which best united the sciences of nature with the spirit was the ancient Greek. This book considers two of its institutions, the Homeric Odyssey and the Delphic Oracle.

Table of Contents

HOMER ON IMMORTALITY

Introduction—Odysseus in the Antipodes—Homer's Space Odyssey—Christmas in Ithaca—The Fall of Odysseus—The Belly of the Cyclops—The Sty of the World—The Magical Ships

PARMENIDES AT DELPHI

Introduction—The Prologue of Parmenides—Elea—The Fragments of Parmenides—Justice—Night—Apollo Cyrneus—Delphi—Athens—Appendix: The Reception of Homer as a Philosopher—Book References

About the Author

Roger Sworder graduated Master of Arts from the University of Oxford, taking his degree in the study of Classical Philosophy and History. He undertook doctoral studies at the Australian National University with a thesis on Plato's theory of knowledge. His first book, Mining, Metallurgy and the Meaning of Life, examines the consecration and, more recently, the desecration of these crafts in Western history. Sworder recently retired as lecturer in the Department of Arts at La Trobe University, Bendigo, where he was a member of a team that provides one of the few courses in traditional studies in the West today.