Marija Gimbutas

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Marija Gimbutas

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Mar 12, 2006 2:29 pm

Salvete

Marija Gimbutas
There can be said allot about these authors who seem to have a affinity for creating a new mythology based on flawed theories and evidences. I’m pretty sure a whole volume can be written about them, but I will limit it to the influences they have on paganism.
Joan Marler wrote; “Although it is considered improper in mainstream archaeology to interpret the ideology of prehistoric societies, it became obvious to Marija that every aspect of Old European life expressed a sophisticated religious symbolism. She, therefore, devoted herself to an exhaustive study of Neolithic images and symbols to discover their social and mythological significance. To accomplish this it was necessary to widen the cope of descriptive archaeology to include linguistic, mythology, comparative religions and the study of historical records. She called this interdisciplinary approach ‘archaomythology’.”
On itself this is not such a bad idea, but the problem was the facts she gathered were good, just not her theories. Her work has influence feminism and neopaganism, which isn’t that bad if not for her flawed theories founding so much support among the feminists and neopagans.
The end result is somewhat similar to the work of Robert Graves who managed to craft a new mythology and possibly even a new pseudo religion based on his theories. Than again, this is also done by Silver RavenWolf in her early works.
Gimbutas’ critics instance grave good as characterizing more familiar Neolithic gender roles which Gimbutas did not account for and question her emphasis on female figure when many male or asexual figures have also been found. Peter Ucko speculated that Gimbutas’ alleged fertility figures were perhaps nothing more than Neolithica dolls. Her attempts to decipher Neolithic signs as ideograms in the Language of the Goddess received much criticism and resistance in her field. Peter Ucko and Andrew Fleming wrote a book debunking her theories. Check out this site for some information on the book: http://www.debunker.com/texts/goddess_rem.html
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Robert graves

Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Mar 12, 2006 2:30 pm

Salvete

Robert Graves’ White Goddess
Robert Graves is another author whose two books Greek Myths and White Goddess are usually viewed with scrutiny. He’s a well known novelist and poet, but his attempts at being a scholar failed. In 1948 he published a book called The White Goddess and published a revised edition of it in ’66. In that book he proposed the existence of a European deity, the White Goddess of Birth, Love and Death, presented by the phases of the moon, who he argued lies behind the faces of the diverse goddesses of various European mythology. In it, Graves argued that "true poetry" or "pure poetry" has inextricable links with ancient cult-ritual of his proposed White Goddess and of her son. His conclusions were based upon his highly speculative conjectures about how religions formed, and there is no historical evidence that this White Goddess as he describes her was ever a feature of any actual belief systemGraves described The White Goddess as "a historical grammar of the language of poetic myth." The book draws from mythology and poetry from Wales and Ireland through most of Western Europe and the ancient Middle East. Relying heavily on arguments from etymology, Graves argues not only for the worship of a single goddess under many names; but also that the names of the letters in the Ogham alphabet used in parts of Gaelic Britain contained a calendar that contained the key to an ancient liturgy involving the human sacrifice of a sacred king (see "Celtic Astrology") ; and also that these letter names concealed some lines of Ancient Greek hexameter describing the goddess. Graves's conclusions are universally considered untenable by Celtic scholars.
Graves' The White Goddess deals with goddess worship as the prototypical religion, analyzing it largely from literary evidence, in myth and poetry. Instead of skirting the issue, as he accused Frazer of having done, Graves said what he meant, creating controversy that cost him some friends. The book was originally only read by scholars, but as interest in goddess-based religions increased since the 1960s, the public demand for books about the alleged roots of goddess worship has increased as well.
While Graves knew a great deal about Greek and Roman mythology and literature, his knowledge of Celtic languages remained rather superficial, and his technique of analepsis guaranteed that he would find what he wanted to find in that literature. He readily states that he is not a medieval historian, but a poet, and thus based his work on the premise that "language of poetic myth anciently current in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was a magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies in honor of the Moon-goddess, or Muse, some of them dating from the Old Stone Age, and that this remains the language of true poetry..." Graves concludes, in the second and expanded edition, that the monotheistic god of Judaism and its successors are the cause of the White Goddess' downfall, and thus the sources of much of the modern world's woe. He also suggests that women cannot function as poets and lack the capacity for true poetic creation, because woman's role in poetry remains exclusively to serve as a muse for a male poet who worships her as a goddess.
Graves's vision still appeals sufficiently to some, that it has kept its power to convince and to overwhelm. A simplified version of Graves's goddess religion has become the faith of dozens of fantasy novels, from the works of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mercedes Lackey to Graves's own Seven Days in New Crete. Whatever its flaws as a work of information about ancient mythologies and cultures, The White Goddess has now become the shared fantasy of hundreds of thousands of people; it may not reflect ancient mythologies accurately, but it remains a classic of contemporary myth-making.

Robert graves’ Greek Myths
Graves is a very skilled novelist as he proved with a retelling of Jason and the Argonauts and I, Claudius, but his book Greek Myths received much skepticism as it did with The White Goddess. Being a worshipper of the Triple Goddess, Graves pursues in this book to prove the existence of this goddess and that goddesses like Persephone, Demeter and Hekate are aspects of the Triple Goddess as the Maiden (Persephone), Mother (Demeter) and Crone (Hekate). Many people nowadays still believe in this, that these three goddesses are aspects of the Triple Goddess. This book probably influence neopaganism more than Gimbutas ever did.
This book is full of falacies.
If you read Graves you will not encounter any understanding of the heavens, the basis of Greek myth, in which the planets and constellations were the detritus of times past, rendered immortal and writ large in the heavens. This absence is explained by Graves, when he extols his belief that even "the 13th century Excidium Troiae is, in parts mythically sounder than the Iliad." p. 13. What Graves claims is that an author who commented on the myths over 2000 years after Homer actually wrote down the myths, understood them better than the person who expounded them.
Instead of looking to the sky to understand these myths, Graves claims that the only way to properly understand them is when "archaeologists can provide a more exact tabulation of tribal movements in Greece and the dates." p.20; and that consequently "A large part of Greek myth is politico-religious history."(p.17). This is seriously misguided!
Graves as becomes evident has an agenda which he lays bare when he claims Greek & Jewish myth is a product of:
"The Jews as inheritors of the 'Pelasgian', or Canaanitish, creation myth.." p. 35; that is that the people of Greece, before the arrival of Greeks were the same people as those who peopled Canaan (Palestine, which is utterly unsupported by any archaeology). What Graves attempts with this ridiculous tome, is to provide a syncretist misinterpretation of Greek myth to reconcile it with the irreconcilable Biblical beliefs and he imagines he achieves this when he weaves into this his "matrilineal v patrilineal" theory as some sort of corroboration. This explains why Graves claimed that a later, Greek Christian from Byzantium, wrote a sounder mythology than Homer: the Byzantine, being Christian, had the same disposition to reinterpret Greek myths to make them more acceptable to a Christian viewpoint, as does Graves.
Greek myths are beautiful if they can be understood. Graves omits the ouranographic dimension of Greek belief because, as he makes clear, he is actually attempting to reconcile it with Jewish (hence Christian) belief. No such reconciliation can work if the author is honest. The Greeks studied the heavens; the Jews were forbidden to do so on pain of death, eg. Deuteronomy 17.2-5 & Jeremiah 10.2. Graves' book is embarrassingly silly.
If I look at the reviewers of this book at Amazon.com, I notice that too many people seem to fall for it and actually think it is a good guide to mythology and that is to be viewed as classical scholarship what the author has done. The only thing I can say is, read the book and make up your own mind.
http://www.big.com.au/fallen/graves.html

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Gimbutas.

Postby Anonymous on Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:18 pm

Thanks for the transfer of this important topic from our small but important Benelux Forum to this main site.
As promised i will post my remarks but not today .
I look forward to a lot of participants in this discussion.
But a warning let us please not split in feminists and antifeminists.

Thats the reason i.m very shy to discuss this topic there is great risk in it formenting civil war in a forum!!!
That is the Risk of this subject as you look in litterature and the net .
Beeing a Mediaevist by academic training I ask for COURTOISIE !!!
Don Turan :):):)
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Courtesy, hmm...

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:20 pm

Salvete, O Enthusiastic yet Well-Meaning One...

Scripsit:


> Beeing a Mediaev[al]ist by academic training I ask for COURTOISIE !!!


One could begin with a moratorium on allcaps and a bag-limit for exclamation points...they do make one seem frantic, which I gather is not the intent.

On with the show...
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:33 pm

Salvete

I think Turan must have us confused with some other place. I doubt that we would see much screaming in our forum over such an issue.


I happen to like LARGE letters and lots of COLO[RS as being MUCH MORE expressive ! ! !

I have read some of Gimbustas, mostly her earlier works before she turned so much into theories on matrilinear societies for Old European agriculturalists, and have read some things where her ideas were misued. Graves made the same errors as Dumezil, and I don't have any regard for their theories, based in fallcious reasoning. In history, as in science, you allow the evidence to take to some observations, rather than begin with a conclusion and selectively manipulate the evidence to pose it. But with the ideas that were based on the evidence provided in Gimbustas' finds, I think the real misconception is over how members of matrilineal societies actually interrelate. Anthropology can offer some evidence here that women do not form a dominant gender in such societies, and often the males still are the dominant gender in such societies, but rather there is an idea that each gender has their own roles to fulfill for society. so at times women, and at other times men, will taking leading roles. I think you might be able to make a case for this in some of the Greco-Roman mythology and customs

>({|:-) Valete optime
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Postby Quintus Aurelius Orcus on Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:22 pm

Salvete

I wonder where Turan went. Didn't he promised us to give us his opinion on the matter?
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Postby Anonymous on Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:39 am

Turan is very very busy in his German Forum.( i,m here i,m there i,m everywhere :):):)

But he will write and keep his promise :):):)

A nice weekend from Don Turan :):):)

By the way there are already very good remarks about Gimbutas in this Forum .

I think it is very important to make a difference between Gimbutas herself and Gimbutistas ( my invention this word ) here adepts and followers. And between the younger Gimbutas and Gimbutas in here later years when here idys got wilder and wilder and she got more and more criticism.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:58 am

Salvete bene

An area of special interest to me is the arcaeology of Italy, probably the Italian Bronze Age more than anything else. The discoveries made by Gimbustas did carry over into Italy, in the Neolithic cultures of Apulia. Neolithic technology, and we would assume some other aspects of those cultures, later spread along the Italian coasts, and eventually into the Apennines.

It is interesting that some Neolithic sanctuaries were adopted by the Samnites as centers for the Goddess Mefitis. Still later the Romans identified some, but not all, of the Mefitis sanctuaries with Ceres. The Romans never actually adopted Mefitis into their pantheon. There was a grove of Mefitis on the Esquiline, next to the Temple of Juno Lucina and in association with Dea Februa and Bona Salus, across from temples dedicated to the fevers, Quatrana and Tertia, so there, in Rome, Mefitis may have remained a Goddess of purification, and of life transition, prophecy, and related to the "import" of a genius or juno into an infant, but in Roman literature Mefitis is characterized differently. We don't have strong evidence on the beliefs and practices of the Italic tribes. A few inscriptions, and then some information provided through the eyes of Romans and Greeks. Something like the Tavolo Agnone, in Oscan, suggests that there was a Samnite trinity of Diove, Kerria, and Fluusa (Jupiter, Ceres, and Flora) and in addition that there may have been a mother-daughter relationship seen between Mefitis and Kerria. It is interesting too that in at least one sanctuary of Mefitis that Diove took a subordinate role. The Italic tribes did not worship any sort of celestial Juno. Kerria was instead the consort of Diove, and there are some aspects of Juno Capitolina that relate Her more as Ceres - Oscan Kerria, Umbrian Iovia. The Capitoline trinity parallels, in some sense, but I don't think is related to the Samnite/Oscan trinity, but the Aventine Temple of Ceres, Liber, and Libera was probably, in its original form, close to that of Kerria, Diove, and Fluusa. Add in Mefitis and you have something like what Gimbustas discovered for the Old European culture.

Time, for one thing, separates the Neolithic cultures from that of the Samnites, so I don't think anyone can claim a direct relationship, even in the cult centers they shared. But something carried over through the Bronze Age that relates Kerria, Ceres, and Greek Demeter back to an Old European Goddess, and also in how She was perceived in relation to other deities. They were there in Italy when the Samnites either arrived or developed from a native culture. At the very least, Samnites would have come upon the older sanctuaries, and maybe some worshippers in the area, so that they recognized the deity of a given location, and may have been informed more by the local populace, just as Romans later did. You have to wonder just how far to take it, but some of what Gimbustas discovered in the Balkans also lies as one root to the cultures that were later to emerge in southern Italy.

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