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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University of California Press- Occultism – pages. It is very possible that the resulting upheaval of social strata, by bringing into prominence submerged elements of the mixed population, encouraged the reappearance of old rirational which the common folk had never wholly forgotten.

This is the only dream in Homer which is interpreted symbolically. View all 29 comments. I hope that the result may have a certain interest not only for Greek scholars but for some anthropologists and social psychologists, indeed for anyone who is concerned to understand the springs of human behaviour.

And his purpose is not to lead his fellow-countrymen back into that world, but, on the contrary, to lead them through it and out of it. A common type of “godsent” dream, in Greece and elsewhere, is the dream which prescribes a dedication or other religious act; [3o: Homeric man’s highest good is not the enjoyment of a quiet conscience, but the enjoyment of timepublic esteem: From these cases the notion of possession irrafional easily be extended to epileptics and paranoiacs; and eventually all types of mental disturbance, including such things as sleep-walking and the delirium of high fever, [14] would be put down – 67 – to daemonic agencies.

To be sure, it uses the loose-goosey, pop culture notion of what’s rationality and irrationality, but then, so does the A book on a somewhat loose and heterogeneous collection of concepts. In I liad 1 he becomes Athena, the goddess of good counsel. You irratuonal to be into the classics to enjoy this book.

So much for prophetic madness. Would mitigate the unfairness by recognising that an inherited curse may be broken.

Its human repositories, the poets, had like the seers their technical resources, their professional training; but vision of the past, like insight into the future, remained a mysterious faculty, only partially under its owner’s control, and dependent in the last resort on divine grace.

The Greeks and the Irrational

But if what I have to say is to be an to the nonspecialist, I must first attempt to make plain, at least in rough outline, certain of the general differences which separate the religious attitude of the Archaic Age from that presupposed in Homer. As for the famous “vapours” to which the Pythia’s inspiration was once confidently ascribed, they are a Hellenistic invention, as Wilamowitz was, I think, the first to point out.

We may notice, moreover, that in this matter as in others the Odyssey has a somewhat less exacting standard of seemliness, of epic dignity, than has the Iliad. Else the son of Atreus would never have persisted in rousing the thumos in my chest, nor obstinately taken the girl against my will. Some form of musical catharsis had been practised by Pythagoreans in the fourth century, and perhaps earlier ; [ – 1 but the Peripatetic school seems to have been the first who studied it in the light of physiology – 80 – and the psychology of the emotions.


Greeis this world, there is, as Dodds characterizes thhe, an “accent of despair” in life, insofar as the gods have a plan, obscure to mortals, which usually disregards the happiness of these said mortals. Were intellectuals of the s really so optimistic about the potential for psychology to save the world? Feb 26, Lisa Lieberman rated it liked it Shelves: Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, “Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from ‘primitive’ modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?

I conclude that the prophetic madness is at least as old in Greece as the religion of Apollo. Homer’s men can recognise its onset, which is marked by a peculiar sensation in the limbs.

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

It gets a bit much in the middle and late sections of the work, especially when Professor Dodds puts Plato up on a huge pedestal toward the end and enjoins us in light of WW2, which was the fault of religious people, pretty much, to turn away from religious, id est, irrational, notions, and focus on man’s rational capacities and what magnificent salvific things can be achieved with ratiocination alone.

Hence it is not surprising that man was slow to confine the attribute of reality to one of his two worlds, and dismiss the other as pure illusion.

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. It was above all Sophocles, the last great exponent of the archaic world-view, who expressed the full tragic significance of the old religious themes in their unsoftened, unmoralised forms— the overwhelming sense of human helplessness in face of the divine mystery, and of the ate that waits on all human achievement— and who made these thoughts part of the cultural inheritance of Western Man.

There were, indeed, in later times, those who held that it was beneath the dignity of a divine being to enter into a mortal body, and preferred to believe like many psychical researchers in our own day— that all prophetic madness was due to an innate faculty of the soul itself, which it could exercise in certain conditions, when liberated by sleep, trance, or religious ritual both from bodily interference and from rational control.

Where did this notion come from? Some parts of the text can only be understood if you are already familiar with both the Iliad and Odysseymaking well-intentioned clarifications based on characters or scenes from them for example, and Dodds drops several names of historical persons, places, and occurrences presuming you know about them even my little ‘Dictionary of the Classical World’ didn’t know.


They did not think all dreams significant.

Full text of “E. R. Dodds The Greeks And The Irrational”

Extraordinarily erudite and inciteful. These gods are a delightful, gay invention of poets.

Man, I take it, feeds his dead for the same sort of reason as a little girl feeds her doll; and like the little girl, he abstains from killing his phantasy by applying reality-standards. Thus earth stands for the dreamer’s flesh, a river for his blood, a tree for his reproductive system; to dream of an earthquake is a symptom of physiological change, while dreams about the dead refer to the food one has eaten, “for from the dead come nourishment and growth and seed.

Sandbach – – Philosophy 28 The later stages of the moral education of Zeus may be studied in Hesiod, in Solon, in Aeschylus; but I cannot here follow this progress in detail.

Feb 04, Kristen Li rated it did not like it. But with the relaxation of the family bond, with the growing claim of the individual to personal rights and personal responsibility, we should expect those internal tensions to develop which have so long characterised family life in Western societies.

View all 4 comments. In the light of these passages it seems fairly safe to say that the supernatural origin of mental disease was a commonplace of popular thought in Homer’s time, and probably long before, though the epic poets had no particular interest in it and did not choose to commit themselves to its correctness; and one may add that it has remained a commonplace of popular thought in Greece down to our own day.

He called Plato a proto-fascist. They have also encouraged many rash guesses.

That must often have happened at Epidaurus: Deliverance does not come. There are a number of passages in Homer in which unwise and unaccountable conduct is attributed to ateor described by the cognate verb aasasthaiwithout explicit reference to divine intervention.

We may notice, however, that the psyche appears on occasion as the organ of conscience, and is credited with a kind of nonrational intuition. This took on a rather shamanistic slant — he puts out a correlation to demonstrate that Orpheus was a shaman rhe and the reason that the dreams can be prophetic is that the god-like soul is more god-like when semi-liberated by sleep.

But by the fifth century the Corybantes at any rate had developed a special ritual for the treatment of madness. Plato as Public Intellectual: