Monday, October 29, 2007

Archaic Ontology in Homer and Aeschylus

Mircea Eliade based his theory of man in history on the claim that "archaic man" - by which he means man within "traditional" societies - has a characteristic ontology or theory of what it means for realities within his world to be "real." Building on the insight that the limited being of our universe must be dependent for its being on a divine "ground" of being, archaic man expresses this ontological vision in mythic form, giving expression to the view that to be real is to be an earthly expression of a divine or heavenly archetype. Only by sharing in or being an expression of this archetypal divine or heavenly reality does earthly reality become truly "real" and charged with meaning. There is, of course, also a moral component in this: for man to live a truly human life he must seek to conform himself to this divine pattern of humanity.