Friday, June 5, 2009

More on Values

Another one for International Pagan Blogging Values Month.

In my book, I talk about the various Delphic Maxims. These are the moral guides that defined "the Greek," or "the Hellene" in ancient times. All Greeks were, throughout the Hellenic time period, aware of and conversant with the Maxims. Most scholars now believe that the Maxims were not only used as a moral code, but as a way of teaching foreigners both the language and the way of thought espoused by the Greeks.

With that knowledge in hand, it's exciting to look at the various Maxims, and examine them in the light of both history and modern times. I think it's vastly important (hence, writing the book!) to look at the Maxims with extreme care in light of our modern times. They give us a deep and abiding look into the way our ancestors thought. They also show us how little has changed over thousands of years. Humans invariably think relatively similar to one another.

There are so many excellent choices to work from:
  • Restrain the tongue.
  • Keep yourself from insolence.
  • Accuse one who is present.
  • Live without sorrow.
  • Deal kindly with everyone.
  • Struggle with glory.
  • Control the eye.
  • Pursue harmony.
We have discovered a total of 147 of these Maxims, so far. Some of them seem contradictory, perhaps to remind us that no one set of rules is right for all moments. These are not "commandments" as in the Abrahamic faiths. They are not meant to be the answer to every situation. They were meant, and ARE meant, to stimulate thought in a certain pattern.

I find the best ones for me are the ones that make me struggle. I have the Maxims written up on little cards, on a ring. When I'm having moments of doubt about myself or my life, or I need something to think about, I will flip to a Maxim randomly, and worry it to death. I'll study it, think about what it meant 2000 years ago, and what it means today. Sometimes, I write about my thoughts. Other times, I keep it all to myself. Regardless, I spend time actually working on my personal morals and ethics.
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