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On the distinction between higher beings in Classical Athens

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On the distinction between higher beings in Classical Athens

Postby NateD26 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:34 pm

I'm not quite sure I understand what is the distinction between
θεός and δαίμων, and then in turn, θεῖα and δαιμόνια.

Socrates is accused of not believing in the gods in which the state believes in,
but of believing instead in some new δαιμόνια. What exactly are those (τὰ) δαιμόνια?
Are they inferior beings to gods and δαίμονες (another distinction I'm not sure is even clear to me)?
Or are they simply things pertaining to δαίμονες, such as divine intervention, miracles, marvelous phenomena,
in which case, how are those things any different than (τὰ) θεῖα?
If the second option is the case, how does it fit with his argument of the parents and their descendants (δαίμονες vs. δαιμόνια)?

He's also said the state deems these δαίμονες (to be) θεοί. In what ways, then, do they differ from them?

I apologize if I ask a lot of questions, but this portion of his cross-examination has left me at a loss.
Last edited by NateD26 on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On the distinction between higher beings in Classical Athens

Postby Markos » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:26 am

Hi, Nate. Feels kind of funny talking to you in English.

I'm no expert in this or anything, but I believe I read somewhere that a δαιμων as opposed to a θεος is more likely to be (a) be involved in the affairs of a mortal and (b) involved in a more malevolent way. I'm sure this is a horrible over generalization with as many counter examples as examples, but I have noticed this is somewhat the case in both Homer and Chariton. (Neither of which of course answers your question about Classical Athens.) Jewish and Christian apologetic made the argument that the Greek gods were demons in this sense.

Again. this is not based on any systematic study or a very wide reading in Greek, but it is part of the answer to your question to which I hope others will add. As to the difference between δαιμων and δαιμονιον I know even less, but I do know that only the later appears in the Greek NT.

Now, let's get back to λαλουντες Ελληνιστι, παρακαλω.
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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Re: On the distinction between higher beings in Classical Athens

Postby NateD26 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:46 am

That is an Intriguing definition for δαίμων, Markos. Thanks. :)

I was wondering if perhaps someone could direct me to an article online or a book I can refer to on this matter.
Today, checking 24c1 (and 26b5) "ἕτερα δὲ δαιμόνια καινά", I've noticed that the '66 translation has "new spiritual beings",
because that makes more sense when contrasted with θεούς than things.
But when we reach 27c1, those δαιμόνια become spiritual things when contrasted with δαίμονας, spirits.
and then four lines after, they've become spiritual beings again.

Is there inherently any difference or is he simply referring to these beings abstractly?
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Re: On the distinction between higher beings in Classical Athens

Postby NateD26 » Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:07 pm

I guess that for now, I should just translate δαιμόνια as spiritual beings (in the majority of his argument)/things (where they are analogous
to "human affairs") and δαίμονες as spirits, and in turn, θεῖα as divine acts and θεοί as divinities. I'll consult some books I've found @Internet
Archive on whatever subtleties there might be between them.
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