Category Archives: Greek

John Wilson Croker – 1780-1857

 

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John Wilson Croker

Athenaeum Club LondonAmong the many services which Mr. Croker rendered to men of letters and to lovers of art, not the least important were the establishment of the Athenaeum Club and the acquisition of the Elgin Marbles for the British Museum.

The Athenaeum Club, which was founded a few years later than the period we have now reached, owes its origin almost entirely to Mr. Croker; and it was chiefly through his exertions that the Government and Parliament were induced to purchase the Elgin Marbles.

If he had done no other good in his generation, this would alone entitle him to the gratitude of posterity.  The speech which he made, in [1816], in favour of the purchase, advocated the encouragement by the State of the fine arts, and urged arguments, now familiar, but then little understood or appreciated by the public.  It elicited from Lord Elgin the following letter:

MY DEAR SIR , June 12, [1816].

I am wholly unable to express the obligation I feel for your kindness.  Hitherto I have only received the newspaper, and that a very hurried, account of the debate on the occasion of my marbles. But with what I know of the opinions you have on other occasions so powerfully maintained on all the points which could possibly be brought to bear in attack on the subject, I perceive in this hasty sketch, not only the well-informed and triumphant supporter of my cause, but the animated and, I may say, friendly vindication of my conduct.  It has ever been a source of great astonishment with me, that without its having earlier been at all an object of attention with you, you should, with such perfect ease, have made yourself master of the whole question, as much, I may venture to say, as it can be understood; and that you should at once have seized, with precision, details which one should imagine nothing short of personal inspection or professional study could have brought to particular notice.

That Mr. Hammersley, or any one else, with the evidence of the Committee before their eyes and in the hands of the public, should have reverted in the House of Commons to all the virulence and misrepresentation in which disappointed travellers may have indulged, while the facts were little known, is quite incredible. But it becomes a piece of no small good luck to me when repelled with as much accuracy as acuteness by a person who has used no advantages in his research, beyond what is equally within the reach of any gentleman in England sitting quietly by his own fireside.

A thousand thanks for your kindness, which has been throughout so very gratifying, as well as so beneficial to me, and believe me ever, with much respect and regard,

Yours, very faithfully,

Elgin

J.W. CROKER, Esq.

Mr. Croker had hitherto enjoyed an uninterrupted career of success; but in [1820] he was struck down by a calamity which darkened all his prospects.

Excerpt from The Quarterly Review – Volume 142 – published in 1846

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Further Reading and External Links

The Athenaeum Club 

John Wilson Croker Biography

Greek & Roman Mythology – Hades or Pluto

 

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Here we cover the Greek God Hades (Pluto) one of the deities of the highest order, other postings examine the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with descriptions of the gods individually.  Below is an excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray published 1897.  The entire book is in our library in individual chapters – and you can begin reading it here.

Hades or Pluto

Hades or PlutoWe have seen how Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon came to be conceived as the three great deities who between them controlled the elements of heaven, sky, and sea, and how a character came to lie ascribed to each of them such as was most naturally suggested by the phenomena of the provinces of the world in which they respectively ruled. But there still remained a region which could not escape the observation of people like the Greeks, gifted with so keen a sense of the various operations of nature.

That region was, however, itself invisible, being under the surface of the earth. The growth of vegetation was seen to be steadily upward, as if impelled by some divine force below. The metals which experience showed to be most precious to mankind could only be obtained by digging into that dark region under the earth. Thither returned, after its day on earth was spent, every form of life. In conceiving a god who should be supreme in the management of this region, it was necessary to attribute a double character to him: first, as the source of all the treasures and wealth of the earth, as expressed in his name Pluton (Pluto); and secondly, as monarch of the dark realm inhabited by the invisible shades of the dead, as expressed in his name of Aides (Hades).

While by virtue of his power of giving fertility to vegetation, of swelling the seed cast into the furrows of the earth, and of yielding treasures of precious metal, he was justly viewed as a benevolent deity and a true friend of man, there was another and very grim side to his character, in which he appears as the implacable, relentless god, whom no cost of sacrifice could persuade to permit any one who had once passed his gates ever to return. For this reason, to die, to go to Hades’s house, to pass out of sight, to be lost in the darkness of the lower world, was looked forward to as the dismal inevitable fate awaiting all men. Yet there must have been some consolation in the belief that the life thus claimed by him had been originally his gift, as were the means of comfort and pleasure in life thus cut off. In later times, when the benevolent side of his character came more into view, assuring hopes arose concerning a future happy life that robbed death of its terrors. To impart such hopes was the purpose of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

More on Hades or Pluto from Pagan News

More on Pluto

Greek & Roman Mythology – The Eleusinian Mysteries

 

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Oracles and Mysteries: Mankind has been the victims of oracles and mysteries, and preteneded conjurors, and what they have chosen to call ‘wise men’ from the beginning of time.

Excerpt from from The Covenant Volume 2 by James  Ridgely published in 1843

The Eleusinian Mysteries

The mysteries of Isis, and the Eleusinian mysteries, were kept up by subterranean caverns, so constructed as to throw strange images before the eyes of the initiated, by means of moveable lights, and by tubes conveying strange sounds, when they were in darkness, to frighten them. Every one can tell how busy the imagination is when we are a little alarmed for our safety. These strange sounds, persons accompanying those about to be initiated, were allowed to hear, and sometimes they saw flashes of strange lights. There can be no doubt but that some of these ceremonies were awfully imposing. The higher orders unquestionably understood the whole thing, but the lower did not.

From the whole concurrent testimony of ancient history, we must believe that the Eleusinian mysteries were used for good purposes, for there is not an instance on record that the honour of an initiation was ever obtained by a very bad man. The hierophants; the higher priests of the order; were always exemplary in their morals, and became sanctified in the eyes of the people. The high-priesthood of this order in Greece was continued in one family, the Eumolpidae, for ages. In this they resembled both the egyptians and the Jews.

The Eleusinian mysteries in Rome took another form, and were called the rites of Bona Dea; but she was the same Ceres that was worshipped in Greece. All the distinguished Roman authors speak of these rites, and in terms of profound respect. Horace denounces the wretch who should attempt to reveal the secrets of these rites; Virgil mentions these mysteries with great respect; and Cicero alludes to them with a greater reverence than either of the poets we have named. Both the Greeks and Romans punished any insult offered to these mysteries with the most persevering vindictiveness. Alcibiades was charged with insulting these religious rites; and although the proof of his offence was quite doubtful, yet he suffered for it for years in exile and misery; and it must be allowed that he was the most popular man of his age.

These mysteries were continued until some time after the days of Constantine, in the sixth century, when they were prohibited. Sad stories have been conjured up to give importance to the Egyptian mysteries, but no one has attempted to throw any dark shade over those of Greece or Rome. The philosopher will readily believe that there was nothing supernatural in any of their mysteries; and all may set it down as a fact, that the initiated never pretended to any thing like a commerce with the inhabitants of the invisible world. They unquestionably often assumed to possess wondrous powers and great secrets; but this was only a means of keeping knowledge from becoming too common; and this was an error which lasted for ages, even down to our times.

Excerpt from from The Covenant Volume 2 by James  Ridgely published in 1843

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Further Reading and External Links

www.eleusinianmysteries.org/