Category Archives: Religion

Greek Mythology – Apollo

Phoebus Apollo, Helios, or Sol


From the sun comes our physical light, but that light is at the same time an emblem of all mental illumination, of knowledge, truth, and right, of all moral purity; and in this respect a distinction was made between it as a mental and a physical phenomenon a distinction which placed Phoebus Apollo on one side and  Helios on the other.  Accordingly Phoebus Apollo is the oracular god who throws light on the dark ways of the future, who slays the Python, that monster of darkness which made the oracle at Delphi inaccessible.  He is the god Helios, or Sol. of music and song, which are only heard where light and security reign and the possession of herds is free from danger.  Helios, on the other hand, is the physical phenomenon of light, the orb of the sun, which, summer and winter, rises and sets in the sky.  His power of bringing secrets to light has been already seen in the story of Vulcan and Venus.

The myth of Apollo is, like that of Aphrodite, one of the oldest in the Greek system, but, unlike the latter, which is at least partly traceable to oriental influence, is a pure growth of the Greek mind.  No doubt certain oriental nations had deities of the sun and of light similar in some points to Apollo, but this only proves the simple fact that they viewed the movements of the sun and the operations of light in a general way similarly to the Greeks.  We have seen in the preceding chapters how the sky, earth, sea, and lower world were personified by divine beings of a high order, while in the same way other forces and powers in nature were imagined as beings.  In the myth of Apollo we shall find represented the various operations of the eternal light of the sun.

It is the sun’s rays, or the arrows of Apollo, that everywhere, as the fields and gardens teach us, quicken life, and foster it toward ripeness; through them a new life springs all around, and in the warmth of their soft, kindly light the jubilant voice of nature is heard and awakens an echo in the human soul.  At the same time these arrows destroy the life of plants and animals; even man falls under them in southern climates, such as Greece.

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


Further Reading and External Links

Greek God Apollo

Apollo – God of the Sun

Greek & Roman Mythology – Ares or Mars



A son of Zeus (Jupiter) and Hera (Juno), according to the belief of the Greeks, was originally god of the storm and tempest, and more particularly of the hurricane; but this his natural meaning was lost sight of at an earlier period, and more completely than in the case of most of the other gods, the character in which he appears to us being exclusively that of “god of the turmoil and storms in human affairs,” in other words, “god of dreadful war,” or more correctly, “of the wild confusion and strife of battle.”  Of all the upper gods he was the most fierce and terrible, taking pleasure in slaughter and massacre.

In this respect he forms a striking contrast to Pallas Athene, the goddess of well-matched chivalrous fights, who we often find opposed to him in mythical narratives.  When fighting she was invulnerable, and always on the side of the victor; while Ares (Mars) being not only god of battle but also a personification of war, with its double issue of victory and defeat, was sometimes wounded, and even taken prisoner.

When assisting the Trojans in their war with the Greeks, in the course of which he took under his special protection their leader, Hector, he was wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes, aided by the goddess Athene.  He fell – so Homer describes the event in the Iliad (v. 853) – with a thundering crash to the ground, like the noise of ten thousand warriors engaged in battle.  Again (Iliad xxi.400) he was wounded by Athene and fell, his armor clanking, and his body covering with his fall seven acres of ground – an obvious reference to the roar and destruction attending a great storm.

He was once captured by Otus and Ephialtes, the giant sons of Aloeus the planter, and kept imprisoned in a great bronze vase (Iliad v. 385) for thirteen months – a space of time which, when we remember that the names of the two heroes are derived from husbandry, seems to indicate a full year of peaceful agriculture.

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


Further Reading and External Links

Greek Mythology on Wikipedia

Ares – God of War

Matthew Hopkins, The Witchfinder

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Matthew Hopkins – Witchfinder

Matthew Hopkins – WitchfinderTHIS “worthy” of witchcraft flourished about the middle of the seventeenth century, when the delusions of the witching frauds were at their full height.  He assumed the title of witchfinder general, and travelling through the counties of Essex, Sussex, Norfolk, and Huntingdon, pretended to discover witches, superintending their examination by the most unheard-of tortures, and compelling forlorn and miserable creatures to admit and confess matters equally absurd and impossible; the admission of which was the forfeiture of their lives.

Sir Walter Scott describes Hopkins as follows: “He was, perhaps, a native of Manningtree, in Essex; at any rate, he resided there in the year [1644], when an epidemic outcry of witchcraft arose in that town.  Upon this occasion he had made himself busy, and affecting more zeal and knowledge than other men, learned his trade of a witchfinder, as he pretended, from experiment.  He was afterwards permitted to perform it as a legal profession, and moved from one place to another, with an assistant named Sterne, and a female.  In his defence against an accusation of fleecing the country, he declares his regular charge was twenty shillings a town, including charges of living, and journeying thither and back again with his assistants.  He also affirms, that he went nowhere unless called and invited.  His principal mode of discovery was, to strip the accused persons naked, and thrust pins into various parts of their body, to discover the witch’s mark, which was supposed to be inflicted by the devil, as a sign of his sovereignty, and at which she was also said to suckle her imps.  He also practised and stoutly defended the trial by swimming, when the suspected person was wrapped in a sheet, having the great toes and thumbs tied together, and so dragged through a pond or river.  If she sank, it was received in favour of the accused; but if the body floated, (which must have occurred ten times for once, if it was placed with care on the surface of the water,)  the accused was condemned, on the principle of King James, who, in treating of this mode or trial, lays down, that as witches have renounced their baptism, so it is just that the element through which the holy rite is enforced, should reject them; which is a figure of speech, and no argument.  

It was Hopkins’s custom to keep the poor wretches waking, in order to prevent them from having encouragement from the devil, and, doubtless, to put infirm, terrified, over-watched persons in the next state to absolute madness; and, for the same purpose, they were dragged about by their keepers, till extreme weariness, and the pain of blistered feet, might form additional inducements to confession.

Excerpt from The Cabinet of Curiosities, or Wonders of the World Displayed – 1840


Further Reading and External Links

1968 Witchfinder General Serialization on YouTube

Matthew Hopkins Witchfinder General


Witches of Warboys

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The Witches of Warboys – 1592

Popular idea of the general meeting of witchesThe second wife of sir Henry Cromwell of Hitchenbrook Huntingdonshire died of a lingering illness about July [1592]; this was ascribed to witchcraft.  John Samwell, his wife Alice, and their daughter Agnes, inhabitants of Warboys, were charged with having killed lady Cromwell, and were imprisoned.  The mother who was old and decrepit, was so tortured in prison, that at last she confessed every thing that was dictated to her, and she was tried in April 1593 before Mr Justice Fenner and convicted of bewitching not only lady Cromwell, but also many other persons.  She was then hanged, as were also her husband and her daughter.  Their goods, of the value of £40, were forfeited to sir Henry as lord of the manor of Warboys, but he gave them to the corporation of Huntingdon, on condition that they procured from Queens’ college Cambridge a doctor or bachelor of divinity to preach every year on Ladyday a sermon against the sin of witchcraft in one of the churches of Huntingdon, and distributed 10s. yearly to the poor. (Cooper, Ath. ii 367, 368.).  Sir Henry and lady Cromwell were buried in All Saints church Huntingdon (Carruther’s Hunt. 262).

The whole account is to be found in a book entitled ‘The most strange and admirable discoverie of the three witches of  Warboys, arraigned, convicted, and executed at the last assizes at Huntingdon for the bewitching of the five daughters of Robert Throckmorton, esquire, and divers other persons, with sundrie Divellish and grievous Torments: and also for the Bewitching to Death of the Lady Crumwell, the like has not been heard of in this age.’

Excerpt from The Coins, Tokens and Medals by The Cambridge Antiquarian Society – 1871



Further Reading & External Links

Witches of Warboys on Wikipedia

Witches of Warboys on Google Books

Witches of Warboys on Information Britain

iTunesU – FREE Video – Early Modern England: Politics, Religion and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts – 14 – Witchcraft and Magic


John Wesley

John Wesley

John Wesley (1703-1791) led the most remarkable religious movement of the eighteenth century. From reading Luther on the Epistle to the Galatians, he came, like Luther, to lay the chief stress in religious teaching on personal faith in Christ.  He was himself an Anglican clergyman, but on account of his supposed mistaken zeal he was, in 1742, refused leave to preach in the church at his birthplace, Epworth, of which his father had been rector.

He preached instead in the churchyard, standing on his father’s tomb; hundreds were impressed by his words, and for more than forty years he continued the work thus begun.  George Whitefield, another clergyman of remarkable eloquence, aided him, until they quarrelled on a question of doctrine, but Wesley’s great organizing zeal directed the movement.

Their services were sometimes held in churches, but as often in the open air.  Near Bristol Whitefield preached to ten thousand of the mining population.  Both he and Wesley penetrated to the remotest parts of England, and their zeal carried them to America.  In each year Wesley travelled, usually on horseback, about six thousand miles, and preached about a thousand times.  His life is an amazing record of hard work.  His own desire was that his societies should remain voluntary organizations within the Church of England; he held no services during church hours, and at his meetings no sacraments were administered.  But soon after his death the “Methodists” severed their connection with the Church of England, and became an independent organization.

Excerpt from The British Nation by  George McKinnon Wrong – 1902 – Society in the Eighteenth Century

The Sepoy Rebellion

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Houses of Parliament

The Sepoy Rebellion – 1857 – As the mutiny developed, these conservatives looked round for some specific act to which they could triumphantly point the people of England as a verification of their predictions, and an adequate and valid reason for the Sepoy Rebellion.  They found it in the fact that the Governor General, Lord Canning, (fresh from home and not yet tainted with their Christless “neutrality,”) had so far forgotten the obligations of his high position before the people of India, that he had actually contributed money in aid of a Missionary Society.  

By an American reader this statement must be thought simply ridiculous, and the writer be deemed trifling.  But no, far from it; we are in sober earnest.   This was, in all seriousness, solemnly put forward before the British people and Parliament as the cause of the Rebellion by these “most potent, wise, and reverend seigneurs” of the East India Company.   They found a mouth-piece even in the House of Lords, in the person of one of their former associates, Lord Ellenborough, who rose in his place, and lifted his hands in horror as he announced the fact, and declared that nothing less than Lord Canning’s recall could be considered an adequate penalty for so great a violation of the rules and traditions of the Honorable Court!

This “old Indian,” who thus made a fool of himself, and slurred the Christianity of the very crown before him in the presence of what has been called “the most venerable legislative assembly in Christendom.

Excerpt from The Land of Veda by William Butler – 1872

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The Crimean War


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Russian Cross from the Crimea

The Crimean War – 1853-1856

THE greatest war in which Great Britain has been engaged since Waterloo was the Crimean War, which arose chiefly from the following causes.  Centuries ago a fierce and warlike people called the Turks had crossed from Asia into the land which we call Turkey.  They conquered the Christian peoples there, and were for a long time the terror of Europe.  Gradually their power waned, and in the early years of this century they were twice conquered by the Russians.  Russia hated the Turks because they were Mohammedans, and oppressed the Christian peoples of Turkey, who were of the same religion as the Russians.  In 1853 the powerful Czar of Russia claimed the right to interfere between Turkey and her Christian subjects; and when Turkey refused to grant his claim, he sent troops into her territory.  France and England began to take sides with Turkey, because they did not want Russia to become master of the Turkish lands.  In 1854 they declared war against Russia, and sent out great fleets and armies to Varna, a Turkish port on the Black Sea. But the Turks had already beaten the Russians on the Danube, and had caused them to withdraw from Turkish territory.

The allies were not satisfied with this, but said that the time had come to prevent Russia from becoming mistress of the Black Sea.  So the English and French forces were landed in the Crimea, in order that they might destroy the great Russian port and fortress, Sevastopol.  The allies marched to the south of the city, so as to get supplies from their ships in the harbor of Balaclava.  After some delays they began to attack Sevastopol and its forts.  But by this time the Russians were strong enough to try to cut off the British army from its ships, and this led to the battle of Balaclava.

Excerpt from taken from Stories from English History by Henry Pitt Warren – 1908

To honour acts of valor during the Crimean War Queen Victoria introduced the Victoria Cross in 1856.

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Martin Luther writes to Henry VIII

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luthers Letter to Henry VIII – September 1, 1525

September 1 he dispatched the following missive:

Wittenberg, September 1, 1525.

Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.  Indeed, Most Serene and Illustrious King, I ought greatly to fear to address your Majesty in a letter, as I am fully aware that your Majesty is deeply offended at my pamphlet, which I published foolishly and precipitately, not of my own motion but at the hest of certain men who are not your Majesty’s friends.  But daily seeing your royal clemency, I take hope and courage; I will not believe that a mortal can cherish immortal hatred.  I have learned from credible authority that the book published over your Majesty’s name was not written by your Majesty, but by crafty men of guile who abused your name, especially by that monster detested of God and man, that pest of your kingdom, Cardinal Wolsey.  They did not see the danger of humiliating their king.  I am ashamed to raise my eyes to your Majesty because I allowed myself to be moved by this despicable work of malignant intriguers, especially as I am the offscouring of the world, a mere worm who ought only to live in contemptuous neglect.

What impels me to write, abject as I am, is that your Majesty has begun to favor the Evangelic cause and to feel disgust at the abandoned men who oppose us.  This news was a true gospel ie: tidings of great joy to my heart;  If your Serene Majesty wishes me to recant publicly and write in honor of your Majesty, will you graciously signify your wish to me and I will gladly do so….

Your Majesty’s most devoted,
MARTIN LUTHER, with his own hand.

Henry VIII

This letter naturally did no good.  Indeed, though Luther was certainly sincere in his desire to conciliate, he never displayed greater lack of tact than in dispraising the King’s book and favorite minister.  After a long delay, Henry replied in a fiercer work than before, printing Luther’s missive with mocking comments, and taunting him with having caused the Peasants’ Revolt and with living in wantonness with a nun.

The King sent his epistle, which reached the proportions of a small book, to Duke George, and it was promptly published in Germany at his instigation under the title, ‘Luther’s Offer to Recant in a letter to the King of England.’

Diet of Worms

The Diet of Worms from

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luther etching 1521

The DIET OF WORMS. 1521 From Cologne Charles V proceeded to Mayence and thence to Worms, where he was about to open his first diet. The varied programme of the national assembly included the drafting of a constitution for the Empire and the formulation of grievances against the tyranny of the Roman hierarchy.  It could hardly hope to avoid the religious question then agitating the whole nation, but the unprecedented course of summoning the heretic to answer before the representatives of his nation was not decided on until after the estates had been sitting for a month.

Luther himself, in appealing to the Emperor, did not expect to be called before the Diet; he hoped to be allowed to defend his doctrines before a specially appointed tribunal of able and impartial theologians.  This plan was pressed quietly but vigorously by Erasmus, the foremost living man of letters.  Besides his action in urging Frederic to insist on such a trial for his subject, the great humanist had, at Cologne, handed to the counsellors of the Emperor a short memorial, Advice of One heartily wishing the Peace of the Church, proposing the appointment of such a commission.  He partly won over the Emperor’s confessor, Glapion, but Chievres and Gattinara, the real powers behind the imperial throne, remained in opposition.   A little later at Worms, John Faber, a Dominican friar, came forward with a similar plan, composed with the help of Erasmus.

Such a solution of the difficulty would have been most distasteful to the Curia.  Regarding the Wittenberg professor’s opinions as res adjudicates, the Romanists saw no reason for giving him a chance to defend them, and wished only to punish the man already condemned.  This course was urged by Aleander, an extremely able and unscrupulous diplomat.  His chief support was the young emperor, whose formal, backward mind failed to comprehend and even detested any variation from the faith in which he had been brought up.

Pilgrimage of Grace


The Pilgrimage of Grace from

The History of the Catholic Church Volume II- 1914

By Rev James MacCaffrey – Professor of Ecclesiastical History, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth

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Monasteries of England and Wales in the time of Henry VIIIThe Pilgrimage of Grace in the north was destined to prove a much more dangerous movement. Early in October 1536 the people of York, determined to resist, and by the middle of the month the whole country was up in arms under the leadership of Robert Aske, a country gentleman and a lawyer well-known in legal services in London. Soon the movement spread through most of the counties of the north. York was surrendered to the insurgents without a struggle. Pomfret Castle, where the Archbishop of York and many of the nobles had fled for refuge, was obliged to capitulate, and Lord Darcy, the most loyal supporter of the king in the north, agreed to join the party of Aske. Hull opened its gates to the rebels, and before the end of October a well trained army of close on 40,000 men led by the principal gentlemen of the north lay encamped four miles north of Doncaster, where the Duke of Norfolk at the head of 8,000 of the king’s troops awaited the attack. The Duke, fully conscious of the inferiority of his forces and well aware that he could not count on the loyalty of his own soldiers, many of whom favoured the demands of the rebels, determined to gain time by opening negotiations for a peaceful settlement (27th Oct.). Two messengers were dispatched to submit their grievances to the king, and it was agreed that until an answer should be received both parties should observe the truce. The king met the demands for the maintenance of the old faith, the restoration of the liberties of the Church, and the dismissal of ministers like Cromwell by a long explanation and defence of his political and religious policy, and the messengers returned to announce that the Duke of Norfolk was coming for another conference. Many of the leaders argued that the time for peaceful remonstrances had passed, and that the issue could be decided now only by the sword. Had their advice been acted upon the results might have been disastrous for the king, but the extreme loyalty of both the leaders and people, and the fear that civil war in England would lead to a new Scottish invasion, determined the majority to exhaust peaceful means before having recourse to violence.

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