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The Human And The Divine Essay, Research Paper
Through out history, as man progressed from a primitive animal to a “human being” capable of thought and reason, mankind has had to throw questions about the meaning of our own existence to ourselves. Out of those trail of thoughts appeared religion, art, and philosophy, the fundamental process of questioning about existence. Who we are, how we came to be, where we are going, what the most ideal state is……. All these questions had to be asked and if not given a definite answer, then at least given some idea as to how to begin to search for, as humans probed deeper and deeper into the riddle that we were all born into.
As time passed, the works of many thinkers and artists added up and it became inevitable for the people who wanted to find some answers to the ancient question, the question of existence, to trace back to the times of the older thinkers to get an idea as to what we have been thinking about as an important source for reaching the goal. Also, for the people who want to study the ways of the people back in history, it is equally important to make a study of the thinkers and artists of that time in order to define the characteristics and personality of that age. So, as the goal of this report is to find out what the people of ancient western world thought in view of the concept and relationship between the human and the divine, it is inevitable for us to also look into the thoughts and arts of that time.
2) Cicero and Virgil
In the works of Cicero, we see him asking questions about social responsibility, about what it is that gives value to a human life. Cicero conveys to us his belief that it is most natural for a person to show the most defined characteristics such as magnanimity, and loftiness of the soul, and courtesy, etc. , and that because of this, it is only true for a person to take on the responsibilities of this world with this kind of attitude in tact. He tells us why we must not live only for our own advantage; because it is against our nature as humans to do so, because without the basis of this human characteristics, the whole human society would fall apart. The qualities we value most in our fellow human beings are the most natural to us because they were endowed to us from the gods so that the race of human beings and the human society could go on existing. We can know this from his words; “People who argue like this subvert the whole basis of humans community itself – and when that is gone, kind actions, generosity, goodness, and justice are annihilated. And their annihilation is a sin against the immortal gods. For it was they who established the society which such men are undermining.” Cicero’s belief in the natural goodness of the human race was stead-fast because he believed that it was endowed to us from the gods.
In Virgil’s “Pollio”, which christians believed to have prophesied the birth of Christ, we can see what he thought of the conditions of the human race of his time and also of what he thought the coming of god will do for the good of his people. Virgil percieved the humans race as being in the “Iron Age” (In Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, we see the concept of humans becoming more and more dirtied as they moved though time from the “Golden, Silver Ages”, to the ” Bronze, Iron Ages”), the age of corruption which the coming of “Pollio” will disinfect for us. He writes, “Time has concieved and the great sequences of the Ages starts afresh. …… With him, the Iron Age shall end and the golden Man inherit all the world. ….. And it is in your consulship, yours, Pollio, that this glorious Age will dawn and the Procession of the of the great months begin. Under your leadership all traces that remain in our iniquity will be effaced and, as they vanish, free the world from its long night of horror.” Through this, we can know that Virgil believed in the power of “Pollio” to restore and to guide the human race to its rightious state.
In both Cicero and Virgil, it is obvious that they thought the highest qualities of humans to be our most natural state because it was endowed by the gods to be so, and that if there was corruption in the human world, the divine powers would restore them because it is the will of the gods to form and maintain the human race and society. Their belief in the human race came from their faith in god.
3) Egyptian and Greek Art
When we look at Egyptian paintings, we see that the drawings do not quite describe objects as they actually are. When a man is drawn, his face is turned sideways but his shoulders and body are facing the front while the foot is turned sideways. This strange way of drawing is called the “정면성의 원리( I’m sorry, I don’t know what that is in English)”. What the Egyptians were trying to achieve through the use of this method was to present the parts of the object which most clearly shows its characteristics. For instance, the characteristics of a man’s face is most distinctly shown when it is turned sideways, and the body’s when it is turned towards the front, and so forth. The Egyptians don’t seem to have been interested in drawing objects as they actually were. When they drew, they analized the visual information of the object so that they could present its most distinct characteristics in the form of visual generalization. For them, the important thing was to catch the essence of the object. In this sense, it can be said that for them, art was a form of abstract vision.
On the other hand, the Greek arts had a very different personality. Their starting point was to realize actual beauty in art. That was why they searched out the “golden proportion”, in order to achieve the most beautiful in art. They weren’t just trying to describe how things looked like; they were trying to present gods’ greatness that went far beyond the limits of humanity. In other words, while their art was earthly, it was only so because they were trying to realize the best in the earthly things so that they could be more close to the intentions of the divine powers.
4) Christian Thoughts; The Hymn to Charity, and The Good Samaritan
The “Hymn to Charity” stresses on the importance of love. It tells us the personality of love and why it is so important that we all cherish this in our ways of living. Love is what brings out the most superior characteristics of human beings because it is what brings us closer to the design of the Divine One. The intentions of God is always good and honorable. If we bring ourselves to follow that intention, then it is inevitable for us to act out the spirit of love always.
The “Good Samaritan” stresses on social responsibility and the need of love, justice and magnanimity for the social responsibility to be realized. When God made humans and the human society, it was not in his purpose to let it go corrupt as it did. His intention was the realization of the Good and the Truth. If the humans are to follow him, then we must make the best human characteristics come out and let it aid us in making society as it was willed to be. The good in us was put there by God to realize what He thought to be ideal and therefore, it is out duty to use that goodness in us in order to follow his ideal.
These two examples taken from the Bible show us clearly what the early christians thought as the relationship between the human and the divine.
As we have seen from the examples of Roman thinkers, Egyptian and Greek art, and early christian thoughts, the early western thoughts and arts, which became the founding steps of the western world, had its own particular way of seeing the connection between the Divine and the Human. For them, the qualities we most value in a human being was put in us by the divine powers so that humans could live in accordance with God’s original design. Therefore, the good in us are perfectly natural and it is only right that we have it within us. And also therefore, it is our duty to act out our goodness in the form of “love” so that we can live in harmony with God’s will.
2, Anthony, Classical and Biblical Backgrounds to Western Literature, Sogang University Press, 1996
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