Throwing down the gauntlet

“The Greeks did not see the Hellenic gods as set above them as masters, or themselves set beneath to gods as servants, as the Jews did.  They saw as it were only the reflection of the most successful exemplars of their own caste, that is to say an ideal, not an antithesis of their own nature.  They felt inter-related with them, there existed a mutual interest, a kind of symmetry.  Man thinks of himself as noble when he bestows upon himself such gods, and places himself in a relationship to them such as exists between the lower aristocracy and the higher; while the Italic peoples have a real peasant religion, with continual anxiety over evil and capricious powers and tormenting spirits.  Where the Olympian gods failed to dominate, Greek life too was gloomier and more filled with anxiety. – Christianity, on the other hand, crushed and shattered man completely and buried him as though in mud: into a feeling of total depravity it then suddenly shone a beam of divine mercy, so that, surprised and stupefied by this act of grace, man gave vent to a cry of rapture and for a moment believed he bore all heaven within him.  It is upon this pathological excess of feeling, upon the profound corruption of head and heart that was required for it, that all the psychological sensations of Christianity operate: it desires to destroy, shatter, stupefy, intoxicate, the one thing it does not desire is measure: and that is why it is in the profoundest sense barbaric, Asiatic, ignoble, un-Hellenic.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (emphasis in original; trans. Hollingdale)

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