Over the weekend, I saw service truck for a local business named “Titan.” The truck had an image of a sword on its side in the middle of the company name. Upon seeing it, I initially thought that it was an odd name for a business because the Titans were the bad guys of the Theogony. However, I reconsidered my bigoted opinion, as the Titans were just one set of gods who warred against (and lost to) another set of gods—those whippersnapper Olympians. We tend to categorize the Olympians as good, but the mythology does not really justify that judgment. From a human perspective, the Titan Prometheus seems to have been on our team. So, the Titans were not all bad according to man’s self interest, and they had many beautiful and fine qualities comparable to those on Olympus. I then thought of all the nastiness that occurs among the Olympians themselves; they are always making trouble for each other (and for the rest of the world). Therefore, in Greek paganism, there really are no good guys or bad guys among the gods. There are simply conflicting interest groups vying for dominance. Absent an overarching authoritative power that accords every lower principle and agent its proper place, there is everlasting strife and no final peace. Switching metaphors, there is no way to have true harmony without a unified composing principle (or principal); we get only a cacophony of noises with each trying to override the other.
This meditation lasted only a few seconds in my mind, and then I saw in yet another manner how the modern world resembles paganism. For without a notion of the ultimate good (the monotheistic God), we have endless demands upon our allegiance—every particular human will determines its own hierarchy of values at every particular moment. That is hellish confusion enough for one will, but the anarchy only multiplies in a human community with many competing wills. Order hides, chaos reigns, and man finds himself unable to appease the discordant gods from within and without that demand his attention and worship. The contemporary Westerner thus despairs as his ancient heathen ancestors who risked the jealous wrath of other deities whenever they sacrificed to one, but perhaps the situation is worse for modern man. For ancient paganism provided balms for his wounded soul, however inadequate they were for real healing. But Western man, having once met the true physician, rejects that old herbal medicine for the spirit. Unfortunately, he has also now forgotten about the doctor. He wanders the world with ailments being quite susceptible to any snake oil peddling con who comes along with a newfangled concoction that promises to relieve him of his pains.