θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν. Löwe quotes Julian. Orat.6“οὐ γὰρ ἐπὶ πλούτῳ χρημάτων τὸ θεῖον μακαρίζομεν, οὐδὲ ἐπ᾽ ἄλλῳ τινὶ τῶν νομιζομένων ἀγαθῶν: ἀλλ᾽ ὅπερ Ὅμηρός φησι, θεοὶ πάντ᾽ ἴσασιν. ἐπιστήμῃ γὰρ ἡμῶν οἱ θεοὶ διαφέρουσι”. On which he adds, ‘Constat tamen Graecorum Romanorumque diis et deabus non tribui omniscentiam absolutam; polytheismus enim veram divinitatis notionem ac perfectam ferre non potest.’ Here we may regard the words as a courteous hyperbole; or as a magnifying of the knowledge of the gods in contrast with human ignorance. Perhaps the expression might still better be described as the theoretical view of the gods; parallel with which is “θεοὶ πάντα δύνανται” Od.10. 306; cp. 14. 444; or, “Ζεὺς . . δύναται ἅπαντα” sup. 227. But it is easy to see that this article of belief is not illustrated by the facts recorded. (1) As to knowledge. Aphrodite says of Zeus, “εὖ οἶδεν ἅπαντα”“μοῖράν τ᾽ ἀμμορίη:ν τε καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων” Od.20. 75.Thus Zeus is able to warn Aegisthus of his fate, Od.1. 37; thus, Poseidon can speak securely of the result of his marriage, Od.11. 248; he knows that Odysseus must find an end of his troublous voyage in Phaeacia, Od.5. 288; so too, Circe can describe the events that will occur on the voyage to Hades, Od.10. 490; but in contrast to this we have Poseidon's ignorance of what is befalling his son Polyphemus, Od.9; and the same god is able to reckon on the ignorance of Zeus while he is defending the Greeks, Il.13. 356; cp. 18. 185, where Iris, as she brings a message, declares “οὐδ᾽ οἶδε Κρονίδης”. So Proteus, the sea-god, knows all the depths of the sea, inf. 386, but is quite witless of the deceit that is being devised against him, ib. 542. Nor, if the gods were altogether cognisant of the future, should we have the frequent use of “φράζεσθαι, μερμηρίζειν”, etc., to describe their ‘searchings of heart;’ cp. Il.2. 3; 16.646; 20.115; 22. 174. (2) As to power. It is said that Athena can save even from the jaws of death, but Telemachus, her favourite, does not hesitate to describe an unexpected result as one that never could have been hoped for, “οὐδ᾽ εἰ θεοὶ ὣς ἐθέλοιεν” Od.4. 227.The gods can save; but their saving power is limited (see Od.2. 231, 236), and Poseidon himself cannot cure his blinded son, Od.9. 525.Further, such power as the gods possess is not the simple prerogative of godhead, but each god seems to have his particular amount of strength, just as different men have; cp. Il.7. 455; 20. 105 Il., 122.Nor, again, is such an ascription of absolute knowledge or absolute power compatible with the frequently recurring phrases that describe the gods as accomplishing this or that act ‘with ease,’ or ‘with trouble.’ Such phrases would be meaningless in connection with omnipotence; see Il.13. 90; 15. 140, 356; 20. 444; Od.10. 573; 14. 348, 357; 16. 198.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.