Wonders of the World, Ordeals of the Soul, Revelations of the Spirit
5. The merging of the ancient Hebrew and the Greek currents in the Christ-stream. Dionysos Zagreus and the younger Dionysos.
22 August 1911, Munich
At the end of yesterday's lecture I introduced the name of Dionysos, and finished on a note of interrogation as to his nature. As everybody knows, Dionysos is one of the Greek gods, and the question must have arisen in your minds as to the nature of the Greek gods in general. I have already tried to describe in considerable detail such figures as Pluto, Poseidon and Zeus himself. In view of what I said yesterday as to the part played by the higher hierarchies in the spiritual guidance of mankind, you may have wanted to ask to what category of the higher hierarchies the ancient Greeks regarded their gods as belonging.
We said yesterday that in contradistinction to conditions prevailing in previous epochs — in the Persian and the EgyptoChaldean epochs — during the Greco-Latin culture the reins of spiritual guidance from above were less tightly drawn. That the Greeks were conscious of this somewhat freer relationship between the divine Spirits and men is quite clear from the way in which they depicted their gods, giving them thoroughly human traits, one might even say human frailties, human passions, human sympathies and antipathies. From this we can infer that they knew that, just as human beings on the physical plane have to strive to make progress, the gods immediately above them do the same thing—they strive to transcend such qualities as they have. In fact, compared with the gods of Egypt or Persia, the Greek gods needed so much to make progress in their own evolution that they could not bother themselves much about men! Hence came that standing-upon-its-own-feet of Greek civilisation which is so truly human. The bond between gods and men was looser than ever before. It was just because they were aware of this that the Greeks could depict their gods as so human. This very fact may well prompt us to ask where in the ranks of the hierarchies the Greeks themselves placed their gods. We can be in no doubt — their very qualities proclaim it loudly enough—we have to put them all without exception into the ranks of the Luciferic beings. If we ask ourselves what these gods were trying to do, what they were seeking to gain by their participation in earthly life, we can have no doubt that they had failed to complete their Moon evolution and that the Greeks knew it, knew that they had to take advantage of Earth evolution just as men had to do. It follows from this that the Greeks knew quite well that all their gods were imbued with the Luciferic principle.
The Greek attitude towards their gods is in sharp contrast to that of another people. We know of one nation which had developed to a very high degree a consciousness of being under a divine hierarchy which in its own development had attained the full goal of the Moon evolution. Anyone who heard the course of lectures I gave here a year ago with all that I then said about the Elohim, about the culmination of the Elohim in Jahve, will have no doubt that the Hebrew people knew that the Elohim, that Jahve, belonged to the gods who could not be directly affected by the Luciferic principle on Earth, because they had reached their full development upon the Moon. That is the great contrast between these two peoples, and the singularity of the ancient Hebrew consciousness of God is wonderfully portrayed in that powerful dramatic allegory which sheds its light upon us from remote antiquity, and the profound meaning of which will only gradually be understood once more as Spiritual Science prepares the ground for it. If ancient Hebrew consciousness was utterly filled with the knowledge that every member of the Hebrew nation was under the divine guidance of spirits who had attained the full goal of their evolution on the Moon, how must this have affected its attitude towards man himself? The Hebrew must inevitably have felt: ‘Devotion to this divine world with the whole strength of the soul will lead men upwards to the spiritual in the universe; union with any other forces, union with forces which still belong to the material world, will inevitably lead men away from the spiritual.’ This is the significance of that text, that epigrammatic utterance, which has come down to us from the Book of Job, whose wife says to her suffering husband: ‘Curse God and die.’ There is something magnificent, powerful, in these words, and they can only mean that union with Jahve, as the extract of the Elohim, means life itself to the ancient Hebrew people. Union with the hierarchy of the Elohim is life, and union with any other hierarchy would mean turning away from this progressive principle of human evolution, would mean death to human evolution. To the ancient Hebrews, no longer to be permeated by the substance of the Elohim, or of Jahve, meant to die.
This is just an indication that in remote antiquity there was an opposite spiritual consciousness in vivid contrast to the consciousness which we meet later among the Greeks. Greek consciousness brings to maturity the truly human element in earthly life, tries to assimilate into its humanity all that the Earth has to offer and is in consequence under the domination of a hierarchy which is seeking to lay hold of the elements of earthly life for its own development, and which therefore exercises the least possible control over men. The other consciousness, the ancient Hebrew consciousness surrenders itself entirely to the principle of the Elohim, is completely given up to Jahve. Those were the two great poles of civilisation in the past.
I said yesterday that the Luciferic beings, or the Angels who during
the Moon evolution remained backward, can still incarnate upon the
Earth, can still move among men, in contradistinction to those who
completed their evolution on the Moon. But we are not told that the
Greek gods incarnated directly in human form! There seems here to be an
inconsistency. Such apparent inconsistencies are inevitable, for
Spiritual Science is extraordinarily comprehensive and complicated.
Indeed the paths of spiritual truth are intricate, and can only be
trodden by those who patiently wind their way through the labyrinth
— as is said in a passage of my Mystery Play The Soul's
Probation. 1Scene 2
of The Soul's Probation. The precise words are:
“Der höhern Wahrheit Wege sind verworren;
nur der vermag zurecht zu finden sich
der in Geduld durch Labyrinthe wandeln kann.”
“Tangled the paths that lead to higher truths!
And only those may hope to reach the goal
Who walk in patience through their labyrinths.” Such inconsistencies can only be resolved little by little, and anyone who expects a glib solution will not easily penetrate to the truth. The Greeks were certainly aware that in their own time the Beings of their divine hierarchies were not able to incarnate directly upon the earth. But those soul-individualities whom the Greeks regarded as their gods did nevertheless incarnate in physical bodies, and that happened in the time of Atlantis! Just as in the Greek Heroes we have the later incarnations of backward Angels from the Moon evolution, going about the Earth in human bodies, bearing within them knowledge of a Luciferic, a superhuman nature, so in the Greek gods we have beings who underwent their fleshly incarnation in Atlantean bodies. Thus we can say that the Greeks looked upon their gods as true Luciferic beings who had already gone through their human incarnation in Atlantis. We must be clear about this if we wish to understand the whole world of the Greek gods.
But another apparent contradiction might occur to you. You might say: ‘All very well, but another time you tell us that Zeus is outside in space as the macrocosmic representative of the astral forces at work in man, Poseidon as the macrocosmic representative of the forces working in the ether body, Pluto as the macroscosmic representative of the forces of the physical body ... so that one has to think of these forces as outspread in the widths of space!’ The objection that these forces are at work outside in space without being gathered together into separate human forms could only be made by someone who has not yet understood how evolution comes about, what is its whole meaning. For a modern consciousness it is somewhat difficult to come to terms with the proper concepts. It is difficult to imagine that what works outside in space as natural law can at the same time walk about the Earth in a human body. Nevertheless it can be so. For the scientist of today naturally it would seem utter nonsense for anyone to say, ‘Take all the forces known today to the chemist, all the chemical forces described in the text-books, all the forces at work in the analysis and combination of substances, and then think of all these laws at some time concentrated in a human body, walking about, making use of hands and feet’ ... a modern man would regard that as sheer madness! Equally little would he be able to imagine that the macrocosmic counterpart of the forces at work in our astral bodies, their counterpart outspread in space ... was once upon a time, exactly in the manner of today, a human soul, centred in a single person, a single person who in Atlantis walked the Earth as Zeus. And the same thing applies to Poseidon and to Pluto. In these Atlantean men to whom Greek consciousness gave the names of Pluto, Zeus, Poseidon, there were incarnated those wonders of the world which are also called laws. Try then to imagine to yourself a real man of Atlantean mould walking about in Atlantis just like other Atlanteans, and imagine an observer endowed with full consciousness looking upon this denizen of Atlantis who was Zeus ... such an observer would have been obliged to say: ‘This soul of Zeus walking about as an Atlantean appears to be concentrated in an Atlantean body, but that is an illusion, that is maya. It only seems to be so. The truth is that this soul is the totality of all the macrocosmic forces which work outside as the counterpart of the soul-forces concentrated in our astral bodies.’ If clairvoyant observation were directed to this Atlantean man who is Zeus, it would acknowledge: ‘As I observe this soul, it becomes larger and larger, it broadens out, it is in fact the macrocosmic counterpart of the soul-forces in the human astral body.’ The same thing applied to the other Atlanteans who were really Greek gods. The world as it meets us on the physical plane is altogether maya. It is because the modern man has no idea of this that it is so difficult for him to conceive of the Being of Christ Jesus Himself. For if we contemplate the soul which was in Christ Jesus after the baptism in the Jordan, we find the same thing. That is made clear in the little book The Spiritual Guidance of Man and of Mankind. In that book we come to recognise that as long as the clairvoyant, or so long as human beings in general, could think of this soul as confined to one human body, they were the victims of maya. In reality this soul pervades all space, and exercises its influence from the whole of space, though for the mind held captive by the sense-world it seems to work through the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Whereas after the baptism by John we have to see the cosmos as a whole through the body of Jesus, in the Greek gods, during the time they were Atlantean men, we have to see those specific forces which have their place within the cosmos. They actually dwelt on the physical plane, and were, in terms of maya, real Atlantean men.
But this will no longer astonish you if you observe the ordinary man of today. At bottom he also is maya, and it is sheer illusion to think that the human soul is confined to the space which encloses his body. As soon as a man attains to knowledge of the super-sensible world he no longer looks upon his physical body as something within which he with his ego is confined; it is something upon which he looks from without, towards which he is focused, and he feels himself, together with his ego, as poured out into cosmic space. He is in fact outside himself, united with the beings of the surrounding world, whom formerly he only looked at; and in a way every soul is spread out over the whole macrocosm, every soul is there within the great universe. Moreover, when man goes through the gate of death and severs his essential soul-nature from his bodily part, as soon as death has taken place, he at once feels himself to be poured out into the macrocosm, he feels himself to be one with the macrocosm, because reality then enters into his consciousness and takes the place of the maya.
I have tried to make clear what a consciousness experiences when it has been freed from the body, when so to say it looks upon the physical body from without, when it lives instead in the spiritual world, when it gradually makes itself at home in the macrocosm. ... I tried to make that clear in Scene 10 of my playThe Soul's Probation, in the monologue which Capesius speaks when, after having plunged into the cosmic, the historical form of his previous incarnation, he returns again to ordinary consciousness. In that monologue what he experienced while he was living through his earlier incarnation passes through his soul; it is not just drily recorded that he had seen one of his earlier incarnations, but if you follow the monologue word by word, line by line, you find a true description of what he experienced. You find it all there, quite realistically described. From this monologue you can get an idea of what really takes place when one looks back in the Akasha Chronicle to earlier periods of Earth evolution, in which one has gone through earlier incarnations. It would be a great mistake to overlook a single word of it; it would be a mistake as regards other passages too, but particularly in this monologue it would be a great mistake not to realise that it describes quite realistically, in all detail, actual soul-experiences. You are even told how the human being has to ask himself whether everything out there in space has not been woven out of the stuff of his own soul! Capesius does actually feel as if what he has encountered there outside himself has been made out of the stuff of his own soul. It is very strange to feel oneself to be part of other things, to feel expanded to a cosmos, to feel completely drained, literally starved of one's own being, which has turned into pictures which then stand before one, pictures that one sees just because they are saturated with the stuff of one's own soul. If you take all that into consideration, you will come to understand the assurance with which the Greeks fashioned the pictures of their gods and of the divine world.
Thus during the time of Atlantis these gods were human beings, with souls which had a macrocosmic significance and this experience enabled them to make such progess as to fit them to play their part in the fourth post-Atlantean culture-epoch, but during that epoch to hold the reins very loosely in their spiritual guidance of humanity. As gods they no longer needed to be like Cecrops, Theseus and Cadmus, in whom were also incarnated Luciferic souls who had fallen behind during the Moon evolution, for they had finished with what earthly incarnation could give them in their Atlantean incarnations. Yet if we are looking at the matter in the right light we see that however much these Greek gods could still give to men, there was one thing they could not give; they could not give the ego-consciousness which man had to acquire. Why not? You will have gathered from all my earlier lectures that this human ego-consciousness was something which had to come about specifically upon Earth. We know of course that man first developed his physical, etheric and astral bodies during the Moon evolution. On the Moon the ego-consciousness could find no footing. There was no ego-consciousness in anything created on the Moon, or in any knowledge which the Greek gods had acquired there about the principle of creation. They could not give ego-consciousness to men, because that was an Earth product. They could do much for man's physical, etheric and astral bodies, for they had been fully conversant with the laws governing these from the time of the Saturn, Sun and Moon evolutions, in which at a higher level they themselves had participated. But because they were retarded Beings they could not become creators of the ego-consciousness. In this respect they are in marked contrast to the Elohim, to Jahve, who is pre-eminently the creator of the ego-consciousness. Thus the whole of modern mental life has only been able to develop through the intermingling of these two polaric influences in human spiritual development — the ancient Hebrew influence, which had the very strong tendency to arouse all the forces in the human soul leading towards ego-consciousness, and the other influence which poured into the human soul all these forces which the human physical, etheric and astral bodies needed in order that Earth evolution might be rightly carried through.
It was only through the intermingling of these two, the Greek and the Hebrew influences, that it was possible for that unified consciousness to arise which was then able to absorb the Christ Impulse, the Christ principle. For within Christianity these two influences are to be found, merged together as the waters of two rivers flow into one. Thus while the life of the soul in modern western civilisation is inconceivable without the impact of Greece, it is no less so without the impulse which was contributed by the ancient Hebrew civilisation. But from the hierarchy to which Zeus, Poseidon and Pluto belonged there was no possibility of man's acquiring his earthly ego-consciousness. The Greeks had a wonderfully clear perception of this, and brought it to expression in their concept of Dionysos. Indeed as regards this figure of Dionysos the Greek soul has expressed itself with such marvellous clarity that we can only contemplate the wisdom of its mythology in reverent amazement.
Greek mythology tells us of an older Dionysos, Dionysos Zagreus. This older Dionysos was a figure which the Greeks depicted in such a way as to give expression to their feeling that an old clairvoyant consciousness had preceded the intellectual consciousness man has since acquired. This sentiment they did not of course express outwardly in thought such as ours, it was entirely a matter of feeling. This old clairvoyant consciousness was not constrained by maya, illusion, deception, to the same degree as is the later consciousness of humanity While men were still clairvoyant they did not believe that the soul is enclosed in the body, that it is bounded by the skin; the centre of the human being, so to say, was still outside the body. Man did not believe that he saw through his eyes by means of his physical body, but he knew: ‘With my consciousness I am standing outside my physical body.’ He regarded the physical body as a possession. One might say that modern man is like someone who sits firmly and comfortably on a chair in his house and says: ‘Here am I inside my house and surrounded by its walls!’ The old clairvoyant man did not sit within his house in this way, he was more like a man who walks out through the door of his house, stands outside it and says: ‘There is my house, I can walk round it, I can look at it from various standpoints.’ ... one then has a far wider view of the house than when one is inside it. That is what the old clairvoyant consciousness was like. It circulated outside its own bodily form and looked upon the latter merely as a possession of the consciousness outside it. When we consider the course of earthly evolution from ancient Lemuria through the Atlantean time and on into the post-Atlantean epochs, we know that the development of earthly consciousness has been gradual. During the Lemurian time this human consciousness was in many respects very similar to that of the Moon evolution. Man paid little attention to his body, he was still outspread in space. It was only by slow degrees that he entered with his ego into his body; during Atlantis his consciousness was to a considerable extent outside it.
Thus it was only gradually that this consciousness began to enter into the physical body — the whole tenor of Earth evolution shows this, and the Greek too was aware of it. He was sensible of an earlier consciousness, a clairvoyant consciousness which, though it had arisen during Earth evolution, still had a very strong leaning towards the Moon consciousness, towards the consciousness which had developed when man's highest member was his astral body. We ourselves might express this stage of human evolution thus. — At the time the Earth entered upon its present evolution man had developed physical, etheric and astral bodies, man bore in his astral body the Zeus forces; in the course of Earth evolution there was added to this all that went to form the ego. A new element united itself with the astral Zeus forces. Grafted upon the Zeus forces as it were, was something which in earlier times had indeed been vaguely associated with them, but which more and more came to be an independent ego added to the Zeus forces. The independent ego first found clairvoyant, and only later intellectual expression. If we see in the astral and Zeus forces, and if in what then emerges, and is at first clairvoyant, we see what we have called Persephone, then we can say: ‘Before man lost his clairvoyant consciousness there lived in him, side by side with what was in his astral body as the Zeus forces, Persephone.’ Man had brought over this astral body, closely associated with the forces of Zeus, from the Moon. The soul-life which we find personified by Persephone was developed in him on the Earth. And that is what the man who lived in olden times on Earth was like! He felt, ‘I have in my astral body. ... I have within me Persephone.’ In olden times man could not yet speak of an intellectual ego, as we do today, but he was aware of something which arose in him as a result of the co-operation of the Zeus forces in his astral body with the Persephone forces. What came about in him through the union of these two, Zeus and Persephone, that was his very self. He was something only one aspect of which was bestowed upon him by Zeus; to this there had to be added the other thing, upon which Zeus as such had no direct influence. What Persephone as the daughter of Demeter was, was connected with the forces of the Earth itself. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, a divine Being whose relationship with Zeus was regarded as that of a sister. Persephone was a soul who had gone through a different evolution from Zeus, she was connected with the Earth, and out of the Earth had an influence upon man and thereby upon the formation of his ego-consciousness.
Thus from very ancient times man bore in him from the side of Zeus his astral body, from the side of the Earth, Persephone. The ancient Greek was conscious that he bore within him something, the origin of which he could not discover when he looked up to the hierarchies of the upper gods. Hence he ascribed what he bore within him to what were called the sub-earthly gods, to the gods who were connected with the origin of the Earth, in which the upper gods had played no part. ‘I bear something in my being to which I owe my earthly consciousness, something which the world of the upper gods, the world of Zeus or of Poseidon or of Pluto could not directly give me, something with which they could only co-operate! Thus there is upon the Earth something beyond what the macrocosmic forces of Zeus, Poseidon and Pluto are, something which Zeus can only look upon, but which he cannot himself produce.’ For all these reasons Greek mythology has good ground for making the elder Dionysos, Dionysos Zagreus, a son of Persephone and Zeus. In olden times, forces in earthly life which further the development of man's ego-consciousness, looked at microcosmically from within man, constitute the ancient clairvoyant consciousness; seen from the macrocosmic aspect, as they surge through the earthly elements, they are the elder Dionysos.
Thus when man had an ego which was not yet the ego of today with its power of intellect, but the forerunner of our present ego, when man had the old consciousness, which has now become subconscious, man looked outward to the macrocosmic forces which cause the ego-forces to flow into us, and called them Dionysos Zagreus, the elder Dionysos. But the Greek had a peculiar feeling towards what the elder Dionysos could give him. He was, after all, already living in an intellectual civilisation, even though one permeated with the living sap of fantasy, one wholly pictorial. Within the pictorial mode his culture was already intellectual. Only the oldest times still bear evidence of a clairvoyant civilisation. Everything to do with Greece which has been handed down historically to later times is intellectual civilisation, however steeped in imagery and fantasy. Thus actually the Greek looked back to an older time, to a time to which the elder Dionysos really belonged, to a time when he infused into human nature the still clairvoyant ego. The Greek had a sense of tragedy when he said to himself, ‘Our Earth can no longer maintain such an ancient ego-consciousness.’ Try for a moment to place yourself livingly within such a Greek soul. He looked back as if in recollection upon those olden times, and said to himself: ‘At that time there was a humanity which lived with its consciousness outside the physical body, a time when the soul was independent of the bit of space enclosed by its skin, a time when it lived outside, lived at one with the world of cosmic space. But those times have gone, they belong to the past. Since then this ego-consciousness has developed in such a way that in fact man cannot do otherwise than feel himself enclosed in the space bounded by his skin.’
This involved something further. Try to imagine for a moment that, by a miracle, it could come about that each one of your souls, now in your physical bodies, were to leave them, were to become outspread in the widths of space ... then your souls would merge into one another, they would not be separate. The several souls could point to their own property at as many different points as there are heads sitting here; but out there above the souls would coalesce and we should have a unity. But if the souls were to withdraw from this exalted consciousness into their respective bodies again ... what would become of this unity? It would be divided up into as many bodies as are sitting here. Picture to yourselves this sensation, think to yourselves that the Greeks knew in their souls that there was a kind of consciousness in which souls were united with one another and formed a unity, a consciousness in which the human psyche drifted over the Earth, and as an egoity none could really distinguish himself from another; then came a time when this egoity lost its unity and each separate soul trickled into a body. Greek fancy represents this moment in an impressive picture, the picture of the dismembered Dionysos.
With nice discernment Greek mythology has interwoven into the Dionysos saga the figure of Zeus on the one hand and Hera on the other. We have seen that Zeus is the central power of the macrocosmic forces which correspond to the soul-forces anchored in the astral body. These soul-forces have come over from the Moon evolution. Even Zeus really derives from the Moon evolution, so that he plays a part in the creation of Dionysos, who to begin with, as Dionysos the elder, is a son of Zeus and Persephone. Zeus's part in the creation of Dionysos lies in his representing the element of one-ness, of homogeneity, of Being as yet unfragmented. The figure whom we meet in the feminine Hera has passed through a different development. She has passed through a development considerably more advanced spiritually than that of Zeus—more advanced in the sense that she inclined more towards the Earth, whereas Zeus had remained behind at an earlier stage. Whereas Zeus had remained at the stage of the Moon evolution, had persisted in the Moon stage of development, Hera had gone further and had taken into herself certain motives which could be used upon the Earth. Hera belongs to the category of those Luciferic beings who labour to bring about the separation, the individualisation of men. Hence she is so often represented as jealous. Jealousy can only come about where individuality is well defined. Where consciousness of unity prevails there can be no jealousy. Hera belongs to those gods who further separation, individualisation, isolation. Thus Hera plays an active part in the mutilation of Dionysos ... whereas he is the offspring of the union of Zeus and Persephone. At a time when the human being of old was endowed with clairvoyant consciousness as a universal consciousness, the individualising goddess Hera — a function symbolically expressed as her jealousy — appears and calls upon the Titans, the gods centred in the forces of the earth, to cut into pieces the old unified consciousness, thereby driving it into separate bodies. This is how this universal consciousness, this consciousness of being one, was banished from the world.
The ancient Greek looked back with a sense of tragedy to that old clairvoyant consciousness which lived outside the physical body and knew itself to be one with all things in the universe; for he could only look back to it as to a thing of the past. If nothing else had supervened, had there been only the deed of Hera, man would have walked the earth, enclosed within the narrow confines of his own personality. Men would never have understood one another. But neither would they have been able to understand their environment, the elements of the earth, the world. They would have been able to look upon their bodies as their property, to feel themselves shut up within their bodies as in a house; possibly they would have been able to feel the environment in their closest proximity as their own, as a snail feels its shell to belong to it, but further than this the human ego would never have expanded; it would never have expanded to a consciousness of the world. That is what Hera wanted. She wanted to separate men from each other in their individuality.
What then saved men from this isolation? Whence comes it that, although men's egos had assumed intellectual form, this later consciousness, no longer clairvoyant but intellectual, is able to form an image of the world through acquiring intellectual knowledge? Whence comes it that the ego can transcend itself, is able to connect one thing with another? Whereas clairvoyant sight encompasses the whole world in one look, intellectual vision is restricted, it has to pass from object to object, to assemble the separate items in its vision of the world in order to make a picture of the whole by intellectual knowledge. It is not only the work of Hera which has continued to develop, but the intellectuality of the ego has been brought to completion, and although man can no longer, like Dionysos Zagreus, live in objects clairvoyantly, he can at least form intelligent pictures of the world, he can picture the world as a whole. To the Greeks the central power behind this world-picture, behind the thoughts and imagery with which we grasp it, was represented by the goddess Pallas Athene.
In point of fact it was the intellectual image of the world, the wisdom of the intellect, which rescued the dismembered Dionysos, rescued the old unified consciousness that had withdrawn into human bodies. It directed human consciousness once more outwards. Hence the subtlety of the Dionysos saga, which relates how Pallas Athene, after Dionysos had been dismembered by the Titans at the instigation of Hera, rescued his heart and brought it to Zeus. That is a marvellously subtle and wisdom-filled feature of the story, in full accordance with the ‘world-wonders’ to which Spiritual Science provides the key again today. We contemplate its profundities with reverence and admiration. This story of the dismemberment of Dionysos and the rescuing of his heart by Pallas Athene, who took it to Zeus, is only the macrocosmic counterpart of something which takes place microcosmically in us.
We know that the blood which sets the heart in motion is the physical expression of earthly man. What would have happened if the intellectual expansion of the ego to an intellectual conception of the world had not saved it from being imprisoned in the human body? What would have happened had not Pallas Athene rescued the heart of the dismembered Dionysos and taken it to Zeus? Men would have walked about each imprisoned in his own bodily form, each imprisoned in those microcosmic forces of his body which manifest merely the lower egotistic impulses, through which man does in fact tend to cut himself off as an isolated person enclosed in his skin. Of course man does have within him those forces which led to the dismemberment of Dionysos. They are the lower impulses of human nature, those which work in an animal, an instinctive way, and are the basis of human egotism. Those are the impulses from which develop sympathy and antipathy, everything of an instinctive nature, from hunger and other allied instincts to the reproductive instinct, which as such belongs entirely to the category of lower instincts. Had it depended upon Hera alone, had Pallas Athene not intervened to save man, he would only have developed an appetite for food, for the process of reproduction, in short for all the lower instincts.
What then happened to enable man to overcome this egotism, concentrated solely upon his lower nature? These lower instincts do constitute egohood, but there is something in human nature which lifts us above them. It is the fact that in our hearts we can still develop a different kind of enthusiasm from the egotistic passions — the hunger that drives us to maintain life and the sexual instinct that drives us to maintain the species. Those appetites, after all, still leave human nature plunged in its egotism. It is only because something else is intermingled with them that their egotistic character can to a certain extent be overcome, that they can be released from the body. There is a higher element connected with the heart, particularly with the circulation of the blood, which develops higher enthusiasms. When our hearts beat for the spiritual world and for its great ideals, when our hearts are afire for things of the mind, when we feel as much warmth for the spiritual world as a man feels in his lower instincts in the erotic life, then human nature is being purified and spiritualised by what Pallas Athene has added to the deed of Hera. Humanity will only become able to understand this tremendous truth in course of time, for at present there is much in human nature to give the lie to it. How often do we hear this sort of thing said: ‘Some people are very queer, they get worked up about all sorts of things which really don't exist, they get as heated over abstractions, over mere ideas, as other men do about real life’ — meaning by that the satisfaction of hunger and other lower instincts. But those who are capable of developing so much warm enthusiasm for the super-sensible, for things in no way concerned with the lower instincts, that they can feel the super-sensible world to be a reality, have devoted themselves to what Pallas Athene added to the work of Hera. That is the microcosmic counterpart of the forces holding sway in the universe, of which Greek mythology gives us such a magnificent picture when it tells how Pallas Athene rescued the heart of the dismembered Dionysos and took it to Zeus who hid it in his loins. After the old clairvoyant consciousness had entered into man it merged with his bodily nature; this is wonderfully expressed in the Greek myth in the fact that the Dionysos-nature is concealed in the loins of Zeus; for all that would have sprung from the dismembered Dionysos would have had its microcosmic counterpart in what emanates from man's lower bodily nature. Thus we see how wonderfully what is given in the magnificent pictures of the old Dionysos saga is in agreement with Spiritual Science.
However, we are told how the old clairvoyant consciousness, represented by the elder Dionysos, developed further into the younger Dionysos, into the later consciousness, into our present ego-consciousness. For the macrocosmic counterpart of our present ego-consciousness, with its intellectual civilisation, with all that derives from our reason, and from our ego generally, is in fact the second Dionysos, who was born because a love-potion, brewed from the rescued heart of the dismembered Dionysos was given to Semele, a mortal, and resulted in her union with Zeus — with the forces of the astral body. Thus one who as a human being is already different, unites with what has come over from the Moon evolution, and from this union comes the man of today, who has his macrocosmic counterpart in the younger Dionysos, the son of Zeus and Semele. What further are we told about this younger Dionysos? Surely if he is the macrocosmic counterpart of our intellectual ego-forces, then he must be the intelligence which spans the Earth, which is outspread in the widths of space. If Greek feeling is to be in accordance with the truth, it will have to think of the younger Dionysos, the macrocosmic counterpart of our intellectual ego, as the intelligence which encircles the Earth; it will have to think that there moves a being outside in space who is like intelligence passing from land to land! And, wonderfully enough, we do find in Greek mythology the splendid legend of the second Dionysos who travelled from Europe to far-distant India, everywhere teaching men the arts of agriculture, the cultivation of the vine, and so on; we find how he then crossed into Arabia, returning again through Egypt. Every variety of intellectual civilisation stems from the journeys of the younger Dionysos; what we in our abstract dryas-dust way call the spread of intellectual civilisation, the old Greek mythology called the journeys of the younger Dionysos, who taught men agriculture, taught them the cultivation of the vine, besides teaching them science, the art of writing and such things, during journeys which carried him all over the earth. The conceptions of the older and the younger Dionysos fit in wonderfully together; they are pictures of mankind advancing from its older, clairvoyant consciousness, with its macrocosmic counterpart in the older Dionysos, to the younger, intellectual consciousness which has a macrocosmic counterpart in the younger Dionysos.
Let us once more turn to the thought which formed the starting point of this lecture, the idea that the ancient Greek gods were Atlantean men. ... The older Dionysos ... you will feel of him that — although the son of Persephone and Zeus has already taken Earth-elements into himself through the Titans, he still has a very close affinity with the gods of the Zeus hierarchy. He is the son of Zeus and Persephone, a super-sensible Being. This elder Dionysos from the very fact that he is still the son of Zeus as well as of Persephone — a super-sensible figure of the post-Atlantean epoch — is in his very nature allied with the Zeus hierarchy. Because of this, ancient Greek consciousness is clear, and the legend makes it clear, that the elder Dionysos, Dionysos Zagreus, like the other Greek gods, lived as a human being in Atlantis, walked the Earth as a man in Atlantis. But when you enter into the spirit of the saga of the younger Dionysos, who is already closely related to man, being born of a human mother, you see that the myth is aware that he is actually more closely akin to man than to the gods. Hence the legend relates what is in fact true, that the younger Dionysos was actually born in Greece in remote antiquity, and lived in a post-Atlantean fleshly body. Just as the forces of Zeus were once to be found in an Atlantean Zeus, in the same way what we recognise as the intellectual civilisation which is spread throughout the world, this mental macrocosmic counterpart of the personal intellectual ego, once lived as a man, as the younger Dionysos, in the post-Atlantean epoch, somewhere in Greek pre-historic times. This Dionysos the younger actually lived, he was one of the Greek Heroes. He grew up in Greece, and travelled to Asia, getting as far as India. This journey really did take place! And much of Indian civilisation—not the part which has survived from the teaching of the Holy Rishis, but another part — derives from the younger Dionysos. Then with his band of earthly creatures he journeyed to Arabia and Libya, and back again to Thrace. This prodigious pre-historic journey really took place. Thus a Dionysos figure who actually lived as a man, accompanied by a remarkable band of followers, described in mythology as sileni, fauns and other like beings, actually made the round journey to Arabia, Libya, Thrace and back again to Greece. When the time came for his death, he poured out his soul into the intellectual civilisation of mankind.
Thus one is justified in asking: ‘Is Dionysos the younger alive today?’ Yes, my dear friends. Go where you will, look at what lives in the world as intellectual culture, consider the mental content of what is given to us by modern historians in such a hopelessly dry-as-dust form, and which is called the tradition of history or something equally fantastic—consider this in its concrete reality. Think of this concrete, macro-telluric element which surrounds the Earth like a spiritual sheath, which subsists from epoch to epoch, which is not only in every head, but which as an atmosphere of intellectual culture also envelops all men in their daily lives—therein lives Dionysos the younger! Whether you turn to the teaching of our universities, or to the intellectual training which is applied to technology, whether you look at the kind of thought which has come into the world and forms the mental atmosphere of the banking and financial system throughout the world, in all that there lives the soul of Dionysos the younger. Since the death of the personality of the younger Dionysos who made that great journey, his soul has gradually been poured out into the intellectual civilisation of the entire Earth.