On the question of strength


Strength is associated with Mount Olympus in the Derveni Papyrus, linked to time, height, mind and the separating of things by a mind that has understanding and knowing of the ways of nature (reason.)

The question of what is meant by strength has always been troubling to me in philosophy.  Amongst the Celts the coward is the reverse of strength, the cauldron never boils food for the coward, and the strongest gets the champions portion at the feast.  Likewise, the Celtic Hercules is different from the Greek Hercules, because the Celtic version has the power of eloquence, which is to say by the power of speaking a clever individual can have thousands of people fighting for them and thus is strong.

The Derveni Papyrus has assisted me in putting to rest this question about strength.  I will quote a small section:


[? She] proclaimed an oracle about all that was right to him to hear.
he made clear that… the things that are…
and to take away (sc. his rule). And the next line goes like this:
so that he may rule on the lovely abode of snowcapped Olympus

Strength in the Derveni Papyrus is associated with speaking, teaching and assisting by an oracle, who through this speaking gives strength to two named gods: Zeus and Kronos. Strength thus is understanding, knowing or wisdom born out of senses, reason and experience.  Strength has nothing to do with muscles or war, but to do with mind, since if an individual is unable to understand a thing, they have no ability to do that thing.  If the individual is unable to give name, meaning or relationship to those things sensed in nature, then nothing can come of it.  I am learning a new computer language, and in learning this skill, I have gained strength in manipulating my computer to do things that a few months ago, I could not have imagined.

The Derveni Papyrus describes an initial reality of one dimension, with the qualities of width, night, oneness but having a voice. The Derveni Papyrus makes clear that this voice does not order or instruct things to happen, neither does those that are aware of this voice hear it, but do understand it by way of knowing, which then gives them strength to act upon it.  The voice teaches, speaks and assists to all who are open to it.  The Derveni Papyrus says:

“..both for those who work the land, and for those who sail when they have to sail, and for the former the seasons. For if there were no moon, people could not have discovered the counting either of the seasons, or of the winds…”

The original ruler of the reality of one dimension called Ouranos or Uranus, son of Night (Nyx) encountered the proclaimed oracle by his mother, designed so that paradoxically his rule would be taken away, but that he could rule Olympus.  The Derveni Papyrus says that time, height and Olympus has the same meaning, but it is different from width, which is to say the understanding that the substance or entity known as Ouranos gained from the teaching, assisting speaking voice of Nyx resulted in the formation of a second dimension, a dyad, now reality had width and height.

Things move quickly in process, Ouranos vanishes, the Derveni Papyrus says:

“Naming Mind that strikes (? the beings) against each other Kronos, he says that it did a great deed to Ouranos; for (he says that) he (sc. Ouranos) was deprived of his kingdom.”

Ouranos becomes Kronos, the association with Olympus means as well as time, height, but also strength because Ouranos now understands or knows what was spoken to him, and is transformed by it, the monad becomes dyadic.

“Zeus takes the strength and the daimon from his father.”

The use of daimon in the original context means a cause, has nothing to do with spirits or demons.  The cause is called Kronos, and is a process describing the separating of things.  With Kronos the sun is separated from the earth and the moon, all things are separate and apart as longs as Kronos continues to act.  A second thing comes out of Ouranos, called Zeus, associated with mind.

Zeus creates a third dimension, where whilst Kronos in the second dimension separates things, Zeus can join and spit out things that have previously been mixed together into a new dimension of the material world, thus all things such as ants, trees and human beings come about.  Example, man and woman join together, create a baby, which whilst retaining some part of both parents, is separated from them and becomes a new thing in the world.

Zeus becomes both the mind (strength) and cause (daimon) and now is king of everything, and all things will move, change and evolve according to this mind known as Zeus.

The writer of the Derveni Papyrus is not promoting gods but using gods as metaphors to describe processes and dimensions.  Strength means mind, understanding, knowing, a quality that cannot be gained by hearing, but by way of reason through observing the ways of nature, which in the material realm is manifested through experience, sense and demonstration.  The “voice” speaks by signs, and it requires an enquiring mind to see these signs manifested in nature, translating them into understanding and knowing, and therein by this means does the individual gain their strength.