Readers of Swedenborg's Writings are familiar with the references to "Jove,—so named perhaps from Jehovah." (T. C. R. 9; in D. S. S. 117, and De Verbo 15, without any "perhaps"). This suggestion is certainly worthy of consideration, though it is scoffed at by modern philologists who insist that Jupiter means simply "father Zeus," (ueu-pater), and that the name Zeus itself is nothing but the Greek form of the Sanscrit Dyaus, god, whence is derived the Greek theos and the Latin deus and Jovis. But since the members of the New Church know from Divine Revelation that "Jehovah" is the most ancient name of God, may it not be reasonable to suppose that the Sanscrit Dyaus is itself derived from Jehovah? Moreover, it is an incontestable fact that the names of many, if not most of the Greek divinities, are derived, not from the Sanscrit but directly from the Hebrew, through the Phoenicians,—as, for instance, Helios from "El," Apollo from "Habaal," Astarte from "Ashtoreth," Bacchus from "Ichus," Adonis from "Adonai," etc. And in the Assyro-Babylonian Pantheon we find as the supreme god "Era" or "Hea," who under the name of "Iva" is represented as holding a sheaf of thunderbolts. It seems more likely, therefore, that Jupiter or Jove-pater was derived from Iva-pater, (Jehovah, the father), rather than from Dyaus. And it is also admitted by the philologists that the Latin Jove in the more ancient Umbrian dialect is Iuve, which is almost identical with the sacred Hebrew name.
As to the historical origin of the worship of Jupiter, we learn from the Writings that
And in the same work, (n. 159), it is said that these gods were originally monarchs to whom, after their death, Divine worship was extended. Thus also, among the Greeks, there was a legend that Jupiter was a most ancient king of Crete, and the cave in which he was born and the tomb in which he was buried were exhibited for long ages by the Cretans.
The ancient divinities were thus originally great prehistoric individuals, archaic kings, queens, and heroes, venerated ancestors of races and nations, who in very ancient times were regarded as representative types of various Divine attributes. In later times, after the spiritual religion of the Ancient Church had degenerated into nature-worship, these representative characters came to be looked upon as personifications of material elements, phenomena, and forces, as is graphically shown by Swedenborg in the True Christian Religion, n. 178.
There is a certain basis, therefore, for the modern materialistic interpretation of mythology. The gentiles, in their more degraded states, did, worship the powers of nature; they did identify Jupiter with the ether, Juno with the air, Neptune with the ocean, Pluto with the bowels of the earth, etc. etc. But the fallacy of the interpreters is that they regard these degenerated conceptions as the original ideas, originating in the gross nature-worship which the doctrine of Evolution postulates. Pantheism was a perverted development of the ancient Monotheism, as was known to many of the ancient Sophi and philosophers.
King of heaven and earth, supreme dispenser of justice, guardian of political order and peace, tutelary deity of hospitality, of compacts and of oaths,—in short, the personification of Divine Law itself,—all gods and demons tremble at Jupiter's omnipotent nod. Seated upon his ivory throne in Olympus, with the earth for his footstool, he holds in one hand the eagle-crowned sceptre and in the other the figure of winged Victory, while lightnings play about his awful brows, and Fame and Fortune hover about his knees, and Hebe, goddess of eternal youth, presents to him the cup of living nectar.
Such was the supreme god of the Ancient Church, as, in derivative and gentilized forms, this Church existed among the Greeks and Latins,—a spiritual Church, in which the intellectual side, the love of truth rather than the love of good, predominated. Hence around Zeus we find the emblems and symbols of the Divine Wisdom rather than those of the Divine Love,—the oak tree, the eagle, and the thunderbolt, truth eternal, rational and Divine.
Victory, Fame, and Fortune, (i. e., the eternal blessings of Divine Providence), follow in the wake of all-conquering Truth, and Hebe, the affection of Divine Truth, gives eternal youth to those who are willing to drink the nectar of the water of life.
In Homer and the earlier poets Zeus uniformly exhibits a dignified and moral character, like that of a grave but good-natured and affectionate father. But as the decline of the Ancient Church went on, men began more and more to invest their idols with their own passions and evils, and thus Zeus in the later writers appears as a most unfaithful husband and as an unjust and revengeful despot, who strives in vain to avert the fate which Destiny has appointed for him as it did for Saturn and Ouranos. He is represented as knowing that his reign also would pass away; that he would be supplanted in the Olympus by his youngest son, the tempted, conquering, glorified Hercules. It is a more or less shadowy myth, but appears again and again in Aeschylus, Ovid, Seneca, and the Sibylline books, and it certainly seems like a prophecy of the Coming of the Lord in His Human, when the Divine Truth itself was to take the place of the types and figures of the ancient, representative churches.
The many love-affairs of Zeus with earthly maidens gave rise to many ludicrous as well as scandalous conceptions and stories among the later Greeks, but even the modern naturalistic interpreters recognize that "his infidelities lose all their grossness if we recognize them as allegories which typify the great generative power of the universe displaying itself in a variety of ways." How much more so, then, when we come to see that the plural connections of Zeus, like the polygamous marriages of the patriarchs and kings in the Old Testament, could represent or typify the relations of the one all-loving God with the various forms of religious faith as existing among different Gentile races. There can at any one time be but one true and spiritual Church on the earth, with whom the Lord is conjoined in a spiritual marriage. This genuine or specific Church was among the Greeks represented by Juno, the only legitimate spouse of Jupiter. But though the Lord loves the visible Church, He loves also the various forms of the Church Universal, as existing among the good in all religions, in all lands, and in all the earths of the Universe. And when the Church specific becomes perverted, when Juno becomes a jealous and rebellious wife, the Lord comes with a new Divine message to those Gentile nations in which there remains some simple and innocent love of the Truth, and in their virgin soil He then implants the seeds of a New genuine Church.
But when thus coming with a new revelation, He cannot at first manifest Himself such as He really is, as the Divine Truth itself, but must necessarily clothe Himself in various appearances of external good and truth, accomodated to the simple states of the receptive Gentiles. These appearances are represented by the various disguises of Jove in approaching the earthly maidens who were the objects of his love. And then, for those maidens, there generally began a period of tribulations and persecutions, inflicted by jealous Juno, by which is represented, the persecutions and temptations which the New Church must suffer from the Old, perverted Church.
Thus to Europa, the Phoenician princess, Zeus first appeared in the guise of a beautiful white steer who ran away with the maiden and landed her on the shores of a new continent to" which he afterwards gave her name. By this is probably signified that civilization and religion were first introduced to the Gentiles in Europe, from Asia, by means of the Phoenicians, and that the new truth won its way among them by appealing to their love of genuine external good.
Hence, therefore, we have the myth that letters and civilization were first introduced into Greece by Cadmus, the brother of Europa, who founded Thebes and. in whose honor the Academy was founded at Athens. (Compare the Hebrew Cadem=the East.)
On the other hand, to Leda, -who became the mother of Castor, Pollux, and Helen, Jupiter came in the shape of a snow-white swan. This beautiful bird of the water represented love truly conjugial, but in the lowest or natural region of the mind, even as the bird of paradise represents the spiritual, and the turtledove the celestial degrees of conjugial love. (C. L. 270.) This story would seem to signify that, to some of the earliest Greeks, civilization was introduced by means of true teachings concerning a natural orderly conjugial life, from which was derived on the one hand the mutual charity which is represented by the fraternal love of Castor and Pollux, and on the other hand that natural conception of conjugial love, which is typified by Helen, the beautiful queen, who became the prize of the contest between the Greeks and the Trojans. The latter, perverted Asiatics of the fallen Church, sought to destroy that priceless love among the Hellenic Gentiles, but the new nation, after long and severe struggles, regained it and with it the leadership of civilization. (If any of our readers should consider this a far-fetched interpretation, let him consider the present struggle for conjugial love in the New Church: how the beautiful truth concerning this love first appeared to us above the waters of our former sensual conceptions; how it has been well nigh lost to the New Church by the practice of "mixed marriages," and how it may be restored by marriages within the Church, in spite of the desperate opposition of ancient fallacies and prejudices.
To Dame, the priestess imprisoned in a brazen tower, Zeus came in the form of a golden shower, by which may be represented a new influx of Divine Truth, among Gentiles previously fettered in the bonds of ignorance and falsity. The son of Danae and Zeus was Perseus, who, in his victory over Medusa and the setting free of Andromeda, seems to be another ancient prophecy of the Messiah, who, begotten by the power of the Highest, was born of an earthly maiden, conquered the hells, and redeemed the Church.
But the other stories of the loves of Jupiter will be told and explained in connection with those of his children, such as Apollo, Diana, and Bacchus, who for their mothers had mortal women.