Two Different Kinds of Soul

I. “The dual fate of Heracles after death, dwelling simultaneously on high with the gods and below in Hades, reflects the Greek notion that we have two different kinds of soul. Thymos is warm, emotional and red-blooded; while psyche is colder, deeper and more impersonal. From thymos’ point of view, the Otherworld is the cold, grey, unsubstantial Hades full of `pottering shades, querulous beside the salt-pits/And mawkish in their wits’. From psyche’s perspective, it is our robust, red-blooded world which is unreal, while Hades who was called Plouton (Pluto), the Rich One, holds all the treasures of the imagination. The shades are not dim ghosts to psyche, but mythic images that erupt out of the Underworld like the laughing Sidhe, their silver eyes flashing. We can begin to understand what Heraclitus meant when he remarked that `Dionysus and Hades are one.’ The god of creative life has a secret affinity with death.

Thymos has been assimilated into the robust ego-consciousness of Western man who believes in no reality other than his own. From the deeper psychic viewpoint, however, ego-consciousness is – as the Neoplatonists noticed – a kind of unconsciousness. We are unaware of reality, claim the Romantics, except in moments of imaginative vision. The Otherworld lies all about us, an earthly paradise – if we would but cleanse `the doors of perception’, as Blake put it, and see the world as it really is, ‘infinite’.”‘

Patrick Harpur, “The Pilosophers’ Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination”

II.”The word ‘thūmos,’ which I translate here as ‘heart,’ expresses in Homeric diction the human capacity to feel and to think, taken together. … Thūmos is the vital force.

Psūkhe – ‘life, life’s breath, spirit, soul, mind,’ … In Homeric Greek this word refers to the essence of life when one is alive and to the disembodied conveyor of identity when one is dead.”

Gregory Nagy, “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours”

Archaeological Museum of Chalkis: Votive relief of Dionysus and Pluto with adorant.

Archaeological Museum of Chalkis: Votive relief of Dionysus and Pluto with adorant.

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13 Responses to Two Different Kinds of Soul

  1. Bostjan K. says:

    Good analogies. From this perspective it makes me think that psyche, the breath, the pneuma is actually the code word for spirit…

  2. Pingback: Two Different Kinds of Soul | lampmagician

  3. Amy Campion says:

    I see you are reading Philosopher’s Secret Fire – wonderful! I so look forward to your perspectives. There is noone else who’s opinion I would like to hear more.

    • Thank you, Amy. I got this book on your recommendation and have only started reading it. I think it’s wonderful.

      • Amy Campion says:

        I am so glad. It is a rare book, I enjoyed that I could sink my teeth into it, and it made me feel like all my years of self study down strange twisting alleyways was being rewarded. I do think it peters off a little towards the end, but I don’t feel it detracts significantly from the grand theme and the details of the rest of the book.

  4. Bostjan K. says:

    Reblogged this on Arrow of awareness.

  5. Great quotes. I love the Neoplatonists and the Romantics. I could spend my days reading Blake, Coleridge, Proclus, and Plotinus.

  6. Maria F. says:

    “We can begin to understand what Heraclitus meant when he remarked that `Dionysus and Hades are one.’ The god of creative life has a secret affinity with death.”- this is amazing Monika, how you notice this duality in two different figures.

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