Category Archives: Social Contract
Posted by silverfox57
Alternate Spelling: Ὁμόνοια
Simply put, in Greek myth and religion, Homonoia is a minor goddess of concord, unanimity and like-mindedness.
As a concept, Homonoia is the term used by the Ancient Greeks to create unity in their politics to govern themselves.
Parentage And Family
Father – Soter, a savior daimon.
Mother – Praxidike, the goddess of judicial punishment and vengeance.
Alternatively, the mythical king Ogygos and a goddess by the name of Thebes are sometimes placed as Homonoia’s parents.
Arete – Goddess of Personifying Virtue
Ktesios – A minor God of the Household.
Both Arete and Homonoia together are referred to as Praxidikai after their mother.
Basically, with their mother, they formed a trio of goddess or daimones responsible for extracting justice, which actually sounds a lot like the Erinyes, but not quite. The Erinyes went for retribution and vengeance whereas the Praxidikai, go for the straight up justice that’s coming and being meted out.
Sometimes, the Praxidikai will be mentioned as the divine daughters of Ogygos, a primeval king and Titan who rules the land of Boeotia where the city of Thebes would later be founded. Ogygos would be married to a goddess known as Thebes.
You Called Her A Daimon!
Yes, as in the Greek term and meaning for the word spirit. It is Christianity that takes and twists the word and meaning to Demon, for an evil spirit or being.
Among the ancient Greeks, the word daimon means spirit or “replete with knowledge.” They recognized both good (eudemons) and bad (cacodemons). The word or term daimon also means “divine power,” “fate,” or “god.” And in Greek mythology, daimons could also include deified heroes. This seems to be the case for Homonoia if she was seen more as a concept personified and not really a goddess in her own right.
Daimons functioned as messengers or intermediary spirits between men and gods. The good daimons were viewed as guardian spirits who gave guidance and protection to those they watched over. The bad daimons, naturally, weren’t so nice and could mislead people, getting them into trouble.
Homonoia’s role for unity and concord were used by the Greeks with how they shaped the politics of Classical Greece. It really came into wide usage under Alexander the Great’s rule when he adopted these principles for ruling his Empire.
For the Greeks, the principles of Homonoia meant no factional or infighting amongst themselves. Outside cultures were viewed as barbarians or savages.
Aristotle had told his young student Alexander the Great to treat Greeks as friends and non-Greeks as animals.
The scholar Isocrates is the first one to try taking this concept beyond the Greek people. While Isocrates didn’t believe that savages could ever be equal with Greeks, he did believe that such savages could be made to adopt Greek ideals and thus be on par with them.
I.e. You are not ever going to be Greek, but you can learn how to think like a Greek and adopt Greek culture and ideals.
Isocrates believed that being Grecian was a matter of nurture versus nature. During his time in the court of Philip II of Macedon, Isocrates found a receptive audience to teach his ideas and concepts to.
However, being Macedonian, Philip II viewed Isocrates’ ideas as being something reserved only for the Greeks, no matter how much he liked the ideas. Philip II did use the ideas and concepts for creating the Corinthian League, an alliance that proved useful to unite the Greek States against the Persian Empire.
After Philip II was assassinated, his son, Alexander the Great would become the next King of Macedonia and utilize the concepts of Homonoia. While yeah, Aristotle was a young Alexander’s tutor and told him to treat non-Greeks as animals, Alexander would ignore these teachings and instead, for the most part, treat people of other cultures as people.
By adopting Isocrates’ expanded ideals and concepts of Homonoia, Alexander the Great was able to successfully rule his Empire, that at the time, covered most of the known world (as the Greeks knew it).
The ideas of Homonoia allowed Alexander to rule over the Greeks, Egyptians, and Persians. He would adopt various customs and cultures from those conquered such as the Persian dress and courtly etiquette like proskynesis which is the kissing of the hand or prostrating oneself on the ground before superiors. Alexander the Great would also have his Grecian officers take Persian wives to further unite differing cultures.
Ultimately, Alexander wanted to create a new Greco-Oriental Empire instead of one where the ruling class would be the conquerors over the subjugated. After Alexander’s death, many of his reforms continued on.
Kissing the hand and prostrating on the ground? Not just the medieval era.
Now, for those familiar with the Romans, they were very good with adopting many aspects of Grecian culture, not just their mythologies and deities. Romans also used the concepts of Homonoia. Though this is recognized more as Pax Romana to unite the various regions and territories for peace and stability.
The Social Contract
The Romans and Greeks went for trying to make their system of Homonia or Pax Romana a caste system or hierarchy to it where everyone knew their place. Break that social contract and down comes Homonia in her role as a Praxidikai to mete out justice.
If we are to translate the concept of Homonoia to modern times, this would be the Social Contract. The social agreements we have with each other in society and civilization. Humans are natural pack or herd animals; we are prone to gathering in groups and working together. With these groups, come social norms and rules, whether spoken or unspoken of how we interact with and treat each other. Rules and norms that are generally agreed upon by the whole with taking care of everyone. The larger a group gets, the hard it can be to get the whole in agreement and there end up being lots of sub groups, further making it harder for everyone to connect and realize that at the end of the day, if we want a functioning society, we need to work together.
With the modern theory of Social Contract, as introduced by the likes of Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke, it proposes that everyone is equal and has fundamental freedoms. Keeping it to an extreme nutshell, one person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. No person has a right to force or exercise power over others unless it is agreed upon to keep government functioning and working for people. Yes, this is noted as a liberal political theory for determining moral and political rules of behavior.
Harmonia – Greek Goddess
Harmonia is a more familiar goddess of harmony, concord, notably marital harmony. As the concept ideas of harmony have changed for what both Harmonia and Homonoia mean, the two have become nearly identical in purpose.
Furthering this connection, Homonoia’s father is sometimes given to be Ogygos, a mythical King of Boeotia and married to a goddess by the name of Thebes who would have the city that Cadmus founded, named for her.
Concordia – Roman Goddess
The Roman goddess of Harmony and Unity who is often equated with Harmonia and Homonoia.
Just like Harmonia, Homonoia’s polar opposite is Eris; who is often cited as the goddess of chaos with her Roman counterpart being Discordia.