Q. on heroes and saints
Ok – I am going out on a limb here. It seems to me that there is a parallel in Orthodox Christianity. We Orthodox Christians venerate saints, holy individuals, who many times lost their lives for their beliefs, but were saved after death. We believe that as they were saved through their piety, when we pray to them, they can intercede on our behalf with Christ to save us. So, it is possible that that as those heroes of hero cults were saved, their worshippers believed that through proper worship of those heroes, they might also be saved. For example, the kubernetes who recognized Dionysos for who he was, and was hence saved.
Hi Pyrrha, I think that this is an important parallel, even including the Dionysiac aspect, as long as you keep in mind what H24H warns you about: that is, that with Ancient Greek heroes, we are obviously talking about a pre-Christian notion of “salvation” (such a loaded word!) and a pre-Christian worldview in the heroes themselves that definitely has nothing to do with piety and holiness and dying for your faith. I bet you were well aware of that, so please don’t take it amiss that I am emphasizing it. One might even suggest that there may be more at work than a parallel: perhaps what you are noticing is a historical transformation of the Ancient Greek notion of hero, but clearly there is a lot that has changed as well as significant things that have been retained even though they may have been reinterpreted (like the word salvation). I don’t think that such a notion is at odds with anyone’s faith, either. Religions throughout history have taken the cultural means that they need to convey their truths and transform them. In appreciation, Lenny Muellner