This series focuses on the region from where the roots of Western Judaic and Christian civilization of today are traced: the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern region surrounding the Mediterranean  from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine,  Jordan, Iraq, (western) Iran, and Egypt).  A similar evolution and change happened in the (farther) East that became dominated by Islam and Hinduism. 

Note: The term androcracy is used to describe a social system ruled through force, or threat of force by men. This term derives from Greek root words Andros or “man,” and kratos (as in democratic), or “ruled.”

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Historians trace the time when the androcraticMycenaean came down from the north and took over what were indigenous Neolithic Greeks to the 3rd and 2nd millennium B.C.E. As in Anatolia and the Sumerian cradle of civilization, there is ample evidence of an early well-developed Neolithic agricultural-based civilization on what is today mainland Greece. Megaron houses –elaborate homes that included a large central hall and hearth supported by pillars – have been excavated that date back to 5700 B.C.E. in central Greece. Whereas the Minoans developed their prosperity through agrarian productivity and sea trade, the Mycenaean obtained wealth through war and conquest – taking it, stealing it, from the cultures they over-ran; in this early period, the Neolithic living and farming on mainland Greece (the same scenario as was happening in ancient Anatolia and Sumer.)

Most courses on Western civilization start with the reading of Homer, the Greek poet and author of the Iliadand Odyssey, and of Hesiod, the Greek poet who modern scholars refer to as a major source of Greek god and goddess mythology, farming techniques, early economic thought, Greek astronomy and ancient time-keeping. The epic journey, of which Homer writes, was during when the Mycenaean Greek culture reached its height, between 1700 and 1100 B.C.E. at the end of which the warlike and barbarian Dorians invaded and defeated the warlike, but by then Minoan-influenced Mycenaean Greeks. When Homer and Hesiod actually lived is unknown but most place them around 750 B.C.E. or slightly later, and at the beginning of what is classical Greece, with the Odyssey story and the Trojan War taking place anywhere from 500 to 1000 years earlier. But we are taught that our modern ideas about justice, democracy, economics, philosophy and science stem from this period of (classical) Greece. The truth is, these concepts, and even the Greek written language came from Minoan Crete. The Mycenaean Linear B, is an early form of Greek writing, with each symbol representing a unique syllable, and includes over 100 characters, and while most represent syllables, some are logograms or ideograms representing entire words or concepts. It comes directly from Minoan script which was carried to the Greek mainland by the Mycenaean (Greeks).[1] Through language and writing, their concepts of justice and democracy were also adopted and transported from the Minoans.

Another illustrating link of cultural diffusion between the Minoans and the classical Greeks is the Greek mythology of their gods and goddesses: Zeus was born on Mount Ida on the isle of Crete. Some claim his birthplace to be Mount Dikte – the two mountains are relatively near one another, but both on Crete. Jane Ellen Harrison in Themis gives a detailed analysis not only of the place where history claims Zeus’ birthplace to be, but of the significance of the might of Zeus of Ida versus Zeus of Dikte. Hera’s birth roots, as well as other Greek deities are also placed on Crete.[2] This means that classical Greek mythology and culture was given birth and life on Minoan Crete.

Though largely ignored by androcratic biased scholars, Hesiod makes many references to a “golden race” who lived “in peaceful ease” and to whom “the fruitful earth poured forth her fruits” – all legendary memories of the Goddess-worshipping Neolithic and of Minoan Crete. The fact that in Hesiod’s mythology a male figure named Chaos is credited with the creation of the world further confirms what we already know from archaeological record: Indo-European rule was imposed through chaos by massive physical destruction and cultural disruption.[3]

In spite of the peaceful and highly civilized influence the Minoans passed on to the Greeks – their script, and concepts of democracy and justice – the Greeks were an androcratic culture where the daily life of women was dominated and ruled over by men. One of the unique and proliferate features of Greek art and sculpture is the prominence of the penis and of phallic symbols; think Hermes. Greek prowess and manliness was much revered and an erect penis was its symbol. Though the widely known fact of male-male sex in Greek culture was not only allowed but commonplace, only the role of the dominating partner was not considered shameful. The role played by the partner assuming the “woman’s role” was considered weak (and shameful).

What is clear in classical Greek culture is both the conflict and intercession of the matriarchal andandrocratic forces. Female goddesses retain their wisdom with her ancient symbol of the serpent. Asclepius became the god of healing and medicine; his symbol, the Minoan Crete Goddess serpent symbolizing wisdom, healing, and medicine to enable healing wrapped around a staff.  But reflecting the Greek idealization of war, the Goddess also came to represent war, wearing helmet and shield and bearing a spear. And while most real-life Greek women were forced into living in the gynecaeum, or women’s quarters, some upper-class women in Athens played important roles in intellectual and public life. And, of course, the priestess oracles of Delphi were women.

Quite similar to the Egyptians secondary gods and goddesses such as Isis, the Greeks, who combined their scientific investigations with their philosophic mythology, created anthropomorphic deities based on human characteristics. This is to be expected because the ancient Egyptian culture had a great deal of influence on the Greeks. And just as with the Minoans of Crete, the Greeks had centuries of intermixing with the Egyptians and ultimately became their conquerors.

Anthropomorphic goddesses of healing were very numerous; and while the feminine goddesses were generally more gentle, sympathetic, and careful not to injure mortals, the most powerful gods were masculine and far more angry, resentful, harmful and cruel than their female consorts. Demeter, a sister of Zeus, was a medical caretaker of women and children. Her daughter Kore, or Persephone, learned to be equally skillful in relieving pain, curing eye sores, and soothing the toothache of children. Other medical deities, Diana, Artemis, and Eileithyia formed the nucleus of a famous group of divine specialists in diseases of women and children and relieving the pain of women in labor. Eileithyia was the chief midwife of the gods, and it was she, high up on Mt. Titthion above Epidaurus, who attended the maiden Coronis when the baby Aesculapius (Asclepius) was born – the son of Apollo. The stories surrounding these medical goddesses probably show the reality of mortal women doctors and midwives of their times. But according to the legend of Aesculapius, the young mother left her baby in the care of a shepherd and went off with a mortal man, at which point Apollo was angry and gave the little boy to a centaur Cheiron to bring up and educate as a physician. Soon the child became so expert in healing human ills that he even brought the dead back to life; this so maddened Zeus and Pluto that they conspired to kill Aesculapius. Again Apollo saved him, and when he was of age he married Epione, by whom he had several children, all physicians; his daughters Hygeia (“Hygiene”, the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy). Hygeia and Panacea became household words for prevention of sickness with many temples erected all over Greece in their honor.[4]  The rod of Aesculapius (Asclepius) entwined with the serpent – the symbol of the Minoan Crete Goddess – is the universal symbol of medicine today.

Though there was much disruption and war during the last centuries of the Greek empire, it finally fell to Rome in 146 B.C.E., and with the death of the Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra – Egypt by then ruled by the Greeks – the Greek empire was no more.[5] The Romans would adopt much from Greek mythology, art, architecture, medicine, governing bureaucracy, and their military, though the flowering brilliance of Greek art, sculpture, architecture, and their philosophy and scientific scholarship would stagnate due to Rome’s focus on military aggression and conquest of a much expanded empire took precedence; (perhaps an ominous replication occurring in the American empire of today.)

The renowned Greek democracy, which would be replicated in much the same manner and philosophy by the Romans, and later by Jefferson and Madison in the American founding documents, excluded most of the population.  Initially excluded were males who did not own property; but regardless of property it excluded all women and slaves. Women were owned by male patriarchal authority for lineage procreation or for prostitution, and slaves were owned for labor and recreational sex. Again, it was what slaves were for – in this case, both women and men.

As it had been in Greece, aristocratic Roman male sex with the male slave was very common (as well as with women slaves and prostitutes) – the male slave serving in the forced role of the woman. The Roman baths were known for male-male sexual debauchery. Though upper class Roman women had a great deal of autonomy, freedom, and tended to be well educated, Rome was very much anandrocratic culture.  And just as in ancient Greece and Rome, in Jefferson’s and Madison’s version of democracy, women as well as slaves had no legal rights, could not vote, and could not own property; they were property.

Note: As already discussed, it wasn’t until the 20th century in the United States that women were given the right to vote. And now, in the 21st century, language espoused by the Christian fundamentalist Right and legislation being proposed by their Right-wing puppet legislators would give a zygote more personhood rights than a woman.


Janet Wise

Janet Wise