Planets/Classicals/Aion

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This central part of a large floor mosaic depicts Aion-Uranus personifying the sky. Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol.

Aion is an apparent deity seen by cultures north of Earth's equator.

Time deity[edit]

This image shows a detail from the Parabiago plate depicting Aion. Credit: Giovanni Dall'Orto.

"Aion (Greek Αἰών) is a Hellenistic deity associated with time, the orb or circle encompassing the universe, and the zodiac. The "time" represented by Aion is unbounded, in contrast to Chronos as empirical time divided into past, present, and future.[1] He is thus a god of eternity, associated with mystery religions concerned with the afterlife, such as the mysteries of Cybele, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Mithras. In Latin the concept of the deity may appear as Aevum or Saeculum.[2] He is typically in the company of an earth or mother goddess such as Tellus or Cybele, as on the Parabiago plate.[3]"[4] The picture at page right top is of Aion-Uranus.

"The snake could be a symbol of time and an element of Saturn's iconography and is associated with the snake shown coiled around the Aion deity (Beck, 1984, 2087)."[5]

"The final element in Barber’s account of the logic of immanent re-expression and the production of the new— of going beyond the given and doing so immanently, that is, without relying on or appealing to an external source or agent—is its temporal structure. For this, Barber revisits the difference between the two “ways of imagining temporal existence or of inhabiting time” (61) found in Deleuze: Chronos and Aion. For if Chronos is an infinite present, a succession that encloses time into an all-encompassing present, it offers a conception of time that renders immanent reproduction impossible. Chronos is the time of the stable succession of the actual. Only a different theory and practice of time can be adequate to the process of immanent re-expression. Aion names this alternative temporality that takes the present as a crack which is at once a becoming-future and a becoming-past. It is a moment of pure time, which interrupts time’s enclosure within homogeneity. In other words, Aion does not allow the actual to dominate the conception of time. Instead, it makes time break up the completion of the actual."[6]

Theoretical Aion[edit]

"Mithraic teaching portrays the planet [Saturn] as the cosmic man Aion, the "resting" god."[7]

Mandulis Aion[edit]

"The Roman garrison town of Talmis, now called Kalabsha, lies in Nubia a little South of the Lesser Cataracts of the Nile and was the seat of a god called Merul or Melul, a name hellenized as Mandulis. He was worshipped elsewhere in this region, as for instance in a temple of his own at Ajuala and in the temple of Petêsi and Pihor at Dendûr, and again further North at Philae, where a figure of him was in A.D. 394 sculptured on the North wall of the ‘Hadrian passage,’ but he is at Dendûr described as ‘great god, lord of Talmis,’ and Talmis was certainly the center of his cult."[8]

"He was probably a solar deity, and was commonly associated with Isis, who had a dominant position in this region.7 She takes precedence over him, as does also Osiris, in his occasional appearances in the temple reliefs."[8]

Two suns[edit]

Mithra attempts to mount the chariot of Helios. Credit: Photograph Ma. P. Burillo.
Antioch I extends his hand to Mithra. Credit: Digitalization Ma. P. Burillo.
On the left, "Aion" deity stands on a cosmic sphere and on the right, the same figure depicted in the centre of the zodiac above the head of Mithra, in the Barberini Mithraeum. Credit: Digitalization S. Hernández.
The mithraeum of Ponza (Italy) where the signs of the Zodiac are shown in a circle with the Great Bear and Ursa Minor in the centre. Credit: Digitalization Ma. P. Burillo.

"The relationship between Mithras and the sun is a constant of Mithraic imagery. In the central panels of the mithraeum depicting the tauroctony we see how Mithras turns his attention from the main event of sacrificing the bull to gaze at the sun in anthropomorphic form, which returns his gaze, always accompanied by the raven, his sacred animal."[5]

"It is in the scenes of Mithras’ life depicted in the panels surrounding the mithraeum’s tauroctony that we can see the sequence of the relationship between Mithras and the sun, as Helios. First there is a scene showing Helios’ submission. For example, in the Roman mithraeum of Barberini (CIMRM 390) Mithras is shown standing on the right-hand side of the lower scene, placing a crown on the sun, which is kneeling."[5]

"The banqueting scene that follows the one described above is more common. In all cases the two deities are depicted as equals, showing that there is true communion between them. In the relief from Alba Iulia (CIMRM 1958) the two deities appear on a triclinium. After the banquet, Mithras is portrayed [in the top image on the right] climbing onto the chariot driven by Helios."[5]

"We find representations in which Mithras is identified with the sun, although there is a clear differentiation between him, Helios and Sol. The oldest representations are from an Iranian context, as is the case of the orthostat at the Nemrut Dagi funeral sanctuary in Commagene, where Antiochus I (324-261) extends his hand to Mithras [in the second image down on the right], who is surround[ed] by the sun’s rays on his Phrygian cap (Silloti, 2006, 21). This identification with the sun is less common in Roman Mithraic scenes. It can be seen on a bronze brooch from Ostia (CIMRM 318) depicting Mithras wearing a Phrygian cap surrounded by a halo and a great crown of nine rays."[5]

"The clearest identification of Mithras with the sun is found in the many inscriptions that refer to him as Soli Invicto (Halsbergue, 1972, 79). Thus Mithras is a different solar deity from Helios."[5]

"David Ulansey (1994) puts forward an interesting hypothesis in his work Mithras and the Hypercosmic Sun, in which he identifies Mithras’ role as the “unconquered sun”, a different solar deity from Helios. This interpretation is supported by the philosophical theories of the Neoplatonists."[5]

"In Book VI of the Republic, Plato (427-347 BCE) describes the sun as the source of all enlightenment and understanding of everything that exists in the visible world. He amplifies this image in Book VII with the metaphor of the myth of the caves, in which he likens normal human life to living in a cave."[5]

"Plato complemented this myth in Phaedrus, in which he makes the destination of immortal souls a realm beyond the heavens (Hackforth, 1952)."[5]

"The prolific philosopher Philo (15/10 BCE - 45/50 BCE) later developed the concept of “hypercosmic sun” in a passage from De Opificio Mundi. The existence of two suns was still being defended by Julian in the Chaldaean Oracles of the second century where, in certain unnamed mysteries, it was taught that “the sun travels in the starless heavens far above the region of the fixed stars” (Lewy, 1978)."[5]

"In view of these testimonies David Ulansey defends a striking parallel with the Mithraic evidence, in which we also find two suns, one being Helios the sun-god (who is always distinguished from Mithras in the iconography) and the other being Mithras in his role as the “unconquered sun”. He reiterates this proposal in his article ‘The Eighth Gate: The Mithraic Lion-Headed Figure and the Platonic World-Soul’, in which he analyses the central scene of the Barberini mithraeum (CIMRM 390). The tauroctony appears under an arch formed by the signs of the zodiac. Above the arch there are a number of fires separated by trees. There is also a figure with a snake coiled around it; this figure links the two layers and stands on a globe located in the middle of the zodiac while his body penetrates into the upper level. The head, unseen, is at the height of the fires [third image down on the right]. This is the Aion figure that stands on the cosmic sphere holding a key in his right hand (CIMRM 543) or with the zodiac inscribed on his body (CIMRM 879). Its position in the Barberini zodiac is explained, according to Ulansey, by Origen (185-254) in his work Contra Celsum. Celsus describes a Mithraic symbol consisting of a ladder with seven gates, each associated with one of the seven planets, while at the top there is an eighth gate associated with the sphere of the fixed stars leading to the region beyond that sphere (Chadwik, 1953, VI:22)."[5]

"We now have the complete iconographic reading, where Mithras ascends on Helios’ chariot to the limit of the sphere of the fixed stars which he alone is capable of penetrating; he becomes the Aion figure in order to reach the fiery sphere referred to by Greek philosophers such as Parmenides and Anaxagoras. The fiery sphere would equate with the “hypercosmic sun” and even survives in Catholic theology as “Empyrean”, the highest heaven or Paradise, the abode of God [in the last image down on the right] and the celestial beings described in Dante’s Divine Comedy (Dante, 1876, 193)."[5]

Prehistory[edit]

Main sources: History/Prehistory and Prehistory

The prehistory period dates from around 7 x 106 b2k to about 7,000 b2k.

Paleolithic[edit]

The paleolithic period dates from around 2.6 x 106 b2k to the end of the Pleistocene around 12,000 b2k.

Mesolithic[edit]

The mesolithic period dates from around 13,000 to 8,500 b2k.

Ancient history[edit]

The ancient history period dates from around 8,000 to 3,000 b2k.

"The presence of the doctrine of the engkephalos in the Homeric texts seems well established, as it is taken for granted, or treated as a given; therefore, its origin may extend far back in the Homeric tradition, which is known to contain elements that go back at least as far as the fifteenth century B.C. In fact, there is some evidence that the serpent-marrow-seed-soul identity was already in place in the Minoan-Mycenaean period,15"[9]

"There is an Egyptian antecedent for the idea of attaining salvation or enlightenment through ascending the spine. In the myth in which Osiris climbs to heaven on the spinal column of his mother, the goddess Nut, the vertebrae are used as the rungs of a ladder.17"[9]

"Line drawing of a Babylonian cylinder seal, ca. 2000 B.C. Shows upright male figure surrounded by intertwined serpents."[9]

"It also has been argued that there are hints of the doctrine in Sumerian iconography, specifically in the image of the entwined serpents, famously found on the "Gudea Vase," circa 2300 B.C. [...] and the upright figure surrounded or flanked by intertwined serpents, much as in the tantric iconography of the "serpent power" [...].18"[9]

"Akkadian cylinder seal impression from Tell Asmar, ca. 2350 B.C. Illustrates enthroned male deity flanked by pairs of intertwined serpents."[9]

Early history[edit]

Main sources: History/Early and Early history

The early history period dates from around 3,000 to 2,000 b2k.

Time associated with Aion during the early Helenistic period around 2300 b2k is unbounded or seasonal, an ever repeating cycle, rather than past, present, and future.[1]

"Son schéma de composition, ä abord, renvoie à des antécédents africains du lIe s. ; et les attributs d' Aïon (en particulier les fruits) évoquent Ie dieu régional Saeculum Frugiferum, d' ailleurs aussi représenté souvent comme maître du Cosmos. Associé au zodiaque et point focal du groupe des Saisons avec leurs symboles, Aïon/Annus personnifze I' année prolifique et, par-delà, Ie cycle infini du temps avec Ie renouvellement perpétuel de la nature, gage de prospérité universelle."[10] Here, Aion is often depicted as master of the Cosmos. It is associated with the zodiac and the focal point of the seasons. Aion/Annus personalize a prolific year and beyond; i.e., an endless cycle of time with a perpetual renewal of nature and a universal guarantee of prosperity.

"Aion apparently played a role in the Eleusinian mysteries, as evidenced by a dedicatory inscription on the base of a statue dated to the first century BCE at the Koreion.13"[11]

"The association of the spinal marrow with the word aion, meaning "life" or "life span," in a fragment of the Orphic or Orphic-influenced poet Pindar, affirms the Orphic associations of the teaching. Aion, according to later writers, was an Orphic name for Dionysus, the divine element expressed as sexual power.11 Heraclitus, himself very influenced by Orphism, seems also to have taught the retention of semen and a qualified sexual abstinence. 12 Diogenes of Apollonia (DK 64B6), living probably on the Black Sea in the fifth century B.C., also held the doctrine of the spinal channel with the two surrounding "veins" and of the connection between the spinal channel and the testicles."[9]

"At least as early as Democritus (perhaps born circa 460 B.C.), the engkephalos was believed to issue forth in sexual intercourse (DK 68B32), and the term may have been partly interchangable with aion, which Homer describes (Odyssey 5.160) as "the sweet aion flowing down."[9]

Classical history[edit]

The classical history period dates from around 2,000 to 1,000 b2k.

"A more significant difference, however, between the known type and the new variant is the Greek inscription appearing in the exergue, partly visible only on the coins of Gordianus III [around 251-3, or 1749-1747 b2k]. The inscription reads AIωN, the ancient allegory of ‘eternal time.’3"[11]

"Nonnus [sometime between 1700-1600 b2k] compared Aion to a serpent when he wrote: “... he (Aion) would put off the burden of age, like a snake throwing off the rope-like slough of his feeble old scales, and grow young again bathed in the waves of Law” (Dion. 41:180–184)."[11]

Both Aion (Ouranus and Chronos) are described as having rings around them like Saturn of today. This suggests that one Aion transformed into the next Chronos.

"In his description about the origin of the Universe, Eusebius (Praep. evang. 1:10.7) describes Aion as a mortal, born from the wind Kolpias and his wife Baaut (Nyx, the night) and brother of Protogonos (Eros/Phanes)."[11]

"Eusebius [about 1740-1660 b2k] further explains that Aion discovered the nourishment of the flora and was father of Genos and Genea who would dwell in Phoenicia. From the race of Aion and Protogonos, the mortal infants Phos (Light), Pyr (Fire) and Phlox (flame) were born, who invented fire (Levi 1944:278). Being the son of a Wind, Aion was invoked as god of the four winds in magical texts and was also associated with the Seasons (Levi 1944:296)."[11]

"According to an Egyptian tradition, Aion was identified with Serapis, the god of the dead, appearing in an image encircled by a serpent (Cumont 1899:79 and n. 8; Pettazzoni 1954a). This assimilation with the Egyptian god might also be related to a festival in Alexandria that took place on the night of January 5th, where an image of Aion was carried at the Koreion, in order to celebrate his birth from Kore. This rite is described by Epiphanius [c. 1690–1680 – 1597 b2k] (Panarion, 51:22, 3–11).14"[11]

"Based on the same passage in Epiphanius, Pettazzoni focused attention on another pagan festival, called the Kronia, the birthday feast of Chronos (as sun), which fell on December 25th, coinciding with the winter solstice. For Pettazzoni both Aion and Chronos are two different representations of an ancient conception of endless Time that derive ultimately from a sun-god (1954a:172–176).15"[11]

"Following his description of the birth of Aion in Alexandria, Epiphanius writes about the birth of Dushara in Petra and Elusa.16 Based on this text, Patrich established a connection between the allegory of Aion and the god Dionysus, through his Nabatean assimilation Dushara (Patrich 2005). He further suggested an association between Aion/Dushara (Dousares) with the emperor’s cult and Roman eternity [...]."[11]

"The many difficulties, presented above, in understanding Aion were summarized well by Guthrie: “... it is likely that Orphism from an early date owed much to the Persian worship of Zervân (Aion to the Greeks), in the form of an assimilation to him either of their own Chronos or of Phanes-Dionysus” (Guthrie 1935:228)."[11]

Recent history[edit]

Main sources: History/Recent and Recent history

The recent history period dates from around 1,000 b2k to present.

Hypotheses[edit]

Main source: Hypotheses
  1. All versions of Aion are Ouranus the original binary stellar companion of the Sun.
  2. What is left of Aion includes Uranus.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Doro Levi (1944). "Aion". Hesperia 13 (4): 274. 
  2. Levi, "Aion," p. 274.
  3. Levi, "Aion," p.
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1 at line 3505: bad argument #1 to 'pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 M Pilar Burillo-Cuadrado and Francisco Burillo-Mozota (2014). "The Swastika as Representation of the Sun of Helios and Mithras". Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 14 (3): 29-36. http://maajournal.com/Issues/2014/Vol14-3/Full3.pdf. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  6. Alex Dubilet (2014). "Daniel Colucciello Barber, Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence (Edinburgh University Press, 2014)". Parrhesia (20): 116-20. http://parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia20/parrhesia20_dubilet.pdf. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  7. Julius Schwabe and B. Schwabe (1951). Archetyp und Tierkreis: Grundlinien einer Kosmischen Symbolik und Mythologie. pp. 663. https://books.google.com/books?id=S-3WAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume. Retrieved 2017-08-04. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Arthur Darby Nock (January 1934). "A vision of Mandulis Aion". Harvard Theological Review 27 (01): 53-104. doi:10.1017/S0017816000021398. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7820516&fileId=S0017816000021398. Retrieved 2015-05-20. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Thomas McEvilley (Autumn 1993). "The Spinal Serpent". Anthropology and Aesthetics (24): 67-77. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20166880. Retrieved 2016-04-26. 
  10. David Parrish (1995). "The mosaic of Aion and the seasons from Haïdra (Tunisia): an interpretation of its meaning and importance". Antiquité Tardive 3: 167-91. doi:10.1484/J.AT.2.301095. http://www.brepolsonline.net/doi/abs/10.1484/J.AT.2.301095?journalCode=at. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 Gabriela Bijovsky (February 2007). "AION: A Cosmic Allegory on a Coin from Tyre?". Israel Numismatic Research 2: 143-56. http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30897613/INR-2_Bijovsky_AION.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1443126395&Signature=Wc3n5vaOl4JW%2BBAba6pVLaVWyYs%3D&response-content-disposition=inline. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 

External links[edit]

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