Once again, it’s time for History Channel to trot out its “Ancient Aliens” series, which is apparently popular enough for them to run it a couple times a year. I am always surprised that HC continues to do so, since it is likely that they have received many complaints from professional scholars and scientists, as well as assorted other skeptics.
Whenever I’m flipping through channels and come across the program, I usually stop because of the images of archaeological sites, some of which have fascinated me since childhood. Indeed, it is because of such amazing ruins and artifacts that I studied archaeology in college and did post-graduate work with the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. Having attended a college semester in Greece and later a year there as an alumna of ASCSA, I spent a great deal of time around the ancient sites of that country. Possessing a degree in Classics, Greek Civilization, and knowing the language fairly well, I have a pretty good grasp of the history and culture of Greece, including its religion and mythology.
In fact, I’ve been studying Greek mythology since I was a child, and I can tell you that the Greek gods were not aliens, not ancient astronauts, not “real people,” whether human or extraterrestrial. The Greek gods, like those of many other cultures globally, revolved significantly around nature, including celestial bodies like the sun, moon, planets, stars and constellations. This sky-oriented worship has been called astral religion, astromythology and astrotheology.
Despite all the excitation associated with the concept of “ancient aliens,” the fact will remain that there was no need to guess at what the ancient gods and goddesses represented, as those who created them were quite clear that they symbolized significantly the celestial bodies and natural forces, such as the wind, water, sea, foliage, animals and so on. For example, we know that the Greek god Helios is a sun god, not an alien, as was his later counterpart Apollo, whose chariot represents the path of the sun, not a spacecraft. I cringed in embarrassment when I heard the “Ancient Aliens” show try to lay claim to Apollo as an extraterrestrial. Apollo is an extraterrestrial only in the sense that the sun is not part of this world, but assuredly he is a sun god, not a “little green man.”
Macrobius and the Sun Gods
The same can be said of numerous other deities from antiquity, who in many respects are significantly solar. Again, we have known this fact since ancient times, as stated clearly by such writers as the Latin author Macrobius. While Macrobius wrote in the fourth century AD/CE, he was recounting very ancient traditions that can be traced throughout the extant literary and archaeological record. As an example of the solar nature of the ancient deities, reflecting the fact that they are often syncretized with each other, in his book Saturnalia Macrobius (1.18.7) discussed not only Apollo but also several other deities as sun gods:
…given the earlier proof that Apollo and the sun are the same, and the subsequent demonstration that father Liber [Dionysus/Bacchus] is the same as Apollo, there can be no doubt but that the sun and father Liber must be considered aspects of the same godhead… They observe the holy mystery in the rites by calling the sun Apollo when it is in the upper (that is, daytime) hemisphere; when it is in the lower (that is, night-time) hemisphere, it is considered Dionysus, who is Liber.
Here we can see that the Greek god Dionysus/Bacchus possesses the same role as the Egyptian god Osiris, the sun of the night or “underworld.”
Macrobius (1.18.9-10) cites depictions of Dionysus, including as symbolically representing the winter solstice, “like the image the Egyptians bring out from its shrine on a fixed date, with the appearance of a small infant, since it’s the shortest day.” Other Bacchic images represent the equinoxes and summer solstice, the latter wearing a long beard indicating the length of the day.
“The sun is the mind of the cosmic order.”
More proofs of Dionysus’s solar nature can be found in Macrobius, including citations of older texts such as the Orphic hymns. The name Sabazius or Sebazius is explained (1.18.11) as denoting the Thracian sun god, equated with Dionysus. Moreover, the “physical scientists” explain that Dionysus is the “mind of Zeus,” because “the sun is the mind of the cosmic order…”
Zeus, Hades, Helios and Dionysus
We also learn from Macrobius (1.18.18) a neat summation traditionally ascribed to the Greek hero Orpheus:
εἷς Ζεύς, εἷς Ἀίδης, εἷς Ἥλιος, εἷς Διόνυσος.
One Zeus, one Hades, one Helios, one Dionysus.
“One Zeus, one Hades, one Helios, one Dionysus.”
Again, the god Helios is the sun, which is the meaning of his name. Hence, all of these gods are equated with the sun.
We discover further that, by the authority of the “sacred verses” of the oracle of Apollo of Claros, another name is likewise given to the sun: Iao. Says Macrobius (1.18.19-20):
For when Apollo of Claros was asked, concerning the god called Iaô, which of the gods he should be considered, Apollo replied as follows:
Those who know the mysteries should conceal things not to be sought.
But if your understanding is slight, your mind feeble, say that the greatest god of all is Iaô:
Hades in winter, Zeus at the start of spring, the sun in summer, delicate Iacchos [=Dionysos] in the fall.
Macrobius (1.18.21) cites earlier writer Cornelius Labeo as identifying “father Liber and the sun as Iaô.”
As concerns this name “Iao,” Macrobius editor Dr. Robert A. Kaster remarks:
Derived from Yahu, a form of the sacred name of the Jewish God, “Iaô” appears in syncretizing contexts, as here, in Gnostic texts, and as a name to conjure with in the magical papyri.
Thus, we discover that Yahu or Yahweh, the Jewish tribal war god, is equated with Iao and is therefore also solar.
There is much more to this fascinating subject, which can be found in my books, articles, blogs, forums, radio programs and videos. Suffice it to say, I am more than willing to help History Channel in creating a series that examines the real meaning and origin of the ancient gods: To wit, they revolve around nature worship and astrotheology.
(Note that the title of this blog reflects an old movie, “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”)
Who are the Anunnaki?
Yahweh and the Sun
Jesus as the Sun throughout History
Astrotheology of the Ancients
The Astrotheological Origins of Christianity
Astronomically Aligned Ancient Sites
Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled
Why do the Maya believe Christ is the sun?
Are UFOs and Aliens Real?
— Religion and History (@AcharyaS) January 10, 2014