Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Spatiotemporal Dialectic of Capitalism, Part I: Abstract, Newtonian Time

Scaffolding around St. Stephen's Tower, which would house the famous Big Ben clock (1857)

The Origin of Modernist and Eclecticist Architecture out of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, Part I: The Spatiotemporal Dialectic of Capitalism

* * * *


To understand the history of architectural modernism and eclecticism as they originated out of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one must take into account the broader development of architecture over the course of the latter half of the nineteenth century. This development, in turn, must be seen as emerging from the dynamic of late nineteenth-century capitalism, which had by that point extended to encompass the whole of Europe. For it was the unique spatiotemporal dialectic of the capitalist mode of production — along with the massive social and technological forces it unleashed — that formed the basis for the major architectural ideologies that arose during this period. Before the story of the academicians or the avant-garde can be told, then, some background is necessary to explain both their origin and the eventual trajectory they would take into the early twentieth century.

So while my aim is to eventually account for how a single social formation, capitalism, can give birth to these two opposite tendencies within architectural thought, the space required to give an adequate exposition of the spatiotemporal dialectic of capitalism is such that it deserves to function as a standalone essay. Certainly other trends, both cultural and social, could be understood as reflections of this underlying socioeconomic dynamic. It is thus my intention to post this as its own piece, before then proceeding to detail the way in which architectural modernism and eclecticism mirrored these dynamics.

The Cyclolinear Temporality of Capital

I. The Temporal Dialectic of Capitalism

Capitalism does odd things to time. On the one hand, it standardized the measurement of time to obey the artificial pulse of the mechanical clock. This standardization was at the same time part of a larger project of rationalization that took place under the auspices of capitalism as it spread throughout Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For the first time in history, society was synchronized according to a single regime of time; its movement was as clockwork. This new temporal order replaced the traditional system of timekeeping, based as it was on the arbitrariness of convention and the natural cycles of the changing seasons and daylight. This sort of time, abstracted from all events that might take place under its watch, can be referred to as Newtonian time — pure, uniform, untainted by the messiness of historical change.

On the other hand, however, capitalism after a certain point seems to generate a new sense of historical consciousness separate from the abstract, Newtonian time with which it coincides. This is brought about by an underlying dynamic inherent in the composition of capital itself, located specifically in its value-dimension. For once capital began to revolutionize the basis of production in pursuit of what Marx termed “relative surplus-value,” a series of accelerating social and technological innovations began to send down shockwaves throughout the rest of society. This was experienced as a corresponding sequence of convulsive social transformations, continuously uprooting the time-honored organic social relations that preceded the rise of capitalism. As the process of capitalist production developed further into the early nineteenth century, this dynamic became more and more pronounced. Since these successive transformations could now be seen as occurring within the space of a single generation, a new consciousness of time arose around the notion of progressive “phases,” “stages,” or “epochs” of history. Opposed to both the mode of abstract time manifested by capitalism as well as the kind of historical temporality that preceded it, this can be referred to as historical time as it exists under capitalism.

The precise way in which capitalism gave birth to these two opposite modes of understanding time will be elucidated in the following. Their connection to the styles of architecture that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries will only be possible after the elaboration of both the temporal and the spatial dialectics of capitalism have been completed.

The Decimal Clock from Fritz Lang's Metropolis

A. Abstract, Newtonian Time

Before the advent of capitalism, the workday was regulated by the organic rhythms of sunup and sundown, by the rooster’s crow and the dim fade into twilight. Time was measured, not by the mechanical regularity of the clock, but by much more arbitrary and conventional standards. For example, in seventeenth-century Chile, “the cooking-time of an egg could be judged by an Ave Maria said aloud.”[1] Even at the level of months and days, the calendar was less important than the events that occupied it. Planting-time, harvest-time, and the celebration of religious and secular holidays — these were the patterns by which precapitalist societies understood the passage of time. “In terms of the human organism itself,” observed Lewis Mumford, “mechanical time is even more foreign: while human life has regularities of its own, the beat of the pulse, the breathing of the lungs, these change from hour to hour with mood and action.”[2] The digital precision of time-measurement, to which we have become so accustomed today, would have been an utterly foreign concept to a person born prior to the rise of capitalism.

The mechanical calculation of time can be traced to the fourteenth century, when public clocks were mounted in cities and large commercial towns. Their impact on society at this point was still limited, however; the clocks’ accuracy was often in question. Some improvements were made in the seventeenth century with the introduction of the pendulum in the grandfather clock by Christiaan Huygens in 1656, which allowed for the isochronous measurement of time. Still, their circulation throughout society remained minimal.[3] The broader dissemination of chronometric devices took place in the first half of the eighteenth century, and only then it was the typically the gentry who would own a pocket-watch, as a symbol of their status. But it was the industrial revolution that first made the exact measurement of time socially universal. As Mumford explained, “[t]he popularization of time-keeping, which followed the production of the cheap standardized watch, first in Geneva, was essential to a well-articulated system of transportation and production.”[4] The British Marxist E.P. Thompson verified Mumford’s claim when he later wrote: “Indeed, a general diffusion of clocks and watches is occurring (as one would expect) at the exact moment when the industrial revolution demanded a greater synchronization of labour.”[5]

And why was the precise measurement of time so vital to a society founded on the exchange of commodities? Why did the workday have to be so artificially broken down into abstract units of time? For exactly the reason Marx explained when he wrote that

A use-value, or useful article…has value only because abstract human labour is objectified [vergegenständlicht] or materialized in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured? By means of the quantity of the “value-forming substance,” the labour, contained in the article. This quantity is measured by its duration, and the labour-time is itself measured on the particular scale of hours, days, etc. [my emphasis]

Of course, this duration is not determined by how long it takes this or that particular individual to complete the production of a commodity. “What exclusively determines the magnitude of the value of any article,” Marx then continued, “is therefore the amount of labour socially necessary, or the labour-time socially necessary for its production.”[6] Marx makes it clear that this time is abstract, in the sense that value is determined by the time necessary to produce a commodity through abstract, homogeneous human labor.[7]

And indeed, as Thompson demonstrates, it is no coincidence that the exact monitoring of time was increasingly enforced as the industrial revolution gathered steam. At both school as in work, lateness or tardiness of any sort were to be penalized with greater severity. Ringing bells were installed in the schools to indicate to students when one period was to end and another to begin. Workers were obligated to “punch in” with mechanical devices to keep them honest about the amount of time they had worked. A new ethos of timeliness, punctuality, and efficiency was encouraged. “In all these ways — by the division of labour; the supervision of labour; fines; bells and clocks; money incentives; preachings and schoolings; the suppression of fairs and sports — new labour habits were formed, and a new time-discipline was imposed.”[8] But the students and workers did not at first bend willingly to this new regime of time. The shift from the traditional, less methodical time required to complete a specific task (which Thompson called the “task-orientation”), to a strictly-regulated pace of work was not an easy transition. “The onslaught, from so many directions, upon the people’s old working habits was not, of course, uncontested,” recorded Thompson. “In the first stage, we find simple resistance. But, in the next stage, as the new time-discipline is imposed, so the workers begin to fight, not against time, but about it.”[9]

This fight about time would culminate, of course, in the struggle for the regular ten-hour workday, which Marx documented at length in Capital. Reacting to the outrage of the working class over the “spurious ‘system of relays’,” the British government mandated that clocks be readily visible to the workers to ensure that they were not made to work over the ten-hour limit: “‘The time shall be regulated by a public clock,’ for example the nearest railway clock, by which the factory clock is to be set. The manufacturer has to hang up a ‘legible’ printed notice stating the hours for the beginning and ending of work and the pauses allowed for meals.”[10] Because capital had previously sought mainly to maximize the amount of surplus-value obtained from labor simply by extending the number of hours worked as far beyond the value paid for the labor-process, i.e., through absolute surplus-value,[11] members of the working class were gradually made to work inhuman lengths of time.[12] Whereas before the working-class had objected to the strict regimentation of time-measurement in their labor, the struggle of the working class to restrict the number of hours they could be legally made to work entailed a certain acceptance of this new regime of time. “The history of the regulation of the working day in certain branches of production, and the struggle still going on in others over this regulation,” wrote Marx, “prove conclusively that the isolated worker, the worker as ‘free’ seller of his labour-power, succumbs without resistance once capitalist production has reached a certain stage of maturity.”[13] No longer did the spirit of the worker revolt against the close monitoring of his time. Thus did the worker (and urban society in general) internalize the new temporal order.

Here it may be worthwhile to briefly reflect on the way capitalism transforms the temporal dimension of social experience. On the one hand, it homogenizes time into a set of quantitatively equivalent metric units — minutes, seconds, hours, days. These units are effectively interchangeable; one minute lasts exactly the same duration as any other minute, regardless of the time of day. Such time, abstracted from any concrete events or occurrences that may take place in that time, is essentially universal — devoid of any particulars or peculiarities.[14] It is Newtonian time: pure, repetitive, and scientific. It is unsullied by natural or historical accidence. As the Marxist theoretician Moishe Postone puts it,

“Abstract time,”…by which I mean uniform, continuous, homogeneous, “empty” time, is independent of events. The conception of abstract time, which became increasingly dominant in Western Europe between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, was expressed most emphatically in Newton’s formulation of “absolute, true and mathematical time [which] flows equably without relation to anything external.”[15]

This time is, moreover, also cyclical. Of course, it cannot be claimed that nature has no cycles or rhythms of its own; but these natural cycles are organic and matters of quality. The artificial cycles of abstract time are mathematic and matters of quantity. Every day has twenty-four hours, and every hour sixty minutes. Each minute in turn has sixty seconds, and all these remain invariable quantities. Once one minute is over, another begins, and once an hour has passed another has started. Such is the nature of abstract, cyclical time.

All this is well and good conceptually, but when historically did this new sense of time-consciousness become normalized? At what point did the majority of society come to march to the tick of a synchronous clock? Our investigation thus far has suggested that it became increasingly prevalent and normative along with the contiguous spread of capitalism during the industrial revolution. But this brings us into a longstanding debate within the study of horology. To this point, it would seem that we have downplayed or dismissed the prior invention of the clock, such that our treatment of the subject has failed to acknowledge the longue durée of timekeeping itself. But there is often a great disconnect between the mere moment an innovation occurs and the generalization of its consequences to the rest of society. “Although abstract time arose socially in the late Middle Ages, it did not become generalized until much later,” asserts Postone. “Not only did rural life continue to be governed by the rhythms of the seasons, but even in the towns, abstract time impinged directly upon only the lives of merchants and the relatively small number of wage earners.”[16] Only later did this profoundly ahistorical mode of thinking about time arise historically, as part of the deep social transformations that were taking place at the time. The compulsion to synchronize the whole of society only took effect with the advent of capitalism. As Postone writes emphatically, “[t]he tyranny of time in capitalist society is a central dimension of the Marxian categorial analysis.”[17]

By the middle part of the nineteenth century, this form of time-consciousness, or time-discipline, had spread to virtually all of the more mature capitalist nations in Europe and America. Over the course of the latter half of the century, this way of timekeeping exercised an ever-greater degree of control over the thinking and behavior of the citizens of these nations. Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, the practice of time-discipline would be apotheosized in its most systematic form by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who advocated a mode of scientific oversight and monitoring of all time-expenditure of employees. In his Principles of Scientific Management, he wrote that “[t]he enormous saving of time and therefore increase in the output which it is possible to effect through eliminating unnecessary motions and substituting fast for slow and inefficient motions for the men working in any of our trades can be fully realized only after one has personally seen the improvement which results from a thorough motion and time study, made by a competent man.”[18] At this point, the exactitude of one’s use of time was to be internalized and automated to the utmost degree, leading to an ideal of the standardization of all labor. The most thorough practitioners of Taylor’s theory, the husband-and-wife tandem of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, thus wrote: “Through motion study and fatigue study and the accompanying time study, we have come to know the capabilities of the worker, the demands of the work, the fatigue that the worker suffers at the work, and the amount and nature of the rest required to overcome the fatigue.”[19]


[1] Thompson, E.P. “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” From Past & Present 38. (1967). Pg. 58.

[2] Mumford, Lewis. Technics and Civilization. (University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL: 2010). Pg. 15.

[3] Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Pgs. 63-65.

[4] Mumford, Technics and Civilization. Pg. 17.

[5] Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Pg. 69.

[6] Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Translated by Ben Fowkes. (Penguin Books. New York, NY: 1982). Pg. 129.

[7] “In order to act as such a mirror of value, tailoring itself must reflect nothing apart from its own abstract quality of being human labour.” Ibid., pg. 150.

[8] Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Pg. 90.

[9] Ibid,. pg 85.

[10] Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Pg. 394.

[11] “[T]he value of labour­power, and the value which that labour-power valorizes [verwertet] in the labour-process, are two entirely different magnitudes ; and this difference was what the capitalist had in mind when he was purchasing the labour-power.” Ibid., pg. 300. Marx later provides the formula for the rate of absolute surplus value as (surplus labor/necessary labor), or (s/v). Ibid., pg. 326.

[12] “We see then that, leaving aside certain extremely elastic restrictions, the nature of commodity exchange itself imposes no limit to the working day, no limit to surplus labour. The capitalist maintains his rights as a purchaser when he tries to make the working day as long as possible, and, where possible, to make two working days out of one.” Ibid., pg. 344.

[13] Ibid., pg. 412.

[14] “Before the rise and development of modern, capitalist society in Western Europe, dominant conceptions of time were of various forms of concrete time: time was not an autonomous category, independent of events, hence, it could be determined qualitatively, as good or bad, sacred or profane.” Postone, Moishe. Time, Labor, and Social Domination. (Cambridge University Press. New York, NY: 1993). Pg. 201.

[15] Ibid., pg. 202.

[16] Ibid., pg. 212.

[17] Ibid., pg. 214.

[18] Taylor, Frederick Winslow. The Principles of Scientific Management. From The Early Sociology of Management and Organizations, Volume 1: Scientific Management. (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. New York, NY: 2005). Pg. 129. My emphases.

[19] Gilbreth, Frank and Gilbreth, Lillian. Applied Motion Study: A Collection of Papers on the Efficient Method to Industrial Preparedness. (Sturgis & Walton Company. New York, NY: 1917). Pgs. 14-15.

Read the Rest Here, or Wait for the Next Installment



Ross Wolfe said...

I'd like to thank Ren again for letting me post this here. This piece is a little more abstract/theoretical/historical, but I hope some will still find it interesting.

Again, Ren, I'm interested what your taken on my analysis is.

Ross Wolfe said...

So would you want me to post it in segments?

Frank Partisan said...

Usually something this long, should be in segments. I think this time, it'll be ok.

I'll comment tomorrow.

troutsky said...

Ross: When you say "natural cycles are organic and matters of quality" is that quality factor directly related to efficiency? To values of well spent and poorly spent? Just wondering about subjective criteria.

This is just a philosophical point I find interesting, the basic argument is sound and rigorously thought out.

Ross Wolfe said...

Thanks for the compliment, and for the question.

No, the quality factor is not related to efficiency, in this case. What I meant was that natural cycles are differentiated by qualitative changes in the environment from day to day. When the sun rises and when the sun sets vary from day to day, with longer days approaching summer, and longer nights approaching winter. Other qualitative factors are like rain or snow, sunny or cloudy, etc.

Before the advent of strict chronometric time-measurement, a person's work would largely be dictated by these natural, qualitative factors. Indeed, the very rhythm of a town or village might be drastically changed depending on the weather, the temperature, the length of days, or the shifting of seasons.

Of course, these natural factors still have some effect down to the present day. If you have a business meeting scheduled for 6:30pm, you probably have to be there whether it's light or dark, raining or snowing or not. Perhaps if it's a really severe snowstorm or blizzard the meeting might be canceled, but otherwise, you must obey the dictates of the clock, no matter what the conditions.

Ross Wolfe said...

I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts, Ren.

Frank Partisan said...

I love the part about time.

We've had the discussion before, but the idea that imperialism is different than Lenin's time. He lived in a different era, when colonialism was still a method of conquest, but his analysis was far sighted.

I like the part about is building infrastructure, in a poor country, something we should oppose? Your answer was good. Not often voiced.

Today is also an age of small imperialists as Brazil and Israel.

Troutsky: This post is up your ally.

Speedy G said...

I'm not sure there's enough water left in my clepsydra to read this entire article now... I'll have to return after a non-seasonal monsoon refills it. :(

Larry Gambone said...

I haven't read this article or the succeeding one yet, but intend to take the time to do so. Looks interesting. Note also that none of our regular righties have commented. Too complex for them?

Speedy G said...

Oooops. They just sounded eight bells. I wonder what longitude we've made since leaving port. I know I've flipped that silly hourglass at least a hundred times since leaving port.

OMG, a GPS would be nice to have about now. If only a "capitalist" would invent one.

Speedy G said...

Hmmm. A gazillion femotseconds have passed since my last posting. My capitalist obsession is driving me to smaller and smaller divisions of time...

Oh wait, does this mean capitalism gets credit for all the scientific advancements in the world since the floof when Noah defaced G_d's cubit by substituting an oak rudder for one of gopher wood?

Speedy G said...

What's next Ross? A post on how the length of the king's foot directly lead to capitalist exploitation of the working man, and his "thumb's width" the patriarchy?

Speedy G said...

“Through motion study and fatigue study and the accompanying time study, we have come to know the capabilities of the worker, the demands of the work, the fatigue that the worker suffers at the work, and the amount and nature of the rest required to overcome the fatigue.”

It's a shame that no one knew that before capitalism. It could have saved the life of that poor guy that ran all the way from Marathon to Athens to deliver the results of that infamous battle! I wonder how many horses they killed trying to get the mail through by pony express.

Speedy G said...

I can't imagine just "where" the devilish capitalist idea for a watch/clock came from... can you?

Ross Wolfe said...


I look forward to your insight and opinions.

Speedy G,

As I note in the article, the invention of the clock antedated capitalism by several centuries. My argument is that the more general regimentation of society came only with the advent and intensification of the capitalist mode of production.

Also, while I know that time-discipline was initially resisted by most workers (the same way that the Luddite workers smashed their machines), eventually they became dependent on it as well for legislation that would ensure a regular workday. And far from saying that this abstract time has had only a negative effect, I actually believe it was well "worthwhile" in terms of increasing productivity and the efficiency of production.

Thersites said...

My argument is that the more general regimentation of society came only with the advent and intensification of the capitalist mode of production.

I'm not buying it. Then who built the pyramids?

The Jews... for all the gold in Egypt? lol! :)

No, there have always been highly regimented societies. The Incans were but one. And throughout history they have ALL demanded the mita or labour tax to pay for their building projects. Just as the USSR did in days past, and China will in days future.

The only difference today under "capitalism" is that people today are getting PAID for it.

Thersites said...

On the Persian "inventors" of money...

Darius the Great moved the capital from Pasargadae to Persepolis,[43] he revolutionized the economy by placing it on a silver and gold coinage system also introducing a regulated and sustainable tax system that was precisely tailored to each satrapy, based on their supposed productivity and their economic potential. For instance, Babylon was assessed for the highest amount and for a startling mixture of commodities – 1000 silver talents, four months supply of food for the army. India clearly, was already fabled for its gold; the province (consisting of the sindh and western punjab regions of ancient northwestern India) was to supply gold dust equal in value to the very large amount of 4680 silver talents. Egypt was known for the wealth of its crops; it was to be the granary of the Persian Empire (as later of Rome's) and was required to provide 120,000 measures of grain in addition to 700 talents of silver. This was exclusively a tax levied on subject peoples.[44] Other accomplishments of Darius' reign included codification of the data, a universal legal system, and construction of a new capital at Persepolis.

Thersites said...

Capitalism is merely a veil that equalizes every exchange of man's labour, no more, no less. Blame it all on Candaules. ;)

Ross Wolfe said...

There can be forms of regimentation other than time-regimentation. This article is specifically focused on time-regimentation. The minute hand on most clocks didn't even appear until the early 18th century, and only became more broadly disseminated at the turn of the 19th century.

The funniest thing about this one right-winger (Speedy G, -FJ, Thersites, and the "AbsoluteMarxist") is that all of his pseudonyms are so easily identified by his complete inability to leave a single comment without following it with a string of at least two to three other comments, haha

Speedy G said...

The Roman army, in making and breaking camp daily and trailing Hannibal around Italy, wasn't concerned with "time-regimentation" because they didn't have mechanical watches? And the drummers who beat "times" for the oarsmen on their triremes didn't care either?

That's a hell of a tough argument you're trying to make.

ps - Unlike a Marxist, I make no attempt to disguise my multiple web identities. Jealous?

Speedy G said...

Niether the concepts of productivity nor a "measured" and/or "beneficial" use of time are "capitalist inventions".

Else no one would care when the water ran out of the clepsydra, it would have served no purpose.

Speedy G said...

Chronos overthrew Ouranos and became "king" of the gods until Zeus threw him over.

Could a king of the gods EVER be considered incosequential?

Ross Wolfe said...

Speedy G,

1. I acknowledged that the invention of many of these things, time-measurement and efficiency, for example, preceded capitalism by a good long while. The generalization of these inventions and their ever-increasing exactitude are both bound up with the rise of capitalism, especially when one gets to industrialism.

2. Chronos was king of the Titans, not the gods.

3. Zeus castrated Chronos with a sickle, and thew his balls into the ocean. The foam of ocean waves coming into shore was supposedly the result of his (literal) dissemination. Zeus was king of the gods.

4. You're a fucking idiot.

Speedy G said...

lol! And what happened to Ourano's balls? Ask mighty-mighty Aphrodite or read Hesiod's Theogony, (ll. 116-206). Zeus was king of the 3rd generation of gods.

So please. Stop trying to pretend you know ANYTHING about ancient history or mythology. You're embarrassing yourself.

The generalization of these inventions and their ever-increasing exactitude are both bound up with the rise of capitalism, especially when one gets to industrialism.

And does the further advancement of industrialization or the further advancement of science/technics better explain the breakdown of seconds into femtoseconds? Careful how you answer, homo habilis! Time's a wasting!

SecondComingOfBast said...

Cronus was King of the Titans, Zeus of the Gods. Cronus castrated Ouranus and threw his genitals in the sea. Aphrodite was born from the foam. A few drops of blood hit the earth, from which sprang forth Medusa, Pegasus. and Elton John.

Speedy G said...

The titans weren't gods? Whodathunkit!

btw - I suppose Dwarfs aren't really "men" either. Come to think of it, I sometimes doubt that they're even related to humans. But please, don't try and convince me that they're not people! They may be little, but they're still people. ;)

Speedy G said...

...and the Gigantes, there's no way that THEY were gods, either. I mean, they were BIG, but they certainly weren't "gods" to like, REAL gods. To men, maybe. But to REAL gods, I doubt it.

Of course, men's names for things often differ from the gods names for things... ;)

from the Jowett summary of Plato's, "Cratylus"

'I should be more readily persuaded, if you would show me this natural correctness of names.'

Indeed I cannot; but I see that you have advanced; for you now admit that there is a correctness of names, and that not every one can give a name. But what is the nature of this correctness or truth, you must learn from the Sophists, of whom your brother Callias has bought his reputation for wisdom rather dearly; and since they require to be paid, you, having no money, had better learn from him at second-hand. 'Well, but I have just given up Protagoras, and I should be inconsistent in going to learn of him.' Then if you reject him you may learn of the poets, and in particular of Homer, who distinguishes the names given by Gods and men to the same things, as in the verse about the river God who fought with Hephaestus, 'whom the Gods call Xanthus, and men call Scamander;' or in the lines in which he mentions the bird which the Gods call 'Chalcis,' and men 'Cymindis;' or the hill which men call 'Batieia,' and the Gods 'Myrinna's Tomb.' Here is an important lesson; for the Gods must of course be right in their use of names. And this is not the only truth about philology which may be learnt from Homer. Does he not say that Hector's son had two names—

'Hector called him Scamandrius, but the others Astyanax'?

Now, if the men called him Astyanax, is it not probable that the other name was conferred by the women? And which are more likely to be right—the wiser or the less wise, the men or the women? Homer evidently agreed with the men: and of the name given by them he offers an explanation;—the boy was called Astyanax ('king of the city'), because his father saved the city. The names Astyanax and Hector, moreover, are really the same,—the one means a king, and the other is 'a holder or possessor.' For as the lion's whelp may be called a lion, or the horse's foal a foal, so the son of a king may be called a king. But if the horse had produced a calf, then that would be called a calf.

SecondComingOfBast said...

The Titans were never worshiped.

Speedy G said...

I know that capitalists who might disagree with you there, Pagan. To that, I believe that even Ross Wolfe would attest.

For time is money.

Speedy G said...

Even in the "Golden Age". ;)

Speedy G said...

Time may not be worth much to another "immortal", but to the rest of us?

Titans, too are Deathless gods. As such, they demand obeyance. Worship isn't exactly required, but it is often exacted.

SecondComingOfBast said...

There is no evidence they ever existed anywhere as gods people believed in. They were probably a construct invented to explain the existence of the gods. An answer to the question "how did all this come into being? How did the gods begin?", etc.

The Achaeans who originated the classical Greek Age came from another place. They invaded Greece, took it over. They adopted the old civilization they conquered, the Mycenaean civilization. They adopted their culture, their language, and even their gods. The same Gods worshiped by the Achaeans were the Gods they learned about from the Mycenaean peoples, the study of who has so far turned up no evidence of belief in the Titans.

Its possible they could have been older gods worshiped by the Achaean people in their original homeland, but if so there is no evidence of them.

They seem to represent raw forces of nature, untamed and out of control, whereas the Gods represents the power over and above those forces of nature.

Speedy G said...

lol! So the "Mighty Men" in Genesis never worshipped them? Who knew?

SecondComingOfBast said...

The "Mighty Men" in Genesis were the ancient heroes and gods of ancient Babylon, Phoenicia, and Canaan. That was the Hebrews way of explaining them and their powers, as opposed to outright denying their existence. Instead of gods, they were in reality "mighty men, men of renown" who mankind in their delusions came to believe in and worship as gods.

Thersites said...

AH, like the Catholics and their "saints" or "Vigin Mary". You can't venerate them )(since they aren't G_d)... but you can "adore" them (the old VENIAL SIN- MORTAL SIN distinction)

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto the Lord that which belongs to the Lord. ;)

The titans weren't "mortals", Pagan. And if you can mistakingly worship "might men" as gods, how can you claim that "forces" like the Titans were never worshipped?

To categorically deny them status as "gods" because of a lack of evidence and belief that they were "never worshipped" (but gave BIRTH to gods) would seem a rather overly restrictive interpretation of the "nature" of the titans/gods. For many of your so-called "gods" (Zeus, Poseidon, etc) are also associated with natural "forces" lightening/ earthquakes, etc.

And if worship has to do with "valuation" by men, as the linked definition above would suggest, you cannot deny that men value "time", else they wouldn't take such care in partitioning and apportioning it.

Thersites said...

...and in partioning and apportioning, "overthrowing/subduing" the gods and chaining titans (ala Prometheus Bound) to rocks in adamantine bonds in service of Hephaestus (the forgemaster / toolmaker god). ;)

SecondComingOfBast said...

"For many of your so-called "gods" (Zeus, Poseidon, etc) are also associated with natural "forces" lightening/ earthquakes, etc."

True, but there's a big difference. Though some did achieve limited divine status (Helios, Hecate, etc.) The Titans represented more impersonal forces. The gods represented those same forces, but they took a greater interest in and control of affairs. They were more refined, more thoughtful. They were forces of nature with distinct personalities and mores, whereas the Titans were pure, untamed forces of power and nature. There's a big difference.

Another perhaps more cogent way of seeing the difference is in an evolutionary sense. In overcoming the Titans, the gods conquered themselves, and their own base, savage urges.

Thersites said...

The Titans represented more impersonal forces.

Gaia. What is she? She was worshipped long before the Olympians.

And Prometheus (titan) represented forethought. Epimetheus, his brother (after-thought).

No each series of generations of gods in the theogony represent an evolution in the human mind in surmounting it's instincts and as it achieves more knowledge, from birth to death.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Where exactly is there any evidence that Gaea was ever worshiped anywhere before the Olympians? She's not listed in the linear b tablets of Mycenae. Gaea was, and is, a simple personification of the earth. She might have a had an insignificant, small cult following during the Classical Age, but just because she is given as the mother of the Titans and Gods doesn't necessarily mean her cult following preceded them.

Rhea would be a better example of a Titaness afforded divine honors, but there again, how widespread was her cult, and did it precede the gods? I don't much think it did.

Prometheus and Epimetheus are constructs meant to explain the rise of man into civilization through the discovery of fire, and the resultant problems that arose from that. Neither of them had a cult following of any significance, if at all.

Speedy G said...

She/Gaia/Rhea/Cybele was amongst the most worshipped early deities. The Korbyantes (also a cult) protected Zeus from discovery by Cronos. Call her Gaia, call her Cybele, call her Rhea, she was worshipped in slightly altered forms before the Greeks got hold of her and wrote their version down assigning "earth mother" to Gaia and the Cave under the earth under Mt. Ida to her "daughter" the "titan"

from Wiki:

In historic times, the resemblances between Rhea and the Asiatic Great Mother, Phrygian Cybele, a manifestation of the Great Goddess, were so noticeable that the Greeks accounted for them by regarding the latter as their own Rhea, who had deserted her original home in Crete and fled to the mountain wilds of Asia Minor to escape the persecution of Cronus. A reverse view was expressed by Virgil, and it is probably true that cultural contacts with the mainland brought to Crete the worship of the Asiatic Great Mother, who became the Cretan Rhea.

Selene is yet another, highly worshipped "titaness" until thrown over and her qualities divided and re-attributed to Artemis & Dionysius.

So I conclude that the progenitors of the gods were also gods. Their "ranks" as titans or gigantes or even "mighty-men" or "korbyantes" simply varied upon the regions and cults associated with them and the ever-evolving assignment of their supposed attributes.

You speak as if a set of the "definitve gods" were defined one day in Linear B tablets and from that day forward, everyone consistently worshipped a static pantheon of Olympian "gods" according to that static definition of their godlike attributes. That's NOT what happened. The gods attributes and cult status were horse traded and subdivided as each nation conquered or was defeated by others. And not all those nations had written languages, so to cite Linear B tablets as a definitive list of gods, is not even logical.

Wikipedia classifies the Titans as "Titan deities" and the Olympians as "Olympian deities". They also have classifications for Oceanic deities, Cthonic deities and primordial deities. The point being... THEY'RE ALL DEITIES and to argue that some deities aren't "gods" is simply "silly".

Speedy G said...

You pagans and your gods are as bad as the Christians with all their angels and archangels...

First Heirarchy (Highest)
Seraphim - first order (those who see most clearly)
Cherubim - second order (fullness of knowledge)
Thrones - third order (contemplate divine justice)

Second Heirarchy (Middle)
Dominations - fourth order (providence is enacted through them)
Virtues - fifth order (movement of the heavenly bodies)
Powers - sixth order (precise and preserved enactment)

Third Heirarchy (Lowest)
Principalities - seventh order (welfare of human affairs as a whole)
Archangels - eighth order (sharing of higher things to all of mankind)
Angels - ninth order (individual affairs of mankind)

Oh wait, those aren't angels, they're "graces" and Muses and Fates... blah, blah, blah.

That's why I'm a Deist. I don't need to believe in any of these silly theistic metaphysical categories and entities. All I need is a "Creator" and I'm done with it!

SecondComingOfBast said...

All I'm saying is the Titans and Gods represent the same things, but the Gods represent superior, more refined versions. The Titans are more impersonal, raw forces of nature, uncaring and unfeeling. The Gods represent nature with a human face. The Titans just were not widely worshiped, and that alone is the reason why they can't be considered Gods. It takes more than great power and immortality to make a God. A God by definition is something that somebody worshiped, and the worship of the Titans, in what few instances it did exist, was very limited at best, and was never widespread. That's the difference.

The cosmogony of the Titans and Gods give a good general view of how the ancient Greeks viewed the evolution of human civilization. They saw the uncivilized barbarians as being more in thrall to the wild forces of nature. They considered themselves above that level.

Ross Wolfe said...

Wow, Speedy is getting Olympically owned in this thread. Anyway, I'm interested in Larry Gambone's opinion of this piece.

Thersites said...

Don't mistake the Zelus of the Pagan and my argument for harsh Eris, Wolfeman Lycaon. Your appeal to his hubris is but an insult to Themis, as Kratos and Bia rest with my own argument, and is a judgement that only the true participants in a dialectical contest can legitimately attest. In other words, your "vote" doesn't count, as Nike does not fly to your bidding. Continue in this course, and Nemesis is certain to stalk you.

Thersites said...

...and yes, Pagan, the Olympians represent the highest and most refined "ruling pantheon" of Greek gods, those most worthy of worship by men who would be "kings" and dwell upon Mt. Olympus, but Olympus is not the only mountain that the Greeks looked to. Poets looked to Parnassus, Seamen looked to the vast Ocean with Proteus and the Oceanids, much as ploughmen looked to the fields of grain.

Just as not all men are the same, not all gods are the same... but all men ARE men and all gods ARE gods. Do not insult Proteus/ Nereus to flatter Poseidon.

Larry Gambone said...

With the advent of capitalist abstract time the qualitative becomes quantitative. This "quantitativeness" plus the general homogenization of time is one important aspect of alienation. The struggle by the workers to control time at the workplace - either by restoring task work or limiting the work day is therefore also part of the struggle of the working class to overcome their alination

By the way, the anarchist George Woodcock in 1944 wrote an essay called "The Tyranny of the Clock" which discusses the history of the imposition of abstract time.