Page 240

LANGUAGE

THE FORGOTTEN

230

The Peloponnesian war,

the threat to the pohtical

independence of Athens, and the plague that ravaged the city at the beginning of the root the old religious

war had helped

and philosophical

to up-

traditions. In-

deed, attacks against religion were not new, but they

reached a climax

Sophists

by an

in the teachings of Sophocles's Sophist

He was opposed

adversaries.

who

to

those

not only proclaimed despotism exercised

intellectual elite but also

selfishness as a

upheld unrestricted

moral principle. The ethics of egotistical

wing of the Sophists and amoral opportunism were the very opposite of

supermen proclaimed by their

particularly

this

Sophocles's philosophy. In Creon, Sophocles created a

and Creon's

figure representing this school of sophism,

speeches resembled the Sophist pattern even in style

and expression.^^ In his argument against the Sophists, Sophocles

gave

new

expression to the old religious traditions of

the people with their emphasis on love, equality, and justice.

"The

religious attitude of Sophocles.

marily concerned not with the state but with those helpful

...

is

pri-

official religion of

the

secondary powers which

al-

ways were

closer to the faith of the masses than the

aristocratic

Olympians and

to

whom

the people turned

again in the dangers of the Peloponnesian war."^^ These

"secondary powers," which were different from the "aristocratic

Olympian" gods, are

easily identified as

the goddesses of the matriarchal world. " Cf. Callicles

in Plato's Georgias

and Thrasymachus

in his Republic.

"Wilhelm Schmid, "Geschicte der Griechischen Literatur," 1. in Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaften, edited by Walter 7. Abt., 1. Teil, 2. Band (Munich, 1934).

Teil,

Otto,

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