Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tartarean depths, Paracelsus, and gum disease

A few notes on Tartarus, which came up yesterday:

There's only one mention of the name Tartarus in the Bible - it comes in the Second Epistle of Peter:

4  For1063 if1487 God2316 spared5339 not3756 the angels32 that sinned,264 but235 cast them down to hell,5020 and delivered3860 them into chains4577 of darkness,2217 to be reserved5083 unto1519 judgment;2920

Note that the KJV says "hell," but the Greek uses a verb based on Tartaros:

4 εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἀγγέλων ἁμαρτησάντων οὐκ ἐφείσατο, ἀλλὰ σειραῖς ζόφου ταρταρώσας παρέδωκεν εἰς κρίσιν τηρουμένους,  2 Peter 2:4

From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment: - cast down to hell.

Tartarus makes its first appearance in Hesiod's Theogony (700 BC) and probably influenced Milton's rendering of space and description:

In Greek mythology, Tartarus is both a deity and a place in the underworld even lower than Hades. In ancient Orphic sources and in the mystery schools Tartarus is also the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born.
In Hesiod's Theogony, c. 700 BC, the deity Tartarus was the third force to manifest in the yawning void of Chaos.
As for the place, the Greek poet Hesiod asserts that a bronze anvil falling from heaven would fall 9 days before it reached the Earth. The anvil would take nine more days to fall from Earth to Tartarus. In The Iliad (c. 700), Zeus asserts that Tartarus is "as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth." As a place so far from the sun and so deep in the earth, Tartarus is hemmed in by three layers of night. It is a dank and wretched pit engulfed in murky gloom. It is one of the primordial objects that sprung from Chaos (along with Gaia (Earth) and Eros (Sex)).
Quite a bit more can be found in the Wikipedia article.
In Prof. Rogers' lectures we hear about Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, usually known as Paracelsus, the Swiss man of medicine, alchemy, astrology and the occult.
Rogers alludes to Paracelsus' theories of digestion, and his thinking about tartar. And it seems we owe to the Renaissance magus the name "tartar," which he described as an acid deposit that "burns like hell, and Tartarus is hell."  More on this, if you're really really interested, here.

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