37 Images of Noah in Ancient Greek Art: Part V


We saw this depiction of a red-figure bobbin in Part III: Herakles/Nimrod forces Nereus/Noah out of the way. Note that Nereus still carries the scepter. The artist tells us with his painting that Herakles led the rebellion or revolt against the authority of Noah. This relates to what is happening in the scene on the other side of the bobbin.

Herakles’ negation of the authority of Nereus/Noah pictured on one side, enables the Zeus-worshipper, Peleus, to abduct Thetis, a daughter of Nereus/Noah, pictured on the other side.

Note the serpent on the back of the Zeus-worshipper, Peleus. This is about humanity’s craving for a return to the enlightenment of the serpent. All the Greeks knew that Peleus and Thetis became the parents of the hero, Achilles, whose war exploits are described in Homer’s Iliad. As we’ll see below, Nereus/Noah appears on a great many revealing vases depicting this abduction of his daughter.

This vase-artist has placed part of an altar in the scene to let us know that this abduction has to do with spiritual orientation and worship. Thetis is being taken away from one system of worship to another, from the worship of Noah’s God to the worship of the ancestors in Zeus-religion. The lion may represent the changing power situation, or it may represent the power of Herakles, the leader of the rebellion whom artists often depict wearing the head of a lion.

On the other side of this vase, Peleus abducts Thetis. On this side, another daughter of Nereus/Noah runs to him at his altar of worship, pleading with outstretched arms for his help. But as the Greek vase-artists portray it, the “Old Man of the Sea” will do nothing, remaining stoic in the face of the abduction of Thetis and the Herakles-led revolt.

On the above vase, Peleus abducts Thetis in the midst of two of her sisters. If you look closely, you can see the serpent (with a beard signifying the “ancient serpent”) coiled in front of Thetis’ dress. This time a leopard, and not a lion, stands on the shoulder of Peleus. This again may refer to the revolt of Herakles/Nimrod because Nimrod was known as “the subduer of the leopard.”

Above, on the reverse side of the previous vase, one of their daughters informs Nereus/Noah and his wife Doris of the abduction of her sister, Thetis, by the Zeus-worshipper, Peleus. Immediately, Noah and his wife begin to pray at their altar. Noah does not physically resist Herakles’ rebellion, or the brazen abduction of his daughter, Thetis.

This vase-artist has intentionally placed the abduction next to an altar evoking the idea of worship, and emphasizing the great spiritual transformation about to occur. According to Genesis, Noah, immediately after departing from the ark, built an altar to Yahweh. All the women on the vase are daughters of Nereus/Noah. Not only is Peleus interfering with their worship, he is seizing Thetis and taking her away from it. The Zeus-worshiper, Peleus, takes Noah's daughter from one spiritual viewpoint to another, from the altar of Noah's God to the altar of Zeus-religion.

The above painting from the interior of a bowl from about 500 BC now engages our attention. With sheathed sword hanging at his waist, Peleus crouches, capturing Thetis in mid-stride from behind, locking his hands in front of her waist. The surprise and jolt of the seizure cause her to drop a small lion from her right hand.

One serpent coils around the left wrist of Thetis. Another serpent coils around both wrists of Peleus. Because of paintings like this, a false legend developed that Thetis could turn herself into a lion or a serpent. But the obvious truth is that the artist put those animals in this scene to explain the great change in the spiritual orientation of Thetis. The lion is a symbol of power on Earth. A member of the immediate family of Nereus loses her power—drops her association with it—as the serpent’s system takes hold. It’s that simple.

To the left on this partially damaged vase, above, we can see the head of Peleus, and the bottom of the skirt of Thetis as he abducts her. Her sisters again run to their father, Nereus/Noah, and beg him to do something, but he just sits there.

On another part of the above vase, Peleus abducts Thetis. On this part, one of the daughters of Noah begs him to do something about it. But again, he does nothing.

The opposite sides of this vase give us a summary of what has happened. Here, Nike, representing Victory, celebrates a sacrifice with Poseidon, a “brother” of Zeus, who has taken the place of Nereus/Noah.

On the other side of the same vase, one of Noah’s daughters demands to know what is going on, and what, if anything, Noah is going to do about it. Never do artists depict Nereus/Noah as resisting the take-over of Zeus-religion.