37 Images of Noah in Ancient Greek Art: Part VI

Greek Artists Make Nereus/Noah an Unwilling Witness to the Rise and Take-over of Zeus-religion

Nereus/Noah is a benchmark figure. Artists placed him in scenes as the constant, the known figure against whom they could portray the great spiritual/religious change taking place after the Flood.  On the vase-depiction above, an artist has made Nereus/Noah a silent witness to the abduction of his daughter, Thetis, by the Zeus-worshipper, Peleus.

This partially-damaged vase-scene depicts part of the great wedding procession of Greek “gods” (literally "placers" in Greek) celebrating the marriage of the Zeus-worshipper Peleus to Thetis, a daughter of Nereus/Noah and his wife, Doris. The wedding of Peleus and Thetis was the first time all the gods of Zeus-religion came together. From the Greek perspective, the event represents the systematizing of the ancestor worship we erroneously have been taught to believe was some kind of “mythological” religion. Noah and his wife are not part of the procession. The artist places them in a position where they are forced to watch this event pass them by—because that’s what really happened. From that point on, Zeus-religion reigned supreme.

In Part IV, we saw many vase-images, such as the one above, of Nereus/Noah being forced to witness the wresting away of his authority by the great rebel, Herakles/Nimrod.

In the vase-scene following this we are going to see Nereus/Noah forced to witness Athena suddenly coming into being full-grown and fully-armed out of Zeus. The above images of her reveal, without a doubt, who and what she represented—the serpent and its wisdom. Top left, she wears her serpent-trimmed aegis, or goat skin. Top center, her sculpted head boasts a crown of serpents. Right, the ancient serpent rises up next to her as a friend on her Parthenon idol-image: she holds Nike in her right hand symbolizing the Victory that belongs to her and the serpent. And bottom left, on her aegis she wears the Gorgon Medusa—the head of serpents. If you look to Athena, you are not looking for the wisdom of God, but for the wisdom of the ancient serpent.

Above, we see Noah on the far right, standing behind two goddesses of childbirth, being forced to witness the birth of Athena, full-grown and fully-armed, from Zeus. Remember who is coming into being and into power here—the ancient serpent’s new post-Flood queen. The artist forces Noah to witness the great change occurring in mankind’s spiritual orientation as embodied in the rapid rise of the goddess, Athena, who welcomes the ancient serpent and its “wisdom.” Note the lion, a symbol of earthly power, under the throne of Zeus.

After the Flood, did the majority of mankind remain faithful to Yahweh and his prophet, Noah? Absolutely not. Greek artists boast of that fact over and over in many different ways. On the above vase, the artist has forced Nereus/Noah to witness the thrashing that the line of Seth, represented by the Kentaur, received at the hands of Herakles. Greek artists depicted the Flood as Kentaurs (Seth-men) pounding Kaineus, representing the line of Kain, into the earth with huge boulders (see above inset from the temple of Hephaistos in Athens). The artist could have titled his painting “The Post-Flood Revenge of the Line of Kain.” The Kentaur’s rocks are very small, without any real power to do harm. After the Flood, the club of Herakles/Nimrod carries the day, and Nereus/Noah is sad to see it.
CLICK HERE to see a vase depicting Kaineus (the line of Kain) being beaten into the earth by Kentaurs (the line of Seth) during the Flood.

In another artistic tradition that involved Nereus/Noah, artists depicted the triumph of Zeus-religion as the gods (their ancestors in the way of Kain) crushing the Giants, who represented the Yahweh-believing sons of Noah (See Chapter 7 of TPC). Sculptors across the Aegean Sea from Greece in Pergamum (on the west coast of modern-day Turkey) depicted the gods routing the Giants in a 120-meter-long frieze on the Altar of Zeus. Above we see the altar reassembled in Berlin.

Above, from the east frieze of the Altar of Zeus, Athena works with the serpent to bring down the Giant Enkelados. Athena drives his head downward as the serpent, entwined about his body with fangs locked into his breast, pulls him to earth. The wings are an indication of Enkelados’ spiritual power. A victory over beings with such a connection serves to emphasize the fearful and ultimate power of Athena, the serpent, and Zeus-religion.

We’ll get back to Noah and the Altar of Zeus at Pergamum after we’ve taken a look at the above vase-scene which gives us more insight into the gods (or "placers") defeating the Giants. Dionysos and the ancient serpent kill a Giant. The soulish man overcomes the spiritual man. The leopard on the arm of Dionysos lets us know of Nimrod’s (Herakles’) crucial presence in the victory. One interpretation of the meaning of “Nimrod” is that it comes from Nimr, a leopard, and rada, to subdue. The subduer of the leopard, Nimrod, brought back the religious system of the ancient serpent (shown on the vase with a beard), and thus the Greek gods overcame the religion of the Giants, the Yahweh-believing sons of Noah. Now let’s get back to the Altar of Zeus and Noah’s presence on it.

From one of the corners of the Altar of Zeus, the sculptors have made Nereus/Noah an observer of this horrendous defeat of his Yahweh-believing sons. His face is solemn, and he is the only man on the entire frieze who is not engaged in the battle. Greek art chronicles the great spiritual change which took place after the Flood. Greek artists often used Nereus/Noah as a constant against whom they were able to portray this great change. This device was artistically effective and historically accurate.
Nereus’s wife, Doris, stands next to him. She tries to pull up one of their Yahweh-believing sons by his hair. But her gesture is futile because her son’s legs have become serpentine. The iconographic message is simple: because of the serpent and its power, the Yahweh-believing sons of Noah are no longer able to stand. Revelation 2:13 refers to the Altar of Zeus in Pergamum as “the throne of Satan.”