Harmony and Justice- meditations on 43° and 27° Delphic Laws

43) Be accommodating in everything (Παςιν αρμοζου)

“Harmozo” is a very particular verb that has to be analyzed in depth. First of all, we have to said that it comes from the root har-harma, that means “chariot”, also indicating the corresponding constellation; this is the word used by the Pythagoreans to indicate ‘unity’. At the same time it is the root for the word harmonia, which has a plurality of uses: “adaptation, fitting; rule, order; agreement, accordance (of the parts with the whole), symmetry and order” Diòs harmonia, “the order established by Zeus”. It means also “number, musical harmony” and “moral character”; the Pythagoreans called Harmonia the number three, the personification of the musical order of the universe. Thus, the verb harmozo bears in itself these pluralities of meanings; it is used to express “to connect, to unite”, as also “to give in marriage” and even “to rule, to control”. In the intransitive mode, as in this case, it finally means “to be accommodating, to be in harmony”; interestingly enough, lyran armozo means “to tune the lyre”.

Each one of us is a part of the whole; on a cosmic level it is necessary a power and a “fiery bond of love” that may, on one hand, ties into a strong union all the different discordant parts of the whole and, on the other, harmonizes them all to create a perfect melody. This is clearly stated by Orpheus himself: “all the celestial sphere you tune by the melodious lyre”. Pindar beautifully sings: “O golden lyre, rightful possession of Apollo and the violet-wreathed Muses! whom the dancer’s footstep hears as it begins the triumphal festival; whose notes the singers obey, whenever with trembling strings you strike up the prelude of the choir-leading overture!…For even violent Ares, forgetting His harsh and pointed spears, warms His heart in repose. Your shafts enchant the minds of even the Gods through the wisdom of Leto’s son and the deep-bosomed Muses…but all the beings that Zeus not had loved are terrified when they hear the voice of the Pierides.” The significance of the symbolism of the lyre as the instrument whose music casts a peaceful spell even upon the God of war and strikes terror in the hearts of those anarchic monsters not loved by Zeus (whose rule is Harmony, Oneness and Unity) is perfectly manifested here: Zeus and the Gods are proclaimed lovers of the Lyre, his enemies as Their enemies- creatures of disharmony and chaos. At once this brings to the mind Plato and what he meant with mousiké, and more, the spirit of serenity, order, concord throughout the Universe opposing and holding in subjection whatever makes for turbulence, discord, in a word, the disruption of all. All that Plato means by music and more, philosophy, which is described in the Phaedo as the megiste mousiké, “the noblest and the best of music”, capable of inciting men to strive for a inner harmony of the soul and a exterior moral behavior “in accordance with the law of the Delphic Apollo”.

In the Mysteries, the lyre is regarded as the secret symbol of the human constitution, the body of the instrument representing the physical form, the strings the nerves, and the musician the spirit. Playing upon the nerves, the spirit thus created the harmonies of normal functioning, that, however, become discords if the nature of man is defiled.

This law teaches “to be accommodating in everything, to be in harmony in everything”, to rule over the discordant parts in us in order to be ‘harmonious’ beings; once acquired this disposition, we ought to extend that on all aspects of life, from relationships to friendship etc, in order to work for the establishment/preservation of Zeus’ law: “Grant, o Zeus, grant that we may be pleasing to You!”


27) Practice what is just (Πραττε δικαια)

“Ta dikaia” literally are the duties and the rights of each individual; in a more extensive sensetò dikaiosis “just, right”. Referred to a person, it means someone who honor his duties toward the Gods and men as well, one abiding by the law of what is correct and what is righteous, as in the Latin iustus. We have already met the shining figure of Dike, one of the Horai, who sits besides the throne of Zeus son of Kronos; so sings Orpheus: “indeed everything that, difficult to judge, is accomplished with evil intentions by the mortals who with unrighteous plans desire the excess, alone advancing You awaken righteousness against the wrongdoers; enemy of the unrighteous ones, favorable You unite yourself to the righteous ones.” and Terpander echoes him:Dike who walks in the wide streets, that helper in fine deeds.” Dike, the bright-throned sister of Eunomia and Eirene, is the guide to excellent deeds that display that areté about whom we have already discussed. In a fragment of a lost play by Aeschylus we read this wonderful dialogue between the Goddess herself and the chorus:

“Dike: I sit in glory by the throne of Zeus, and He of His own will sends me to those He favors; I mean Zeus, who has sent me to this land with kind intent. And you shall see for yourselves whether my words are empty.

Chorus: how then shall we rightly address you?

Dike: by the name of Dike, She who is greatly revered in Heaven.

Chorus: and of what privilege are You the mistress?

Dike: as for the just, I reward their life of justice.

Chorus: (lacuna) this ordinance among mortals.

Dike: but in the reckless I implant a chastened mind.

Chorus: by Peitho’s (Persuasion) spells, or in virtue of your might?

Dike: I write their offences on the tablet of Zeus.

Chorus: and at what season do you unroll the list of crimes?

Dike: when the proper time brings the fulfillment of what is theirs by right.

Chorus: eagerly, I think, should the host welcome You.

Dike: much would they gain, should they receive me kindly”

A double order is enclosed in this law: first, we are told to accomplish only what is accordance with Dike, that may please Her and Her father also. Secondly, we ought to remember that what is right varies from person to person: if a warrior does the things of an artisan, the result of the work will not be excellent, and vice versa. So, here this principle, that each one must to his/her own things alone, is introduced: there is an universal level, a non-written law common to all, and there is the nature of each one, his/her Daimon, to whom we must obey- the two things are absolutely not in contrast.

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