Is God stronger than Zeus

"How do I know a god and what is he responsible for?"

Michael Koehler:
Since you still rule the beautiful world,
In the joy of a light lead tape
Blessed families still led,
Beautiful creatures from the land of fables!
Oh, since your delighted dinets were still shining
how very different, different it was!
since your temples are still crowned Venus Amathusia!

As the seal's magical envelope
Still lovingly writhing around the truth -

Beautiful world where are you Come back
Holdes the blossom age of nature!

Well-known lines: Schiller's Gods Greece poem - admiration and sadness about the sunken heaven of gods, who speak from this poem, yes speak, because feelings of loss like to give birth to poetry that speaks and narrates and is thus close to the myth again and it gives birth to ballads.
The new director of the State Collection of Antiquities in Munich does not need to compose ballads, he just needs to reach into the depot: He has put on an exhibition about "The Immortals", which is very popular, and there must be reasons. According to Schiller, a time should return when gods were more human and humans were more divine. Now one can no longer assume knowledge of the ancient world of gods, which is why I asked the director of the Munich Collection of Antiquities, Florian Knauß, about his exhibition "The Immortals": What did you do there, compile a lexicon of the ancient heaven of gods?

Florian Knauß: Yes, we didn't want to write a lexicon or a compendium that would make all the knowledge that is available to us accessible to the visitor, but we try and hope that it will succeed, the visitor who is always today brings with him less prior knowledge than even earlier generations of at least humanistically educated high school graduates to give him access to this exuberant variety of Greek gods and a framework, and that always on the basis of our beautiful, immensely rich and extremely high quality Munich collection. If we start with, as Thale von Milet said, "Everything is full of gods", and at the beginning we confront the visitor with the fact that Hesiod knows over 300 gods and immediately admits that there are many more, and unfortunately he does Can't name all of them, then people will run away from us, but we have tried to start with the most important, the Olympic gods, and give the visitor something by hand, a tool to be able to narrow down and classify them, So how do I recognize a god and what is he responsible for, and only then convey the most exciting and entertaining stories of gods in a second step.

Charcoal burner: That's a very good approach, because if you say Zeus or Hera today, it can happen that you get the answer, where is he playing, at AC Rome or Milan or anywhere else - I don't want to caricature it. You just said so beautifully: "How do I recognize him?" I believe that this is a successful concept that you have used, a kind of three-step process that you ask about the essence of the gods, what they do and get up to, i.e. their actions in myth, and then, as it were the connection to earthly beings, i.e. people, is to be established, because Schiller said this quite nicely at one point in his Gods of Greece poem: There was a time when the gods were more human and humans were more divine. So actually they can't be as alien to us as we always think.

Knauß: Yes. On the one hand, they are ideally not so strange to us because we still know these Greek myths, either traditionally through Gustav Schwab or in more recent adaptations, "Percy Jackson" by Rick Riordan and other myth adaptations that I think are quite successful. With us it is of course like this: As archaeologists, we work with the images. That's a little bit different, because the pictures, i.e. the antique pictures on vases, or marble sculptures, or bronze devices that again present the Greek gods in action, are not just illustrations of ancient authors, but the gods have been designed completely independently by the visual artists. The Greek gods were first of all - that is an ancient view - the authors Homer and Hesiod gave shape, but from our point of view at least the Greek artists.

Charcoal burner: You have a lot of that to offer, vases and so on. - The joke is a little part of it: these plaster heads, I'll say with Wieland, which for us is often the ancient world of gods, when we encounter them as replicas or as works of art in museums, had no orthodoxy or religion in the narrower sense Meaning, but what I now call a logo pax, that is, narratives. They actually live in, from and through the stories that we pass on about them, that we make for ourselves. Do you want to revive this storytelling in the future? And above all: how do you do it?

Knauß: I think that these stories, that they simply belong to our very essential European cultural heritage, which, in my opinion, holds us together more, stronger and more permanently than a common currency. On the one hand, these stories are great; on the other hand, if we think that these are stories from the gods, then that also makes it clear how strange these gods are to us, because these gods are indeed immortal - hence the title of the exhibition - but they are neither omniscient, still omnipotent or omnipresent, they are endowed with very human weaknesses, and of course that disturbs us from our Christian or whatever point of view. That is something that is very strange at first, that there are gods who steal, cheat, commit adultery and so on.

Charcoal burner: One of my favorite characters is Hermes, the messenger of the gods, who is also the god of thieves and merchants.

Knauß: Yes! This sympathy for Hermes, which today is only known through parcel services or government guarantees, this sympathy, I can certainly share it. It's incredibly diverse. In addition to what you said, he is also the god of athletes because of his agility. But he also invents a musical instrument on the day he was born, which he later hands into his brother Apollo's hand.

Charcoal burner: And he lays wrong tracks!

Knauß: And he lays wrong tracks, which his brother can only find with great difficulty. Yeah right.

Charcoal burner: How do you explain the success? Not only that you are simply a newcomer, but it could also be that you have struck a nerve of our time when I think of all the discussions about multicultural society, the clash of cultures, the religious foundation of your life and everyday practice and so on think further. You obviously hit a nerve there, could that be?

Knauß: It would be nice if it did. I don't even know whether we can already speak of success, because the exhibition has only been running for two days.

Charcoal burner: The features section is full of praise, you can say that.

Knauß: Then we are happy about it, so my colleagues are happy too, who have often sat and worked in the museum late into the night over the past few weeks. As a museum man you are actually always on the lookout: How do we manage to make antiquity, which is of course very close to us as professionals, as archaeologists, also accessible to a wider public. And there you can really only make new attempts. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe, and if we have succeeded this time, then we will be happy and maybe a little proud of it. But if I could explain it, I would be a lot smarter.

Charcoal burner: ... says Florian Knauß, director of the Munich Collection of Antiquities, about his exhibition "The Immortals".

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandradio does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions.

State Collection of Antiquities, Munich: "The Immortals"