Looking at Ancient Greek Origins

I’ve been trying to write the first section of this blog post since the beginning of the semester, and it seems now is a good time because I can center this post in Dominion as well as looping back to our earlier conversations.  

This class was the first place I had ever heard of the term “autochthonous” when we spoke about its link to what/who is natural. In my notes from early February (and I apologize that they aren’t all encompassing) but I have the definition for autochthony as reading, “synonym for ‘native’ or ‘indigenous,’ erupts in place from the Earth, one single story of origin. In the margins, I scribbled “can think of in terms of both/and with the concept of diaspora.” Because I found the concept so interesting, I decided to spend some time outside of class researching it and after a quick Google search I came upon a Wikipedia page for “Autochthon (ancient Greece)” This page explains some of the myths of autochthony in ancient Greece and how certain tribes/regions attributed their origins to natural phenomena, such as being sprung up for the soil.

I think the most important piece of that article though is how autochthony had its influence over Athenian democracy, which we know was a huge inspiration for the founding and establishment of our own system of government. Because the Athenians had never moved from their native region of Attica, they believed that all Athenians were “earth-brothers” and that they should have “equal access to political power.” While believing solely in autochthonous origins can lead to the exclusion of anyone who is “different” and result in certain ethnocentric attitudes, I find it intriguing how this concept continued to have such an influence into the modern world.

I remembered this research and the beginnings of this blog post today in class as we discussed Calvin Baker’s Dominion. We explored the significance of Chronos, the title of the first section of the book, and ended up back in ancient Greek origins. I do not have much background in Greek or Roman mythology so I definitely benefitted from the insights of the class as well as this page. We began to link the ideas of time to Dominion, both for the characters as well as the readers. Chronos was seen as the “Father of Time” and that has lead to words that we know today, such as “chronology” and “anachronism” to name a couple.

In the context of Dominion, we saw lots of importance placed by time and the paradoxical nature of it seeming both linear and cyclical. We noted the significance of Merian fixing the strangers’ wagon wheel, his building of a sundial, and his eventual purchase (connection to his son’s name wasn’t intended, but doesn’t mean it’s not there) of a watch. His awareness of time in the novel leads me to believe that while writing, Baker was aware of the time readers would need to invest into this novel. From my experience so far, its richness can make it a slow read.

So just to sum up, I figured it might be worthwhile to post about some of my musings on origins from current readings to earlier events in the semester!

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