Breathing life into the universe, following the Sun God Apollo across the sky is his ordering of all things. He set the stars on their courses, designed the heavenly kingdoms, and set the Earth in place. With him, the Gods introduced its many creatures, and humanity, to which they imparted sacred knowledge, ways of being, and their values. In Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, the transcendental tenets, they laid the path to eternity, the path to their realm. In ancient Greece, at its apex around 500 B.C., the Greeks tried to chisel their world into a marble epithet of Apollo’s and the Greek Gods’ heavenly laws.
The laws of truth, goodness, and beauty were widely known in Plato’s time in 400 B.C. The principles allowed humanity to realize their highest manifestation while in the human realm and strive toward goodness, or agathos in Greek. The meaning of Goodness to the ancient Greeks was simply whatever revealed reality and its true nature of benevolence to our spirits. Truth was what revealed reality to our intellects. The predecessor to Plato, Parmenides, earlier stated that humanity was cast in a state of delusion however and was easily led astray by their limited perceptions that focused on the material world. In his poem “On Nature,” where a Goddess guides him to heavenly principles, the Goddess first described Truth, aletheia, and then appearance, or opinion, doxa, that were a product of the five senses and emotions. The Goddess went on to state that all things eternal are Truth in our universe:
“How, then, can what “is” be going to be in the future? Or how could it come into being? If it came into being, it is not; nor is it if it is going to be in the future. Thus “is” becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of.”
On human delusion, the Goddess told Parmenides, “according to men’s opinions, did things come into being, and thus they are now. In time (they think) they will grow up and pass away. To each of these things men have assigned a fixed name.”
The Truth then is fixed and immutable. The only things that are false are the notions and opinions of the world that humanity carries with them.
Within Truth lies Beauty, or kalos in Greek. What was more everlasting then, was considered more beautiful. Beauty had also been described as having a quality of pulling towards Truth and Goodness. Beauty had been thought of as a physical force, not as our modern notions would have it as a sentiment, an opinion, or an inclination. This force has a direct effect on our souls. True beauty is one of surrendering the self or ego to reach even just a slightly higher plane of thinking that brings us to a more divine state of thought or being. Beauty that is false stirs in us a desire to dominate. The difference lies in devotion and care, or lust and the want for control.
For a person to understand and manifest themselves in the universal qualities of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, they would have to order their desires properly. The ancient Greek philosophers taught to step away from the carnal pursuits, and to reorder their desires to that of divinity. In every aspect of life, this was the path towards understanding the wisdom and thinking of the Gods.
Artists and architects in ancient Greece during its golden years around 500 – 400 B.C. used the arts to align with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. They sought to use their craft to free themselves and humanity from the “self” and desires. Their goal was to serve others and offer a glimpse into the eternal, benevolent nature of the universe and celebrate it.
The temples were designed using what the ancient Greeks termed sacred geometry to build places of sufficient purity to consecrate their Gods. Pythagoras, the founder of geometry thought his formulas revealed divine perfection in our physical world. In utilizing sacred geometry, Pythagoras thought he could manifest that divine perfection amongst humanity and create structures that mirrored Creation’s designs and will.
Adorning the temples were marble sculptures of the human form carved to perfection. The figures represented should, in their purpose, represent the concept of arete in Greek. The term arete had been applied by philosophers like Plato to describe something that fulfills its role to the utmost. Arete had also been used to label something or someone as being virtuous or exhibiting virtuous qualities. In sculpture, their intent was to show beauty, but not arouse carnal desires. The sculptures around 500 to 400 B.C. were shaped in classical style with modesty in mind. The sculptures highlighted the importance of humankind as God’s creation and exhibited intelligence and temperance. The sculptures exuded restraint in emotion and calmness of mind and created an aesthetic in the cities and villages that valued such characteristics.
The ancient Greeks valued logic and reason. They taught to restrain animalistic passions. In doing so, a person was to be exhibiting arete and was living in accordance with the heavenly principles of truth, goodness, and beauty. In manifesting these principles in one’s life, one’s spirit was said to enjoy the blessings of aligning one’s self with divinity. One’s spirit would be everlasting, beautiful, and good. When Greek society exhibited these principles to a greater extent, they spurned a golden age that brought forth wisdom and knowledge of cosmic principles that advanced civilization that we still enjoy in our modern age.