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Seeing the gods
#1
In the Bible, God warns Moses to keep the people away from the Holy Mountain, because they would not survive seeing God (Exodus 19). There is a similar idea in the Greek myth of Semele, who does not survive seeing Zeus.

Does anybody know similar stories? Babylonian and Egyptian stories are also welcome.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#2
You can see Cthulhu, but you really don't want to.
Pecunia non olet
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#3
Teiresias, in some versions of the legend, was struck blind because he saw Athene naked at her bath, though he did not die. In Acteon's case, Artemis actively punished him, rather than him being killed immediately. Other than that, I cannot think of any. Where Egypt is concerned, the story of the Shipwrecked Sailor has the protagonist meet a snake-shaped god, and even talk with him, without any adverse effects - but this was not one of the major gods like Ra.

I wonder whether it would be possible to somehow include Plato's Cavern-Analogy somewhere. Humans are shown as looking at the shadows of images of the real thing. The supreme Good would be Plato's God, after all, though I don't recall whether he thinks beholding the perfect ideal is possible for a human.
M. Caecilius M.f. Maxentius - Max C.

Qui vincit non est victor nisi victus fatetur
- Q. Ennius, Annales, Frag. XXXI, 493

Secretary of the Ricciacus Frënn (http://www.ricciacus.lu/)
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#4
That Plato analogy is a good one, thanks!
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#5
The story of the Apostle Paul (circa A.D. 60) being shipwrecked on the Island of Melita, being bitten by a viper, and shaking it off into a fire has parallels to the Egyptian "Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor" (circa 2000 B.C.) in which a sailor is shipwrecked, and then meets a giant serpent who then makes his acquaintance and later gives him many expensive gifts.
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#6
The converse is visible in such accounts as the Judgement of Paris, see Iliad 24 lines 25-30, i.e.

[25] And the thing [i.e. Hermes bearing away the body of Hector after its attempted mutilation by being dragged after the chariot of Achilles] was pleasing unto all the rest, yet not unto Hera or Poseidon or the flashing-eyed maiden, but they continued even as when at the first sacred Ilios became hateful in their eyes and Priam and his folk, by reason of the sin of Alexander, for that he put reproach upon those goddesses when they came to his steading, [30] and gave precedence to her who furthered his fatal lustfulness.

Alexander, protector-of-men, is an epithet of Paris. M. Caecilius gives the punishment of Tiresias in the Bathing of Pallas, and of Actaeon. It's worth pointing out that Artemis (Diana) and Athena (Minerva) are virgin-goddesses, although the presence of the ''flashing-eyed maiden'', even naked, at the Judgement of Paris, suggests that the punishments were appointed by the will of the goddesses, rather than as an inevitable consequence of an unbearable divine presence.

The account of Semele, at least in the Fabulae of pseudo-Hyginus, runs ''Jove desired to lie with Semele, and when Juno found out, she changed her form to that of the nurse Beroe, came to Semele, and suggested that she ask Jove to come to her as he came to Juno, “that you may know”, she said, “what pleasure it is to lie with a god.” And so Semele asked Jove to come to her in this way. Her request was granted, and Jove, coming with lightning and thunder, burned Semele to death. From her womb Liber was born. Mercury snatched him from the fire and gave him to Nysus to be reared. In Greek he is called Dionysus.''

Perhaps this ineffable presence is proper to Zeus alone as the king of the gods and sky-father, though Hyginus' text bears the obvious interpretation that to lie with a god means death.

These are purely speculations by a ''cultor Deorum''.
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