Saturday, 14 June 2014

Alms and Mercy

ALMS and MERCY

What do Alms and Acts of Charity have to do with mercy.

Before I discuss the next section of Chapter 6 I want to take an in depth look at one key word.

λεημοσύνη

Pity Mercy Compassion

the feeling that may move you to be kind to someone in a wretched pitiable condition

Related words are ἔλεος and λεω

This word was borrowed into Late Latin as eleemosina and then via Old French or directly into Old English the e changed to an a and the rest of the word shortened to aelmysse and then alms.

In Attic drama these group of words and other related terms are often used to encourage the audience to feel sympathy of the sufferings of characters.

Remember apart from the bread rations in some ancient cities there was very little organised charity. A disabled person with no job or family support would be reduced to being on the streets or markets or hoping to receive scraps from wealthy householders if the slaves or livestock didnt get them first.

Paid jury duty in cities like Athens was a form of welfare in some ways.

Donations were often person to person. Pity was not merely piety but acts of mercy towards the truly unfortunate.

How do we do it so the benefit is to others? That's what Jesus talks about next.


An apology to readers I had meant to blog about Apollo midweek but couldnt find the last couple of images I needed to describe how the iconography the ways Apollo was depicted were linked to other cultural memes like Sol Invictus and the development of halos.