Emeritus Professor Emil Constantinescu, President of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, President of Romania 1996-2000:
”It is a great joy, for today’s world has the impression that Classical Studies and the study of ancient languages are reserved solely for illustrious and aged individuals, living in an ivory tower and writing books inaccessible to many. On the contrary, today’s numerous attendees and the interest you exhibited prove once again that ancient languages and civilizations continue to occupy a special place in this new world of the 21st century, unabated in creating bridges between people of different ages and from different cultures.”
Distinguished professors, dear participants,
It is a great pleasure for me to once again be reunited with you for the opening of this Second Edition of the Annual Interdisciplinary School of Ancient Greek, Egyptology and Oriental Languages, which this year bears such a beautiful title, Cosmogony or Myths on the Creation of the World in Classical and Oriental Literature – a title that returns us to the origins of the world we inhabit.
It is a great joy, for today’s world has the impression that Classical Studies and the study of ancient languages are reserved solely for illustrious and aged individuals, living in an ivory tower and writing books inaccessible to many. On the contrary, today’s numerous attendees and the interest you exhibited prove once again that ancient languages and civilizations continue to occupy a special place in this new world of the 21st century, unabated in creating bridges between people of different ages and from different cultures.
Perusing the event’s programme, I remarked that we have guest speakers from Japan and the United States; moreover, I noticed a series of established names in the field, who tirelessly translate the Hebrew Bible, Plato or cover Pharaonic Egypt in great detail. Yet we also have among us young researchers that dare to read select passages from Greek or Coptic, a sign that the enlightened wisdom of these civilizations continues to be passed down through history from one generation to the next. Ancient languages and civilizations underpin humanity itself, and inform its values. Their study is imperative, especially in this new century in which contemporary man, inhabiting this illusion of absolute freedom amplified by his virtual existence, has lost his bearings and roots and now lives akin to a creature of the skies, suspended between the heavens and earth, most often incapable of defining his own dreams and aspirations but very eager that the world around him witness fundamental change. It is, moreover, a welcome sign that your teachers, like those before them, will have well accomplished their duty to generously share the light of the languages and books that helped shape them with the younger generations. On this note, it is appropriate to now offer a pious thought to my close friends Zoe Petre and Dan Slușanschi who dedicated their efforts to ancient languages from an early age, and who transferred their lifelong passion to generations of students that they helped foster. I lived a painful moment this summer, when Professor Alexandru Avram, who had confirmed his attendance in today’s event, sadly passed away only a day prior to our scheduled meeting at Histria. He had generously agreed to edit and preface an upcoming volume dedicated to Academician Dionisie Pippidi worked on by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization; it is now our duty to honour his memory.
Dear participants, I congratulate you for your interest and for your enthusiasm, for your passion and for your yearning for knowledge, which confer you an important advantage in this world in which people can all to easily be manipulated and easily fooled by the mass media and by various political and social systems. You will find that ancient worlds, much more coherent than the world today, are perennially relevant to the present, and that, in the world of the Ecclesiastes, “That which has been, will be again; and what has come to pass shall come anew, for there is nothing new under the Sun.”; indeed, you will come to understand that nothing either begins, or ends, with us. Bent over texts of ancient wisdom, you will discover that worlds are authentically created and recreated in the relationship between Man and Divinity, and you will find new meanings for the world you live in. After having fought Plato and the Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Cosmos, the world of light, the Gods’ own adornment, an orderly and finite Universe will seem to make much more sense and will appear much more spacious for your loftiest of aspirations. He who knows their place in the Universe and their own worth, beyond the specific circumstances and the squalor of the present, cannot be bought or fooled as easily.
I have the pleasure of greeting the organizers of this edition: the School’s Scientific Director for 2021, Dr Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures at the Polish Academy of Science, Professor Renata Tatomir of the “Hyperion” University of Bucharest, Associate Professor Maria Luiza Oancea of the University of Bucharest, and my younger colleagues at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, Dr Cătălin-Ștefan Popa and Dr Ana-Maria Răducan, as well as their distinguished guests: emeritus professor Francisca Băltăceanu of the University of Bucharest; Professor Giorgia Cafici of the “Giuseppe Botti” Centre for Egyptology, Italy; Professor John Gee, of the Brigham Young University of Utah; Dr Anca Dan of the CNRS, Paris; Dr So Miyagawa of the University of Kyoto; Dr Andreea Ștefan of the National History Museum of Romania; as well as the young alumni of the first edition of the School, Cristian Ioan Dumitru and Valentin Ciocan.
All that is left for me to do is to wish you the greatest success in your endeavours and, wherever life will take you, may you keep alive, and pass on, the light of ancient texts to which you have direct access, and of the wisdom of ancient languages. Remember that it has already travelled centuries, ever millennia, before having reached you.
Associate Professor Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska, Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures at the Polish Academy of Science:
”That is a pleasing welcome to what I know is going to be a great conference for students and for us – scholars as well. I do believe and wish that you enjoy the lectures prepared for you with great caution and careful planning. The more you learn now the easier and smoother you will enter into the world of work and self-development. It depends on you how much you will benefit from what you receive from your professors.”
Dear Mr. President, dear Professors, dear Colleagues, dear Students
My name is Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska and I am professor at The Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences. I am honored to deliver this opening speech for the second edition of Annual Interdisciplinary School of Ancient Greek, Egyptology and Oriental Languages. Moreover, it is an honor and a pleasure for me to welcome His Excellency the President, Professor Dr. Emil Constantinescu.
The challenge of a welcome speech is to find alternate ways to express oneself sincerely and I am here to welcome you most sincerely and from the bottom of my heart.
It is my pleasure and great honour to welcome all the illustrious guests, delegates and participants of the second edition of the Școala Anuală de egiptologie, greacă veche și orientalistică (The Annual School of Egyptology, Ancient Greek and Orientalistics) this year devoted to cosmogonies and creation texts, organised in a charming city of Bucharest, Romania, by the Institute of Advanced Studies for Levant Culture and Civilization in partnership with Hyperion University of Bucharest, Faculty of Social Humanistic and Nature Sciences and the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
It is a great honour for me to be the director of this interesting and important scientific and educational event for the second time. Thank you very much for your trust.
It is my privilege and honour to welcome once more (this time in English) our most illustrious and esteemed guest Prof. univ. dr. emeritus Emil Constantinescu, (President of the Scientific Council of The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, the President of Romania - 1996-2000), a distinguished and world-renowned scholar, to whom the Romanian people and all collaborating in scientific life and projects with Romania owe so much. So many achievements of his are unforgettable for the whole of Europe and the scientific world.
Many have made a huge effort to organise this meeting for us. We are deeply appreciative and offer you, dear Organisers, our most grateful welcome and we thank you very much indeed. Therefore, I would like to extend warm welcome and infinte gratitude to Professor Luiza Nitza, General Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization as well as Professor Ana-Maria Răducan, the main organiser of the first and the second editions of the Annual School from the part of the Levant Institute, and Professor Maria-Luiza Oancea representing Universitatea din București. Both are also the lecturers of this Summer School; the first teaching about Genesis and the latter on Platon.
Moreover, I am happy and honoured to welcome and thank for years of fruitful co-operation with a well renowned Romanian Egyptologist, Professor Renata-Gabriela Tatomir. As I said last year we are proud to have established our partnership in such a demanding and involving interdisciplinary knowledge that academic fields of Egyptology and Antiquity are.
Dear Students, you are lucky to have such highly committed to scholarly work Professors as your teachers and inspiration for further development.
What makes me even more proud this year is that we managed to have even more distinguished professors from all over the world who will present their research to the students.
I look around or in reality at the printed programme and I am in awe with the collected experts gathered here. I am deeply honoured to welcome, on behalf of the organisers and myself, all the eminent speakers and guests from all over the country, noted and experienced scholars who during the upcoming week will share their vast knowledge with the students. I have a pleasure to welcome distinguished guests from Romanian and foreign institutions:
Professor Emeritus Francisca Băltăceanu (University of Bucharest), The Cosmogony in the Bible
Professor Giorgia Cafici (Centro Italiano di Egittologia “Giuseppe Botti”- CIEB), speaking about The function of ancient Egyptian sculpture: statues of gods and statues of humans in temples and tombs - original, cosmogonical meanings and further syncretic hermeneutics and
The Egyptian Elite as Roman Citizens. Looking at Ptolemaic Private Portraiture
Professor John Gee (Brigham Young University, Utah), who will be delivering a paper on The Antecedents of the Esna Cosmology
Professor So Miyagawa (Kyoto University), who will be speaking on Cosmogony in Ancient Egyptian and Coptic Texts: From Pyramid Texts to Gnostic and Manichaean Texts
Dr. Cătălin-Ștefan Popa (ISACCL/ The Institute of Advanced Studies for Levant Culture and Civilization), On Angels in Syriac Exegesis. Prolegomena on the Creation of the World in the Bible
Dr. Anca Dan (CNRS/ Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) – The Invention of Continents
Dr. Andreea Ștefan (National Museum of Romanian History), The Cosmos in the Stoic Vision, the Universal Order and the Place of Man Epictetus’ Diatribes, III, 24 (course and seminar)
Cristian-Ioan Dumitru (University of Bucharest) - Leon VI Filosoful, Omilia a X-a la Schimbarea la față a Mântuitorului – curs practic.
Valentin Cocan (University of Bucharest), Theodoret al Cyrului – Întrebări privitoare la Geneză – curs practic.
Welcome whole-heartedly! It is heart warming to see you all gathered “here”. We are delighted to have you with us. Thank you. This that many of you have willingly joined us to be here serves as a reminder to us all just how important our work is.
Last but not least, I would also like to invite you to participate in my lectures delivered on the last day of the meeting. I will discuss The creator and the created world in the Pyramid Texts, as well as Gods and monsters as elements of the ancient Egyptian cosmogony according to the Pyramid Texts.
I believe that the Școala Anuală de egiptologie, greacă veche și orientalistică is a splendid and very precious initiative and I do believe it will develop every year.
Dear Students, this Summer School will not be possible if it were not for you! It is my pleasure to extend a hearty and cheerful welcome to you, big and warm enough to encompass you all! To say we are thrilled to see you is an understatement! Your presence makes us very happy. That is a pleasing welcome to what I know is going to be a great conference for students and for us – scholars as well. I do believe and wish that you enjoy the lectures prepared for you with great caution and careful planning. The more you learn now the easier and smoother you will enter into the world of work and self-development. It depends on you how much you will benefit from what you receive from your professors.
I urge you to think, to learn, to question and give your own answers.
Good luck in your studies, your private lives, stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the lectures!
Associate Professor Maria-Luiza Oancea, University of Bucharest
”Because this summer school not only aims to make these rare ancient languages known, but also to encourage young specialists to deepen them, we have dedicated for the first time a special section of Ancient Greek to students (alumni) of the first edition of the school, hoping that we will dedicate such sections to the other ancient languages for the future editions.”
Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, dear participants,
Welcome to the second edition of the Annual Interdisciplinary School of Ancient Greek, Egyptology and Oriental Languages, coordinated by prof. Joanna Popielska Grzybowska from the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences and organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization, represented by President Emil Constantinescu, to whom I extend my full gratitude.
The theme proposed this year is Cosmogony.
The cosmogonic myth enjoys a great prestige throughout the world, serving as a model for all the myths of origin (creation of plants, animals, man etc.), because the creation of the world precedes everything.
This coherent story formed by the myths of origin is a true story (as Mircea Eliade claims), which reveals how the cosmos appeared and developed, how man appeared and became a sexually differentiated mortal being (how death, sexuality and polarity appeared); it also shows us the way in which, starting from eschatology, the cosmos emerges and life appears, then, the way in which man was forced to work in order to earn a daily living etc.
Most human gestures are, in fact, a repetition of cosmogony: marriage, ritual scenarios performed on New Year's Eve or with the arrival of spring. The same thing happens with concentrated myths that evoke a primordial event (for example, cosmogony). An example of such a concentrated myth is the cosmogonic egg, which is a summary of cosmogony, accumulating in itself both the idea of rebirth and the cult of the dead (in fact, the links between the cult of the dead and New Year's ceremonies are well known). From a certain point of view, any myth is cosmogonic, because it talks about the emergence of a new cosmic situation.
Coincidentia oppositorum (meaning the polarity that appears in the deep structure of divinity) and the image of divine androgyny are archaic ways of expressing the paradox of divine reality. This coincidence oppositorum is achieved through the practice of orgy (or amorphous regression), through asceticism (which leads to the state of neutrality and indifference), through the game of changing clothes, but also through the cultivation of the concept and myth of androgyny.
The death and resurrection of all the gods of vegetation become the archetypes of all the dead and of all the resurrections, on any level they would manifest, precisely because they reveal the fate of the human condition.
The myths of initiation searches and trials reveal the very act by which the spirit transcends a conditioned, polar and fragmentary Cosmos in order to find the precreating unity of creation.
Every construction or manufacture has cosmogony as its model. The creation of the world becomes the archetype of any creative gesture of man. Sacred architecture has only resumed and developed cosmogonic and cosmological symbolism.
In the great Eastern civilizations the temple knows a new and important improvement: because the temple is no longer only imago mundi, but also an earthly reproduction of a transcendent model.
Living in a space meant repeating cosmogony and thus imitating the work of the gods.
The myth of the origin of drugs is still part of the cosmogonic myth.
A large number of incantations from the Middle East and Europe tell the story of the disease or demon that caused it and evoke the mythical moment when a deity or a saint managed to defeat evil.
The philosophy of humanity, not only of Greece, begins with the cosmological period (meaning the study of the world as a whole, of the origins of the universe), when we can talk about the emergence of a systematic philosophy.
But the Greek spirit was the only one who considered the need for knowledge as an end in itself, and not as a means. This is the difference between Greece and the East.
For the Phoenicians and Egyptians, for example, knowledge was an instrument of pragmatic success, while absolute knowledge was completely unknown to them. This is also the reason why the barbarian king Croisos could not understand how Solon was a connoisseur for the sake of knowledge, without a practical purpose.
Then man began to observe what was in front of him: the physical world, starting from the cosmogonic poems of Hesiod and Perekydes, as well as the Orphic poems, which posed for the first time the problem of the beginning and birth of the world.
However, philosophy seeks the absolute, which is valid for all things and will exist forever. So, searching for the truth, they were actually looking for the absolute essence of beings or their absolute principle. The Ionian and Pythagorean philosophers saw the essence of things in numbers, Heraclitus and the Eleates saw it in the rational logos, Anaxagoras saw it in nous (meaning mind or thought), as the only one responsible for the harmony and order of the cosmos.
And this year, the main concern of the organizers was to place the text at the center of our concerns. The text is the only one able to bring a highlight on the theoretical courses you will hear.
You can take advantage of practical courses in Ancient Greek, courses in Egyptian vocabulary specializing in cosmogony issues, courses in Syriac, but also stories related to the Hebrew Bible etc.
And, because this summer school not only aims to make these rare ancient languages known, but also to encourage young specialists to deepen them, we have dedicated for the first time a special section of Ancient Greek to students (alumni) of the first edition of the school, hoping that we will dedicate such sections to the other ancient languages for the future editions.
In conclusion, I wish you to enjoy, with us, the seven wonderful, extremely interesting days!
Professor Renata Tatomir, “Hyperion” University of Bucharest:
”Creation myths address questions deeply meaningful to the society that shares them, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context.”
Your Excellency Mr. President, Prof. dr. Emil Constantinescu
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honor as well as a privilege for me to deliver a short speech on the occasion of the opening of the second edition of the Annual Interdisciplinary School of Ancient Greek Egyptology, and Near Eastern Literature organized in partnership by the Institute of Advanced Studies for the Levant Culture and Civilization, Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Science (IKSIOPAN), Hyperion University of Bucharest, Department of Social, Humanistic and Natural Sciences and the University of Bucharest, Department of Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures. I am happy and grateful to be part of the organizing committee and honored to be the representative of Hyperion University.
Even more this event was to be carried out with the means of deep scientific academic analysis - historical and philological - as our main partner is the Institute of the Levant, led by an illustrious scientist and visionary president, His Excellency Mr. President Professor Dr. Emil Constantinescu.
The fact that we are today at the second edition of the annual school is a reason for satisfaction and hope. We are glad to see that, gradually, these fascinating interdisciplinary fields that go down deeply to the origins of humanity attract in Romania more and more both undergraduates and graduates, interested in the values of humanity's past. We could not have succeeded in this endeavor if we had not benefited from the support of his brilliant President Prof. Dr. Emil Constantinescu and of the institute he leads with wisdom and inspired vision. At the same time, we enjoy the support of colleagues from IKSIOPAN with a lot of experience in this field, represented here by Prof. Dr. Joanna Popielska-Grzbowska, the director of this year's edition and to whom we are also deeply grateful.
I was talking about the interest in knowing the depths of human history. This time the general topic of our school is cosmogony or the myths of the creation of the world.
A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the universe and the earthly world began and how people first came to inhabit it. In the society in which it is narrate, a creation myth is usually regarded as conveying profound and meaningful truths – metaphorically, symbolically, historically, or literally. They are commonly, although not always, considered cosmogonical myths – that is, they describe the ordering of the cosmos from a state of chaos or amorphousness.
Creation myths often share a number of features. They often are considered sacred accounts and can be found in nearly all known religious traditions. They are all stories with a plot and characters who are either deities, human-like figures, or animals, who often speak and transform easily. They are often set in a dim and nonspecific past that the well-known Romanian historian of religion Mircea Eliade termed in illo tempore ('at that time'). Creation myths address questions deeply meaningful to the society that shares them, revealing their central worldview and the framework for the self-identity of the culture and individual in a universal context.
While originally creation myths have been initiated and firstly developed in oral traditions after the invention of writing, they developed typically in multiple versions; found throughout human culture.
Ever since they opened the eyes of consciousness to reality, people have sought to explain the origins of the reality that they perceived. They looked up at the sky, and the immensity of the stars in the firmament incited their inquisitive spirit. While traveling, they met other people, exchanged ideas, and shared common observations and visions, which gave them hope that their findings were shared by others. And myths began to be organized into coherent systems about the appearance of the universe and the world. Today, theoretical physics talks about theoretical models regarding the origins of the universe. They are not far from the essence expressed in mythological narratives.
Dear participants, starting from today, over the course of a week, we invite you to join us and discover a series of the most interesting myths from the ancient Egypt, the Middle East and ancient Greece.
We are convinced that you will not regret it and you will be with us next year.
I would like to express my full gratitude to the distinguished colleagues from the organizing team - Dr. Ana-Maria Raducan, Dr Catalin Stefan Popa, Mrs. Director Luiza Nita and to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Luiza Dumitru Oancea, without whom this event could not have taken place.
At the same time, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the eminent international scholars – well-known Egyptologists and dear friends - who have generously agreed to present their research to the participants: Professor Dr Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska from the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures PAS of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Prof. John Gee, from Brigham Young University, Dr Giorgia Cafici, from the Centro Italiano di Egittologia "Giuseppe Botti", Dr So Miyagawa from Kyoto University.
I greet all the distinguished specialists, professors and researchers who will generously share during this first edition of our Annual School days, their university experience to the students who want to satisfy their thirst for knowledge.
I wish a lot of success to everyone, including me and I hope that this event will contribute to the opening of a gateway of knowledge and inspiration to that cradle of civilizations and humanity represented by the Middle East, the Levant, the Mediterranean and ancient Egypt which have provided successful models and networks to mankind to this day.
Last but not least, I cannot close my speech without commemorating the blessed memory of an illustrious scholar, archaeologist and dear professor of mine, collaborator of the Levant Institute, Prof. Dr. Alexandru Barnea, who left us last year, unfairly fast and who undoubtedly still had a lot to say.