Georg Luck, a great teacher and translator of the ancients has passed today.
Beyond the stone sculptures, illustrated manuscripts, beautiful yet sterile museum halls or even legal maneuvering to either keep or return stolen antiquities, lays the knowledge of the ancients.
Georg Luck, author and professor of the classics at Johns Hopkins University, brought relevancy to ancient scripts. He removed centuries of separation to reveal a shared quest for understanding the mysteries of life and the extent the human spirit will reach for answers. His work is a testament to breaking the loop of ignorance so as not to repeat cycles of history.
One may have asked Luck, how far back to study history to be relevant. I would expect Luck to have responded, as far back as you can push your brain to absorb. Expand your knowledge until your eyes tear. Explore the intellect, the unconscious, the subtle way the brain collects, digests, assimilates and processes information.
In Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds, Luck translates Greek and Roman texts on magic, miracles, daemonology, divination, astrology and alchemy. At first glance, these forbidden taboo topics are far to scandalous to mention in esteemed educated circles and certainly not in the company of any devout religious person.
Yet, if you open your mind to explore the questions – what was the interaction of the ancients with magic? How did the ancients influence future religions? How are the ancients different from people today? According to Luck,
It has been said that the religious person prays to a deity in a humble, submissive manner, while the magus compels his gods by means of threats, that the religious person relies more or less on the good will or mercy of a god, while the magician uses some special knowledge that gives him power (sometimes he knows the secret name to which a daemon will respond). This may be generally true. And yet we find a religious mood in magical texts (no.23), and the magi use rituals and liturgies not unlike those performed in the great religions of the present and the past. Their concerns are the same: health, wealth, good looks, children, protection from dangers or disasters, and so on.
Imagine so many centuries ago, the human concerns and the desire for answers are the same as today. All revealing a common timeless human quest to understand the individual’s fragile position in life.
The ancients have lost their translator today and hopefully someone else will pick up the mantle to speak for these lost and yet relevant cultures.
Obituary notice for Professor Luck.