Humans like to visualize abstract ideas to make them more tangible. In ancient times, people described abstract ideas often in the form of various gods and goddesses. Among the most abstract ideas are the concepts of knowledge and wisdom themselves. Many cultures imagined gods and goddesses of knowledge and wisdom (See previous blog entry on the difference between knowledge and wisdom).
The wisest of the Egyptian gods was Thoth (Djhuty, Djehuty, Tehuty) (depicted with the head of an isis or a baboon). Thoth was one of the earlier Egyptian gods, thought to be scribe to the gods, who kept a great library of scrolls, over which one of his wives, Seshat (the goddess of writing) was thought to be mistress. He was associated by the Egyptians with speech, literature, arts, learning. He, too, was a measurer and recorder of time, as was Seshat. The magical powers of Thoth were so great, that the Egyptians had tales of a 'Book of Thoth', which would allow a person who read the sacred book to become the most powerful magician in the world. The Book which "the god of wisdom wrote with his own hand" was, though, a deadly book that brought nothing but pain and tragedy to those that read it, despite finding out about the "secrets of the gods themselves" and "all that is hidden in the stars".
|Sarasvati - Goddess of Learning|
I find it interesting that Sarasvati represents learning, the PROCESS of gaining knowledge, not knowledge itself. Saravsati illustrates that knowledge needs to be gained through learning and not through some magical transfer.
Odin with his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn
|Athena - Goddess of Wisdom (Statue in front of parlament building in Vienna)|
|Prometheus (by Heinrich Fueger 1817)|
In addition to the goddess Athena and the titan Prometheus who were wise and knowledgeable, ancient greeks also knew Sophia (being wisdom impersonate) and Episteme (being knowledge impersonate).
|Sophia - The greek goddess of wisdom|
|Episteme - The greek goddess of knowledge|
Further information: Wikipedia list of Knowledge Deities