Thursday, February 17, 2011


My Greek prof used the following example as a way to open up our class tonight. He started by telling us about the death of Jim Morrison. Morrison moved to Paris, France in March of 1971 and died not too long after of a supposed drug overdose. The overdose was never confirmed by French medical authorities, so there has been some controversy surrounding the exact details of Morrison's death.

What does Jim Morrison have to do with Greek?

Morrison was buried in a borrowed grave (literally - it was leased for 30 years, which begs the question, what did they do after the 30 years was up? Re-up the lease on the plot or move the body?). At the time of his burial his grave had no marker, but the French government placed a "shield" around it which identified it as his final resting place. The shield was soon stolen, however. A bust of Morrison was crafted and placed at his grave in 1981 to mark the 10 year anniversary of his death, but that was defaced and eventually stolen as well. At some point in the 90's, Morrison's father made a flat stone to mark his son's grave, seen here:

As you can see, the marker bears Morrison's full name, the date of his birth and death, and a Greek inscription, transliterated as: "Kata ton daimona autou." After a little research about how this inscription came to be, I learned that his father had it put on the marker, and that he believes it to say "According to his own destiny," or as it is very loosely interpreted, "True to his own spirit."

I don't know who told Morrison's father that the inscription means "According to his own destiny," but that is certainly not what it says in Koine Greek, the type of Greek that the New Testament is written in. In New Testament Greek, the inscription literally reads, "According to the demon of him," or "According to his demon."

Admittedly, there are more types of Greek than just Koine Greek, so maybe "daimona" means something else, like "destiny," in some other form of Greek. But if you were to come across "daimona" (from "daimonion") in the New Testament (or in any other document written in Koine), it would mean one thing, and one thing only: demon.

It's kind of creepy to think about: the man's name, followed by the years of his life, and then the statement that it (his life) was "according to his demon."

No comments: