Exploring myth

Pagan gods who walked on water

Walking on water is a common motif in mythology.

The Flash has done it.

Fig. 1

Naruto has done it.

Fig. 2

General Zod has done it.

Fig. 3

Even Jim Carrey has done it.

Fig. 4

The list could go on. Mythology pre-dating the Common Era also featured this motif, as I demonstrated in The Perennial Gospel, pp.528, 643-46. Religious apologists, predictably, seem to take issue with this fact. Most likely this is because the divine protagonist of their own scriptures was likewise said to have walked on water, but was rather late to the game. One apologist in particular has recently taken issue with one of the examples that I’ve used before, the Etruscan sun god Usil, which in turn was made into a concise little internet “meme” illustration by some folks in Milwaukee.

Fig. 5

The apologist claims of this picture that-screenshot-2014-10-23 13-24-26 -for his own god’s tale of walking on water.

“Here”? Well, actually right “here” they most certainly have not inferred such, for this picture “here” never once mentions the name of his god nor even alludes to it. The gods mentioned in this picture are Usil, Helios, Apollo, and Sol Invictus, so far as I can see. Perhaps that Milwaukee gang has elsewhere made this inference? If so, then that is what this apologist should’ve linked to, but given that all he displays in his “here” is this picture, that’s all we can go by for now. And in that “here,” his god is not mentioned at all. Thus any correlation to that god one might infer just from this picture alone would be based entirely on the viewer’s own “pattern seeking” or “parallelomania,” and not from anything actually stated within this picture. And to do so would be an unconscious admission that a conspicuous similarity is in fact there to be seen. But that’s really beside the point here. Moving along, he goes on to write that:


The Etruscans of Italy never saw the dawn break over the sea nor the sun rise out of it; to do so, one must live on an eastern coast.

Dr. Emeline H. Richardson, in Etruscan Life and Afterlife: A Handbook of Etruscan Studies[1]

Anyway, the reasoning employed by the apologist here fails him. First of all, while I have been unable to find a so-called “the mythology” of the Etruscan Usil (and conspicuously the apologist has omitted any citation or link to it), even if there does exist some source that states that Usil rises & sets in water, that does not contradict the notion that Usil likewise walked on water, just as it is no contradiction that his own god both arose out of water (during baptism) and also walked on water. Moreover, to further humor the apologist, even if a source existed which not only says that Usil rises & sets in water while never explicitly stating that he did walk on water, but even went so far as to outright explicitly deny that Usil ever walked on water- that would still pose no problem for us and in no way invalidates the artistic evidence provided which clearly portrays Usil walking on top of water. The reason this is not a problem is explained rather thoroughly by an actual scholar of history, Professor Elizabeth Vandiver:

First of all, let’s think about literature. Even in as well documented and well studied a society as classical Greece, the written versions of myths involve several problems for a scholar of myth. First of all, most obviously, written myths are frozen. By that I mean that once a version of a myth is written down, it’s fixed, there it is. And we, literate people, have a strong tendency to assume that that means that version is somehow the myth, the real myth, the only way the myth was ever told. But that’s not how traditional tales work, in any oral setting. If I asked every one of you watching this lecture to tell me the story of Little Red Riding Hood, I would get as many slightly different versions as there are people watching this lecture. That’s how a living oral tradition works. Once a story is written down, when our only access to it is through writing, we tend to assume that’s the real story.

I can give a clear example of what I mean by this. Everyone knows the story of Oedipus the King, how he killed his father, married his mother, without knowing who they were. When he discovered the terrible thing that he had done, after his mother hanged herself, Oedipus blinded himself, went into exile, never returned home to Thebes again, right?

Well, right according to Sophocles, who wrote the play Oedipus the King. In Homer, in The Odyssey, there’s a very brief reference to Oedipus which agrees that, yes, he killed his father and married his mother. Yes, his mother killed herself after the truth came out, but Oedipus, says Homer, continued to rule in Thebes many years thereafter.

Which is the “real” version of the Oedipus myth?

They both are.

Sophocles’ version dominates our understanding of the myth because it is such a marvelous play, and because it’s so famous. And this is the kind of thing we have to guard against. Often we have only one version of a myth. We have to remember there probably were others.

Another problem is that only a fraction of ancient Greek literature has survived. Most of what was written is now lost, and often the things that survived do not tell us what we would particularly like to know. They weren’t written for us, so they don’t give us the details that would be most helpful to us. One book we will use a great deal in this course is called The Library of Greek Mythology. It was written by a man named Apollodorus, about whom we know absolutely nothing except that he wrote this book. He lived in the first or second century AD, probably, and he compiled brief summaries of all the myths he knew at a time when some of those myths were starting to fragment or be forgotten. So that’s very useful for us. We’ll use Apollodorus as a sourcebook, but even there we have to remember that he’s giving usually only one or at most two versions of myths, and that there may have been myths he chose not to recount or didn’t know, and there may have been other versions of the ones he did recount. So much for literature.

So where does this leave us? Is this a hopeless endeavor? Should we just give up at this point and say there’s no way to study classical mythology? Obviously, I don’t think so, but I think we need to bear these difficulties in mind as we start our survey of classical mythology. We need to remember that we are studying only particular variants of the myths. Sometimes we can reconstruct a fairly full version of how the myth must have operated in its original society when we have all sorts of variants to work from. Other times we can’t. Other times we’ll have only one version of a myth and no others. Some references remain tantalizingly obscure. Sometimes we really just don’t know what a character’s name or what a snippet of a story refers to.

Occasionally a work of art preserves what is clearly a very different version from the only ones known to us by literature. There’s a beautiful classical Greek painting, vase painting, of a character who is quite clearly Jason, Jason who got the golden fleece after his voyage on the Argo. The golden fleece is there on a tree behind Jason; the tree is guarded by a dragon. All of these elements point to the fact that this is very clearly Jason, and yet in this painting the dragon is either swallowing Jason or spitting him back out again. Jason is halfway out of the dragon’s mouth. His arms and head are visible outside the dragon’s mouth.

Fig. 6: Red-figure cup by Douris, 5th cen. BCE, currently at the Vatican’s Etruscan Gregorian Museum.

In no written version of Jason’s story that has survived for us does the dragon eat Jason, or attempt to eat Jason. The whole point is that Jason is helped by Medea, who gives him magic potion so that he can overcome the dragon without being eaten. If this vase painting had not survived, we would not know that there had ever been a variant in which Jason was eaten by the dragon. Because we have the painting, we know this variant existed, but that’s all we know about it. We have no written description of that version of Jason’s story.

Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, Classical Mythology[2]




There is no ancient text or inscription that explicitly states that Jason was swallowed and regurgitated by the dragon, and there does not need to be- the artistic evidence is enough to establish that as part of the mythos. Likewise, there is no need for there to ever be a text or inscription that explicitly states that Usil walked on water- the artistic evidence is more than enough.
And even if it has irreconcilable differences with textual sources of the mythos, that too is not a problem, just as it is no problem that Jason being eaten might contradict the point of taking Medea’s potion in the written versions, and just as it is no problem that Sophocles’ version of Oedipus has irreconcilable differences with Homer’s version. Neither one is the “wrong” one or the “canonical” one. They are both the “real” version, just as Vandiver stated.
That is, of course, assuming there even is such a contradictory textual version of Usil, a version which the apologist has yet to provide. But no matter, it would be moot for him to do so at this point anyway.

Second of all, that Milwaukee group was not “reading into a picture what they want to find.” Their position was the obvious & succinct interpretation given by the very museums which currently house those artifacts, and by other scholars who have examined them.

With a bent-knee pose that connotes rapid movement, the Etruscan sun god Usil dashes across breaking waves.

The Art Institute of Chicago[3]

The Etruscan sun god, Usil, skims over the surface of a series of crested waves. His legs are bent in a position used by artists in the early 400s B.C. to denote a rapid running motion.

The J. Paul Getty Museum[4]

Chased decoration on reverse with a scene showing a naked youth, perhaps Usil the Etruscan sun-god, running over the sea, and a border of ivy scrolls.

The British Museum[5]

A nude winged youth hurries over the waves of the ocean on an engraved Etruscan mirror (now lost, see Gerhard), and a comparable figure appears on a terracotta antefix from Temple B at Pyrgi. The latter has been plausibly identified as Usil, the Etruscan sun-god (see Vacano), and it is likely that the figure on the cista foot represents the same divinity.

Dr. Sybille Haynes, in A Passion for Antiquities[6]

Another Etruscan myth of daybreak is represented in the Pyrgi terracotta antefixes. These I have discussed elsewhere, following Krauskopf’s interpretation of the running youth as Usil. [See below.]

Dr. Erika Simon, in The Religion of the Etruscans[7]

The Etruscan sun god Usil walking on water; based on a terracotta antefix from Pyrgi, 6th cen. BCE, currently at the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome (Simon, p.49).

Fig. 7: The Etruscan sun god Usil running on water; based on a terracotta antefix from Pyrgi, 6th cen. BCE, currently at the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome.[8]


Are we to infer via this apologist’s reasoning that these scholars & curators were likewise as unfamiliar with Usil’s mythology as he asserts of the Milwaukee gang, since these scholars & curators came to the exact same conclusion about the artwork as the Milwaukee gang did? No. No, we should not. One need only to look at the artifacts for such a conclusion to be obvious. It’s just Occam’s Razor.

Third of all, it seems clear that the Milwaukee gang was in fact aware that Usil rises from out of the sea since…

they actually included an image of Usil blatantly doing that very thing!

Fig. 8: “The Etruscan sun god, known as Usil, rises from the waves“- Dr. Nancy Thomson de Grummond.[9]


And that image of Usil actually rising from out of the water bears no resemblance to the previous two artifacts where Usil is clearly seen walking on top of the water. The apologist is making a rather ridiculous and unjustified conflation of the Milwaukee gang’s third image with the two that preceded it. The foolish reasoning he is attempting to employ to try and deny the obvious is exposed for the fallacy that it is when it is applied in the exact same manner to other mythological figures.
For example, had someone pointed out the obvious by saying that the following images depict Mithras walking on earth-

Fig. 9

Fig. 10

Fig. 11: Various scenes of Mithras walking on earth; Roman sandstone relief, currently at the Museum Schloss Fechenbach in Dieburg.

-the apologist’s reasoning would demand that such a person check the mythology “as they would have realized that [Mithras] was not walking on the [earth], but rising out of it.” After all, just as the Milwaukee group showed Usil rising up out of the water, the same is seen of Mithras rising from out of the earth. And just as no text has yet been provided explicitly stating verbatim that “Usil walked on water,” no Mithraic text has been provided which explicitly states that he “walked on earth.”

Mithras rises out of the earth

Fig. 12: Mithras rises from out of the earth (ibid.). Should it be inferred that since this image depicts Mithras rising from the earth, that Fig.9-11 likewise depict him rising from the earth and not walking on the earth? Of course not, the two scenes do not resemble each other in that regard.

Mithras rising from out of the earth, bearing a flaming torch, much like the image of Usil rising from the seas while bearing flaming orbs; Roman marble relief, currently at the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome.

Fig. 13: Mithras rising from out of the earth, bearing a flaming torch, much like the image of Usil rising from the sea while bearing flaming orbs; Roman marble relief, currently at the Palazzo dei Conservatori in Rome.

So should we deny Occam’s Razor and reinterpret Fig.9-11 not as Mithras walking on earth as our eyes can clearly see, but rather as him rising up from out of it? Even when Fig.9-11 bear no resemblance to Fig.12-13, where Mithras actually is rising up out of the earth?

Likewise here with Gaia, where she is seen standing on the earth next to Atlas in the Garden of the Hesperides:

Fig. 14: “On the right stands Gaia, the goddess earth, along with a Hesperid and the serpent-entwined tree (not shown).”
Apulian red-figure krater, 4th cen. BCE, currently at the Dallas Museum of Art.[10]


Well, that can’t very well be her standing on the earth as our eyes clearly tell us, no, that must be her rising up out of the earth since her mythology elsewhere says she is known to do so, in spite of the fact that it bears no resemblance to the images where she actually is rising up out of the earth.

Fig. 15: “Detail of Gaia rising up from the earth in support of her Gigante sons, from a painting of the Gigantomakhia (War of the Giants). The earth goddess is depicted as a large woman, half risen from the earth.”
Attic red-figure krater, 5th-4th cen. BCE, currently at the Naples National Archaeological Museum.[11]


Or to bring this closer to home for the apologist, when the first man is here shown walking on the earth-

Fig. 16: The first man & woman walk on the earth as they leave the garden of their god; taken from a fresco scene at the Sistine Chapel.

-we must conclude that he is in fact not walking on the earth as our eyes can clearly see him doing, and instead we must conclude that this is a depiction of him rising up out of the earth since we know that elsewhere his mythology indicates that he rises up out of the earth.

Fig. 17: The alleged first man is here shown rising from out of the earth, thus Fig. 16 does not show him walking on the earth, right? From the Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel.

After all, just as no text has yet been provided explicitly stating verbatim that “Usil walked on water,” nowhere do the canonized scriptures explicitly state that the first man ever “walked on earth.” Hence he must NEVER have been portrayed as walking on earth, in spite of what our own eyes can clearly see in the artwork and what Occam’s Razor tells us to succinctly deduce. Right?

No, that would be ridiculous to do, and so the apologist’s argument is likewise ridiculous. Talk about someone “reading into a picture what they want to find,” he definitely fits that bill here. Usil most certainly did walk on water in those pre-Common Era artifacts shown by the Milwaukee group, as affirmed by the scholars who have examined them.

So this was not a case of that Milwaukee gang just reading into a picture what they want to find, rather, it was a case of yet another flustered apologist obstinately digging in his heels and engaging in some classic 5-minute Wikipedia research, grasping at the first straw he could find that said anything about Usil & water that did not include walking on it- not anything that contradicted Usil walking on water, not anything that explicitly denied that Usil walked on water, but just the first thing he came across that said something other than Usil walked on water. It could’ve even merely been something that said Usil drank water and it likely still would’ve been dubiously juxtaposed against Usil walking on water as though the former somehow voids out the latter, “if they’d have just familiarized themselves with the mythology they’d know these images are actually showing Usil drinking water rather than walking on it!” Anything to kick against the goads of reality and sear the conscience with a hot iron.

Fourth of all, regardless of how the original artist may or may not have intended his artwork to be interpreted, and even regardless of how scholars & curators today have interpreted the artifacts, and especially regardless of how this apologist would like for them to be interpreted, one question that must not be overlooked is- how would other peoples of that time have interpreted them? How would a passerby from a foreign land like say from (for an entirely random example) the area around Syria or somewhere thereabouts 😉 , who had no knowledge of Etruscan culture or mythology, have interpreted such a depiction of Usil? They see a man walking/running, they see water beneath his feet, what else is such a layperson to conclude but that this character is walking on water? We see such a thing all the time in the arts, and in literature, even to this day. That thing being the fact that regardless of whatever the creator of the original content intended, later artists who are inspired by that content often reuse it in a very different way than the original artist intended. Nevertheless, the original content was in fact a precedent for those artists who were later inspired by it. And in many cases, those later artists even explicitly admit as much. For example, regardless of whatever the authors of the scriptures of this apologist’s religion intended when they portrayed their god walking on water (as well as other motifs in the story), and regardless of how very different that scene was from anything in the original Robocop film by Paul Verhoeven, Mr. Verhoeven nevertheless explicitly stated that when he portrayed Robocop “walking on water,” he did so because he was deliberately copying the story of this apologist’s god.




The differences do not matter, as I have explained many times (see The Perennial Gospel pp.942-60). And the original interpretation does not matter. The inspiration was still there, and the copying was still deliberate.
Finally, last of all, as stated at the beginning of this post, Usil was hardly unique in this attribute of walking on water.
Perhaps most explicitly there was Poseidon’s son, Orion.

Pherecydes [5th cen. BCE] says that he was the son of Poseidon and Euryale. Poseidon had given him the power of walking on the sea.

(Pseudo)Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1.4.3-5 (1st cen. CE[12])[13]

There was also Poseidon’s son, Euphemus.

After them from Taenarus came Euphemus whom, most swift-footed of men, Europe, daughter of mighty Tityos, bare to Poseidon. He was wont to skim the swell of the grey sea, and wetted not his swift feet, but just dipping the tips of his toes was borne on the watery path.

Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 1.179-84 (3rd cen. BCE)[14]

And since Poseidon provided that ability, that power can be extrapolated to Poseidon himself.

Dressed in gold, he took his well-made golden whip,
climbed in the chariot, then set off across the waves.
From the depths, sea creatures played around him everywhere,
acknowledging their king. The joyful ocean parted.
He sped on quickly, keeping the bronze axle dry.
The prancing horses carried him to the Achaean ships.

Homer, The Iliad 13.26-31(8th cen. BCE)[15]

Then, of course, there are the many Egyptian deities who are seen walking on water in the Duat, as seen in the tomb of Thutmose III. They can especially be observed doing so in the 2nd cavern, and among them is perhaps the most infamous god brought up in discussions on alleged “copycat” motifs- Horus.

Horus (with Sekhema-Kheftiu) walking on water in the netherworld, while behind him sails the barque of the moon; from the 2nd hour of the Book of Amduat as seen in the tomb of Thutmose III, KV34, 15th century BCE.

Fig. 18: Horus (with Sekhema-Kheftiu) walking on water in the netherworld, while behind him sails the barque of the moon; from the 2nd hour of the Book of Amduat as seen in the tomb of Thutmose III, KV34, 15th century BCE.

Fig. 19: Twelve goddesses walking on water as they guide the barque of Re during the 4th hour of the night. The inscription explicitly states that “they are standing upon their lake“[16]; from the tomb of Ramesses I,  KV16, 13th century BCE.

So like the Etruscan sun god, Usil, here one of the Egyptian sun gods (the earliest attested of their sun gods[17]), is also seen walking on water, and in a source much earlier than those for Usil. And so it should come as no surprise that the aforementioned religious apologist once again stuck his foot in his mouth when he ignorantly tried to deny this fact about Horus:

screenshot-2014-11-03-12-57-38Oh boy.

And now, for your listening pleasure, Mr. Eddie Money:


The saga continues below.

[Back to Home Page]


[1] Emeline H. Richardson, “VII: An Archaeological Introduction to the Etruscan Language,” in Etruscan Life and Afterlife: A Handbook of Etruscan Studies, ed. L. Bonfante (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986), 228.

[2] Elizabeth Vandiver, Classical Mythology (Chantilly: The Teaching Company LLC, 2000), Lecture 1. (Emph. added.)

[3] The Art Institute of Chicago, “Collections,” accessed January 16, 2014, (Emph. added.)

[4] The J. Paul Getty Museum, “Vessel Foot with Usil,” accessed October 27, 2014, (Emph. added.)

[5] The British Museum, “Collection online: mirror,” accessed January 16, 2014, (Emph. added.)

[6] Sybille Haynes, “73: Foot of a Cista in the Form of a Winged Youth,” in A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, eds. M. True and K. Hamma (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), 161. (Emph. added.)

[7] Erika Simon, “Gods in Harmony: The Etruscan Pantheon,” in The Religion of the Etruscans, eds. N. Thomson de Grummond and E. Simon (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006), 47. (Emph. added.)

[8] Ibid. 49.

[9] Nancy Thomson de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006), 8. (Emph. added.)

[10] Theoi, “T20.2 ATLAS & GAIA,” (accessed October 13, 2014).

[11] Theoi, “T1.5 GAIA & THE GIGANTOMAKHIA,” (accessed October 13, 2014).

[12] Michael Simpson, Gods & Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus Translated with Introduction and Notes (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976), 1.

Luke Roman and Monica Roman, Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Mythology (New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010), 301.

Wendy Cotter, Miracles in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook (New York: Taylor & Francis, 1999-2003), 13, 26.

Vandiver, loc. cit.

[13] Simpson, op. cit., 17.

[14] Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, trans. R.C. Seaton (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1912-67), 15.

[15] Homer, The Iliad, trans. Ian Johnston (Arlington: Richer Resources Publications, 2006-07), 269. (Emph. added.)

[16] Erik Hornung and Theodor Abt, The Egyptian Book of Gates (Zurich: Living Human Heritage Publications, 2014), 120. (Emph. added.)

[17] Glenn S. Holland, Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World (Chantilly: The Teaching Company LLC, 2005), Lecture 7.

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4 comments on “Pagan gods who walked on water

  1. dnboswell
    December 5, 2014
    WARNING: Sleep inducing bickering ahead- proceed at your own risk.

    WARNING: Sleep-inducing bickering ahead, proceed at your own risk.

    It appears that today a retort was published towards this article here on water-walking gods. Again, it mostly concerns the Etruscan god Usil. Even though the author has promised his audience several other projects on that have been pending for months now, and even though I know he’s received at least one challenge from another fellow blogger prior to this, and even though he’s said he was going to move away from “heated exchanges” & the sin of being “confrontational,” “arrogant, mocking, and, in general, a jerk,” this critic nevertheless apparently felt threatened enough by my post to abandon priorities and jump ahead to attempt to salvage some pride here. (And it is also amusing seeing today’s stats for my meager little blog here & my account reveal that he’s combing over the internet desperately looking for my fingerprints & any low-hanging fruit to set up as tomato cans, and this not being his first case of cyber-stalking.) He even amended his older work to try and preemptively poison the well for any future readers, all ‘cuz of lil’ ol’ me. But whatever. What’s odd about this retort is that it mostly just amounts to the author restating things that I had already stated in my post, and presenting them in such a way as to appear as though they countered my post. Observe:

    I pointed out that actually this was the sun god rising from the great sea.

    As did I, and I quote-

    Third of all, it seems clear that the Milwaukee gang was in fact aware that Usil rises from out of the sea since…

    they actually included an image of Usil blatantly doing that very thing!

    "The Etruscan sun god, known as Usil, rises from the waves"- Dr. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend. [Nancy Thomson de Grummond, Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006), 8.]

    And that image of Usil actually rising from out of the water

    … Usil rising from the sea while bearing flaming orbs

    So that’s just redundant on his part, and it also therefore renders his subsequent efforts to reaffirm this fact (that we both agreed upon) entirely moot, e.g.-

    Many ancient civilizations <abbreviated> sea to ascend to the heavens.

    For example, Jean-Rene Jannot <abb.> being depicted in this iconography.

    If you do bother checking <abb.>Usil rising from the sea presents no genuine difficulties.

    As I had pointed out <abb.> upward to the sky.

    That describing <abb.> rose from the sea.

    For anyone who <abb.> rising from the sea.

    ^All completely moot. All worthless in the end, since neither myself nor the Milwaukee gang (so far as I can tell) were “challenging it,” and to think there was “someone challenging it” is to be “wrong in that assumption” as well. And apparently this isn’t the first time he’s lost the plot regarding his opponent’s position. Anyway, pressing onward-

    It is not difficult to figure out what is going on in these depictions once you know the mythology surrounding the sun gods at the time.

    It is even less difficult to figure out what is going on if you have sufficient eyesight. There’s this attempted implication here that the Milwaukee group was having difficulty wrapping their heads around something rather complex and so they just made up something to fill in the gaps. But instead it is the case that, much like the sources they lifted the images from, they were just following Occam’s Razor to the most glaringly obvious & succinct conclusion, i.e. Usil walked on water.

    It turns out that almost nothing he cites is by anyone who would be an authority on Etruscan culture.

    Meanwhile literally nothing he cited in his initial post was any authority on anything, for he gave no citations whatsoever, unless you want to count the Milwaukee group, which I doubt he would for obvious reasons. And even in his reply here, he merely cites several of the exact same authorities I did (e.g. the J. Getty Paul Museum—apparently the very museum which currently houses one of the artifacts, Dr. Sybille Hanes, Dr. Erika Simon). So, you’re welcome. Although there was a transparent attempt to extrapolate other sources into his post, from whom he cited no material, as a sad smoke & mirrors act to try and bolster his ‘numbers’ (e.g. “former student of”). But two can play at that game, for instance, the essay by Dr. Erika Simon in turn cites agreement by Etruscologist Dr. Ingrid Krauskopf, and was edited by Etruscologist Dr. Nancy Thomson de Grummond.

    Moreover, the citing of sources was not for the sake of pulling rank, it was for the sake of rebutting the dubious allegation against the Milwaukee gang that they were “reading into a picture what they want to find.” They were merely following what the very websites they pulled those images from were telling them. Well, that and Occam’s Razor.

    What has never been provided thus far is any citation, from a source of any caliber, which describes these two images1 & 2as Usil rising up from out of the water, let alone one that does so while also denying that he’s walking on water. Even those two images aside, there hasn’t been any source of any caliber presented yet which denies that Usil walked on water, and that would be more to the point since the motif of rising had already been agreed upon from the start, as shown above. But of course, as I already made clear in my previous post, even providing a source which went that far would likewise be moot to do so at this point anyway.

    It seems to be primarily a few websites approaching it from a strictly artistic viewpoint who may have no familiarity with Etruscan mythology. Once actual experts are consulted, as we shall see, it is a much different story.

    “Strictly,” eh. Doesn’t say that anywhere on either site per their search engines or on Google Advanced. Meanwhile these entries-[link] certainly seem to include non/extra-artistic information and use of mythology. So they clearly aren’t working within such restricted parameters. Moreover, that’s not even a true dichotomy, art vs. mythology (again refer to Dr. Vandiver), and art is both the oldest and most common extant medium which preserves ancient myth since it predated the invention of writing and was simpler to learn than writing (do recall the majority of ancient peoples were illiterate). The entry quoted in my post from the AIC was an excerpt from the latest edition of their official Essential Guide, which includes scores of scholars and much data beyond just “strictly artistic,” including much info on mythology as well. The artifacts in question here are pieces of ARTwork after all, hence it only makes sense that an art historian like Dr. Karen Manchester (who supplied one of the entries cited) would be consulted before a textual historian, cultural anthropologist, mythographer, etc. If, prior to this debate here, Dr. Manchester had interpreted an ancient crucifix as portraying the sacrificial death of this blogger’s god, he would not have so much as batted an eye, let alone call into question the relevancy of her credentials. Crucifixes are artistic artifacts, no need to call the Vatican or call in Bart Ehrman & co., an art historian will do just fine and has sufficient knowledge of the mythology to make that call. Many an artifact portraying mythology have been properly deciphered by such folks. And in fact, art history was one of the fields of Etruscologist Sybille Haynes, whom this author cited (following my lead, of course), and likewise for Etruscologist Jean-René Jannot, whom he also cited.

    In the depiction on the left in the above meme, the upward direction is also communicated by Usil having the front foot on the same horizontal plane as the back knee and thus the appearance of climbing or going up steps with Usil higher with each step.

    As one of the very sources he likewise cites, the J. Paul Getty Museum, states of this positioning- “His legs are bent in a position used by artists in the early 400s B.C. to denote a rapid running motion.” This is exactly why an artistic expert is useful in deciphering physical artifacts. And hence “Usil skims over the surface of a series of crested waves.” If it had been a mythographer or “renowned” Etruscologist that had made the same statement, I wouldn’t be surprised if this blogger would have gone vice-versa and started insisting on art historians, archaeologists, etc. instead- “turns out that almost nothing he cites is by anyone who would be an authority on deciphering physical artifacts.” Anything to kick against the goads.

    The myth is also retold here where, after describing how the waves and Usil’s arms, legs, and wings depict motion, it is stated:

    Such liveliness of pose characterizes images of the Etruscan sun god Usil, identified with the Greek Helios, who was believed to traverse the course of the heavens every day as he brought light to the Earth.

    That’s rather irrelevant, for his own god also traversed the heavens (and allegedly will again) but nevertheless ALSO walked on water. Or keeping it just to sun gods, the sun god Re likewise traversed the heavens yet also sailed on water as he passed through the netherworld. This author keeps obstinately attempting (without success) to extrapolate the Milwaukee meme’s 3rd image (of Usil actually rising from water) over onto the images preceding it to try and force an abandonment of “walk on water” that we clearly see in those first two images and he keeps trying to force a dichotomy where there isn’t one. As I already pointed out in my previous post, Usil can (and does) in fact do BOTH. The fact that he rises from the sea has no bearing on whether or not he walks on water.

    Yet another form of Usil has him just halfway out of the sea as he begins rising above the waves as can be seen here. Of course, this blogger, in his own book, described this item as Usil parting the sea or something like that. Go figure.

    This blogger (me) said in his own blog, the very one which the above author is here attempting to retort to, that this was indeed a depiction of (I quote yet again)- ” ‘The Etruscan sun god, known as Usil, rises from the waves‘.” Again, he has lost the plot and continues in his fallacy of trying to portray things as though I somewhere, somehow, in someway disagreed with the notion that Usil arose from out of the water. That’s not where the contention lies. It never was, and he will fail (just as he has done here) to demonstrate that I ever tried to argue or even imply that Usil did not rise from the water or even merely omitted that Usil rose from the water. I stated that Usil DID do as much in NO ambiguity. Yet this author wants to argue the point and redundantly restate the same “needed background info” already seen in my post as well. He really is just shadowboxing here. Go figure.

    Moreover, what was stated in the ebook was an observation of what our eyes can clearly see in the art work. The water is splitting right down the middle there, and thus to describe it as such is no less justified than describing Usil as “just halfway out of the sea,” or as a bare chested male with curly hair & arms outstretched holding an orb in each hand, since we can all clearly see such things right there in the image, just as we can also see the waters parting in the following images even without any accompanying caption that explicitly says so:

    url0urlurl3sand of beach caribbean sea

    This appears to be emerging as a pattern for this author, to try to juxtapose two things in such a way as to imply that if one is the case then it must rule out the other- if rising from the water here, then not walking on water there, if rising from the water then not parting the water. Yet, unlike the water in that image, there’s no such dichotomy to be seen there between those motifs. It is quite conceivable for one character to do them all.

    I should also point out that I never said that no pagan god was ever depicted standing or waking on the sea.

    Why this should be pointed out is a mystery since such denial was not attributed to him in my post or by Milwaukee, and my bringing up of other water-walking deities besides Usil was to establish that there was such a motif floating around and hence it’s not a matter of the Milwaukee gang, The Getty Museum, Dr. Manchester, etc., or anyone else just making it up. There was indeed a precedent for concluding that an ancient image that unmistakably looks like a fellow running on top of water was indeed that of a man running on top of water.

    Certainly I would expect Oceanus or Poseidon to be able to do just that

    Oh no, no, no- if one would just save themselves some trouble by checking the mythology they would have realized that Poseidon was not riding on the water, but rising out of it. For his mythology clearly states that his palace is beneath the sea at Aegae (Odyssey 5.381-84, Iliad 13.21) and thus to get to the surface he must rise up from out of the water. Therefore, as this blogger’s thinking would have us do, whenever we see an image of Poseidon with no caption that looks like he’s riding his chariot across the water, and scholarly commentaries even affirm that succinct observation, we must reinterpret it as Poseidon rising from out of the water rather than riding across it.

    Rides across the sea? Oh these poor ignorant fools. If only our blogger friend could have saved them from their folly and informed that these images are all just Poseidon rising up out of the sea from Aegea.

    Rides across the sea? Oh these poor ignorant fools. If only our blogger friend could have saved them from their folly and informed them that these images are instead all just Poseidon rising up out of the sea from Aegae.

    Similarly, if any people think that the following artwork depicts the superhero AquaLad walking on water as the imagery clearly suggests and the artist herself even confirmed

    …then they are mistaken, for “they could have saved themselves some trouble by checking the mythology as they would have realized that Usil AquaLad was not walking on the water but rising out of it. This is based on the idea that [Atlantis is] surrounded by the great ocean” and thus as an Atlantean, AquaLad must rise from out of the ocean to reach the Teen Titan’s base of operations in Jump City here on the surface world. This is more clearly seen where “yet another form of Usil AquaLad has him just halfway out of the sea as he begins rising above the waves as can be seen here”:

    You could even say Usil AquaLad walked on water in a sense since he did it on the way up but decided to keep going.
    Nonetheless, don’t let the artist of the former of the two previous images fool you or fool herself, she clearly doesn’t know her own intentions, but we do since we saved ourselves some trouble by checking the mythology of AquaLad post hoc for something, anything, involving water other than walking on it.
    And rinse & repeat for the following of Obama allegedly “walking on water”:

    Since if one is familiar with his biographical information, then one would know that such an image is NOT Obama walking on the water, but actually Obama rising up out of the water, as confirmed by other sources:


    You could even say…

    Indeed, hence why the many sources quoted in my previous post say…

    Usil walked on water in a sense since he did it on the way up but decided to keep going.

    Well there you go. Much ado about nothing in the end.

    The point is that the purpose of the narratives are completely unrelated and one was not the source of the other.

    Perhaps, but the purpose of the narrative in the scriptures about his water-walking god and the narrative in Robocop are likewise unrelated yet one WAS the source (among many) for the other, so… meh.
    Again, this point was made in my previous post. Regardless of however the original artist might or might not have intended these depictions of Usil to be interpreted, the fact remains that onlookers can & have interpreted these depictions as Usil walking on water. In other words, even if we humor this apologist, these depictions HAVE in fact literally served “as a precedent … for walking water.” Check out this artwork portraying Usil:

    ^That picture is indubitably a portrayal of Usil WALKING ON WATER. I repeat, that picture IS undeniably that of Usil walking on water. I know this because its creator explicitly told me so. PM me and I can put you into contact with the artist himself to verify as much.
    As difficult as it might sound, just try and wrap your mind around that- a work of art borrows a model from an earlier piece of art yet uses that model for a different purpose than what the original artist is alleged to have intended. GASP

    If it happens today, it could (and did) just as easily happen back in antiquity & earlier.

    As for his post, my evaluation of that will be given in Part 2.

    And if this guy’s work so far is any indication, that “evaluation” will continue in his pattern of moot redundancies, shadowboxing, losing the plot, unjustified extrapolations, convoluted “reasoning,” dismal-to-no citations, false dichotomies, and all other manner of smoke & mirrors, while grabbing at only the lowest hanging of fruit. Meanwhile I shall continue in my winning ways of facts & logic.

    And pop some popcorn. 😉

    But moreover, as the largest portion of my post consisted of merely exposing the folly of his own argumentation by parodying it with other gods, i.e. I merely held up the mirror to his post to expose its hideousness, any response to that which he might muster up will by default be tantamount to:

    So if he (for whatever self-sadistic reason) wants to actually help me further refute his argumentation and make it look that much more ridiculous, he can be my guest. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    [Back to Home Page]

  2. Average Joe
    August 14, 2019

    Hello. Would you by chance have a reference for where that picture of Horus walking on water can be found? Like a book with a page number?

  3. Average Joe
    August 15, 2019

    Thank you. Much appreciated.

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