The Strangeness of Gods: Historical Perspectives on the Interpretation of Athenian Religion

The Strangeness of Gods: Historical Perspectives on the Interpretation of Athenian Religion


By (author) S. C. Humphreys

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 360 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 218mm x 31mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 9 December 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199269238
  • ISBN 13: 9780199269235
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations

Product description

The Strangeness of Gods combines studies of changes in modern interpretations of Greek religion with studies of changes in Athenian ritual. The combination is necessary in order to combat influential stereotypes: that Greek religion consisted of ritual without theological speculation, that ritual is inherently conservative. To re-examine the evidence for Greek rituals and their interpretation is also to re-examine our own preconceptions and prejudices. The argument presented by S. C. Humphreys tries to bring Greek texts closer to the 'classic' texts of other civilizations, and religion, as a form of speculative thought, closer to science. Her studies of Athenian rituals put this emphasis on changing interpretations into practice, showing that the Athenians thought about their rites as well as celebrating them.

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Author information

S. C. Humphreys is Professor of Classics and Anthropology at the Central European University, Budapest.

Review quote coheres as an extraordinary and powerful interllectual project [and] could hardly be bettered. Thomas Harrison, Journal of Hellenic Studies 126, Reviews of Books In the course of the book a great deal of extremely detailed excavation goes on, both of Athenian practices and of the history of scholarship. Robin Osborne, The Classical Review

Table of contents

1. Classics and Colonialism ; 2. Dynamics of the Greek Breakthrough ; 3. Lycurgus of Boutadai: An Athenian Aristocrat ; 4. A Sense of Agency: Religion in the Attic Demes ; 5. Historicizing Fertility ; 6. Metamorphoses of Tradition: The Athenian Anthesteria