Divinity and History The Religion of Herodotus

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-09-26
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Critics of Herodotus have generally shown an unease in the face of the religious passages of the Histories, a sense that he 'lets himself down' by delving into matters irrelevant to the proper purpose of history. They have tended consequently to latch on to isolated instances of scepticism inan attempt to vindicate Herodotus from imagined charges of obscurantism. Historians of Greek religion, on the other hand, by their concentration on ritual as the central feature of Greek religious experience, have often neglected the value of literary sources as evidence of religious belief; indeedthe term belief has become something of a dirty word. In this book, the first full-length study of the subject in English, Dr Harrison not only places Herodotus' religious beliefs at the centre of his conception of history, but by seeing instances of scepticism and of belief in relation to oneanother redresses the recent emphasis on the centrality of ritual, and paints a picture of Greek religion as a means for the explanation of events.

Author Biography

Thomas Harrison is Lecturer in Ancient History, the University of St Andrews

Table of Contents

Abbreviations x
Introduction: Divinity and History
Solon and Human Fortune
Miracles and the Miraculous
Divine Retribution
Oracles and Divination
The Unity and Multiplicity of the Divine
The Limits of Knowledge and Inquiry
Foreign Gods and Foreign Religion
Fate and Human Responsibility
Appendix 1 Cooper on the `intrusive oblique infinitive' 248(3)
Appendix 2 The names of the gods 251(14)
Bibliography 265(30)
General index 295(14)
Index of passages of Herodotus cited 309

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