Divinity and History: The Religion of Herodotus

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Overview

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 in an 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; indeed the 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 one another, and by the use of analogy from anthropological literature - also redresses the recent emphasis on the centrality of ritual.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a definitive work on Herodotus and Herodotean religion—balanced, learned, and wise. It should be an exemplar for all future discussions of ancient attitudes toward the divine, and the first chapter should be required reading for all students of Herodotus. It is almost as pleasurable and rewarding to read as Herodotus himself."—Choice

"An outstanding book of erudition, indispensable to all scholars interested in Herodotus. "—History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198152910
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/21/2000
  • Series: Oxford Classical Monographs Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Divinity and History
2. Solon and Human Fortune
3. Miracles and the Miraculous
4. Divine Retribution
5. Oracles and Divination
6. The Unity and Multiplicity of the Divine
7. The Limits of Knowledge and Inquiry
8. Foreign Gods and Foreign Religion
9. Fate and Human Responsibility
10. Epilogue

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