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When the Gods Were Born: Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East

When the Gods Were Born: Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East

by Carolina López-Ruiz


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Ancient Greece has for too long been studied in isolation from its Near Eastern neighbors. And the ancient Near East itself has for too long been seen as an undifferentiated cultural monolith. Classics and Near Eastern Studies, in our modern universities, continue to be separated by various disciplinary, linguistic, and ideological walls. Yet there is a growing trend to dismantle these divides and look at the Greek world within its fullest geographical and cultural contexts.

This book aims to bring the comparative study of Greek and Near Eastern cosmogonies to a new level. It analyzes themes such as succession myths, expressions of poetic inspiration, and claims to cosmic knowledge, as well as the role of itinerant specialists in the transmission of theogonies. Rather than compiling literary parallels from different periods and languages and treating the Near East as a monolithic matrix, the author focuses on the motifs specific to the North-West Semitic tradition with which the Greeks had direct contact in the Archaic period. Focusing on Hesiod's Theogony, the Orphic texts, and their Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Hebrew counterparts, Carolina López-Ruiz avoids traditional diffusionist assumptions and proposes instead that dynamic cultural interaction led to the oral and intimate transmission of stories and beliefs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674049468
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/15/2010
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Carolina López-Ruiz is Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University.

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Page duBois

With admirable erudition, López-Ruiz brings to life intimacies and exchanges between the ancient Greeks and their Northwest Semitic neighbors, portraying the ancient Mediterranean as a fluid, dynamic contact zone. She shows networks of circulation, creative uses of traditional material by peoples in motion, and radically transforms our understanding of ancient cosmogonies.
Page duBois, author of Out of Athens: The New Ancient Greeks

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When the Gods Were Born: Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is among a growing number of books that I have come across that work with what I would like to call the greater canon. This greater canon is not a collection against which documents outside it are judged. Rather it is a canon in the sense of the ever growing list of ancient documents ranging from the beginning of writing to the formulation of the Christian canon (to give an arbitrary end date). Primarily this book works with Hesiod's Theogony to place it in its context of the ancient near eastern literatures, especially the proximate ones such as the Ugaritic and Hittite (and even Israelite) more so than the Babylonian, etc. Also of interest is Hesiod's relationship to the later? Orphic theogonies including the (relatively) recently published Derveni Papyrus.