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Theophrastus (c. 372—287 bc) Greek philosopher and scientist


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Although originally the term had a laudatory sense (‘scrupulousness in religious matters’), it is mainly pejorative and denotes an excessive pietism and preoccupation with religion, first and most explicitly in Theophrastus' sixteenth Character. He defines deisidaimonia as ‘cowardice vis‐à‐vis the divine’ and gives the following characteristics: an obsessive fear of the gods, a penchant for adoration and cultic performance, superstitious awe of portents both in daily life and in dreams, and the concomitant inclination to ward off or prevent possible mishaps by magical or ritual acts, esp. through continuous purifications.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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