What is A Greek God?

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI:
What is A Greek God?

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The Greeks were polytheists who believed in a multitude of gods. In the modern discussion of Greek religion the gods take second place to ritual, and the study of individual gods is privileged over attempts to define their general characteristics qua gods. While studies of the functions and personalities of gods like Apollo, Demeter, Dionysos or Herakles abound, no comprehensive treatment of the generic properties of the Greek gods exists. The question “What is Greek god?” is considered too ‘theological’ and therefore shunned. This chapter examines four divine qualities that are shared by all the Greek gods—their immortality, anthropomorphism, foreknowledge, and finally their power.

Keywords: Polytheism; Gods; Greek religion; Apollo; Demeter; Dionysos; Herakles; Immortality; Anthropomorphism

Chapter.  10297 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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