The Gods in the Greek Novel

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:
The Gods in the Greek Novel

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If we look, in the ‘ideal novel’, at the frequency of mention of significant named divinities (such as Aphrodite, Dionysos, Artemis, Zeus, Isis), as well as of theos and theoi in general, we find that novels are characteristically interested in only one or two of them – and for specific reasons. At an extreme, Heliodorus is not really interested in any god specifically. Yet there is a real sense of piety supported by the novel, even in the unlikely hands of Achilles Tatius, and the reader is, in some novels at least, meant to raise questions about the ‘hand of god’ in the action. The acid test is the efficacy of prayer in the text, where the divinity can sometimes respond in delayed and mysterious ways. The novel is a useful document for getting inside ancient piety.

Keywords: Novel; Heliodorus; Achilles Tatius; Prayer; Piety; Aphrodie; Dionysos; Artemis; Zeus; Isis

Chapter.  6002 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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