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The Gods of Ancient GreeceIdentities and Transformations$
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Jan Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637980

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.001.0001

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The Gods in the Greek Novel

The Gods in the Greek Novel

(p.362) 18 The Gods in the Greek Novel
The Gods of Ancient Greece

Jan N. Bremmer

Andrew Erskine

Edinburgh University Press

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

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