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Anthropomorphism, Theatre, Epiphany: From Herodotus to Hellenistic Historians

Anthropomorphism, Theatre, Epiphany: From Herodotus to Hellenistic Historians Abstract:This paper argues that, beginning with the Euripidean deus ex machina, dramatic festivals introduced a new standard into epiphanic rituals and experience. Through the scenic double énonciation, gods are seen by mythical heroes as gods, but by the Athenian spectators as costumed actors and fictive entities. People could scarcely believe these were ‘real’ gods, but would have no doubt been impressed by the scenic machinery. Thus the Homeric theme of a hero’s likeness to the gods developed into the Hellenistic theme of the godlike ruler’s (or actor’s) theatrical success (or deceit). So in the Athenians’ Hymn to Demetrius Poliorcetes, a victorious ruler entering a city is welcomed as a better god than the gods themselves. The simultaneous rise in popularity of paradoxical stories and experiences in the Hellenistic period was grounded not in believing, but in disbelieving – a phenomenon associated with antiquarian interests, the self-publicity of religious sanctuaries, or amazed credulity. People were increasingly drawn to ‘real’ gods, leading to long pilgrimages and extensive financial outlay (in the mysteries) in order to see them. I investigate this phenomenon by focusing upon fragments of the ‘mimetic’ or ‘tragic’ Greek historians that survive from this period. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archiv für Religionsgeschichte de Gruyter

Anthropomorphism, Theatre, Epiphany: From Herodotus to Hellenistic Historians

Archiv für Religionsgeschichte , Volume 20 (1): 21 – Mar 28, 2018

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
1868-8888
eISSN
1868-8888
DOI
10.1515/arege-2018-0012
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract:This paper argues that, beginning with the Euripidean deus ex machina, dramatic festivals introduced a new standard into epiphanic rituals and experience. Through the scenic double énonciation, gods are seen by mythical heroes as gods, but by the Athenian spectators as costumed actors and fictive entities. People could scarcely believe these were ‘real’ gods, but would have no doubt been impressed by the scenic machinery. Thus the Homeric theme of a hero’s likeness to the gods developed into the Hellenistic theme of the godlike ruler’s (or actor’s) theatrical success (or deceit). So in the Athenians’ Hymn to Demetrius Poliorcetes, a victorious ruler entering a city is welcomed as a better god than the gods themselves. The simultaneous rise in popularity of paradoxical stories and experiences in the Hellenistic period was grounded not in believing, but in disbelieving – a phenomenon associated with antiquarian interests, the self-publicity of religious sanctuaries, or amazed credulity. People were increasingly drawn to ‘real’ gods, leading to long pilgrimages and extensive financial outlay (in the mysteries) in order to see them. I investigate this phenomenon by focusing upon fragments of the ‘mimetic’ or ‘tragic’ Greek historians that survive from this period.

Journal

Archiv für Religionsgeschichtede Gruyter

Published: Mar 28, 2018

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