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Greek Religion: The Nature of the Gods

 

Lecturer:

Dr Emma Aston – Reading University

Subject:

Classics

  • About this Course
  • About this Lecturer

About this Course

In this course, Dr Emma Aston (University of Reading) explores Greek religion, focusing in particular on the nature of the gods in Greek thought. In the first module, we think about the concept of anthropomorphism (i.e. the fact that the gods were often thought of or depicted in humanoid form) and how this impacted how the Greeks thought about encounters between man and god. After that, in the second module, we consider the influence of the poets Homer and Hesiod on the ways the Greeks conceived of their gods. In the third module, we turn to the practice of animal sacrifice, thinking in particular about how the Greeks thought their gods participated in sacrifices, before moving on in the fourth module to think about the form and function of temples. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about some of the critiques of the gods, and of anthropomorphism in particular, looking at the depictions of the gods in the works of Homer and Aristophanes, as well as the range of gods who were worshipped in non-humanoid forms.

The line drawing of Achelous and the illustration of the Pan vase are (c) Rosey Aston 2011. All rights reserved.

About the Lecturer

Dr Emma Aston is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading. She has a longstanding interest in Greek religion, especially the depiction of deities in part-animal form, which was the subject of her 2011 book Mixanthrôpoi: Animal-Human Hybrid Deities in Greek Religion. She is currently working on a book on the culture and identity of Thessaly from the 7th to the 2nd century BC. She is also editing an unpublished monograph by the late scholar of Greek religion and myth, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood.