Worshipping Virtues. Personification and the divine in Ancient Greece
by Emma Stafford
ISBN-13: 978-0-7156-3044-0 ISBN-10: 0-7156-3044-X, hardback, xiv+274 pp., 27 b/w pls., figs., 2000, GB £45.00
 


The author: Emma Stafford is the author of numerous papers on Greek mythology and iconography, and is currently preparing a source book on Greek religion.

The Greeks, in Dr Johnson's phrase, 'shock the mind by ascribing effects to non-entity'. The culture of ancient Greece was thronged with personifications. In poetry and the visual arts, personified figures of what might seem abstractions claim our attention. This study examines the logic, the psychology and the practice of Greeks who worshipped these personifications with temples and sacrifices, and addressed them with hymns and prayers. Emma Stafford conducts case-studies of deified 'abstractions', such as Peitho (Persuasion), Eirene (Peace) and Hygieia (Health). She also considers general questions of Greek psychology, such as why so many of these figures were female. Modern scholars have asked, Did the Greeks believe their own myths? This study contributes importantly to the debate, by exploring widespread and creative popular theology in the historical period.

 

CONTENTS
List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and conventions
1. Personification, allegory and belief
2. Themis: archaic personification and the epithet theory
3. Nemesis: 'myth into logos?'
4. Peitho: the seductive power of rhetoric
5. Hygieia: 'not a goddess but a gift of God'?
6. Eirene: propaganda and allegory
7. Eleos: the Athenian 'altar of Pity' and its god
8. Conclusion
Appendix: bibliographic note
Bibliography
Index