The Sacred History of Euphemerus of Messene

November 1, 2020
The Sacred History of Euphemerus of Messene

This is a comprehensive study of the life and work of Euhemerus.His utopian novel describes the travel to the island Panchaia.According to Euhemerus, in the temple of Zeus Triphylius there wasa stele which presented the Olympian gods as deified kings.Winiarczyk's book studies the sources of the theological views andof the description of the Panchaian society. The book will be formany decades the most authoritative monograph on Euhemerus.In his utopian novel Hiera Anagraphe (Sacred History) Euhemerusof Messene (ca. 300 B.C.) describes his travel to the islandPanchaia in the Indian Ocean where he discovered an inscribed stelein the temple of Zeus Triphylius. It turned out that the Olympiangods (Uranos, Kronos, Zeus) were deified kings. The travels of Zeusallowed to describe peoples and places all over the world.Winiarczyk investigates the sources of the theological views ofEuhemerus. He proves that Euhemerus’ religious views were rooted inold Greek tradition (the worship of heroes, gods as founders oftheir own cult, tombs of gods, euergetism, rationalisticinterpretation of myths, the explanations of the origin of religionby the sophists, the ruler cult). The description of the Panchaiansociety is intended to suggest an archaic and closed culture, inwhich the stele recording res gestae of the deified kings mighthave been preserved.The translation of Ennius’ Euhemerus sive Sacra historia (ca.200 - ca. 194) is a free prose rendering, which Lactantius knewonly indirectly. The book is concluded by a short history ofEuhemerism in the pagan, Christian and Jewish literature