Theorizing Religion in Antiquity - Nickolas P. Roubekas

Theorizing Religion in Antiquity - Nickolas P. Roubekas

7. Theorizing About (Which?) Origins: Herodotus on the Gods

Theorizing Religion in Antiquity - Nickolas P. Roubekas

Nickolas P. Roubekas [+-]
University of Vienna
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Nickolas P. Roubekas is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. Previously he held a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of South Africa as a member of the research project ‘Redescribing Graeco-Roman Antiquity,’ a teaching fellowship at the University of Aberdeen, U.K., and a research fellowship at the North-West University, South Africa. He has published articles and book reviews in various journals and is the author of Αναζητώντας τους Θεούς: Θρησκεία, Μύθος, Ουτοπία στον Ευήμερο τον Μεσσήνιο (Vanias, 2011) and An Ancient Theory of Religion: Euhemerism from Antiquity to the Present (Routledge, 2017). His research focuses on the Graeco-Roman world, method and theory in the study of religion, and the disciplinary intersection of Religious Studies, Classics, and Ancient History.


Modern theories of religion are preoccupied with the questions of origin and function of religion. By 'origin' theorists refer to the questions of when, why, and how religion originates, either historically i.e., the first time in history that religion appearsor recurrently i.e., every time that religion appears in a given culture, setting, geographical area, etc. Although this explanatory exercise is deemed modern, it nevertheless preoccupied ancient authors as well. Among the most notable ancient attempts to explain the origins of the gods (and, thus, religion) is the Histories of Hedorotus, the often deemed father of history. The main interpretative approach taken by classicists, historians, and religious studies scholars is the assignment of a diffusionism theory to Herodotus. In this essay, this explanation is challenged by a closer reading of the Histories and Herodotus's goal.

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Roubekas, Nickolas. 7. Theorizing About (Which?) Origins: Herodotus on the Gods. Theorizing Religion in Antiquity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 129-149 May 2019. ISBN 9781781793572. Date accessed: 07 Dec 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27967. May 2019

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