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The Uses of Euhemerism: An Interdisciplinary Symposium - 17-18/07/2017, Aberdeen (Scotland)

The term ‘Euhemerism’ has been found indispensable by scholars of classics, religion, and mediaeval and Renaissance literature. We need it to describe what is clearly a strong and continuous current in European thought—loosely, a demystifying approach to mythology which interprets myth as a distorted account of human history—but we use it in often widely divergent ways. This diversity reflects the enigmatic nature of its origin, The Sacred Inscription, a prose narrative written in Greek by Euhemerus of Messene around 300 BCE, which survives only in partial paraphrases and in fragments of Ennius’ Latin translation, and which has been taken variously as an anthropological theory of religion, an atheist’s manifesto, a justification for Hellenistic ruler-worship or a satire on the same, a fantasy travel narrative or a Utopian vision of a just society. When Euhemerism is encountered in later mythography, it is often denigrated as a dull and literal-minded approach, which strips mythology of its pleasure and complexity, or which simply reflects anti-pagan chauvinism inherited from early Christian apologetic, which embraced Euhemerism to debunk Roman religion. Yet its uses in literature from the classical to the early modern age often suggest a more sophisticated appreciation of its flexibility as a poetic and rhetorical tool. This symposium will bring together voices from across the disciplines to discuss the uses of Euhemerism by writers in different contexts over two millennia, and the various strategies it has served. The hope is that the combination of perspectives will help to achieve a fuller, more nuanced and more focussed understanding of this complex and important phenomenon.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 17-18/07/2017

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen, Scotland)





Monday 17th July

9.45 am: Coffee

10 am: Session 1

Tim Whitmarsh, ‘Euhemerus and his Contemporary World.’

Monica Park, ‘Babbling Old Men and the Great Anthropocene: Callimachus, Euhemerus, and Anthropocentric Theology in Ptolemaic Alexandria.’

Sam Newington, ‘Epicureanism and Euhemerism in Lucretius' de Rerum Natura.’

12.30: Lunch

2 pm: Session 2

Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, ‘Decoding the Apocalypse: Lactantius’ Use of Euhemerus.’

Nickolas Roubekas, ‘Between Reception and Deception: The Perennial Problem with Euhemerism.’

Amanda Gerber, ‘Grounding the Gods: Geographical Euhemerism in Medieval Western Europe.’

4.30 pm: Wine Reception

7 pm: Dinner at Café 52

Tuesday 18th July

9.45 am: Coffee

10 am: Session 3

Raphael Falco, ‘Euhemerism, Charisma, and the Blood Myth.’

Syrithe Pugh, ‘Tracking Titan: Euhemerism and Tyrannomachy in the Renaissance.’

Emma Buckley, ‘“God is a guest in a human body”: approaches to Euhemerism in the works of Ben Jonson.’

12.30: Lunch

2 pm: Session 4

Ethan Guagliardo, ‘“Thy Canonized Bones”: The Languages of Euhemerism and the Aesthetics of Authority in Early Modern England.’

Robert Segal, ‘Lord Raglan: A Euhemerist With a Twist.’

Denis Feeney: Closing Remarks

...and on to somewhere less formal to continue the discussion...

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