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The Theologies of Greek Religion

11–13 July 2012

Greek religion, we are repeatedly reminded, knew no dogma, no creed, and no holy literature. Because of such obvious differences between ancient Greek religion and modern religions, scholarly efforts to establish the nature of Greek theological speculation have so far been restricted mainly to students of philosophy and tragedy. The reason for this is that the bounded and relatively self-contained universe of these two genres seems to be more in line with the kind of theological discourse familiar to us from other religious contexts, most notably, perhaps, that of Christianity. But the question emerges as to whether the kind of reflection that has informed the representation of divinity in different contexts extends into the genres of tragedy and philosophy and vice versa. And behind these considerations, there still looms the much larger question of how the modern conception of ‘theology’ relates to the religious cultures of ancient Greece.

This conference sets out to investigate not only the existence of religious beliefs that have informed the representations and manifestations of the religious in Greek antiquity, but also the strategies in which such beliefs can be recovered. We aim to understand the manifold ways in which these and other representations of the religious draw on and participate in a much broader conversation in ancient Greece about the nature of the divine and its availability to human knowledge.

In a wide range of papers we shall explore Greek discourse(s) about the nature of the divine as it manifested itself in a variety of locations and forms, encompassing both the literary and material evidence. By bringing together experts with an interest in ancient Greek religion as it evolved throughout Greek literature, drama, philosophy, and the material evidence, we hope to bridge the gap between those areas of Greek theological discourse that have been well researched and new and unmapped territory.

Esther Eidinow

Julia Kindt

Robin Osborne

Programme

Wednesday 11th: Chair: Robin Osborne

2.15–3.30

Julia Kindt (Sydney) The story of theology and the theology of the story in Ancient Greece

3.50–5.05

Barbara Graziosi (Durham) The dynamics of conflict in the Theogony and Iliad 21

5.15–6.30

Edith Hall (KCL) Creative Theology for the Audience of Greek Tragedy: Artemis between Athens and the Panhellenic World

Thursday 12th Chair: Julia Kindt

9.00–10.15

Shaul Tor (Cambridge/KCL) Heraclitus on Apollo's language and his own

10.15 –10.30 Coffee

10.30–11.45

Rick Benitez (Sydney) Plato and the Reorientation of Greek Theology

11.45–1.00

George Boys-Stones (Durham) Providence in Post-Hellenistic Platonism

2.30–3.45  

Gunther Martin (Bern) The effacement of the gods (and its limits) in Athenian oratory

3.45–4.00 Tea

4.00–5.15   

Hannah Willey (Cambridge) Law and theology in lawgiver narratives

5.30–6.45   

Esther Eidinow (Nottingham) Popular Theology? The 'embedding' of a nasty idea

Friday 13th Chair: Esther Eidinow

9.00–10.15

Robin Osborne (Cambridge) Sacrificial theologies

10.15–10.30 Coffee

10.30–11.45     

Milette Gaifman (Yale) Theologies of statues

11.45–1.00

Final discussion

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