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Saviour Gods and Soteria in Ancient Greece


Saviour Gods and Soteria in Ancient Greece

  • ISBN 13:


  • ISBN 10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 05/17/2022
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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From the Archaic to the Roman imperial period, an impressive number of gods and goddesses are attested in the Greek world under the titles of Soter and Soteira ('Saviour'). Overseeing the protection of individuals and cities, these gods had the power to grant an essential blessing - soteria ('deliverance', 'preservation', 'safety'). This book investigates what it meant to be 'saved' and the underlying concept of soteria in ancient Greece. It challenges the prevailing assumption that soteria was a predominantly Christian concern, and demonstrates instead its centrality and significance in the relationship between the Greeks and their gods.

This book focuses on the power of 'saviour' gods in the life of the Greeks, how worshippers searched for soteria as they confronted the unknown and unknowable, and what this can reveal about the religious beliefs, hopes, and anxieties of the Greeks. It goes beyond religious vocabulary and cult epithets to investigate worshippers' thought world and lived experience, the different choices individuals made among the plurality of gods in the Greek pantheon, the multiple levels on which divine 'saviours' operated, and the values attached to the Greek notion of soteria. Building on existing paradigms in the study of Greek polytheism, and combining close analysis of epigraphic, literary and material evidence, this book argues that soteria for the Greeks entailed a very different experience from the Christian, eschatological notion of 'salvation', and that what was offered was 'salvation' on earth.

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