Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Understanding Pre-Christian Religious Attitudes

K.J. Dover (1920-2010), in Maurice Platnauer, ed., Fifty Years (and Twelve) of Classical Scholarship, 2nd ed. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1968), pp. 127-128 (footnotes omitted):
To understand pre-Christian religious attitudes requires a great imaginative effort, and those who make it are commonly regarded as impostors by those who cannot. The intimate association of the gods with the fabric of ordinary Greek life is something which might be better understood by a Papuan than by a bishop, and perhaps best of all by the medieval Christian, whose humour was full of casual blasphemy and prompt to interweave the comic and the tremendous. The fact is that the Greek gods had human pleasures and understood laughter; at the right time and place they could take a joke.

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