Euhemerus

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Euhemerus

(yo͞ohĕm`ərəs), fl. c.300 B.C., Cyrenaic philosopher, b. Sicily. He is famous for a theory of mythology embodied in his philosophical romance, Sacred History, a work of which only fragments remain. Euhemerus' theory, called after him euhemerism, was that the gods originated from the elaboration of traditions of distinguished historical persons. His theory was consistent with the attempts of his period to explain religious beliefs in terms of naturalism.
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In 1924, Sinologist Henri Maspero was among others who criticised ancient Chinese scholars for using euhemerism as their sole method of interpreting myths, melting them into 'a colorless residue, in which gods and heroes are transformed into wise emperors and sage ministers, and monsters into rebellious princes'.
Boltz, 'Kung Kung and the flood: Reverse euhemerism in the "Yao tien"', T'oung Pao, 67, 5 (1981): 141, 152.
But euhemerism is not accepted by students of comparative religion as the sole or even chief explanation of the origin of gods.
The Wulfstan view of euhemerism in no way reduces the evidence provided by Robinson for his understanding of the rites at Beowulf's funeral and the mound erected and named in commemoration of a great king; it shows that the reception of the poem may have been complex.
It is geography and history, sociology and literature, data bank and euhemerism.
This whole doctrine therefore shares the fundamental weakness of all euhemerism as a theory of religion: its lack of psychological depth, its one-dimensional, trivializing character.
Such a view of human knowledge is implicit in all euhemerism, with its tacit assumption that we have forgotten the technical prowess by which (for example) Herakles, understood as an early civil engineer, was able to perform works that made him seem divine to his posterity; it has always been characteristic of cultists of all kinds; and von Daniken, among others, has undertaken to revive it in a superficially modern pseudo-scientific form.
From a historical point of view, this sounds like a retrospective endeavor to rationalize the cultic practices of a truly ancient religion (as euhemerism was an attempt to rationalize the myths) in terms of then-fashionable philosophical ideas.
Dating from the earliest days of Renaissance culture, Boccaccio's scholarship does not always meet the standards established by his successors: his quotations are occasionally imprecise, some of his etymologies are wrong, his research was not exhaustive, and the value of his analyses varies, especially given that later scholars came to lack his enthusiasm for allegory and euhemerism.
The first two consider English medieval and Renaissance forms of euhemerism - interpreting myths as traditional accounts of historical people and events.
Beginning with a pro-paedeutic delineation of euhemerism, which he assumes to have been the most fundamental of the relevant concepts in the late Middle Ages, Arthur B.