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The Power Dynamics of the Family of the Gods in Archaic Verse.

Symonds, R. C. (2021) The Power Dynamics of the Family of the Gods in Archaic Verse. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00100762


This thesis seeks to explore the power dynamics within the Greek pantheon as it is represented in Archaic Greek verse. The poets depict the gods as members of an elite ruling family, and this presentation allows them to explore complex relationships between the gods. The poets’ own understanding of interfamilial and political relationships within their communities would have shaped their presentation of the gods, who the poets describe using the same terms as their mortal counterparts. Studies of the basileus in the archaic period have shown that Zeus has more in common with that of the ‘Chief’ or ‘Big-man’ than with ‘king’. This thesis will demonstrate that the immortals are subject to the same social pressures as their mortal counterparts and highlight the connections between family and political roles in the power struggles amongst the gods. Particular attention is given to the role of goddesses in relation to their consorts and sons. Zeus’ position is far from secure, and he must manage his allies and rivals carefully to avoid displacement. While he punishes his enemies, but he also creates alliances through distribution of gifts and honours and through marriages which bind together the various branches of the divine family. Zeus actively polices the boundaries of mortal and immortal, by punishing those who attempt to transgress those boundaries. In an appendix, the thesis explores similarities and differences between Near Eastern theogonic accounts, especially in the means of succession and models of monarchy. The presentation of the gods as members of a powerful dynasty offers a powerful insight into how the Archaic Greeks conceived of their deities.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Aston, E. and Rutherford, I.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Classics
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:100762


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