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Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality 1919–1920

Lewis Richard Farnell


Table of Contents


In an encyclopaedic survey of Greek heroes, Lewis Farnell also addresses the evolution of religion. The first major section of the book is concerned with heroes and heroines, offering a typological classification and establishing if they were ‘divine or daimoniac’, hieratic types of hero-gods, sacral ones associated with a particular divinity or hero-gods with a secular history. Explanations and examples are given for each of his seven categories. The primary focus of the first half of his book, almost a hundred pages, is Herakles.
In the second half, Farnell takes on the daunting task of attempting to ‘track out’ the original sources of the most intriguing cults, some of which lead back to some ‘religious experience common to the Indo-European peoples’. The author includes far-flung surveys of the cults’ sources, reception and spread. He ends with the importance of these heroes and cults. The cultures that worshipped them ‘familiarized the world with the conception of the divine element in the human soul, with the sense of kinship between man and God. By means of mystic sacrament, man’s life was transcendentally fused with God’s. It prepared the way for the inauguration of a new era and a new faith.’

Publication Data

OnlineKessinger Publishing Company
OriginalClarendon Press1921
Templeton Press