Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Greek hero cults and ideas of immortality

Lewis Richard Farnell - Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality (1921)

Open Library direct link
Open Library main page

A supplement to Farnell's three volume Cults of the Greek States about what its title says though focusing more on the religious aspect than the literary stories most of us know better.  Even though the author claims "a large part of this material turns out to be merely barren, mere names about which nothing positive, nothing that concerns religion or history, can be said" I think it's fascinating even if only from a sort of antiquarian view where mere names have their own appeal.  (Though I'm saying this without having read the whole book.)

Lewis Richard Farnell (1856-1934) was a classicist at Exeter College in Oxford.  He supported Tolkien's transition as a student into the English Honours School (Zaleski's The Fellowship p61).  In addition to many books on classical subjects, Farnell wrote a 1934 memoir An Oxonian Looks Back and a brief account of his youthful travels An Englishman's Adventures on German Rivers (1891), neither of which appears to be digitized.  Part of his work is examined in Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine's The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations (2010).  According to Kathy Martin's Farnell Teddy Bears (2010) this Farnell may have had a distant relation to the toy but I couldn't quite figure out the connection. (See page 39.)