Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Atheism in Pagan Antiquity

A. B. Drachmann - Atheism in Pagan Antiquity (1919, English 1922)

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This appears to be one of the first treatments of the subject.  Tim Whitmarsh's recent Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World (2015) calls it "useful but methodologically outdated" though around this blog outdated methodologies are the order of the day.  The Whitmarsh book is fascinating reading and I'm pretty sure this one is as well though so far I've only skimmed it.  Drachmann begins with a similar attempt to establish terms then runs more or less chronologically from Xenophanes through the end of the Roman Empire.  It concludes with a short chapter going Medieval up to the 18th century but he starts to discuss more treatment of ancient religion in those periods rather than atheism in specific..

Anders Bjørn Drachmann (1860-1935) was a Danish classicist and philologist who taught at the University of Copenhagen.  As far as I can tell the only other text of his to appear in English was a lecture on Prometheus but his other works are on Catullus, Pindar, Paul, Kierkegaard and the origins of Christianity.