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Five Stages of Greek Religion Paperback – August 12, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George Gilbert Aimé Murray (2 January 1866 - 20 May 1957) was an Australian born British classical scholar and public intellectual, with connections in many spheres. He was an outstanding scholar of the language and culture of Ancient Greece, perhaps the leading authority in the first half of the twentieth century. He is the basis for the character of Adolphus Cusins in his friend Shaw's play Major Barbara, and also appears as the chorus figure in Tony Harrison's play Fram. Murray is often identified as a humanist, typically with some qualification ('classical', 'scholarly', 'engaged', 'liberal'). He joined the Rationalist Press Association, and in 1952 attended a major humanist conference. He wrote and broadcast extensively on religion (Greek, Stoic and Christian); and wrote several books dealing with his version of humanism. A phrase from his 1910 lectures Four Stages of Greek Religion enjoyed public prominence: the "failure of nerve" of the Hellenistic world, of which a turn to irrationalism was symptomatic. His daughter Rosalind (later Rosalind Toynbee), a Catholic convert, attacked his secularism in her book of apologetics, The Good Pagan's Failure (1939).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: ReadaClassic.com (August 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611040396
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611040395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd A. Conway on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Murray's book should be the standard work on the subject. This small volume is the outgrowth of a lecture series given before the First World War. Murray traces the growth and development of Greek religion from it's beginnings in prehistorical animism to the full flowering of the major schools of philosophy, and thence to their extinction. Murray explores the irrational, Dionysic strand that emerged independantly of the Olympian mythos, and shows how both predate Homer. He considers the minor deities, such as the boundary statues (koures) mentioned by Thucydides in connection with Alcibiades' impiety. The eloquent chapters on the rise of philosophy-cum-religion are the most memorable in a memorable book. Murray's vingettes on the lives and actions of the founders of the famous schools - linked as they are in lineal descent from Socrates, Epicurus excepted, are excellent biographical sketches in their own right. His examination of the faults in each philosophical system, Aristotle's Pertpetetic School excepted, shows how, after banishing Olympian myth, essential to keeping hold of thinking minds, they let them back in, pantheistically, or as manifestations of the universal creator, etc. (Epicurus preached a materialism that did not fully recognize divinity, and so he may be partly excused, as well.) This book this lays out how the hellenistic world was prepared for the advent of Christanity, as the rise of philosophy asked the right questions to move thinkers beyond myth, and philosophy's subsequent fall into Neoplatonism and other pantheistic movements left the Greco-Roman world looking elsewhere for answers. An outstanding addition to any classical library. -Lloyd A. Conway
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marionette on June 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
This set of remarks is about the physical book rather than about Murray's work itself. The contents of this book speak for themselves. The work is a classic. Others have summarized and commented on the substance of this volume. I will make a few comments about the present printed version of the book. The format of this "reprint" is, well, odd. It is not a reprint of the original book in its original format. The print is so small that it is almost impossible to read (really!). The pagination has somehow been converted into a system that (someone thought) preserves the original page numbers while reconfiguring them and jamming as much print on a page as is possible. If there is another reprinted version of this important book available, I recommend buying it rather than this one, which is puzzling, inconvenient, and even annoying.

Remark added later: I have found that there are at least two different reprints of this book. I am NOT referring to the "Kessinger" version; rather, the one from "CreateSpace."
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This classic in the study of classical Greek religion, first started as lectures before World War I, and finally completed and published in 1951, still has the power to engage and excite the interest and enthusiasm of all those interested in and fascinated by classical Greece and everything it contributed to our own culture, whether poetry, philosophy, architecture, sculpture...and even politics, both positively by showing us the world's first democracy, and negatively by ultimately losing its independence to Macedon, then Rome, and most recently to the Ottoman Turkish empire. If ancient Greek mythology and religion are largely the invention of Greece's marvelous poets, they yet form the background of ancient Greek life and the brilliant poetry of Homer, the Greek tragedians and lyricists; the Greek painters, sculptors and architects; the philosophy of Plato, and so many more. An utterly engaging story of the rise, flourishing and ultimate fall of ancient Greek religion, this book belongs on the shelf of every enthusiast of everything that ancient Greece has bequeathed to us.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cody Fields on July 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A meditation, really. Beautifully written.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on March 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is mildly interesting as it delves more into the move from paganism into philosophy thus explaining how Christianity supplanted paganism in the end. Ultimately an inference is made that early Greek philosophy probably paved the way for Christianity's entrance info this world. I was disappointed that a real effort wasn't made to talk about ancient Greek religious rites and beliefs in depth. THE ONLY WORTHWHILE PART OF BOOK IS THE INFERENCE IN BOOK ABOUT CHRISTIANITY STEALING MUCH OF PAGAN GREEK PHILOSOPHY TO FORMULATE THEIR FAITH.
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