Personal tools
Click to go to the main page.


From Celebrity Atheist List

Jump to: navigation, search

Euhemerus (Εὐήμερος, Euhēmeros, meaning happy or prosperous) (working late fourth century B.C.) was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. Euhemerus' birthplace is disputed, with Messina in Sicily or Messene in the Peloponnese as the most probable locations, while others champion Chios, or Tegea.

He is chiefly known for a rationalizing method of interpretation, known as Euhemerism, that treats mythological accounts as a reflection of actual historical events shaped by retelling and traditional mores. In the skeptic philosophical tradition of Theodorus of Cyrene and the Cyrenaics, Euhemerism forged a new method of interpretation for the contemporary religious beliefs. Though his work is lost, the reputation of Euhemerus was that he believed that much of Greek mythology could be interpreted as natural events subsequently given supernatural characteristics. Living at court in the generation following the superhuman feats of Alexander the Great and Alexander's subsequent deification, with the contemporaneous "pharaoization" of the Ptolemies in a fusion of Hellenic and native Egyptian traditions, Euhemerus was trained in the rational philosophizing current of Hellenistic culture; the two strains meet in his materialist rationalizing of Greek myth. "Euhemerus may be credited as the writer who systematized and explained an ancient and widely accepted popular belief, namely that the dividing line between gods and men is not always clear," S. Spyridakis, among others, has observed. background info source lists him as the most important unknown atheist A worthy winner of this top 10 list of unknown atheists, simply because of all these candidates, he is the least well known, and yet in some ways is the most important atheist who has ever lived. Euhemerus was a Greek scholar in the 4th century B.C. who lends his name to an interpretation of mythology and religion. He argued that Gods were actually great tribal chiefs and warriors, who over time had been imbued with supernatural powers. This was particularly applicable to polytheistic religions, such as that of ancient Greece, but nonetheless is evidence of a man expressing doubts about religion millennia before it became fashionable.