Brill’s New Pauly

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(1,339 words)

I. In general and in classical antiquity

[German version]

1. History of the term

The adjective πολύθεος/polýtheos refers in poetic Greek to that which pertains to many deities: the altar as the seat (hédra) of many gods (Aesch. Suppl. 424) or the divine assembly attended by many gods (Lucian. Iuppiter Tragoedus 14). It is only in Jewish and Christian literature (Apologists) that this concept is used to justify the rule (monarchía) of a single deity. Philo [12] of Alexandria coined the terms …

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Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) and Renger, Johannes (Berlin), “Polytheism”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 06 May 2021 <>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510

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