Doing justice to Zeus : on texts and commentaries

Thom, Johan C. (2005)

The original publication is available at,199

Also available on Sabinet Gateway project - African Journal Archive,


The Hymn to Zeus by the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes is one of the most intriguing texts to survive from tl1e Hellenist:ic period, and of great significance for the history of Hellenistic philosophy, the history of Hellenistic and Greco-Roman religions as well as the history of Greek literatu re. A detailed study of all three these facets - philosophical, religious and literary - is essential for understanding the poem. The Hymn itself is remarkable precisely because it combines different philosophical, religious and literary traditions and sources into a new expression of philosophical religion. Scholars, however, often focus on one aspect of the text without giving due recognition to the integration accomplished in it. To do justice to this text means to understand the way the text itself interprets the traditions it draws upon; it also means to take the Hymn seriously as a text that still has something to say to us.

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