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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion
Munn, Mark

Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006 pp. xviii + 452. $49.95


Description: Among maternal deities of the Greek pantheon, the Mother of the Gods was a paradox. She is variously described as a devoted mother, a chaste wife, an impassioned lover, and a virgin daughter; she is said to be both foreign and familiar to the Greeks. In this erudite and absorbing study, Mark Munn examines how the cult of Mother of the Gods came from Phrygia and Lydia, where she was the mother of tyrants, to Athens, where she protected the laws of the Athenian democracy. Analyzing the divergence of Greek and Asiatic culture at the beginning of the classical era, Munn describes how Kybebe, the Lydian goddess who signified fertility and sovereignty, assumed a different aspect to the Greeks when Lydia became part of the Persian empire. Conflict and resolution were played out symbolically, he shows, and the goddess of Lydian tyranny was eventually accepted by the Athenians as the Mother of the Gods, and as a symbol of their own sovereignty.

Subjects: Greco-Roman Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Greco-Roman Period, History of Religions

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Review by Gerhard van den Heever
Published 7/21/2007
Citation: Gerhard van den Heever, review of Mark Munn, The Mother of the Gods, Athens, and the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2007).


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