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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus: Text, Translation, and Commentary
Thom, Johan C.

Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005 pp. xii + 207. €64.00

Series Information
Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity, 33


Description: Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus is a popular philosophical text combining both traditional, literary and religious motifs with philosophical ideas. The main problem addressed in the Hymn is the disorder caused by bad people who disregard Zeus' governance of the world. The Hymn contains a genuine prayer for divine assistance to enable human beings to attain insight into the way the world is governed, and at the same time serves as a reminder and exhortation for people to recognize and live in accordance with the divine world-order. Such a way of life is characterized as a life of continuous praise. This book, the first complete monograph to be devoted to the Hymn to Zeus by the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes (ca. 331-230 BCE), contains a new critical text edition and English translation of the Hymn. In addition to the usual questions of authorship and date, Johan Thom analyses the composition, genre and function of the poem in depth, arguing that the Hymn should be considered a genuine prayer and that it was intended for a non-specialist audience. In the line-by-line philological commentary, attention is paid to the literary, philosophical, and religious aspects of the hymn. It should therefore be of interest to classical philologists, philosophers, as well as scholars of Hellenistic and Greco-Roman religions.

Subjects: Greco-Roman Literature, Literature

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Review by Troels Engberg-Pedersen
Published 7/14/2007
Citation: Troels Engberg-Pedersen, review of Johan C. Thom, Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus: Text, Translation, and Commentary, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2007).


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