Aretalogy

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Aretalogy is a form of sacred biography where a deity's attributes are listed, in the form of poem or text, in the first person.

Usage[edit]

Often each line starts with the standard "I am …". Usually, aretalogies are self praising. They are found in the sacred texts of later Egypt, Mesopotamia and in Greco-Roman times. Aretalogies of Isis would be recited everyday by an Aretologist who would have to memorise a huge list of attributes which he/she would have to recite.(Priests and priestesses of Isis had equal rank in the temple.) The aretalogies of ancient Egypt provide some the most complete information extant about their deities.[1] Aretalogies are found as early as the Coffin Texts. In a Ptolemeic aretalogy, Aset (Isis) says about herself:

I am Isis, ruler of every land.
I was taught by Hermes (Thoth) and with Hermes devised letters, both hieroglyphic and demotic, that all might not be written with the same.
I gave laws to mankind and ordained what no one can change. [2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lesko, Barbara S. (1999) The Great Goddesses of Egypt University of Oklahoma, Norman, pp. 196-199, ISBN 0-8061-3202-7
  2. ^ "AncientWorlds:Rome:Cornelius:Cornellia:Aset Aretology" The Ancient Worlds

References[edit]

  • Hadas, Moses and Smith, Morton (1965) "Heroes and Gods: Spiritual Biographies in Antiquity" Harper & Row, New York, ISBN 0-8369-1880-0
  • Smith, Morton (1971) "Prolegomena to a Discussion of Aretalogies, Divine Men, the Gospels, and Jesus" Journal of Biblical Literature 90: pp. 174–199
  • Kee, Howard Clark (1973) "Aretalogy and Gospel" Journal of Biblical Literature 92: pp. 402–422
  • Smith, Jonathan Z. (1975) "Good News Is No News: Aretalogy and Gospel" in Neusner, Jacob (ed.) (1975) Christianity, Judaism and other Greco-Roman cults: studies for Morton Smith at sixty Brill, Leiden, vol. 1, pp. 21–38, ISBN 90-04-04215-6