search for books and compare prices
cover image
Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World
Price
Store
Arrives
Preparing
Shipping
The price is the lowest for any condition, which may be new or used; other conditions may also be available. Rental copies must be returned at the end of the designated period, and may involve a deposit.
Jump down to see edition details for: Hardcover | Paperback | CD/Spoken Word
Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Alfred a Knopf Inc
Publication date November 10, 2015
Pages 290
Binding Hardcover
Book category Adult Non-Fiction
ISBN-13 9780307958327
ISBN-10 0307958329
Dimensions 1.20 by 6.75 by 9.60 in.
Weight 1.30 lbs.
Original list price $27.95
Summaries and Reviews
Amazon.com description: Product Description:

How new is atheism? Although adherents and opponents alike today present it as an invention of the European Enlightenment, when the forces of science and secularism broadly challenged those of faith, disbelief in the gods, in fact, originated in a far more remote past. In Battling the Gods, Tim Whitmarsh journeys into the ancient Mediterranean, a world almost unimaginably different from our own, to recover the stories and voices of those who first refused the divinities.

Homer’s epic poems of human striving, journeying, and passion were ancient Greece’s only “sacred texts,” but no ancient Greek thought twice about questioning or mocking his stories of the gods. Priests were functionaries rather than sources of moral or cosmological wisdom. The absence of centralized religious authority made for an extraordinary variety of perspectives on sacred matters, from the devotional to the atheos, or “godless.” Whitmarsh explores this kaleidoscopic range of ideas about the gods, focusing on the colorful individuals who challenged their existence. Among these were some of the greatest ancient poets and philosophers and writers, as well as the less well known: Diagoras of Melos, perhaps the first self-professed atheist; Democritus, the first materialist; Socrates, executed for rejecting the gods of the Athenian state; Epicurus and his followers, who thought gods could not intervene in human affairs; the brilliantly mischievous satirist Lucian of Samosata.

Before the revolutions of late antiquity, which saw the scriptural religions of Christianity and Islam enforced by imperial might, there were few constraints on belief. Everything changed, however, in the millennium between the appearance of the Homeric poems and Christianity’s establishment as Rome’s state religion in the fourth century AD. As successive Greco-Roman empires grew in size and complexity, and power was increasingly concentrated in central capitals, states sought to impose collective religious adherence, first to cults devoted to individual rulers, and ultimately to monotheism. In this new world, there was no room for outright disbelief: the label “atheist” was used now to demonize anyone who merely disagreed with the orthodoxy—and so it would remain for centuries.

As the twenty-first century shapes up into a time of mass information, but also, paradoxically, of collective amnesia concerning the tangled histories of religions, Whitmarsh provides a bracing antidote to our assumptions about the roots of freethinking. By shining a light on atheism’s first thousand years, Battling the Gods offers a timely reminder that nonbelief has a wealth of tradition of its own, and, indeed, its own heroes. 



Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9780307958327
 
The price comparison is for this edition
from Alfred a Knopf Inc (November 10, 2015)
9780307958327 | details & prices | 290 pages | 6.75 × 9.60 × 1.20 in. | 1.30 lbs | List price $27.95
About: How new is atheism?
Paperback
Book cover for 9780307948779
 
Reprint edition from Vintage Books (October 18, 2016)
9780307948779 | details & prices | 304 pages | List price $16.95
About: How new is atheism?
CD/Spoken Word
Book cover for 9781622319640
 
With James Langton (other contributor) | Unabridged edition from Highbridge Co (November 10, 2015)
9781622319640 | details & prices | 6.00 × 5.50 × 1.00 in. | 0.45 lbs | List price $34.99
About: Long before the European Enlightenment and the Darwinian revolution, which we often take to mark the birth of the modern revolt against religious explanations of the world, brave people doubted the power of the gods.

Pricing is shown for items sent to or within the U.S., excluding shipping and tax. Please consult the store to determine exact fees. No warranties are made express or implied about the accuracy, timeliness, merit, or value of the information provided. Information subject to change without notice. isbn.nu is not a bookseller, just an information source.