Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus
Text, Translation & Commentary

By Johan C. Thom
Studies and Texts in Antiquity & Christianity, No. 33
December 2005
Mohr Siebeck
ISBN: 3161486609
208 pages, 6 ½” x 9 ¼”
$127.50 Hardcover

Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus is a popular philosophical text combining 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.

Contents include:

I. Introduction
1. Author and Date
2. Genre, Style, Function and Setting
3. Composition
4. Religion and Philosophy in the Hymn to Zeus
5. Transmission of the Text

II. Text and Translation

III. Commentary
Invocation: Praise of Zeus
Argument: Zeus’ Rule and Human Recalcitrance
Prayer: Deliverance and Insight



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