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The Homeric Gods: Spiritual Significance of Greek Religion Paperback – 1 Mar 1979

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4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews from the U.S.

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Paperback, 1 Mar 1979
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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; New edition edition (Mar. 1979)
  • ISBN-10: 0500271445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500271445
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a cautionary note to the review "genius, genius, monstrously flawed" 25 Jan. 2013
By Wildered - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The review below, "genius, genius, monstrously flawed"--otherwise very thoughtful and helpful--misleadingly suggests that Otto may have been an out and out Nazi. I quote below from Wikipedia:

'In 1934, the Nazi regime forced Otto to accept the offer to serve as the successor to Paul Maas, who was removed from his position for being of Jewish descent, in Königsberg. From 1933 to 1945, Otto was a member - and from 1935, the administrator - of the "Scientific Committee" of the Nietzsche Archive. In 1939 and 1940, he, together with Karl Reinhardt and Ernesto Grassi, published a yearbook entitled Geistige Überlieferung ("Spiritual Tradition"). In the introduction, Otto expressed his concern regarding the destiny of the classical tradition, and the yearbook was subsequently banned by the government. He was able to flee Königsberg in 1944, but through the process lost all of his possessions, including his personal library and manuscripts. From that point until the end of the Second World War, Otto found refuge in Elmau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, where he entertained the local community with lectures and small theatrical performances.'
14 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genius, genius, monstrously flawed 27 Jan. 2005
By F. P. Barbieri - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In many ways, this is incomparably the best guide ever written to Greek and especially Homeric religious ideas. Its historicizing theories as to the earlier and later elements of Greek religion were dead before Otto wrote it, killed by Dumezil's observation that the time elements in a mythical narrative are as much part of the myth as everything else and cannot be use to separate its elements; but its recreation of the Greek religious and imaginative world is unsurpassed. One just has to compare Otto's description of the leading gods with that of his more popular contemporary Kerenyi, to realize how much more vivid, concete, lively, and above all conclusive and certain, it is. Kerenyi parades before us his knowledge of complex data by setting us riddles that he only half-solves, and leaves in a cloud of slightly charlatan-like cleverness; Otto descrobes something that is internally coherent and externally commanding, and that, one feels, can easily have been the object of a cult. The last five words of his description of Athena are worth a whole treatise.

This being the case, why is Otto neither read nor reprinted, while other members of the same generation - Eliade, Kerenyi, Dumezil - live vigorously in the bookstore and the classroom? Well, one obvious reason is the translation. I do not think that there has ever been a case in the history of human thought in which a mind of such exceptional poetic and imaginative power has been saddled with a translator so completely deaf to all the merits of language. I doubt that there is a single sentence in this English version that could not be recast to sound better. The sense of plod, plod, plod, seizes any sensitive reader from page one, and never leaves.

However, there are more substantial reasons. The first is Otto's fantastically idolatrous attitude towards the Greeks. We would believe much more readily in their greatness if he did not remind us so often of it. There is hardly a page without its shower of superlatives about Greek inventiveness, joyousness, brilliance, etc.; and put, at that, in such an infelicitous way as to suggest rather a 13-year-old schoolgirl with a bad case of schwaermerei than an authoritative scholar. With this goes an ill-conceived contempt for everything that is not Greek, especially for anything that can be labelled as "Oriental"; expressed, this time, in the language of pompous professorial vagueness (anyone who has read an old-fashioned Italian or German scholar knows what I mean).

These are awful blemishes in the face of a work of genius; and yet I do not know whether, if they were removed, the work of genius would be even possible. Otto was, to be brutal, a Nazi, or rather a member of that awful, intellectually irresponsible, overeducated nationalistic penumbra of racist and immoralistic intellectuals out of which Nazism germinated. He approached the religion of the Greeks in the spirit, not principally of an analist, but of a lover, who loved everything about it - and that includes the brutality, the immorality against which even Plato complained, the ruthless sexuality and suppression of the feminine - as much as he hated Christianity, and he used the one as a stick to beat the other. It is an unfortunate fact that his magnificent imaginative recreation of the Greek mind is a direct product of his voelkisch and immoralistic philosophy.
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