Euhemerus a Greek historian, philosopher, and traveler, lived about the year B.C. 300. It is not exactly known whether he was born at Messina (in Sicily), at Tegea (in the Peloponnesus), on the isle of Cos, or at Agarigentum. He belonged to the Cyrenaic school, well known for its skepticism in religious matters. As bold as the other philosophers of this school, and more systematic, Euhemerus proposed a general interpretation of the myths, which has been justly compared with modern German Rationalism. An exposition of his doctrine is given by Diodorus Siculus. "Euhemaerus," he says, "friend of Cassander (king of Macedonia B.C. 320-296), was entrusted by this prince with certain missions to some of the Southern countries. On his way he passed in the Indian Ocean a group of isles, of which the largest was called Panchaia. "The Panchaeans were distinguished for their piety, and honored the gods by sacrifice and offerings of gold and silver." They worshipped Jupiter, and such other gods as we meet with in Grecian mythology; but all these gods were really men distinguished for great actions, and deified on account of them. On his return from the voyage Euhemerus wrote a Sacred History ( ῾Ιερὰ ἀναγραφή), in about nine books,in which he showed, according to Lactantius and Arnohbius, that these gods were but men (Lactantius, De Falsa Religione, 1:11). A Latin translation was made by the poet Ennius. Of this translation only ninety-five lines now remain (Amsterdam, 1707). This work contains the history of the gods of the Panchasans, of the people and their manners, Euhemerus himself leaning in fact to the doctrines of the Panchasans. The form in which he presented his system was not entirely new, for Plato had adopted a similar course in his Republic; the germ of the system itself is to be found in some passages of Herodotus and Thucydides. The originality of Euhemerus consists in exaggerating, and in carrying out even to absurdity, the idea that Mythology contains certain historical elements. In effect, he resolved all mythology into history, maintaining that the gods "were originally illustrious kings, deified after death either by the spontaneous reverence of the people or by the cunning of the rulers." But mythology contains, aside from this, so much that bears on astronomy, the physical sciences, metaphysics, and, most of all, so much of fiction, that it is next to impossible to determine what in this confusion is truly historical. Some historians, like Diodorus Siculus, who have attempted to interpret mythology after the plan of Euhemerus, have succeeded only in substituting prosaic fiction for the imaginative popular legends. The pagame writers generally treat Euhemerus with severity. After the origin of Christianity, the views of Euhemerus, as containing the satires of a pagan on pagan religions, were made great use of in argument by the Church fathers against paganism, with some exaggerations, perhaps, of the doctrines of Euhemerums. Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Minucius Felix, Cyprian, Lactantius, Chrysostom, in arguing against paganism, adopt the view of Euhbenerus, that the worship of great men was the original source of all idolatry, and gave birth to all the pagan divinities. In 1641, Vossius, following an idea of Tertullian, sought to show that the gods of paganism were the patriarchs of the O.T. Serapis was Joseph; Janus, Noah; Minerva, Naomi, etc. Huet, bishop of Avranches, discovered Moses in Osiris and Bacchus, as well as in manyotheu pagan divinities. Euhemereism, as a method of interpreting the ancient mythology, was supplanted by the symbolisma of Kreuzer, a system infinitely superior to the other two above mentioned, but still containing much that is illusory and erroneous. A Hoefer, Nouv. Biogr. Generale, 16:828; Donaldson, History of Christian Literature and Doctrine (see Index); Gerlach, Historische Studien (Hamb.1841, 8vo); Lecky, History of Rationalism, 1:327; Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosophiae, 1:604 sq.; Clinton, Fasti Hellenici (Oxon. 1830), 2:481; Meiners, Hist. Doct. apud Graecos, 2:664 sq.; Fabricinis, Bibliotheca Graeca, in, 616; Hoffman, Bibliographisches Lexicon, 1:65; Milman, History of Christianity (New York, 1866), 1:49, note. SEE MYTHOLOGY.

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