(10 letters | 4 syllables)
(Scrabble score – 17)
1. the theory that gods arose out of the deification of historical heroes.
2. any interpretation of myths that derives the gods from outstanding men and seeks the source of mythology in history.
:interpretation of myths as traditional accounts of historical persons and events.
First Known Use: 1846
A theory attributing the origin of the gods to the deification of historical heroes.
“Euhemerism is an approach to the interpretation of mythology in which mythological accounts are presumed to have originated from real historical events or personages. Euhemerism supposes that historical accounts become myths as they are exaggerated in the retelling, accumulating elaborations and alterations that reflect cultural mores. It was named for the Greek mythographer Euhemerus.”
1846, “the method of regarding myths as glorified accounts of actual events or persons,” with -ism + name of Euhemerus, Greek philosopher of Sicily (4c. B.C.E.), who wrote “Iera Anagraphe,” in which he maintained the Greek deities actually were historical mortals. His name is literally “good day,” from eu “well, good” (see eu-) + hemera “day” (see ephemera). Related: Euhemerist; euhemeristic.
(Ancient Greek: Ευήμερος,
“happy; prosperous”, also transliterated Euemeros or Evemerus; pronounced Evimeros in Modern Greek; late 4th century BC), was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. Euhemerus‘ birthplace is disputed, with Messina in Sicily as the most probable location, while others champion Chios or Tegea.The philosophy attributed to and named for Euhemerus, euhemerism, holds that many mythological tales can be attributed to historical persons and events, the accounts of which have become altered and exaggerated over time. Euhemerus’s work combined elements of fiction and political utopianism. In the ancient world he was considered an atheist. Early Christian writers, such as Lactantius, used Euhemerus’s belief that the ancient gods were originally human to confirm their inferiority regarding the Christian god.”(DBpedia)
This eponymous theory, whether accurate or not, though it seems inevitable in some cases, less so in others, takes a turn for the ironic when we consider that since none of his writing survived, Euhemer himself may be mythical creation. If so, the creation nonetheless is ascribed “person-hood” status, through the writings of a few other obscure Greek Authors. Incidentally, the “euhemer,” and “ephemer” appear to translate similarly in the Greek. This could lead an inquiring mind to wonder if, as it very much seems the case, the entire affair isn’t tightly bound up with highly suspect term “euphemism.”