1st Edition

Theologies of Fear in Early Greek Epic

By Carman Romano Copyright 2025
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the theological significance of horror elements in the works of Hesiod and in the Homeric Hymns for the characters within these poems, the mortal audience consuming them, and the poet responsible for mythopoesis.

    Theologies of Fear in Early Greek Epic argues that, just as modern supernatural horror fiction can be analyzed to reveal popular conceptions of the divine, so too can the horrific elements in early Greek epic. Romano develops this analogy to show how mythmakers chose to include, omit, or nuance horror elements from their narratives in order to communicate theological messages. By employing methodological approaches from religious studies, classical studies, and literary studies of supernatural horror fiction, this book brings a fresh perspective to our understanding of how the Greeks viewed their gods and how poets helped to create that view.

    Theologies of Fear in Early Greek Epic will be of interest to scholars in classical studies, religious studies, and comparative literature, as well as students in courses on myth, religion, and Greek culture and society.

    Introduction; Introduction to Chapters 1 and 2; 1. “Stupid … and thoughtless to foresee their lot”: The Horror of Epiphany; 2. “Evil for men”: (Dis)orienting the Cosmos in Hesiod; Introduction to Chapters 3, 4, and 5; 3. “Blessed is he whom they love”: Past and Present in the Homeric Hymns; 4. “Few men know”: Advice for the Cosmically Horrified; 5. “In whom do you most delight?”: The Privilege of the Poet; Epilogue: “Ruin … that there might be a song for those yet to be born”: Homer, Heroes, and Gods.


    Carman Romano is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bryn Mawr College in the department of Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies. She is a scholar of the imagination, especially as it is articulated in ancient poetry. Her recent research explores how Greek poets led their audiences to conceptualize supernatural entities.

    "Carman Romano makes a compelling case for the importance of an overlooked aspect of archaic Greek aesthetics: a sense of horror in the face of the divine." —William Brockliss, University of Wisconsin-Madison