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This study examines the history of themis' ( qe&d12;mi v ) semantic range in archaic and classical Greek literature and religion. Prior to the codification of law, archaic Greek society made a wide variety of claims about right and wrong in terms of the idea of themis: in its earliest literary and epigraphic attestations, the semantic range of themis and related terms refl This study examines the history of themis' ( qe&d12;mi v ) semantic range in archaic and classical Greek literature and religion. Prior to the codification of law, archaic Greek society made a wide variety of claims about right and wrong in terms of the idea of themis: in its earliest literary and epigraphic attestations, the semantic range of themis and related terms reflects what is normal or appropriate. But by the classical period, this range has shifted, and themis also describes the divine will as expressed in oracular utterance: themistes become oracles, and the verb themisteuein the act of delivering them. But the emergence of themis' oracular connotations raises problems vis-a-vis its traditional force, and it is only in the later tragedies of Sophocles that a new understanding of the term's semantics appears: for the first time, what is ethically appropriate becomes consistent with the dictates of oracular utterance. Themis in Sophocles denotes both realities simultaneously.;The study considers the histories of Themis-cult and oracular divination, drawing on the epigraphic and archaeological record, but it is primarily concerned with the changes in themis' semantic range across archaic and classical Greek literature. It offers new readings of themis' role in numerous canonical texts: Homer and Hesiod, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Pindar's eighth Isthmian ode, several tragedies of Aeschylus (Supplices, Seven Against Thebes, and the Oresteia), the pseudo-Aeschylean Prometheus Bound, and the later plays of Sophocles (Philoctetes, Electra, and Oedipus at Colonus) all receive detailed treatment.


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This study examines the history of themis' ( qe&d12;mi v ) semantic range in archaic and classical Greek literature and religion. Prior to the codification of law, archaic Greek society made a wide variety of claims about right and wrong in terms of the idea of themis: in its earliest literary and epigraphic attestations, the semantic range of themis and related terms refl This study examines the history of themis' ( qe&d12;mi v ) semantic range in archaic and classical Greek literature and religion. Prior to the codification of law, archaic Greek society made a wide variety of claims about right and wrong in terms of the idea of themis: in its earliest literary and epigraphic attestations, the semantic range of themis and related terms reflects what is normal or appropriate. But by the classical period, this range has shifted, and themis also describes the divine will as expressed in oracular utterance: themistes become oracles, and the verb themisteuein the act of delivering them. But the emergence of themis' oracular connotations raises problems vis-a-vis its traditional force, and it is only in the later tragedies of Sophocles that a new understanding of the term's semantics appears: for the first time, what is ethically appropriate becomes consistent with the dictates of oracular utterance. Themis in Sophocles denotes both realities simultaneously.;The study considers the histories of Themis-cult and oracular divination, drawing on the epigraphic and archaeological record, but it is primarily concerned with the changes in themis' semantic range across archaic and classical Greek literature. It offers new readings of themis' role in numerous canonical texts: Homer and Hesiod, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Pindar's eighth Isthmian ode, several tragedies of Aeschylus (Supplices, Seven Against Thebes, and the Oresteia), the pseudo-Aeschylean Prometheus Bound, and the later plays of Sophocles (Philoctetes, Electra, and Oedipus at Colonus) all receive detailed treatment.

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