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Dictionary of Ancient Deities

by Patricia Turner, Charles Russell Coulter

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1432171,030 (4.69)None
Nothing reveals more about a civilization than the gods and goddesses it worshipped. For thousands of years humans have fashioned stories about divine beings to explain their most mysterious, terrifying, and exalted experiences. Today the names of many of these deities have fallen into obscurity. The Dictionary of Ancient Deities brings these gods and goddesses back to light. Here, in one superbly written volume, is every known divine being throughout recorded history, from Athena and Brahma to the evil demon king Ngworekara of the African Fan people and the Babylonian dream messenger Zaqar. With over 10,000 entries, The Dictionary of Ancient Deities is the most comprehensive reference of its kind, covering not only gods and goddesses, but also spirits, places, festivals, sacred texts and objects, heroes, monsters, demigods, and the plethora of fantastic mythical beasts that have populated the human imagination from time immemorial. The encyclopedia also includes many deities often missing from standard collections, notably from Inuit, Native American, and African cultures. Alphabetically arranged entries provide the name of each deity (with alternate spellings), followed by the tribe or culture that worshipped the deity. Most importantly, the entries--whether brief descriptions or longer essays--offer lucid and engaging explanations of the origins and functions of the god or goddess. With a comprehensive index and an extensive bibliography, The Dictionary of Ancient Deities is the best choice for anyone intrigued by the rich pantheon of divine beings that have mirrored the human psyche and shaped our earliest civilizations.… (more)
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This one is not as extensive as POSSIBLE but it is the most extensive I have found yet for what it is. This book is what it says, a very concise, inclusive dictionary of deities meant for just the occasion of when you are having a drunken arguement with a friend over who the Babylonians turned to en masse when their wheat wasn't doing quite what it should or who the Sumerians blamed when they couldn't find their keys etc. There are a few lesser gods that have been omitted but they're the kind you really have to wonder if Crowley hadn't made them up for a laugh anyway. Provides a detailed but relatively brief listing of each deity's cultural connection, purpose, and history (both real and imaginary). ( )
1 vote manandwife | Aug 29, 2010 |
If you're interested in ancient religions or the supernatural in general then this book is a rich treasure trove of information. Entries on some entities are relatively brief. But to my unstudied eye the catalog of pantheons and their constituents seems quite thorough in it's inclusion.

- Peter K. ( )
  Kisners42 | Jul 14, 2007 |
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Patricia Turnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coulter, Charles Russellmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Nothing reveals more about a civilization than the gods and goddesses it worshipped. For thousands of years humans have fashioned stories about divine beings to explain their most mysterious, terrifying, and exalted experiences. Today the names of many of these deities have fallen into obscurity. The Dictionary of Ancient Deities brings these gods and goddesses back to light. Here, in one superbly written volume, is every known divine being throughout recorded history, from Athena and Brahma to the evil demon king Ngworekara of the African Fan people and the Babylonian dream messenger Zaqar. With over 10,000 entries, The Dictionary of Ancient Deities is the most comprehensive reference of its kind, covering not only gods and goddesses, but also spirits, places, festivals, sacred texts and objects, heroes, monsters, demigods, and the plethora of fantastic mythical beasts that have populated the human imagination from time immemorial. The encyclopedia also includes many deities often missing from standard collections, notably from Inuit, Native American, and African cultures. Alphabetically arranged entries provide the name of each deity (with alternate spellings), followed by the tribe or culture that worshipped the deity. Most importantly, the entries--whether brief descriptions or longer essays--offer lucid and engaging explanations of the origins and functions of the god or goddess. With a comprehensive index and an extensive bibliography, The Dictionary of Ancient Deities is the best choice for anyone intrigued by the rich pantheon of divine beings that have mirrored the human psyche and shaped our earliest civilizations.

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