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Earthquakes And The Gods: Reflections On Graeco-Roman Responses To Catastrophic Events

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Chapter Summary

In a paper on "Welcome Earthquakes", Angelos Chaniotis some years ago pointed out that there was no Greek word for the German term Naturkatastrophe, the catastrophic event created by a natural disaster. Natural catastrophes, are not only conceptualized as different from man-made disasters; they are also perceived as being sent by the gods as a punishment that, however, was far frombeing felt as just and deserved. Textbook knowledge makes us believe that in polytheist religions different functions are attributed to different divinities, the protection against earthquakes being most often attributed to Poseidon. The theological reading of a past catastrophe is seen as an impulse for changing one's life, and the need for this change comes from an expected future, an eschatology.

Keywords: catastrophic events; earthquakes; God



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