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De la fin d’un monde à la fin du monde

Abstract : Calamities and the end of the world in ancient greek thought The mythical theme of calamities, mainly of a world ending in fire and / or water, pervades ancient greek thought. The key figures in Greece are Deucalion and Pyrrha as well as Phaethon. This motif was handed down from the eastern world (Mesopotamia, the Biblical world and Iran). Surprisingly, no trace of an apparently similar idea- the end of the world- appeared before the 3rd century B. C.. (Actually, these two motifs are poles apart, since the first one makes humanity move from a mythical to an historical time, whereas the second one makes humanity move from the historical era to an everlasting world, somehow mythical). The notion of a cataclysmic end to the universe originated in eastern religious and mythical thought (both Biblical and Iranian) which, albeit difficult to disentangle, seems underpinned by approaches to religion that are far different from greek polytheism with its accompanying implications. Hence the coexistence in greek literature from the 2nd century B. C. onwards of motifs of the end of a world and the end of the world. This can be accounted for through those oriental sources which gradually found their way into greek thought for both historical and ideological reasons (especially during the hellenistic period). The theme of the end of the world gained increasing popularity with the beginnings of christianity.
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Contributor : Christine Dumas-Reungoat <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 12, 2021 - 3:24:51 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 13, 2021 - 3:44:51 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02889778, version 1



Christine Dumas-Reungoat. De la fin d’un monde à la fin du monde. Kentron, revue du monde antique et de psychologie historique, Kentron, 1996, pp.73-123. ⟨hal-02889778⟩



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