Book Review: ‘Hellenismos Today’, and ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos’

Hellenismos Today by Timothy Jay Alexander is a book about Hellenic Reconstructionism, or in other words a a modern pagan religion based off ancient Greek religion. It is a hard polytheist moment  based that to quote the author ” focuses primarily in the public or popular religion of ancient Greece.” I feel like the author spends a lot of the book trying explain how it is not like Wicca / neo-paganism and poring out watered down Greek history and philosophy.  While an it is an interesting way to consider worshiping the Greek Pantheon it is just one way at looking at Greek reconstructionism.

Chapters

  • Introduction
  • Polythestic Reconstructionism
  • Ancient Greek Religion
  • Gods and Goddess
  • Cosmology
  • Ethics -(these are based off the Maxims of Delphi)
  • Role of Clergy
  • Rituals & Rites of Passage
  • Holidays & Festivals
  • Divination
  • Magick & Mysticism
  • Appendix I: Works and Days of Hesiod
  • Appendeix II: The Theogony of  Hesiod (note: both copies of Hesiod’s work presented in this book were translated by Hugh G. Evelyn White 1914 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix III: The Emperor Julian’s Oration to the Sovereign Sun (translated by Taylor Thomas in 1793 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos  by Timothy Jay Alexander is the complementary book to the Hellenismos Today. As you can tell from the Chapter list below there is a lot of copy paste from the previous book, although the Appendix offer greater variety and complement the ones provides in Hellenismos Today. This book places an even bigger emphases on orthopraxy than the previous one did but offer little profound insights.

Chapters

  • Preface
  • Intro to Hellenismos
  • Theology
  • Three dimensions of Worship
  • Prayer & Hymns
  • Offerings
  • Rites and Ritual
  • Festival Calendar
  • Mysticism
  • Temples, Shrines, Statues & Images
  • Afterthoughts
  • Appendix I: Sallustius : On the Gods and the Cosmos (translated by Gilbert Murry 1925, edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix II: The Emperor Julian’s Oration to the Mother of the Gods (translated by Taylor Thomas in 1793 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix III: The Homeric Hymns (translated by Hugh G. Evelyn White 1914 and edited by Timothy Jay Alexander)
  • Appendix IV: Epithets of the Gods
  • Appendix V: A Glossery of Greek Words

Overall I felt Booth books fell a little flat for my taste. If you don’t already have a decent grasp on neo-paganism ideas and language the average reader may get lost. and the historical reverences and examples could really use some more fleshing out. In general I would say if you want to read these books get a copy from the library cause it is not really worth the purchase.

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