10 NOVEMBER 1950, Page 42

SHORTER NOTICE The Greeks and Their Gods. By W..K. C.

Guthrie. (Methuen. 215.)

GREEK gods are poetry in themselves and have become part of European literature as constantly recurring symbols. And there

is the added interest of the great classical scholars 'who built elaborate theories on difficult allusions and derivations and defended their theories with bitter ingenuity. Mr. Guthrie skilfully gives glimpses of scholarly controversies without so blurring the general outlines as to discourage the general reader, for whom the book is primarily intended. He quotes some splendid sentences from the great Wilamowitz and also a very good specimen of Mommsen (p._ 69), and even discusses the origins of the Hyper- boreans. He gives a coherent and authoritative account of the various cults and myths which constituted Greek religion, " religion " in a sense largely different from that in which we speak of Christianity, Mohammedanism and Buddhism as religions. To some it will be pleasant, to others perhaps dis- quieting, to read again of people so little troubled with questions of personal and ,sifilltual salvation, and with such imaginative enjoyment of natural processes. Mr. Guthrie himself makes few generalisations and „comparisons, 'but, whenever he does, it is evidently with the full backing of critical scholaiship. The material is there, alike for the university student and the general reader, to judge how fat these most intelligent people lived without consolations and hopes.