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 (yo͞o-hē′mə-rĭz′əm, -hĕm′ə-)
A theory attributing the origin of the gods to the deification of historical heroes.

[After Euhemerus, fourth-century bc Greek philosopher.]

eu·he′mer·ist n.
eu·he′mer·is′tic adj.
eu·he′mer·is′ti·cal·ly adv.


1. (Classical Myth & Legend) the theory that gods arose out of the deification of historical heroes
2. (Classical Myth & Legend) any interpretation of myths that derives the gods from outstanding men and seeks the source of mythology in history
[C19: named after Euhemerus (?300 bc), Greek philosopher who propounded this theory]
euˈhemerist n
euˌhemerˈistic adj
euˌhemerˈistically adv


(yuˈhi məˌrɪz əm, -ˈhɛm ə-)

1. (sometimes cap.) the theory that the gods and the myths associated with them arose from the deification of great persons.
2. any interpretation of myths that attributes their origin to historical persons.
[1840–50; Euhemer(us) (flourished 300 b.c.), Greek author who advanced the idea + -ism]
eu•he′mer•ist, n.
eu•he`mer•is′tic, adj.
eu•he`mer•is′ti•cal•ly, adv.
eu•he′mer•ize`, v.t., v.i. -ized, -iz•ing.


the belief that the mythological gods were merely early kings and heroes deified. — euhemerist, n.euhemeristic, adj.
See also: God and Gods
the belief that the mythological gods were merely legendary kings and heroes deified. — euhemerist, n. — euhemeristic, adj.
See also: Mythology
References in periodicals archive ?
In a second section on nature, politics, and religion, the atheism of the Theophrastus is compared firstly to euhemerism, as Lorenzo Bianchi studies the text's rational analysis of the origins and imposition of religions, and secondly to pantheism, as Miguel Benitez assesses the atheist author's respect for the reasonableness of deifying elements of nature that are beneficial to all rather than inventing gods.
Finally, Byock provides an excellent argument for euhemerism which demonstrates the character Floki is obviously meant to represent within the series, either as a man, or a friend of the ^sir incognito.
This is an oddly appropriate phrase from Blade Runner--a film made in 1982 but set in 2012--used to characterize "replicants" (created beings who are prematurely "retired," a euhemerism for killed).
He covers the life of Euhemerus, his novel Sacred History, his theological views, society and economy in Sacred History, the Zeus sanctuary on the island of Panchaea, an attempt to interpret Sacred History, Ennius' Euhemerus sive sacra historia, and euhemerism in the ancient world.
Euhemerism is a Hellenistically-influenced approach inspired by and derived from the work of the fourth century BCE Greek scholar Euhemerus of Messene who rationalised the question of religious worship, myth, and history.
15) The latter type of allegoresis is also known as euhemerism (continued in the rationalizing mythographic interpretation founded by Palaephatus in Incredible Tales).
Chapter 4 brings to bear the perspective of Renaissance euhemerism on book 5 of The Faerie Queene.
Practicing a form of linguistic euhemerism, he demonstrated to his own satisfaction that the tales of the age of the gods were originally tales of humans that had been distorted and transmogrified.
I suspect that the scholarly assumption that somewhere beneath the legend there must lurk a real historical founder is a modern case of Euhemerism, the belief of ancient historians that all the mythic gods had first been historical heroes, kings, warriors, physicians, etc.
Deification might be said to embody a principle of descent; euhemerism one of rising.
The Greeks also contributed Euhemerism, the practice of reducing myths to prosaic explanations, a habit which would live on into the nineteenth century, particularly in biblical exegesis.