Coordinated by Associate Professor Clive Chandler, Department of Classics, University of Cape Town

This course will review pre-philosophical notions of the gods as expressed in early Greek poetry, and then proceed to examine how the concept of god develops in selected Greek philosophers. Beginning with a varied group of thinkers traditionally labelled ‘Presocratics’, it will proceed to key figures who have made a significant impact on several religious and theological traditions – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The course ends with the Epicureans and Stoics, who held radically different views on divinity. The lectures will identify persistent habits in Greek thought on this topic, and examine how the various concepts of god were aligned with the kind of behaviour expected of humans.

Click on the lecture title to find the PowerPoint slides.

Click here for the general reading list.


1. Greek gods before philosophy Assoc. Prof C. Chandler

2. God in Greek philosophy before Socrates Assoc. Prof C. Chandler

3. Socrates and Plato on God and the divine Assoc. Prof C. Chandler

4. God in Aristotelian thought  Dr T. Angier

5. God in and outside the Universe: Stoics and Epicureans Assoc. Prof C. Chandler

Recommended reading

See also the general reading list.

Allan, W. 2006. ‘Divine justice and cosmic order in early Greek epic’. Journal of Hellenic Studies 126, 1–35.

Osborne, C. 2004. Presocratic Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van Riel, G. 2013. Plato’s Gods. Farnham.

Participants will be referred to selected ancient texts in translation.


Date: 15–19 January Venue: LT3, Kramer Law Building
Time: 3:30pm
COURSE FEES  Full: R510,00  Staff: R255,00  Reduced: R130,00