EUHEMERUS, yū-hî'mer-us (EUEMERUS): Greek philosopher; flourished about 316-300 B.C. He was possibly a native of Messene, though Agrigentum, Tegea in Arcadia, and the island of Cos all claimed him. In philosophy he was allied to the school of Aristippus of Cyrene. He lived at the court of Cassander of Macedon, by whom he was sent on a journey into the region of the Indian Ocean. On his return he wrote a "Sacred History," the method of which made him famous. In this work he claimed to have found in Panaræa, the capital of the (fabulous) island Panchæa, a temple to Zeus where was a column bearing the register of the births and deaths of many of the gods. He professed to take this as a clue and interpreted myth as history, regarding the gods as eminent men posthumously deified, thus anticipating the Spencerian school and giving his name to that type of interpretation of history and myth called Euhemerism. The book was attractive in style and matter, and was translated by the Latin poet Ennius (Cicero, De natura deorum, i. 42). Only a few fragments remain, collected in Diodorus Siculus, bibliothecæ historicæ, ed. P. Wesseling (Amsterdam, 1746), in I. P. Cory, Ancient Fragments (London, 1876), and G. N. Remethy (Budapest, 1889). The work was a subtle attack on paganism, and its method was taken up by the Christian Apologists (cf. Lactantius, "Institutes," i. 11, Eng. transl. ANF, vii. 20-24 founded on Euhemerus), and continued to be in favor until very recent times.
GEO. W. GILMORE.