Lewis Campbell

Emeritus Professor of Greek, University of St Andrews

Religion in Greek Literature

In this comprehensive overview of Greek religion (antecedents, heroes, mysteries, scepticism, consecration of art, and religion in texts such as the Iliad and the Odyssey), Campbell is convinced that within Hellenic life, there is a supreme power that rights wrongs and desires religious purity. He aims to trace not the origins but the trends of religious consciousness in Greece. He summarises, ‘the deepest want of our age is to have a new definition of God’.


Lewis Campbell was born on 3 September 1830 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a classical scholar and ordained minister known for his pioneering work on the application of stylometry to the question of Plato’s chronological development. An ordained deacon in 1857 and priest in 1858, he spent five years of active ministry as Vicar of Milford, Hampshire, and remained a lifelong proponent of liberal ecumenical views. In 1863, he was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of St Andrews and lectured until he retired due to ill health in 1892.

In line with his bohemian lifestyle, he founded the students’ Shakespearian society, dramatic society, and gymnastic club, even participating in their activities. His wide-ranging publications include Theaetetus (1861), Sophistes and Politicus (1867), and Republic (1894). His series of sermons is entitled The Christian Ideal (1877). He published translations of Sophocles (1883) and of Aeschylus (1890) in blank verse and lyric metres, a Guide to Greek Tragedy (1891), and a comparative work on tragic method, Tragic Drama in Aeschylus, Sophocles and Shakespeare (1904).

Published/Archival Resources