Doubting the Divine in Early Modern Europe

The Revival of Momus, the Agnostic God

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
George McClure
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge University Press
    , June
     280 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


***We have this title in eBook format ONLY***

In this book, George McClure examines the intellectual tradition of challenges to religious and literary authority in the early modern era. He explores the hidden history of unbelief through the lens of Momus, the Greek god of criticism and mockery. Surveying his revival in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and England, McClure shows how Momus became a code for religious doubt in an age when such writings remained dangerous for authors. Momus ('Blame') emerged as a persistent and subversive critic of divine governance and, at times, divinity itself. As an emblem or as an epithet for agnosticism or atheism, he was invoked by writers such as Leon Battista Alberti, Anton Francesco Doni, Giordano Bruno, Luther, and possibly, in veiled form, by Milton in his depiction of Lucifer. The critic of gods also acted, in sometimes related fashion, as a critic of texts, leading the army of Moderns in Swift's Battle of the Books, and offering a heretical archetype for the literary critic.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

George McClure is Professor of History at the University of Alabama, where he has taught since 1986. He is the author of Sorrow and Consolation in Italian Humanism (2016), which won the Marraro Prize of the Society for Italian Historical Studies and The Culture of Profession in Late Renaissance Italy (2004).


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.