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a. That poet was thought to receive inspiration from gods by his contemporaries.

b. That poet was thought to receive inspiration from the gods by his contemporaries.

Is there a difference between the meanings of the above sentences?

What does 'the' change?

Does (b) mean the poet in question receive inspiration from all the gods?

I think that is the difference. In (a) it is not clear if all the gods gave him inspiration or only some of them. In (b) however, it seems that all of them gave that poet inspiration.

I didn't want to mention any specific poet. I am not sure that the Greeks thought Homer received inspiration from gods, but I think that was the case. One can easily imagine a society where a certain poet (or a number of poets) are thought to be inspired by gods.

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    (a) is not idiomatic. When speaking of the classical deities, or those of another polytheistic culture, we say the gods. Dec 29, 2020 at 9:18

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As noted by Kate, the idiomatic expression is "inspired by the gods." We don't analyse this much. It doesn't much matter if we mean "all the gods" or "the gods of verse and song". You can understand this as "inspired by the gods that gave me inspiration" if that helps.

The same idiom is used in "cursed by the gods".

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