Ancient Greek Religion (Blackwell Ancient Religions)


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The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion

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Free postage Image not available Photos not available for this variation. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of God; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. It was the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed.

Yet surprisingly, the popular histories claim that the Christian Church reached a consensus on the Trinity at the Council of Constantinople in AD Why has Theodosius's revolution been airbrushed from the historical record? In this groundbreaking new book, acclaimed historian Charles Freeman shows that the council was in fact a sham, only taking place after Theodosius's decree had become law. The Church was acquiescing in the overwhelming power of the emperor.

Freeman argues that Theodosius's edict and the subsequent suppression of paganism not only brought an end to the diversity of religious and philosophical beliefs throughout the empire, but created numerous theological problems for the Church, which have remained unsolved. The year AD , as Freeman puts it, was "a turning point which time forgot. Chichester, West Sussex, U. His topics include sanctuaries and worship; gods, heroes, and polytheism; seven cult myths; five major cults; religion in the family and village and the city-state; the individual; and the Hellenistic period.

Drawn from literary texts and inscriptions from the earliest surviving literature of the Archaic Period to the age of Alexander and his successors, the carefully chosen passages shed light on the beliefs, rituals, and hierarchy of deities that formed the religious framework of life in ancient Greece. The extant documents — including many lesser known fragmentary texts — serve to illustrate the importance and diversity of religious ritual, as well as the many ways in which Greeks conceptualized the gods and related stories about them.

Further insights are gained through section introductions that set the documents in context, detailed commentary that clarifies and illuminates individual passages, and copious cross-references that reveal the interconnectedness of varied aspects of religious practice and thought. V5 C97 : Aphrodite explores the many myths and meanings of the Greek goddess of love, sex and beauty. One of the most widely worshipped and popular deities in Greek antiquity, Aphrodite emerges from the imaginations of the ancient Greek writers and artists as a multifaceted, powerful and charismatic figure.

This volume explores the importance of Aphrodite for the ancient Greeks, as well as her enduring influence as a symbol of beauty, adornment, love and sexuality in contemporary culture. In a wide-ranging investigation of the universality of Aphrodite's power and significance, this volume illuminates the numerous intricate levels of divinity embodied by the alluring figure of Aphrodite. London ; New York : Routledge, From his first attestations in Homer, through the complex question of pre-Homeric Apollo, to the opposition between Apollo and Dionysos in nineteenth and twentieth-century thinking, Graf examines Greek religion and myth to provide a full account of Apollo in the ancient world For students of Greek religion and culture, of myth and legend, and in the fields of art and literature, Apollo will provide an informative and enlightening introduction to this powerful figure from the past.

The reader is taken from the very first generation of Christians in Rome, a tiny group of Jews who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, down to the point when Christianity had triumphed over savage persecution and was on the verge of becoming the religion of the Roman Empire. Rome was by far the biggest city in the Roman world and this had a profound effect on the way Christianity developed there. It became separate from Judaism at a very early date.

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The Roman Christians were the first to suffer savage persecution at the hands of Nero. Rome saw the greatest theological movements of the second century thrashing out the core doctrines of the Christian faith. The emergence of the papacy and the building of the catacombs gave the Roman Church extraordinary influence and prestige in the third century, another time of cruel persecution.

And it was in Rome that Constantine's patronage of the Christian faith was most evident as he built great basilicas and elevated the personal status of the Pope. Golden, Colo. Translated from the German by Ralph Manheim. Looking at the tendency to "see visions," C. Kerenyi examines the Mysteries of Eleusis from the standpoint not only of Greek myth but also of human nature. Kerenyi holds that the yearly autumnal "mysteries" were based on the ancient myth of Demeter's search for her ravished daughter Persephone—a search that he equates not only with woman's quest for completion but also with every person's pursuit of identity.

As he explores what the content of the mysteries may have been for those who experienced them, he draws on the study of archaeology, objects of art, and religious history, and suggests rich parallels from other mythologies. M47 B88 : Forms of Astonishment sets out to interpret a number of Greek myths about the transformations of humans and gods. Such tales have become familiar in their Ovidian dress, as in the best-selling translation by Ted Hughes; Richard Buxton explores their Greek antecedents.

One pressing question which often occurs to the reader of these tales is: Did the Greeks take them seriously? Buxton repeatedly engages with this topic, and attempts to answer it context by context and author by author. His book raises issues relevant to an understanding of broad aspects of Greek culture e. London ; New York : Routledge, , c He examines female participation in a wide range of cults, including public, gender-specific, and domestic, along with the responsibilities within those cults, such as those of priestesses, prophetesses belly-talkers , and prostitutes. He carefully uses the limited number of literary and inscriptional references, combining them with rich physical evidence to reconstruct a vivid portrait of the significant role women and young girls played in Greek religious life.

Religion and Morality

The discussion is often technical and detailed, suggesting that the target audiences are specialists and graduate students. Nevertheless, much of his discussion is fully illustrated with 56 black-and-white photographs, supplemented with a glossary of technical terms. Consequently, the work contains a wealth of information for the specialist yet remains accessible for advanced undergraduate students. Here are the gods of the Olympian pantheon.

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Here too are the demigods, demons, heroes, and many of the best-loved as well as lesser-known cycles, fables and nature myths. The entries, always readable and informative, convey the significance of Greek mythology and its place at the core of Western culture. They evoke the majesty, as well as the all-too-human foibles, of the Greek deities and their acolytes.

Whether they find themselves caught up by the single combat of Hector and Achilles before the looming walls of Troy; or find themselves transported, like Odysseus, by the haunting song of the Sirens; or are thrilled by the quest of Jason and his Argonauts for the fabled Golden Fleece - enthusiasts of myth and ancient history will discover many richnesses to enjoy here.

Gods, Demigods and Demons is both a helpful guide and a one-stop resource that can be consulted again and again. It will prove an indispensable companion to the world of the ancient Greeks and the gods they worshipped. Main Library PA C : Myths are not simple narrative plots. In ancient Greece, as in other traditional societies, these tales existed only in the poetic or artistic forms in which they were set down. To read them from an anthropological point of view means to study their meaning according to their forms of expression - epic recitation, ritual celebration of the victory of an athlete, tragic performance, erudite Alexandrian poetry, antiquarian prose text; in other words, to study the functions of Greek myths in their permanent retelling and reshaping.

Falling between social reality and cultural fiction, Greek myths were evolving creations, constantly adapting themselves to new conditions of performance. Using myths such as those of Persephone, Bellerophon, Helen and Teiresias, Claude Calame presents an overview of Greek mythology as a category inseparable from the literature in which so much of it is found.

Oxford : Aris and Phillips, c Among them are a divine intervention in Homer's Iliad, superstition in Characters by Theophrastus, divine forms in Plato's Symposium, epilepsy in the Hippocratic Sacred Disease, Orphism all over the place, and curse tablets. Introductions, explanations, and sources are provided, along with the Greek texts. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, E53 : This book examines the relationship between the breakthrough of Christianity in antiquity and the belief in the resurrection of the flesh. Traditionally, Greek religion entailed a strong and enduring conviction that immortality always had to include both a body of flesh and a soul.

Both mythical and historical persons were also believed to have been resurrected from the dead and become physically immortal. The Christian belief in the resurrection of the flesh evolved only gradually, beginning with Paul, who simply denied it. But the more popular Christianity became among the Greeks, the stronger the emphasis became on the resurrection of the flesh; and the more Christianity stressed physical incorruptibility, the more Greeks left their ancient beliefs for this new religion.

As such, the traditional Greek longing for immortal flesh can be seen as an important catalyst for the success of Christianity. Princeton : Princeton University Press, In the nocturnal Mysteries at Eleusis, participants dramatically re-enacted the story of Demeter's loss and recovery of her daughter Persephone; in the Bacchic cult, bands of women ran wild in the Greek countryside to honor Dionysus; and in the mysteries of Mithras, men came to understand the nature of the universe and their place within it through frightening initiation ceremonies and astrological teachings.

These cults were an important part of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, but their actual practices were shrouded in secrecy, and many of their features have remained unclear until now. By richly illustrating the evidence from ancient art and archaeology, and drawing on enlightening new work in the anthropology and cognitive science of religion, Mystery Cults of the Ancient World allows readers to imagine as never before what it was like to take part in these ecstatic and life-changing religious rituals--and what they meant to those who participated in them.

Stunning images of Greek painted pottery, Roman frescoes, inscribed gold tablets from Greek and South Italian tombs, and excavated remains of religious sanctuaries help show what participants in these initiatory cults actually did and experienced. A fresh and accessible introduction to a fascinating subject, this is a book that will interest general readers, as well as students and scholars of classics and religion. Austin : University of Texas Press, M34 M97 : In Vergil's Aeneid , the poet implies that those who have been initiated into mystery cults enjoy a blessed situation both in life and after death.

This collection of essays brings new insight to the study of mystic cults in the ancient world, particularly those that flourished in Magna Graecia essentially the area of present-day Southern Italy and Sicily Implementing a variety of methodologies, the contributors to Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia examine an array of features associated with such "mystery religions" that were concerned with individual salvation through initiation and hidden knowledge rather than civic cults directed toward Olympian deities usually associated with Greek religion.

Contributors present contemporary theories of ancient religion, field reports from recent archaeological work, and other frameworks for exploring mystic cults in general and individual deities specifically, with observations about cultural interactions throughout. The resulting volume illuminates this often misunderstood range of religious phenomena. New York : Oxford University Press, [c. In different ways, the content and the format of both inscriptions are so unusual that they have baffled understanding. At Selinus, a large lead tablet with two columns of writing upside down to each other is thought to be a remedy for homicide pollution arising from civil strife, but most of it remains obscure and intractable.

The gods who are named and the ritual that is prescribed have been misinterpreted in the light of literary works that dwell on the sensational. Instead, they belong to agrarian religion and follow a regular sequence of devotions, the upside-down columns being reversed midway through the year with magical effect. Gods and ritual were selected because of their appeal to ordinary persons.

Selinus was governed by a long enduring oligarchy which made an effort, appearing also in the economic details of sacrifice, to reconcile rich and poor. At Cyrene, a long series of rules were displayed on a marble block in the premier shrine of Apollo. They are extremely diverse - both costly and trivial, customary and novel - and eighty years of disputation have brought no agreement as to the individual meaning or general significance. In fact this mixture of things is carefully arranged to suit a variety of needs, of rich and poor, of citizens of long standing and of new-comers probably of Libyan origin.

In one instance the same agrarian deities appear as at Selinus. It is the work once more of a moderate oligarchy, which on other evidence proved its worth during the turbulent events of this period. Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities provides a revised text and a secure meaning for both documents, and interprets the gods, the ritual, and the social background in the light of much comparative material from other Greek cities.

Noel Robertson's approach rejects the usual assumptions based on moralizing literary works and in doing so restores to us an ancient nature religion which Greek communities adapted to their own practical purposes. It explores mainstream Graeco-Roman religion, as well as the diverse regional religions within the empire, from the millennia-old traditions of Egypt to the Celtic Offers an introduction to religion in the Roman empire. This title covers both mainstream Graeco-Roman religion and regional religious traditions, from Egypt to Western Europe.

It examines the shared assumptions and underlying dynamics that characterized. P38 : In many of the world's religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, a seemingly enigmatic and paradoxical image is found--that of the god who worships. Various interpretations of this seeming paradox have been advanced. Some suggest that it represents sacrifice to a higher deity. Proponents of anthropomorphic projection say that the gods are just "big people" and that images of human religious action are simply projected onto the deities.

However, such explanations do not do justice to the complexity and diversity of this phenomenon In Religion of the Gods, Kimberley C. Patton uses a comparative approach to take up anew a longstanding challenge in ancient Greek religious iconography: why are the Olympian gods depicted on classical pottery making libations? The sacrificing gods in ancient Greece are compared to gods who perform rituals in six other religious traditions: the Vedic gods, the heterodox god Zurvan of early Zoroastrianism, the Old Norse god Odin, the Christian God and Christ, the God of Judaism, and Islam's Allah.

Patton examines the comparative evidence from a cultural and historical perspective, uncovering deep structural resonances while also revealing crucial differences Instead of looking for invisible recipients or lost myths, Patton proposes the new category of "divine reflexivity. Above all, divine ritual is generative, both instigating and inspiring human religious activity.

The religion practiced by the gods is both like and unlike human religious action. Seen from within the religious tradition, gods are not "big people," but other than human. Human ritual is directed outward to a divine being, but the gods practice ritual on their own behalf. Offering the first comprehensive study and a new theory of this fascinating phenomenon, Religion of the Gods is a significant contribution to the fields of classics and comparative religion. Patton shows that the god who performs religious action is not an anomaly, but holds a meaningful place in the category of ritual and points to a phenomenologically universal structure within religion itself.

Besides describing ordinary domestic and civic religion and popular belief including astrology, divination and "magic" , there is extended discussion of mystery cults, ruler and emperor cults, the religious dimensions of philosophy, and Gnosticism. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, K : Who marched in religious processions and why?

How were blood sacrifice and communal feasting related to identities in the ancient Greek city? With questions such as these, current scholarship aims to demonstrate the ways in which religion maps on to thesocio-political structures of the Greek polis 'polis religion'. In this book Dr Kindt explores a more comprehensive conception of ancient Greek religion beyond this traditional paradigm. Comparative in method and outlook, the book invites its readers to embark on an interdisciplinary journey touching upon such diverse topics as religious belief, personal religion, magic and theology.

Specific examples include the transformation of tyrant property into ritual objects, the cultural practice of setting updedications at Olympia, and a man attempting to make love to Praxiteles' famous statue of Aphrodite. The book will be valuable for all students and scholars seeking to understand the complex phenomenon of ancient Greek religion".

Cambridge [U. From its archaic beginnings in the wooded crater beside the lake known as the 'mirror of Dianea' it grew into a grand Hellenistic-style complex that attracted crowds of pilgrims and the sick. Diana was also believed to confer power on leaders. This book examines the history of Diana's cult and healing sanctuary, which remained a significant and wealthy religious center for more than a thousand years. It sheds new light on Diana herself, on the use of rational as well as ritual healing in the sanctuary, on the subtle distinctions between Latin religious sensibility and the more austere Roman practice, and on the interpenetration of cult and politics in Latin and Roman history.

Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, L38 : Understanding Greek Religion is one of the first attempts to fully examine any religion from a cognitivist perspective, applying methods and findings from the cognitive science of religion to the ancient Greek world. In this book, Jennifer Larson shows that many of the fundamentals of Greek religion, such as anthropomorphic gods, divinatory procedures, purity beliefs, reciprocity, and sympathetic magic arise naturally as by-products of normal human cognition.

Greek Mythology God and Goddesses Documentary

Drawing on evidence from across the ancient Greek world, Larson provides detailed coverage of Greek theology and local pantheons, rituals including processions, animal sacrifice and choral dance, and afterlife beliefs as they were expressed through hero worship and mystery cults. Eighteen in-depth essays illustrate the theoretical discussion with primary sources and include case studies of key cult inscriptions from Kyrene, Kos, and Miletos. This volume features maps, tables, and over twenty images to support and expand on the text, and will provide conceptual tools for understanding the actions and beliefs that constitute a religion.

Additionally, Larson offers the first detailed discussion of cognition and memory in the transmission of Greek religious beliefs and rituals, as well as a glossary of terms and a bibliographical essay on the cognitive science of religion. Understanding Greek Religion is an essential resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of Greek culture and ancient Mediterranean religions. This is the first book to explore evidence of the original parthenogenetic power of deities such as Athena, Hera, Artemis, Gaia, Demeter, Persephone, and the Gnostic Sophia. It provides stunning feminist insights about the deeper meaning of related stories, such as the judgment of Paris, the labors of Heracles, and the exploits of the Amazons.

It also roots the Thesmophoria and Eleusinian Mysteries in female parthenogenetic power, thereby providing what is at long last a coherent understanding of these mysterious rites. Santa Barbara, Calif. The coverage is extensive, including both the obscure and well known. Entries are in dictionary format and range in length from a brief paragraph to several pages. The various myths are retold well in nontechnical language with occasional character insights.


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  5. The book is quite browsable and could easily spark deeper interest. The restriction to only women of mythology, however, limits the usefulness of the work. Baltimore, Md. Lefkowitz convincingly challenged narrow, ideological interpretations of the roles of female characters in Greek mythology. Where some scholars saw the Amazons as the last remnant of a forgotten matriarchy, Clytemnestra as a frustrated individualist, and Antigone as an oppressed revolutionary, Lefkowitz argued that such views were justified neither by the myths themselves nor by the relevant documentary evidence.

    Concentrating on those aspects of women's experience most often misunderstood -- life apart from men, marriage, influence in politics, self-sacrifice and martyrdom, and misogyny -- she presented a far less negative account of the role of Greek women, both ordinary and extraordinary, as manifested in the central works of Greek literature This updated and expanded edition includes six new chapters on such topics as heroic women in Greek epic, seduction and rape in Greek myth, and the parts played by women in ancient rites and festivals.

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