Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide

Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide

Jennifer Larson

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0415491029

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Using archaeological, epigraphic, and literary sources; and incorporating current scholarly theories, this volume will serve as an excellent companion to any introduction to Greek mythology, showing a side of the Greek gods to which most students are rarely exposed.

Detailed enough to be used as a quick reference tool or text, and providing a readable account focusing on the oldest, most widespread, and most interesting religious practices of the ancient Greek world in the Archaic and Classical periods, Ancient Greek Cults surveys ancient Greek religion through the cults of its gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines.

Jennifer Larson conveniently summarizes a vast amount of material in many languages, normally inaccessible to undergrad students, and explores, in detail, the variety of cults celebrated by the Greeks, how these cults differed geographically, and how each deity was conceptualized in local cult titles and rituals.

Including an introductory chapter on sources and methods, and suggestions for further reading this book will allow readers to gain a fresh perspective on Greek religion.














birthday. New York: Barnes & Noble. Baldwin Bowsky, Martha W. 2001. A temple of Hermes at Sybritos on the road from Gortyn to the Diktynnaion (Crete). ASAA 79:263–76. Bammer, Anton. 1974. Recent excavations at the altar of Artemis in Ephesus. Archaeology 27:202–4. –– 1984. Das Heiligtum der Artemis von Ephesos. Graz: Akademische Druck und Verlagsanstalt. –– 1990. A Peripteros of the Geometric period in the Artemision of Ephesos. Anatolian Studies 40:137–60. –– 1998. Sanctuaries in the

Pausanias’ eyewitness descriptions has been repeatedly verified by archaeologists, and he is generally considered a reliable guide with respect to the places and objects he himself observed. But while Pausanias had a strong personal interest in the Archaic and Classical Greek periods, and a good eye for distinguishing their products, his reports of festivals and rituals as they were practiced and understood c. 160 CE are not necessarily accurate guides to what was done and believed centuries

reveal an ongoing struggle for ritual authority between the Hierophant and the Priestess of Demeter in the fourth century, when a Hierophant was convicted of impiety for usurping the Priestess’ right to preside at the Haloa. Many of the sacred personnel connected with the Mysteries seem to have held their offices for life, a fact that sets the Eleusinian priesthoods apart from most others among the Greeks.13 Initiation to the Mysteries required time, effort, and a cost that, while substantial,

appear “in the holy season of spring” for the Theoxenia (Hospitality to the Gods), a festival at which deities were provided with food, drink, and entertainment.26 It also describes major additions to Dionysos’ Delphic cult: the establishment of a sacrifice and dithyrambic competition, the erection of a statue of Bakchos “in a chariot drawn by golden lions” and the building of a grotto “suitable for the holy god.” Already in the fifth century, tragedians speak of the ecstatic worship of Dionysos

surely used in the rites. Early versions of the cult probably also existed at Imbros and in the Troad, which were part of the same cultural sphere.8 Initiation into the mysteries of Samothrace was said to bestow protection from drowning at sea, and the island with its sanctuary quickly gained a Panhellenic reputation during the Archaic and Classical periods. Filled with votive monuments and tablets presented by grateful survivors, it drew the scorn of the atheist Diagoras of Melos, who remarked

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