Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia
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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. Topics include Dionysos and Orpheus, the Goddess Cults, Isis in Italy, and Roman Mithras, explored by an international array of scholars including Giulia Sfameni Gasparro ("Aspects of the Cult of Demeter in Magna Graecia") and Alberto Bernabé ("Imago Inferorum Orphica"). The resulting volume illuminates this often misunderstood range of religious phenomena.
the remains were part of a villa has some basis, since recent researches, carried out in 1995 by the Centre J. Bérard of Naples in the harbor area, revealed the presence of architectural remains of three villas.28 Figure 13.10. Cumae (Campaniae). Isaeum: Statue of a standing Harpokrates. Graphical reconstruction proposed by the author. The Isaeum is, finally, not only a new historical and topographical datum for Cumae, but also a geological and archaeological one. The podium shows two different
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32c, d, e Kern), it is the initiate himself who is transformed by the purifying lightning of Zeus; cf. Bernabé and Jiménez San Cristóbal 2001: 148-155. 85. Cf. a lamella from Thurii, fr. 487B, 5-6 (fr. 32f Kern): χαῖρ(ε) χαῖρε· δεξιὰνὁδοπόρ(ει) λειμῶνάς θ’ ε} ἱεροὺς καὶ ἄλσεα Φερσεφονείας, “Hail, hail, when you take the path of the right / to the sacred prairies and groves of Persephone.” Plato Phd. 69c. 86. According to Pugliese Carratelli (1988a: 166), those initiates (μύσται) who attain the
provide a better answer to the question “Who are you?” than any hypotheses based on the search for the origins of the text.5 The tablets articulate the identity of the deceased as someone who stands out from the mainstream of society, marked by her special qualifications of divine lineage and religious purity. Such a concern with religious purity and the rejection of normal means of identification within human society, such as family, city, or occupation, locates the deceased within the
Mediterranean “dying and rising gods,” the other pertaining to the human actors, that of “initiation” (in Greek, myesis or telete). Both categories have been seriously challenged, the first one since the pioneering researches of Pierre (Pieter) Lambrechts (1910-74) in the 1950s, so that it has now become commonplace to assume that it is a product of modern imagination.12 The attempts to deconstruct the second category are more recent but no less surreptitious. In a recent collection, Initiation