Ancient Greek Cults: A Guide
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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.
slabs. Nearby, a preexisting sanctuary contained a one-room structure that was enlarged around the time of the burial. Within it were a sacrificial pit and a number of vases from Battos’ time. This has been described as a hero-shrine for Battos, though it could also be an early temple or funerary chapel. In the late Classical period, as the level of the agora rose, the mound was no longer visible, so an elaborate cenotaph was constructed beside it.16 The hero as revenant In Sophocles’ Oedipus
rituals for their own ends.6 There is no ancient Greek word for ritual; the closest equivalents are perhaps ta nomizomena (customary things) and ta patria (ancestral customs). The basic components of Greek ritual practice include various forms of sacrifice, libation, and the offering of gifts to the gods; purifications; processions, dances, and competitions held in festival contexts; hymns and prayers; and divination. Of these rituals, which are common to the ancient cultures of the
but little known elsewhere. Among the early votive gifts, limestone sculptures of heraldic lions and bronze double axes show that artistic motifs from the Mycenaean period were still remembered here.12 Artemis and the vulnerable maiden In many if not most Greek cities, adolescent girls danced for Artemis. These dances had social as well as religious functions, as they signaled a girl’s readiness for marriage and made her visible to potential suitors. Also, transitions in the female life cycle
translate into widespread worship; Hephaistos is an obvious example. Conversely, a deity such as Hestia, whose cult was indispensable to the polis, seldom found her way into art and played a role in very few myths. Most of the gods described in this chapter have well-delineated functions and spheres that simultaneously ensured their survival, but retarded the development of the complex personalities and multiple roles characteristic of major deities like Athena, Zeus, and Artemis. Hekate, as so
attribute (right hand). Sixth century 172.2 Zeus Meilichios as serpent, votive relief from the Peiraieus, c. 400 233.1 Terracotta house or temple model from Perachora. End of the ninth century 323.2 Metope from Hera sanctuary at Foce del Sele: Centaur, 570–60 384.1 Athena Parthenos. Roman marble copy of the cult statue in the Parthenon at Athens, 447–39 434.2 Bronze votive statue of Athena in battle from the Athenian Akropolis, c. 480 445.1 Potter and kiln. Votive pinax from Poseidon sanctuary at