Read e-book online A Local History of Greek Polytheism: Gods, People and the PDF

By Irene Polinskaya

ISBN-10: 9004234047

ISBN-13: 9789004234048

This e-book offers the 1st finished and particular learn of the deities and cults of the $64000 Greek island-state of Aigina from the Geometric to Classical sessions (800-400 BCE). It rests on a radical first-hand reconsideration of the archaeological, epigraphic and literary facts. the improvement of the neighborhood cults is reconstructed, besides their interrelationships and the way they spoke back to the social wishes of the Aiginetans. Revising different contemporary types of interpretation, the writer proposes a particular method, expert by way of anthropology and social idea, to the examine of the spiritual lifetime of the traditional Greeks. in this foundation, she makes use of the case of Aigina to discover basic concerns similar to the character and diversity of neighborhood spiritual worlds and their courting to the panhellenic strategies and practices of Greek faith.

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Additional resources for A Local History of Greek Polytheism: Gods, People and the Land of Aigina, 800-400 BCE

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Both in Homer and in Attic drama, we find a careful distribution of deities between opposing human sides, for example, Athena fights on the side of the Athenians, and Hera on the side of the Argives in the Euripedean Heraclidae. In the Iliad, however, we observe that Hera and Athena fight together on the Greek side, and Aphrodite and Apollo on the Trojan side. In other words, it is not a fight between an Apollo of the Greeks and an Apollo of the Trojans, but between different deities attached to different human groups.

The Greeks saw themselves as part of one religious group; the fact that they had common sanctuaries and sacrifices—as well as the same language and the same blood, a perceived common ancestry, and the same way of life—was one of the defining characteristics of Greekness (Hdt. 2). This identity was cultically expressed in, and reinforced through, ritual activities in which the participating group was ‘all the Greeks’ and from which foreigners were excluded, of which the most important was competing in the Olympic Games (Hdt.

We should not, therefore, draw a direct analogy between the usage of deities’ names in poetry and in religious practices. In the sphere of cults, the very existence of multiple sanctuaries of homonymous deities in one location suggests that the Greeks did not worry about the problem of split personality of a deity. That is not to say that they did not perceive an ontological problem there,58 only that they did not act on it. How the ancients may have answered the question if confronted with it we can only guess, but perhaps we should be equally careful about putting our own answer into their mouths.

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A Local History of Greek Polytheism: Gods, People and the Land of Aigina, 800-400 BCE by Irene Polinskaya


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