Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical
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This is the first major synthesis of Greek religion to appear for a generation. A clearly structured and readable survey for classical scholars and students, it will also be generally welcomed as the best modern account of any polytheistic religious system. The text builds up an impressive and coherent picture of the current state of knowledge about the religion of the ancient Greeks.
Translated by John Raffan.
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be appeased. Here the counsel of a seer is required, but often the community is content to honour an anonymous heros.42 Conversely, from a hero who has been cultically appeased, all good things are hoped for – fruitful fields, healing, and mantic signs. Above all, heroes assist their tribe, city, or country in battle.43 In particular, the figure of Great Ajax and his brother is rooted in the belief in powerful helpers in battle. In Homer the Ajantes are difierentiated as two heroes with the same
world ‘everything was in confusion, most of it withdrew to the highest circle of heaven and this, it seems to me, the ancients called aither’20 An epigram to those who fell in war in 432 boldly states ‘The aither has received the souls, earth the bodies.’21 In his Helena, produced in 412 Euripides elaborates: ‘The nous of the dead is not living, but immortal, and can perceive once it has gone into the immortal aither.’22 To what extent man’s individuality remains preserved or is dissolved in the
and J. Boardman, On the Knossos Tablets, 1963; M.R. Popham, The Last Days of the Palace at Knossos, 1964; The Destruction of the Palace at Knossos, 1970; S. Hood, Kadmos 4 (1965) 16–44; 5 (1966) 121–41; Hood (1971). 16 Nilsson asserted that there was ‘no difference’ MMR 6, but then corrected himself 30 f, cf. GGR 336; the differences are strongly emphasized by Vermeule (1) 282 f., (2) 2 f.; but this is disputed in turn by Dietrich, AJA 79 (1975) 293 f. 17 S. Symeonoglou, Kadmeia I: Mycenaean
purifications.7 That divine presence in transfigured consciousness can also be experienced in a positive way as a blessing, namely in song and dance, is illustrated only by one early but later forgotten passage: the choruses of maidens on Delos know ‘to imitate the dialects and chatterings of all men; each would say that he were speaking himself: in such a way is the beautiful song joined together for them.’ This has justly been compared to the Pentecostal miracle and the speaking in tongues in
Classical age tends to dispense with attributes and to characterize the gods solely by their ethos.41’ In the group of the twelve gods on the great Parthenon Frieze, even Athena appears without armour, though next to the peplos which is presented to her at the festival. The other figures on the frieze are identified primarily by the way in which they are grouped: Zeus is enthroned beside Hera, who unveils herself to him, Hephaistos sits beside Athena, Hermes is next to Dionysos, and Poseidon next