Greek Religion Archaic and Classical

ISBN-10: 0631156240
ISBN-13: 9780631156246
Edition: 1987
List price: $42.95 Buy it from $21.57
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Description: 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  More...

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Book details

List price: $42.95
Copyright year: 1987
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date: 1/8/1991
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 504
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.770
Language: English

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.

German-born scholar Walter Burkert currently teaches at the University of Zurich. He is the leading active scholar of the religion of early and classical Greece. Burkert's work proceeds through intense, meticulous historical and philological investigation, seeking to understand Greek religion in and of itself. His studies wed philology and history with methods drawn from anthropology and resemble the work of Jonathan Z. Smith. But, unlike Smith, who seems to rule out diachronic considerations categorically in favor of synchronic taxonomies or analogical comparisons, Burkert remains interested in questions of long-term historical evolution and cross-cultural influence. Burkert gives particular attention to psychological causation and the biological roots of human behavior as revealed by the science of ethology. For example, his study of Greek sacrifice, Homo necans, roots the practice of sacrifice in the biological necessity faced by prehistoric hunting groups that killed to survive. Burkert suggests that this necessary, aggressive behavior gave rise to anxiety, but through the practice of sacrifice the unavoidable aggression, which otherwise threatened to destroy society, was redirected to its promotion instead. In Structure and History Burkert's theoretical concerns are larger, including both myth and ritual. The precise relation between myth and ritual has been a vexing question for scholars of ancient religions; Burkert places them side by side and links them at a structural level. He thinks ritual is older than myth, because it is a form of behavior found even in animals. Nevertheless, ritual and myth share several important features: Both depend upon basic biological or cultural programs of action and detachment from pragmatic reality. Both serve communication. Because myth and ritual are related in this way, it is possible for them to be found together. Burkert's Greek Religion is the current, standard handbook on the religions of ancient Greece. His most recent work has been devoted to examining the influence of the ancient Near East on archaic Greek civilization.

Introduction. A Survey of Scholarship. The Sources. The Scope of the Study. Part I: Prehistory and the Minoan-Mycenaean Age: 2. The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. 3. Indo-European. 4. The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion. 5. The Dark Ages and the Problem of Continuity. Part II: Ritual and Sanctuary: 6. 'Working Sacred Things: Animal Sacrifice. 7. Gift Offerings and Libation. 8. Prayer. 9. Purification. 10. The Sanctuary. 11. Priests. 12. The Festival. 13. Ecstasy and Divination. Part III: The Gods: 14. The Spell of Homer. 15. Individual Gods. 16. The Remainder of the Pantheon. 17. The Special Character of Greek Anthropomorphism. Part IV: The Dead, Heroes, and Chthonic Gods: 18. Burial and the Cult of the Dead. 19. Afterlife Mythology. 20. Olympian and Chthonic. 21. The Heroes. 22. Figures Who Cross the Chthonic-Olympian Boundary. Part V: Polis and Polytheism: 23. Thought Patterns in Greek Polytheism. 24. The Rhythm of the Festivals. 25. Social Functions of Cult. 26. Piety in the Mirror of Greek Language. Part VI: Mysteries and Asceticism. 27. Mystery Sanctuaries. 28. Bacchica and Orphica. 29. Bios. Part VII: Philosophical Religion: 30. The New Foundation: Being and the Divine. 31. The Crisis: Sophists and Atheists. 32. The Deliverance: Cosmic Religion and Metaphysics. 33. Philosophical Religion and Polis Religion: Plato's Laws. Notes. Bibliography. Index of Greek Words. Index.

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