Greek Religion

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Harvard University Press, 1985 - 493 Seiten
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In this book Walter Burkert, the most eminent living historian of ancient Greek religion, has produced the standard work for our time on that subject. First published in German in 1977, it has now been translated into English with the assistance of the author himself. A clearly structured and readable survey for students and scholars, it will be welcomed as the best modern account of any polytheistic religious system.

Burkert draws on archaeological discoveries, insights from other disciplines, and inscriptions in Linear B to reconstruct the practices and beliefs of the Minoan-Mycenaean age. The major part of his book is devoted to the archaic and classical epochs. He describes the various rituals of sacrifice and libation and explains Greek beliefs about purification. He investigates the inspiration behind the great temples at Olympia, Delphi, Delos, and the Acropolis - discussing the priesthood, sanctuary, and oracles. Considerable attention is given to the individual gods, the position of the heroes, and beliefs about the afterlife. The different festivals are used to illuminate the place of religion in the society of the city-state. The mystery cults, at Eleusis and among the followers of Bacchus and Orpheus, are also set in that context. The book concludes with an assessment of the great classical philosophers' attitudes to religion.

Insofar as possible, Burkert lets the evidence -- from literature and legend, vase paintings and archaeology -- speak for itself; he elucidates the controversies surrounding its interpretation without glossing over the enigmas that remain. Throughout, the notes (updated for the English-language edition) afford a wealth of further references as the text builds up its coherent picture of what is known of the religion of ancient Greece.

 

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LibraryThing Review

Nutzerbericht  - tole_lege - LibraryThing

Scholarly, heavy going - perhaps most useful as a reference than as something to read through from start to finish. Still, belongs on the bookshelf of anyone serious about the subject, I should have thought... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Greek religion

Nutzerbericht  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Chapter titles suggest Burkert's scope and treatment of the multiple facets of Greek religion, focusing upon the period 800-300 B.C.: Prehistory and the Minoan-Mycenaean Age; Ritual and Sanctuary; The ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Inhalt

Introduction
1
The Scope of the Study
7
IndoEuropean
15
The Dark Age and the Problem of Continuity
47
Ritual and Sanctuary
54
Gift Offerings and Libation
66
The Sanctuary
84
The Festival
99
Polis and Polytheism
216
The Rhythm of the Festivals
225
Social Functions of Cult
246
Piety in the Mirror of Greek Language
268
Mysteries and Asceticism
276
Bacchica and Orphica
290
Bios
301
Sophists and Atheists
313

The Gods
119
The Remainder of the Pantheon
170
The Special Character of Greek Anthropomorphism
182
The Dead Heroes and Chthonic Gods
190
Olympian and Chthonic
199
Figures who cross the ChthonicOlympian Boundary
208
Platos Laws
332
Notes
339
Bibliography
473
Index of Greek Words
479
Urheberrecht

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Über den Autor (1985)

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.

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