For the Greeks, the sharing of cooked meats was the fundamental communal act, so that to become vegetarian was a way of refusing society. It follows that the roasting or cooking of meat was a political act, as the division of portions asserted a social order. And the only proper manner of preparing meat for consumption, according to the Greeks, was blood sacrifice. The fundamental myth is that of Prometheus, who introduced sacrifice and, in the process, both joined us to and separated us from the gods—and ambiguous relation that recurs in marriage and in the growing of grain. Thus we can understand why the ascetic man refuses both women and meat, and why Greek women celebrated the festival of grain-giving Demeter with instruments of butchery. The ambiguity coded in the consumption of meat generated a mythology of the "other"—werewolves, Scythians, Ethiopians, and other "monsters." The study of the sacrificial consumption of meat thus leads into exotic territory and to unexpected findings. In The Cuisine of Sacrifice, the contributors—all scholars affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies of Ancient Societies in Paris—apply methods from structural anthropology, comparative religion, and philology to a diversity of topics: the relation of political power to sacrificial practice; the Promethean myth as the foundation story of sacrificial practice; representations of sacrifice found on Greek vases; the technique and anatomy of sacrifice; the interaction of image, language, and ritual; the position of women in sacrificial custom and the female ritual of the Thesmophoria; the mythical status of wolves in Greece and their relation to the sacrifice of domesticated animals; the role and significance of food-related ritual in Homer and Hesiod; ancient Greek perceptions of Scythian sacrificial rites; and remnants of sacrificial ritual in modern Greek practices.
Strenski argues that public discourse about religious notions, like sacrifice, cannot be theological in our modern societies. Theological notions of sacrifice and theological approaches to it should be replaced by those like that developed by the Durkheimians because theological discourse cannot but help being religiously biased.
This study questions the traditional view of sacrifices in hero-cults during the Archaic to the early Hellenistic periods. The analysis of the epigraphical and literary evidence for sacrifices to heroes in these periods shows, contrary to the traditional notion, that the main ritual in hero-cults was a thysia at which the worshippers consumed the meat from the animal victim. A particular handling of the animal’s blood or a holocaust, rituals previously taken to be typical for heroes, can rarely be documented and must be considered as marginal features in hero-cults. The terms eschara, escharon, bothros, enagizein, enagisma, enagismos and enagisterion, believed to be characteristic for hero-cults, are seldom used in hero-contexts before the Roman period and occur mainly in the Byzantine lexicographers and in the scholia. Since the main kind of sacrifice in hero-cults was a thysia, a ritual intimately connected with the social structure of society, the heroes must have fulfilled the same role as the gods within the Greek religious system. The fact that the heroes were dead seems to have been of little significance for the sacrificial rituals and it is questionable whether the rituals of hero-cults are to be considered as originating in the cult of the dead.
This collection offers a fresh look at the nature and development of the Greek gods in the period from Homer until Late Antiquity The Greek gods are still very much present in modern consciousness. Although Apollo and Dionysos, Artemis and Aphrodite, Zeus and Hermes are household names, it is much less clear what these divinities meant and stood for in ancient Greece. In fact, they have been very much neglected in modern scholarship. Bremmer and Erskine bring together a team of international scholars with the aim of remedying this situation and generating new approaches to the nature and development of the Greek gods in the period from Homer until Late Antiquity. The Gods of Ancient Greece looks at individual gods, but also asks to what extent cult, myth and literary genre determine the nature of a divinity and presents a synchronic and diachronic view of the gods as they functioned in Greek culture until the triumph of Christianity.
An original work of political theory, The Iroquois and the Athenians relocates the problem of political foundations and origins, removing it from the dead logic of the social contract and grafting it onto a juxtaposed representation of the historical practices of the pre-contact Iroquois and the pre-classical Greeks.
Die Beiträge des Autorenkolloquiums am Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung der Universität Bielefeld (Nov. 2007) setzen sich intensiv mit Walter Burkert und seinem Werk auseinander. Der international hoch angesehene Gräzist hat in seinen Epoche machenden Studien, die um die Ursprünge menschlichen Zusammenlebens in Riten, um Opfer, Schuld und grausame Todesszenarien kreisen, Fragestellungen der biologischen Verhaltensforschung aufgenommen und über die Altertums- und Religionswissenschaften hinaus eine große intellektuelle Wirkung entfaltet.
The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life is the first comprehensive guide to animals in the ancient world, encompassing all aspects of the topic by featuring authoritative chapters on 33 topics by leading scholars in their fields. As well as an introduction to, and a survey of, each topic, it provides guidance on further reading for those who wish to study a particular area in greater depth. Both the realities and the more theoretical aspects of the treatment of animals in ancient times are covered in chapters which explore the domestication of animals, animal husbandry, animals as pets, Aesop's Fables, and animals in classical art and comedy, all of which closely examine the nature of human-animal interaction. More abstract and philosophical topics are also addressed, including animal communication, early ideas on the origin of species, and philosophical vegetarianism and the notion of animal rights.
Explores sacrificial practices across a range of contexts from prehistory to the present. The term "sacrifice" belies what is a complex and varied transhistorical and transcultural phenomenon. Bringing together scholars from such diverse fields as anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy, literature, and theology, Diversity of Sacrifice explores sacrificial practices across a range of contexts from prehistory to the present. Incorporating theory, material culture, and textual evidence, the volume seeks to consider new and divergent data related to contexts of sacrifice that can help broaden our field of vision while raising new questions. The essays contributed here move beyond reductive and simple explanations to explore complex areas of social interaction. Sacrifice plays a key role in the overlapping sacred and secular spheres for a number of societies in the past and present. How religious beliefs and practices can be integral parts of life on individual and community levels is of fundamental importance to understanding the past and present. In addition to aiding scholarly research, Diversity of Sacrifice enables students to explore this rich theme across Europe and the Mediterranean with clear discussions of theory and data. Carrie Ann Murray is Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Archaeology at Brock University.
"There is something of a paradox about our access to ancient Greek religion. We know too much, and too little. The materials that bear on it far outreach an individual's capacity to assimilate: so many casual allusions in so many literary texts over more than a millennium, so many direct or indirect references in so many inscriptions from so many places in the Greek world, such an overwhelming abundance of physical remains. But genuinely revealing evidence does not often cluster coherently enough to create a vivid sense of the religious realities of a particular time and place. Amid a vast archipelago of scattered islets of information, only a few are of a size to be habitable."—from the Preface In On Greek Religion, Robert Parker offers a provocative and wide-ranging entrée into the world of ancient Greek religion, focusing especially on the interpretive challenge of studying a religious system that in many ways remains desperately alien from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. One of the world's leading authorities on ancient Greek religion, Parker raises fundamental methodological questions about the study of this vast subject. Given the abundance of evidence we now have about the nature and practice of religion among the ancient Greeks—including literary, historical, and archaeological sources—how can we best exploit that evidence and agree on the central underlying issues? Is it possible to develop a larger, "unified" theoretical framework that allows for coherent discussions among archaeologists, anthropologists, literary scholars, and historians? In seven thematic chapters, Parker focuses on key themes in Greek religion: the epistemological basis of Greek religion; the relation of ritual to belief; theories of sacrifice; the nature of gods and heroes; the meaning of rituals, festivals, and feasts; and the absence of religious authority. Ranging across the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods, he draws on multiple disciplines both within and outside classical studies. He also remains sensitive to varieties of Greek religious experience. Also included are five appendixes in which Parker applies his innovative methodological approach to particular cases, such as the acceptance of new gods and the consultation of oracles. On Greek Religion will stir debate for its bold questioning of disciplinary norms and for offering scholars and students new points of departure for future research.