By Jennifer Larson
Utilizing archaeological, epigraphic and literary assets, and incorporating present scholarly theories, this quantity bargains an obtainable account of the Greek gods for undergraduate students.
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Extra info for Ancient Greek cults : a guide
Throughout, I incorporate new archaeological discoveries, and I try to present a more geographically balanced picture than Farnell did by including as much evidence as possible from the Greek colonies. The goal is not to replace Farnell’s work, which is still widely used, but to provide a more easily consulted and updated alternative. Although I devote a chapter to each of the major gods, my intention is not to create the impression of a fully integrated, consistent personality for each deity. The Greek gods were perceived in different ways depending on the time, the place, and the individual worshiper, and it is important to let these contradictions stand.
These include the roles of other deities and heroic figures in local and external pantheons, manipulation of cults for the political and social benefit of individuals and groups, and the power of historical events (such as a battle near a sanctuary or a widely reported vision) to capture the popular imagination. In spite of the ancient Greek tendency toward religious conservatism, cults can be said to develop, flower, reach maturity, and wither in a competitive process, for people had only limited resources to devote to worship, and their preferences demonstrably changed over the centuries.
Disturbing myths of child sacrifice were elements in several of his cults. These can be explained as imported Near Eastern themes or as the mythic expression of initiation practices through which symbolic death led to rebirth in a new stage of life. Later, Zeus was drawn from his rural haunts into the city center, where he presided in a general way over the realm of politics, yet rarely became the patron deity of an individual city. Instead, he was acknowledged as the most powerful of the Olympians through the establishment and growth of his Panhellenic sanctuaries at Olympia, Nemea, and Dodona.
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