Polytheism and Society at Athens

Polytheism and Society at Athens

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This book is the first attempt that has ever been made to give a comprehensive account of the religious life of ancient Athens. The city's many festivals are discussed in detail, with attention to recent anthropological theory; so too, for instance, are the cults of households and of smaller groups, the role of religious practice and argumentation in public life, the authority of priests, the activities of religious professionals such as seers and priestesses, magic, the place of theatrical representations of the gods within public attitudes to the divine. A long final section considers the sphere of activity of the various gods, and takes Athens as a uniquely detailed test case for the structuralist approach to polytheism. The work is a synchronic, thematically organized complement (though designed to be read independently) to the same author's Athenian Religion: A History (Oxford 1996).show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 576 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 38mm | 1,138.53g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199274835
  • 9780199274833

Table of contents

Introduction ; I ; 1. Ancestral Gods, Ancestral Tombs: The Household and Beyond ; 2. 'Those with whom I sacrifice' ; 3. Places of Cult: Athens and the Demes ; 4. International Religion ; 5. Who prays for Athens? Religion in Civic Life ; 6. 'Those who make a profession out of rites': Unlicensed Religion, and Magic ; 7. Religion in the Theatre ; II ; 8. Festivals and their Celebrants ; 9. Things Done at Festivals ; 10. The Festival Year ; 11. Parthenoi in Ritual ; 12. The Panathenaea ; 13. Women's Festivals: Thesmophoria and Adonia ; 14. The Anthesteria and other Dionysiac Rites ; 15. Eleusinian Festivals ; 16. Festivals, Rituals, Myths: Reprise ; 17. Gods at Work I: Protecting the City ; 18. Gods at Work II: The Growth of Plants and Men ; Epilogueshow more

Review quote

...[this book] points the way to future developments in the study of both Athenian and Greek religion...an important contribution which certainly deserves its 2005 Criticos Award. Julia L. Shear, Journal of Hellenic Studies No other book takes such a holistic approach to Greek religious practice and experience, or deals with the acute historical and theoretical complexities in such a jargon-free and attractive manner. Peter Jones, Sunday Telegraph ...one of the best books I have read on ancient religion and one of the most useful. London Review of Books, Vol. 29 Parker's lively style makes this substantial and detailed book highly readable. John Taylor, The Anglo-Hellenic Review, Vol. 35 ...of considerable interest to anyone who teaches Greek religion at any level since [Parker] writes with great clarity and maintains a focus on the main issues...this comprehensive survey of a city's religious activities would be a valuable addition to your library. Journal of Classics Teaching, Issue 12show more

About Robert Parker

Robert Parker is Wykeham Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.show more