Religion And Reconciliation In Greek Cities: The Sacred Laws Of Selinus And Cyrene

Hardcover | December 15, 2009

byNoel Robertson

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Two Greek cities which in their time were leading states in the Mediterranean world, Selinus in Sicily and Cyrene in Libya, set up inscriptions of the kind called sacred laws, but regulating worship on a larger scale than elsewhere - Selinus in the mid fifth century B.C., Cyrene in the latefourth. In different ways, the content and the format of both inscriptions are so unusual that they have baffled understanding. At Selinus, a large lead tablet with two columns of writing upside down to each other is thought to be a remedy for homicide pollution arising from civil strife, but most of it remains obscure and intractable. The gods who are named and the ritual that is prescribed have been misinterpreted in thelight of literary works that dwell on the sensational. Instead, they belong to agrarian religion and follow a regular sequence of devotions, the upside-down columns being reversed midway through the year with magical effect. Gods and ritual were selected because of their appeal to ordinary persons.Selinus was governed by a long enduring oligarchy which made an effort, appearing also in the economic details of sacrifice, to reconcile rich and poor. At Cyrene, a long series of rules were displayed on a marble block in the premier shrine of Apollo. They are extremely diverse - both costly and trivial, customary and novel - and eighty years of disputation have brought no agreement as to the individual meaning or general significance. In fact thismixture of things is carefully arranged to suit a variety of needs, of rich and poor, of citizens of long standing and of new-comers probably of Libyan origin. In one instance the same agrarian deities appear as at Selinus. It is the work once more of a moderate oligarchy, which on other evidenceproved its worth during the turbulent events of this period. Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities provides a revised text and a secure meaning for both documents, and interprets the gods, the ritual, and the social background in the light of much comparative material from other Greek cities. Noel Robertson's approach rejects the usual assumptions basedon moralizing literary works and in doing so restores to us an ancient nature religion which Greek communities adapted to their own practical purposes.

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Two Greek cities which in their time were leading states in the Mediterranean world, Selinus in Sicily and Cyrene in Libya, set up inscriptions of the kind called sacred laws, but regulating worship on a larger scale than elsewhere - Selinus in the mid fifth century B.C., Cyrene in the latefourth. In different ways, the content and the...

Noel Robertson is Emeritus Professor of Classics, Brock University. He has published widely on both Greek religion and Greek history.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 6.3 × 9.29 × 1.18 inPublished:December 15, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195394003

ISBN - 13:9780195394009

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Table of Contents

AbbreviationsIntroductionPart I: At Selinus, Rules Throughout the Year1. The Lead Tablet2. Displaying the Tablet3. A Household Offering4. The Kotytia and the Olympic Truce5. The Solstice Festival at Olympia6. Zeus Eumenes and the Eumenides7. The Semnai Theai8. Zeus Milchios in Spring9. Before the Harvest10. Tritopatreis Foul and Pure11. Tritopatreis as Wind Gods12. Zues Milchios in Summer13. After the Harvest14. Hospitality for an Elasteros15. Zeus Elasteros and Other Lightning Gods16. Selinus, c. 450 B.C.Part II: At Cyrene, Rules for Every Need17. The Inscription18. Some General Rules19. Akamantes and Tritopateres20. The Tithing Rules21. Rites of Artemis22. Suppliant Purifications23. Cyrene, c. 335-324 B.C.References