By Sarah Iles Johnston
spiritual ideals and practices, which permeated all points of lifestyles in antiquity, traveled well-worn routes in the course of the Mediterranean: itinerant charismatic practitioners traveling from position to put peddled their abilities as healers, purifiers, cursers, and initiators; and vessels adorned with illustrations of myths traveled with them. New gods encountered in overseas lands by means of retailers and conquerors have been occasionally taken domestic to be tailored and followed. This number of essays by means of a extraordinary foreign workforce of students, drawn from the groundbreaking reference paintings Religion within the historic World, deals an expansive, comparative point of view in this advanced non secular global.
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Additional resources for Ancient Religions
In a polytheistic religion, a deity cannot be spoken about without reference to other deities. The gods live, act, and display their personalities and characters in interaction, not only or even primarily with encountering ancient religions 20 humans, but with one another, in relation to other gods, in “constellations” that ﬁnd their expression in myths, genealogies, epithets, names—in short, in everything that can be said about a deity. Divine constellations reﬂect the fundamental order and elementary structure of human society—husband and wife, brother and sister, mother and son, mother and daughter, father and son, father and daughter, lover and beloved, lord and slave, hero and enemy, and so on.
In fact, our modern usage of the term ritual is barely older than just one century. During most of the 19th century, ritual signiﬁed a text, a scenario, or even a liturgy. As such, it was regularly used in connection with the books of the Veda or the Rituale Romanum, the standard manual for the Roman Catholic mass. It was only toward the end of that century, around 1890, that the term started to be used in its modern meaning of repetitive, symbolic behavior. This development coincided with a general shift in anthropology and classics toward the observation of behavior instead of an interest in myth and origins.
Elsewhere in Italy several longer ritual texts have turned up but, unfortunately, they are very hard to read, such as the Umbrian Tabulae Iguvinae from Gubbio or the even harder to read Etruscan liber linteus found in Croatian Zagreb. In contrast, we are extremely well informed regarding ancient Greece. Epic and lyric, comedy and tragedy, lexicography and travelers’ accounts, archeology and epigraphy—all have contributed to our knowledge of the various Greek rituals, which we can sometimes follow over many centuries.
Ancient Religions by Sarah Iles Johnston