Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia

Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia

Language: English

Pages: 390

ISBN: 0292723547

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In Vergil's Aeneid, the poet implies that those who have been initiated into mystery cults enjoy a blessed situation both in life and after death. This collection of essays brings new insight to the study of mystic cults in the ancient world, particularly those that flourished in Magna Graecia (essentially the area of present-day Southern Italy and Sicily).

Implementing a variety of methodologies, the contributors to Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia examine an array of features associated with such "mystery religions" that were concerned with individual salvation through initiation and hidden knowledge rather than civic cults directed toward Olympian deities usually associated with Greek religion. Contributors present contemporary theories of ancient religion, field reports from recent archaeological work, and other frameworks for exploring mystic cults in general and individual deities specifically, with observations about cultural interactions throughout. Topics include Dionysos and Orpheus, the Goddess Cults, Isis in Italy, and Roman Mithras, explored by an international array of scholars including Giulia Sfameni Gasparro ("Aspects of the Cult of Demeter in Magna Graecia") and Alberto Bernabé ("Imago Inferorum Orphica"). The resulting volume illuminates this often misunderstood range of religious phenomena.

















religions” as their frame of reference, he simply states that it is more exact to refer to “religions of oriental origin or Graeco-oriental religions.” Turcan has no preference vis-à-vis any methodology in vogue; he simply pleads for the avoidance of generalizations based on the oriental mirage or an idealized mysticism in favor of empirical research (his motto is “comparing for distinguishing, distinguishing for understanding”). He does not refrain from typologies as such, only from applications

κατερχόμενον θεὸν ὑπερμεγέθη, φωθτινὴν ἔχοντα τὴν ὄψιν, νεώτερον,χρυσοκόμαν, ἐν κιτῶνι λευκῷ καὶ κρυσῷ στεφάνῳ καὶ ἀναξυρίσι,κατέξοντα τῇ δεξιᾷ ξειρὶ μόσχου ὦμον χρύσεον, ὅς ἐστιν Ἄρκτος ἡκινοῦσα καὶ ἀντιστρέφουσα τὸν οὐρανόν, κατὰ ὥραν ἀναπολεύουσα καὶκαταπολεύουσα. (Preisendanz 1928-31, PGM 4.696-703) A god descending, a god immensely great, having a bright appearance, youthful, golden-haired, with a white tunic and a golden crown and trousers, and holding in his right hand a golden shoulder

πέμψη〈ι〉 ἕδρας ἐς εὐαγέ{ι}ων̣, “That She [Persephone], gracious, may send me to the abode of the blessed” (cf. Orph. fr. 340 B. = 322 K.). For this reason, the soul declares its purity in Thur. (489-490) 1. 40. Cf. also the description of the world of the blessed in Aristophanes’ Frogs. 41. Persephone’s sacred grove is already known to Homer and to other authors—for instance, Eur. HF 615. The echoes of this image even reach a Latin author as late as Claudianus (fourth century CE), who was much

host or guest incurring this same punishment in Frogs 145-153 and other sources having Eleusinian connections. On Aristophanes’ initiates, see note 28 below. 17. Lloyd-Jones 1967: 219 (= 1990: 179). 18. Brown 1991: 41-50. Borthwick’s hypothesis (1968: 200-206) is that contemporary ritual, as well as superstition concerning weasels, underlies the language of the Empousa scene. 19. Graf 1974: 29-30 n. 36. 20. Brown (1991: 42) cites Plato Phaedrus 250b-c as the earliest explicit reference to

many things are done that are similar to the Egyptian ceremonies in the shrines of Isis, and they do them at about the same time. At Athens the women fast at the Thesmophoria sitting upon the ground, and the Boeotians move the halls of the Goddess of Sorrow (Achaia) and name that festival the Festival of Sorrow, since Demeter is in sorrow (achos) because of Kore’s descent to the underworld. … The Phrygians, on the other hand, believing that the god is asleep in the winter and awake in the summer,

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