Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities: The Sacred Laws of Selinus and Cyrene (American Philological Association American Classical Studies)

Religion and Reconciliation in Greek Cities: The Sacred Laws of Selinus and Cyrene (American Philological Association American Classical Studies)

Noel Robertson

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0195394003

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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 late fourth. 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 the light 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 this mixture 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 evidence proved 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 based on moralizing literary works and in doing so restores to us an ancient nature religion which Greek communities adapted to their own practical purposes.













cults are also found outside of Athens in an ever-widening periphery—in the Attic demes of Erchia and Marathon’s Tetrapolis, on Delos right next to Apollo’s sanctuary, at Troezen, and much farther off at Selinus and Cyrene. Those of Delos, Selinus, and Cyrene also belong to priestly clans. The limited evidence for the type of shrine agrees with what we saw at Selinus, a sunken chamber instead of an altar. And the seasonal context agrees with the order of offerings in the tablet, late spring and

can be seen, the format is not unusual. The only legible word, an ‘‘ox’’ as sacrificial victim, is inscribed retrograde as part of a boustrophedon text. There are nail holes where it was affixed to either wood or stone. So it was treated like any bronze tablet. In what fashion was our tablet displayed and read? JJK think of the bronze bar as holding the tablet flat against another surface, and most agree. But G. Nenci and a few others maintain that the tablet was folded right back between the two

from the name ¯Pìåíßäïôïò, a shortened form of ¯PìåíØäï-äïôïò ‘‘gift of the Eumenides’’ 7. JJK 79–81, 103. Dubois (1995a, 558; 1995b, 133–34) calls Zeus eumeneˆs and the Eumenides ‘‘a coupling of terrible divinities.’’ But Clinton (1996, 166–70) favors the correct view that the Eumenides are serviceable powers of nature distinct from the Erinyes. 8. Three instances sometimes alleged are to be discounted. IG 12.3.367 is a rock-cut inscription on Thera, perhaps fifth century, read by O. Kern as š¯

two instances at Naucratis. Ìýóøí (of Chenae?) is an apt name for the humblest and obscurest of all the early sages. 16. Ìýóïò ìš IíÝŁÅŒåí ½ô~ ÅØ ÚæïŠäßô½Å؊ / š ˇíïìÆŒæßôï, says a graffito on a shard at Naucratis: Jeffery in Vickers and Jeffery (1974, 430). Mysos son of Onomakritos is obviously a real person, as Mysos on the rattling cup perhaps is not. 17. Jeffery in Jeffery and Vickers (1974, 430–431), while admitting the text above as a possibility, thinks also of ìıóïóôü, a mispelling of

precinct. If we are to imagine at all the fixture and precinct of the Tritopatreis at Selinus, these instances on Delos and at Athens and Marathon must guide us. 11. The building history is obscure and controversial, but no definite evidence of the Greek period has ever been produced: JJK 133–34. On the other hand, the area of the milichios stones shows a near-perfect continuity of worship: chapter 12, pp. 189–92. 12. JJK 31, 71, followed closely by Lupu (2005, 372–73). 13. On the offering of

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