Chapter

Ancient Views on Festivals

Walter Burkert

in Greek and Roman Festivals

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696093
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745744 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696093.003.0003
Ancient Views on Festivals

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Intercultural recognition of festivals can be found across different Near Eastern and Mediterranean civilizations. A telling example of a multicultural event is presented by Sozomen (2.4.2-5) in his description of the festival ‘at the Terebinth’ of Hebron, shared by Palestinians, ‘Greeks’, and Arabs. The characteristics of this festival are found widely in other instances: the sanctuary combining the features tree, water, and altar; festival tourism with the construction of temporary skenai; offerings of all sorts; and in particular the sacrificial feast. Greek literature develops a theory of festivals on the basis of ‘natural’ evolution, ‘common to Greeks and barbarians’, from ‘relaxation’ towards the epiphany of the divine in an experience of full happiness (eudaimonia). Poetry gives graphic expression to this, particularly the Thalysia of Theocritus (7) and Sappho’s Nauos of Aphrodite (2).

Keywords: altar; epiphany; festival tourism; intercultural recognition; multicultural event; offerings; sacrificial feast; sappho; sozomen; theocritus; tree; water

Chapter.  5282 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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