temple officials

John North

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Greek and Roman temples served as the houses of gods and goddesses, but also as centres of religious activity, meeting-places, storehouses for dedications, and secure locations for the keeping of valuables. They do not seem in general to have played as great a role in the social and economic life of the cities as did the great temples of Egypt and the near east, but all the same they must have required regular control, care, and funding in fulfilling their tasks and maintaining their fabric.In Greece we have a picture of how the temples operated. There were normally *priests or priestesses in charge of each; in any large temple they would be assisted by minor officials. *Aristotle (Pol. 6. 1322b) distinguishes three types of these: first, there were cult officials who assisted in the sacrifices and rituals (hieropoioi), who would have received their share of the sacrificial meat and other perquisites; secondly, there were wardens or caretakers (neōkoroi, naophylakes) who controlled access to the sanctuary, carried out purifications of those entering, and cleaned the sanctuary; thirdly, there were treasurers (hierotamiae), who assisted with financial administration, took care of treasures and votives, and oversaw the raising of revenue.

Article.  434 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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