Greek Rituals of War

Daniel P. Tompkins

in The Oxford Handbook of Warfare in the Classical World

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780195304657
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Greek Rituals of War

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This chapter examines the Greek military ritual of war. It evaluates the recent interpretations of military ritual, indicating that the term “ritual” in the present day has taken on so many connotations as to reduce its analytic utility, and that the claim that rituals promote “social cohesion” requires careful review. Lunar festivals deeply affected Greek military behavior. Booty from war was traditionally tithed. The burial ritual followed elaborate rules for prothesis, lying in state; ekphora, carrying out to burial, and a feast. The Carneia festival and the temple of Phobos, “Panic Fear,” is then explained. The data presented reveal that the “ritual” offers a useful but often imprecise tool for understanding military behavior. It may be worthwhile to seek a finer-grained understanding of the link between the “rituals” of ancient warfare and “social cohesion.”

Keywords: ritual of war; Greek military ritual; social cohesion; lunar festivals; Greek military behavior; booty; burial ritual; Carneia festival; ancient warfare

Article.  6274 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Greek History

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