Chapter

Reading Pausanias: Cults of the Gods and Representation of the Divine

Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine

in The Gods of Ancient Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637980
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670758 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637980.003.0020
Reading Pausanias: Cults of the Gods and Representation of the Divine

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Regarding the gods and their local cults, Pausanias is an important literary source that enables us to understand the so-called local Greek pantheons, particularly when we are able to compare his testimony with the epigraphic evidence. On the other hand, as far as the very concept of god in Greece is concerned, other questions - different from the ‘pantheonic’ reading though complementary to it - should be considered. The first question is: can we find a definition or definitions of what a god means to a Greek intellectual living during the Roman period like Pausanias? The second question is: to what extent can his review of “all things Greek” provide us with information on the point of view of his local informants on the same question of what a god is. This chapter will present the different places where Pausanias confronts divine and heroic rank. Which interpretative tools does he use as regards divine or heroic status? Furthermore how does Pausanias explain the beginnings of a cult in a community?

Keywords: Pausanias; Pantheon; Concept of the divine; Heroes; Cult; Local tradition

Chapter.  6268 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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