The Gods of Politics in Early Greek Cities

Marcel Detienne

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
The Gods of Politics in Early Greek Cities

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This chapter focuses on the role of gods in politics in the Greek city-state, the polis, starting out from the observation of concrete practices that, in the geographical, linguistic, historical, and ethnic diversity of ancient Greece and its legacy, constitute what it calls the political domain. One such constituent is the phenomenon of the assembly. These first experimentations in the early Greek cities, with the independence of the political, extended their deliberations even to the affairs of the gods. While the gods had their place in politics, politics was seen as originally and ultimately a matter of human autonomy, that is to say, of “law unto itself”. What the comparativist approach would invite us to see is, first of all, the elementary forms of a concrete “politico-religious configuration”, before taking, in all too abstract ways, the combination of politics and religion, or that of theology and politics, or even that of politics and ritual as some kind of universal standard.

Keywords: Greece; city-state; cities; gods; politics; assembly; religion; theology; ritual; autonomy

Chapter.  6124 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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