Chapter

Epigraphy and Greek Religion<sup>1</sup>

Robert Parker

in Epigraphy and the Historical Sciences

Published by British Academy

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265062
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754173 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197265062.003.0002

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Epigraphy and Greek Religion1

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The main part of this chapter reviews the role of texts and writing within the practice of ancient Greek religion, and seeks to modify the common view that oral tradition provided most Greek ritual knowledge. True, most information from inscribed ‘sacred laws’ is administrative and financial: written information — which exists in quantity, especially with the so-called ‘calendars of sacrifices’ — tends to specify exceptions and innovations or to provide precise detail in response to unusual needs. Documentation from the Aegean (Kos) and Asia Minor (Miletos) is cited to illustrate the former, while inscriptions from Sicily (Selinous) and N. Africa (Kyrene) are quoted to show that rituals of purification could occasionally require ‘how to’ instructions.

Keywords: Greek ritual; sacred laws; calendars of sacrifices; purification; oral tradition; Greek religion

Chapter.  7030 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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