Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion: Volume I: Early Greek Religion

ISBN : 9780198768043

Andrej Petrovic; Ivana Petrovic
336 ページ
156 x 234 mm

Was Ancient Greek religion really 'mere ritualism'? Early Christians denounced the pagans for the disorderly plurality of their cults, and reduced Greek religion to ritual and idolatry; protestant theologians condemned the pagan 'religion of form' (with Catholicism as its historical heir). For a long time, scholars tended to conceptualize Greek religion as one in which belief did not matter, and religiosity had to do with observance of rituals and religious practices, rather than with worshipers' inner investment. But what does it mean when Greek texts time and again speak of purity of mind, soul, and thoughts? This book takes a radical new look at the Ancient Greek notions of purity and pollution. Its main concern is the inner state of the individual worshipper as they approach the gods and interact with the divine realm in a ritual context. It is a book about Greek worshippers' inner attitudes towards the gods and rituals, and about what kind of inner attitude the Greek gods were envisaged to expect from their worshippers. In the wider sense, it is a book about the role of belief in ancient Greek religion. By exploring the Greek notions of inner purity and pollution from Hesiod to Plato, the significance of intrinsic, faith-based elements in Greek religious practices is revealed - thus providing the first history of the concepts of inner purity and pollution in early Greek religion.


Part 1: An Epic View.
1 Hesiod on Moral Badness as Impurity
Part 2: Inner Purity and Pollution in pre-Platonic Philosophical Tradition
2 Pythagoras on Purity of Soul and Sacrificial Ritual
3 Heraclitus on Purification
Inner Purity and Sacrifice after Pythagoras
4 Empedocles on Inner Pollution and Purity: Release from Suffering, Prayer, and Mental Exercise
Part 3: Inner Purity and Pollution in Sympotic Settings.
5 Xenophanes on Good Thinking while Drinking
6 Theognidea on Straight Minds and Moral Purity
Part 4: Inner Purity and Pollution on the Central Stage: The Evidence of Drama
7 The Tragic Outlook on Rituals: Preliminaries
8 Aeschylus on Mental Pollution (the Oresteia and the Suppliants)
9 Sophocles' Sophrosyne, Unsound Thinking, and Pollution
10 Euripides on the Extremes of Purity and Pollution (Hippolytus, Orestes, Electra and Bacchae).
11 Aristophanes' 'Pure Mind'
Part 5: A Different Kind of Inner Purity
12 Inner Purity and Pollution in the Beyond: the Evidence of the Gold Leaves


Andrej Petrovic (PhD Heidelberg) is a Reader at the Classics and Ancient History Department, Durham University. He specialises in the study of Greek religion and Greek epigraphy (in particular ritual norms and verse inscriptions), and has published widely on these topics. His previous authored and co-edited books include Kommentar zu den simonideischen Versinschriften (Brill 2007) and Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram (CUP 2010). His current book-length projects, undertaken jointly with Ivana Petrovic, include an investigation of inner purity and pollution within the wider Mediterranean context, and a study of bound divinities.; Ivana Petrovic (PhD Heidelberg / Giessen) is a Senior Lecturer at Durham University. Her first book dealt with representations of contemporary religious life in the Hellenistic poetry Von den Toren des Hades zu den Hallen des Olymp. Artemiskult bei Theokrit und Kallimachos, Brill 2007, and she has co-edited volumes and published extensively on Ancient Greek poetry, Greek and Roman religion and magic, and material culture and art (CUP, Steiner Verlag, Brill). Her two forthcoming books, co-authored jointly with Andrej Petrovic, deal with inner purity and pollution from the Hellenistic period onwards and the divine bondage in Greek religion.