Themis, a Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion

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CUP Archive, 2003 - 559 pages
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Contents

a Magic and Tabu
75
sacramental feast Nature of sacrament best understood in the light
118
CHAPTER VI
124
The Dithyramb the Spuing Festival and the Hagia Triada
157
de passage from sex to sex and age to age symbolized by interchange
196
CHAPTER VIII
260
Excursus on the Ritual Forms preserved in Greek tragedy
341
CHAPTER IX
364
Herakles as fertility and yeardaimonas Hermas Thallophoros
375
Herois Heroines as fertilitydaimones The Bringing up of Semele
444
CHAPTER L
445
CHAPTER XL
480
religion Social structure of the Olympians is patriarchal and of the family
492
to the Kouretes Its importance for the history of religion Analysis
514
blessings Zeus addressed as Kouros Meaning of word Kouros
523
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About the author (2003)

One of the first women to study classics at Cambridge University, Jane Harrison enjoyed a global reputation based on her writings about Greek religion. At a time when the study of texts was often seen as the only means to study ancient religions, Harrison helped break new ground by using materials and insights derived from archaeology, art history, and comparative anthropology. In Harrison's view, religion is primarily something done; words and reflection come later. In writing on Greek religion, she made a sharp distinction between the cult of the Olympian deities, which she initially devalued, and non-Olympian practices. She correlated this distinction with one between rituals of tendence and rituals of aversion, that is, rituals that venerate and those that seek to ward off potentially evil spirits. In accordance with views popular at the time, she also gave her classification an evolutionary twist, attributing the Olympian cult to invading Indo-European patriarchs from the north, and the non-Olympian practices to a matriarchal, pre-Indo-European, Mediterranean civilization. Readers should approach Harrison's entirely speculative, historical reconstruction with extreme caution. As is true for virtually every scholar of Harrison's generation, the value of her writing consists in the potential elucidation that her questions and categories can provide, not in the results of her actual investigations. Together with James G. Frazer and the so-called Cambridge Ritualists, Harrison has recently been the object of intense biographical scrutiny.

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