Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind: Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth
Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind analyses techniques of searching for ultimate wisdom in ancient Greece. The Greeks perceived mental experiences of exceptional intensity as resulting from divine intervention. They believed that to share in the immortals' knowledge, one had to liberate the soul from the burden of the mortal body by attaining an altered state of consciousness, that is, by merging with a superhuman being or through possession by a deity. These states were often attained by inspired mediums, `impresarios of the gods' - prophets, poets, and sages - who descended into caves or underground chambers. Yulia Ustinova juxtaposes ancient testimonies with the results of modern neuropsychological research. This novel approach enables an examination of religious phenomena not only from the outside, but also from the inside: it penetrates the consciousness of people who were engaged in the vision quest, and demonstrates that the darkness of the caves provided conditions vital for their activities.
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adyton altered Amandry Amphiaraus ancient Apollo archaeological artiWcial grotto Asclepius association Avernus Blackmore 1993 Bonnechere 2003 Burkert catabasis cave cavern chasm Claros consciousness consultation cultic cultural Cumae Cumaean Sibyl darkness death deities Delphi depicted descended Dietrich Diog diVerent divine earth ecstatic Empedocles enquirers Epimenides god’s goddess gods Greek hallucinations Hermes Homer human Ibid identiWed inscriptions inspired inXuence Kingsley Laert Lavagne located magic mantic modern mortals mystery cults mystery initiations myth near-death experiences netherworld Nymphs Ogden oracle oracular Orphic Ouliads out-of-body experiences Parke Parmenides passage Paus Pausanias philosophical Plato Plut Plutarch poet prophecy prophetic Ptoion Pugliese Carratelli Pythagoras Pythagorean Pythia revelation reXect rites ritual Rohde Roux sacred sanctuary Schachter seers sensory deprivation shamanic shrine signiWcant soul Strabo subterranean suggests Thespesius Thracian tradition trance Trophonius truth tunnel underground chambers Ustinova visions Vita Pyth vortex Wfth century Wgures Winkelman Wrst Wssure Zalmoxis Zeus