Epilegomena to the study of Greek religion: and Themis : a study of social origins of Greek religion : [(1921)]

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Kessinger Publishing, Jan 1, 2003 - Religion - 656 pages
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1921. These Epilegomena are the sequel to the author's other two books, Prolegomena and Themis. The author has tried to summarize the result of many years' work on the origins of Greek Religion, and to indicate the bearing of these results on religious questions of today. Contents: primitive ritual; primitive theology; the religion of today; the hymn of the Kouretes; the Dithyramb; the Kouretes; the thunder rites and mana; magic and taboo; medicine bird and medicine king; totemism, sacrament and sacrifice; the spring festival; the origin of Olympic Games; Daimon and Hero, from Daimon to Olympian; the Olympians; Themis.

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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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