Religion Past and Present

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[German Version]

I. Concept


The origin of the Latin word persona (“mask, role, status”) is unknown; it may be Etruscan. The philologist Gavius Bassus (1st cent. bce) traced the “origin” of the word to the function of the ancient theater mask, namely that of a megaphone which concentrated the voice and caused it to “sound through” (per-sonare; cf. Gellius, Noctes Atticae V 7) in a more sonorous way. The corresponding Greek word is πρόσωπον/prósōpon, “face, mask, front.…

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Cancik, Hubert, Schütt, Hans-Peter, Grube, Andreas, Herms, Eilert and Schmidt, Heinz, “Person”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 25 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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