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Nilsson, Martin Persson

(282 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] (Jul 12, 1874, Ballingslöv – Apr 7, 1967, Lund), Swedish classical scholar. Both archaeologically and philologically, Nilsson vastly expanded our positivistic material knowledge for the investigation of Greek religion (Greece: I, 1). By emphasizing ritual (Rite and ritual) over ancient expositions and myths (Myth: II, 2), he put himself in a position to interpret Greek religion from the perspective of its origins: classical Greek religion is essentially a survival of an earlier ag…

Pausanias

(340 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] In the ten books of his Περιήγησις τῆς ῾Ελλάδος/ Periḗgēsis tḗs Helládos, Pausanias records a journey through various sites of mainland Greece. Writing in Greek, he conducts Romans and Romanized Greeks on a tour of an imagined ancient Greece. Since he has seen everything himself and has inquired critically into the earliest traditions (c. 155–180 ce), he claims to be the true expert on the original religion of Greece (I, 1). As an interpreter of that religion, he avers his superiority to the local guides, because he focused his attent…

Kingship, Sacral

(577 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] Kingship as a pre-state and proto-state form of rule is at first confined to the person of the ruler; with his death, the order that he had guaranteed goes under. In order to avoid this anarchy, the ruling families first attempt to find procedures that guarantee the stability of the community beyond the life of the person, for instance through establishing the successor early on, or restricting eligibility of possible successors to the royal family or to a small number of aristocr…

Artemis

(479 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] (῎Αρτεμις, Doric Artamis, Latin Diana). The cult of the Greek goddess Artemis was probably the most popular in all the Greek poleis; even though she was rarely chosen the city goddess, as she was in Ephesus, Sparta, and Kalydon-Patrai. Artemis's limited significance in the (male) polis rests in the fact that primarily the women chose the virgin Artemis, who was averse to male desire, as their goddess: the maidens, such as the Athenians in Brauron, learned female …

Aphrodite

(546 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] (᾽Αφρδίτη; Lat. Venus). Most of the Greek cities dedicated shrines to the Greek goddess Aphrodite; she is rarely found as the city deity, as in Aphrodisias in Asia Minor; Corinth is considered her city. Within the internal social structure of the polis Aphrodite was chosen as goddess in the following contexts: 1. By young women on the day befo…

Parousia

(2,661 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] I. Classical Antiquity – II. The New Testament – III. Dogmatics I. Classical Antiquity The common Greek verb παρεῖναι/ pareínai, “be present, assist,” has a special sense when used with reference to deities. In the Hellenistic period, the noun παρουσία/ parousía became a technical term, referring to a ritual staging of the advent in which a god or king comes to dwell among his people (e.g. Tegea celebrates Hadrian’s visit as the advent of God: IG 5.2, 50). The emphasis on presence presupposes the preceding absence of the deity (ἀποδημεῖν/ apodēmeín) when other gods rul…

Apollo

(561 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] (᾽Απόλλων/Apollōn; Dorian Apellon). The Greek god Apollo was worshiped in all the cities of Greece, but was recognized as the city deity above all by Argos, Sparta, and Miletus (together with its colonies). Panhellenic sanctuaries of Apollo, visited by pilgrims from afar, included Delphi with its oracle and Delos. Social analysis indicates that Apollo was apt to be …

Zeus

(535 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] The fact that Zeus is addressed as “father of men and gods” (πατὴρ ἀνδρῶv τε ϑεῶv τε/ patḗr andrṓn te theṓn te: Homer Iliad 1, 544; 4, 235 etc.) implies that he is creator and ruler, the central god of the Greek pantheon. This is however a mythological title, later filled also with theological content, that does not reflect the low place of this god in the cultus. His function is rather that of a distant god; other gods are closer to human beings. Like this formula, other mythical ideas about Zeus belon…

Athena

(278 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] (᾽Αθήνη/ Athḗnē, Athenaía). Many Greek poleis chose the goddess Athena (with the epiclesis Poliás) as their patron deity. Several cities, including Rome (where Athena was identified with Minerva), claimed to have secured her protection in the form of a portable statue ( palladion) at the time of their founding. In the internal social structure of the polis, Athena was chosen as goddess by different groups. (1) The armed Pállas was chosen by the male citizens as …

Mater Magna

(316 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] The veneration of Mater Magna is one of the major cults in Roman religion and must therefore be strictly distinguished from other cults of “motherly” goddesses in the ancient Near East. While Kubaba of Carchemish, who had already been venerated as an all-embracing female goddess during the Bronze Age in northern Syria and southeastern Anatolia, did in fact influence the cult of the goddess Cybele of Pessinus, the transferring of the cult from Pessinus to Rome in 205 bce no longer bore any relation to the goddess from Carchemish. The introduction of Cybele w…

Anthropogony

(542 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] The question behind the story of the “origin of humankind” is not so much how the human species came into being as why we are not immortal and eternally healthy, why we must work and suffer, but also why we live in spite of impending doom: an anthropology in narrative form. The question “Where do human beings come from?” can be raised for each individual – the Sitz im Leben of many creation stories is indeed birth – but more often anthropogony initiates a thought experiment, “Must the reality …

Cabeiri

(201 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] The two or perhaps more Cabeiri constitute a nameless group of gods for whom local cults were established in the eastern and northern Aegean. A cult in mainland Greece existed only in Boeotia. Sometimes identified with other cultic groups such as the Curetes, ¶ the Corybants, the Dioscuri or the Daktyloi, they reflect male cultic associations to which admittance was effected through initiation (Rites of passage). The mysteries of Samothrace, in which especially seafaring persons sought to acquire protec…

Local Cults

(381 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] commonly refers to those cults and corresponding personifications (Local Deities) that are tied to a specific location. Such local cults are anchored in the social community of people who live together in one place and who also function and understand themselves as a community in their non-religious relations. As a local unit, and as the community with the highest rate of interaction after the family, the local cult may be largely identical with the political community; yet at the…

Aegean/Minoan/Mycenaean Religions

(977 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] I. In the Context of the East – II. Historical and Regional Differentiation – III. Religion and Cults I. In the Context of the East All around the Aegean in the 2nd millennium bce cultures emerged with an orientation toward the East, borrowing eastern systems, such as the economic, military, high-societal, religious centrality of cities with sophisticated palaces, the archive system with clay tablets an…

Anthropology

(1,411 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] I. Philosophy – II. Scientific Anthropology I. Philosophy The study of human beings, first of all, and from the 16th century a philosophical discipline that developed from rational psychology and moral philosophy; since the 20th century anthropology has been a philosophical school of thought. Philosophical anthropology first flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries as a view of human beings that neither rests on the metaphorical and theological assumption of the image…

Panathenaea

(366 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] . The annual midsummer festival in Athens, a major celebration every four years (since 566 bce), otherwise a minor celebration, brought together the whole polis, which included the city and the entire surrounding region of Attica. Later the Athenians traced the celebration of the Panathenaea to Theseus’s unification of the settlements in Attica (Plut. Theseus 24), making it the festival of “all Athens.” But when the procession approached the central temple of Athena, the protectress of the city, it embodied the earlier significance o…

Organs/Parts of the Body

(1,196 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] Religious traditions know various ways of establishing correlations between the organs (or parts) of the human body and the cosmos, partly in combination with a mythological justification that views the world as having been created from the parts of the first human being’s body. Thus, hair may symbolize vegetation, eyes (and other bodily orifices) lakes, and the spinal column the axis of the world. In addition to such correlations between microcosm (human being) and macrocosm (wor…

Hades

(340 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] Hades is the realm of the dead (Death) lying beneath the earth (DeathDeath) or at the end of the world, i.e. beyond the reach of the sun, where the capacity to see and to enjoy life thus lapses into a state of slumber “without seeing” (ἀίδης/ a-ídēs, aspirated only in the Attic dialect as ᾅδης/ hadēs). Escorted by Hermes the “guide of souls” (ψυχοπομπός/ psychopompós), the dead are separated from the living by the burial mound, a gate, a river (Hom. Od. XI). The personification of this realm is the god Hades who, though powerful, cannot be propitiated through …

Cybele and Attis

(330 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] Cybele does not occur first in Greco-Roman Antiquity as a “late oriental” deity, instead, she is venerated as “Mother of the gods” or simply as “Mother” (Mother goddesses) already in the 6th century bce with a temple in the center of Athens. In Rome in 205/204 bce, the Stone of Pessinus (a baityl) was introduced by one of the most prominent families and was provided with a temple at a central location in the city on the Palatine and with an important festival, the ludi Megalenses. The high priest bore the title Áttis; ordinary priests were called Gálloi. Ma…

Corinth

(402 words)

Author(s): Auffarth, Christoph
[German Version] The location at the large east-west connection of the Mediterranean Sea, where ships had to be drawn across a short stretch of land from one sea to the other (with the harbors Cenchrea and Lechaion), made Corinth a junction of cultural contact in antiquity. With its colonies, the city was a water bridge and a land bridge from east to west and north to south. It attracted merchants and artisans – along with their religions –, Egyptians, Carthaginians, Jews, and the tent-maker Paul`. As the center of opposition against the Romans, Corinth was destroyed in 146 bce, but it did n…
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