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Symbols/Symbol Theory

(9,049 words)

Author(s): Berner, Ulrich | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Recki, Birgit | Schlenke, Dorothee | Biehl, Peter | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Use of the Greek word σύμβολον/ sýmbolon in a sense relevant to religious studies is attested quite early in the history of European religions; Dio of Prusa (1st/2nd cent. ce), for example, used it in his speech on Phidias’s statue of Zeus in Olympia ( Oratio 12.59). In this context, the Greek term reflects the problem posed by images of the gods: what is intrinsically inaccessible to human vision (Vision/Intuition) is somehow to be represented visually. In religious studies, especially in the phenomenology of religion, the concept of sy…


(4,529 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard | Bosman, Hendrik | Söding, Thomas | Plathow, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Certainty is a fundamental human need. The answers given by religions to unsettling experiences cover a broad cultural spectrum. The issue is (1) to foresee fate as much as possible, (2) to integrate it into a cosmology, and (3) thus to master it. In general terms, we can identify four ways of containing the unforeseeable. 1. Being at the mercy of natural events. When they are powerless, people feel at the mercy of a powerful, threatening fate. Archaic forms of religion and shamanistic experiences (Shamanism) document how t…

Dead, Cult of the

(2,817 words)

Author(s): Neu, Rainer | Podella, Thomas | Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. Classical Antiquity I. Religious Studies Nearly all societies view death as a transition from one mode of existence to another. To enable the departed or his or her soul to complete this transformational process successfully, the survivors must perform certain rituals, referred to collectively as the cult of the …


(308 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] Vesta, Roman goddess. Her name was felt to be Greek, and her sphere – hearth and altars, protection of “the innermost things” – led her to be identified with the Greek goddess ῞Εστία/ Hestía (Cic. Nat. d. 2.67). The etymology of her name is still debated. Her sanctuary, aedes Vestae, a rotunda in the Roman Forum, was part of an ancient complex beside the via sacra, which included the house in which the Vestal virgins lived (Rome: II, 2.b). Although she was a virgin, she bore the honorific title Mater. Her cult was associ…


(174 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] (Salustios). There is no direct evidence for either the identity or the dates of Sallustius. His work – ¶ given the title περὶ ϑεῶν καὶ κόσμου/ perí theṓn kaí kósmou (“About Gods and Cosmos”) in the 17th century – shows that he was Neoplatonist and a contemporary of the emperor Julian t


(542 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] 1 The Greek ritual of theoxenia (ϑεοξένια/ theoxénia; “hospitality to a deity”) was staged as a banquet: a table (τράπεζα/ trápeza; Lat. mensa) set with food was placed before representations of deities (statuettes, dolls, symbols); like guests at a banquet, these representations were crowned with wreathes and laid out on couches (κλίνη/ klínē; Lat. lectus, pulvinar) – hence the idiom “prepare a couch” (στρωμνὰς στρωννύναι/

Vestal Virgins

(312 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] The group of six Vestal virgins was responsible for the cult of Vesta: they watched over the “eternal” fire in her sanctuary, the public hearth, in the Roman Forum (Cic.

Seneca, Lucius Annaeus

(555 words)

Author(s): Cancik-Lindemaier, Hildegard
[German Version] (c. 4 bce, Córdoba – 65 ce, Rome), Roman philosopher, politician, and tragedian, the second of three sons of the rhetor L.A. Seneca the Elder, a member of the equestrian order in Hispania Baetica. His elder brother Novatus is better known under his adoptive name, J.A. Gallio; his younger brother Mela was the father of the epic poet Lucan; other members of the family were high provincial officials. Seneca grew up in Rome. Under the emperor Claudius, his political career was interrupted by banishment to Corsica in 41; Claudius’s second wife, the you…