Introduction;If the past in general is a foreign country and they do things differently there, this holds especially true of the Classical Greeks and their religious past. Avoid Athenocentricity (thousand plus other poleis) Radically question received intellectual categories. For "us" the divine (in form of a transcendent God) is external to the world, it has created the world and mankind, it is present within mankind, and it is confined to its own sharply defined sphere within every day life. For "them", the Greeks, the gods were not external to the world: they did not create either the cosmos or mankind, but were themselves created; they had not always existed, but had usurped power; they were not eternal but only immortal; they were not omnipotent and omnisicent, but possessed limited powers and areas of knowledge; they were subject to fate, and they intervened constantly in the affairs of men.
Greek Sense of the SacredClassic evolutionary model for study is that of M.P. Nilsson. Envisages Greek religion as successful marriage between preHellenic religion of native poulations and cults and beliefs introduced by Greeks when they arrived. In this origins function as explanations. Functionalist paradigm of explanation rejects idea that origins constitute a sufficient explanation of its functioning, significance and role at a given moment in history. Distinction between sacred and profane for Greeks is irrelevant. Greek distinguished by terms such as hieron, hosion, and hagion, a number of concepts that we heap together as "the sacred." Thus ta hiera designated the cults and sanctuaries of the gods but also sacrificial victims. These acts, places, objects endowed with a power that rendred them conducive or favorable to the efficacy of the ritual. But nothing in their intrinsic nature distinguished them from objects of everyday use. The hiereus, the priest, entrusted with performing the hiera, the cult acts, was not in any way a holy man set apart. Only had to fulfill obligations of office on appointed days. Hosion applied more espeacially to modes of behavior that were in conformity with norms governing relations between gods and men or among men themselves. Everything prescribed or permitted by divine law was hosion and was associated with dikaion. Haagion was applied to temples or sanctuaries, cutsoms or rituals, offerings or cultic objects. Miasma, pollution, equally problematic. Consider blood. On one hand is principle of life and means of consecration as when it flows out upon altar duing sacrifice. On other hand it becomes pollution when it is spilt onto the ground or gusshes out over body of murdered individual. When it is mixed with dust, blood signifies murder and death. Polluton consists in establishment of a link between entities which should be kept separated and distinct. But pollution may be positive, e.g. bones of Oedipus, favorable to recipient; sacrifice of pig, most polluted of animals, that effected most potent purification for Eleusinian initiate. Apollo presided over both purification and pollution, at once cause and healer of diseas (Troy). Asebeia (impiety) was absence of respect for the beliefs and rituals shared by inhabitants of a polis. Malicious damage to property of gods, their rituals or figural representations. Introduction of new gods and cults not yet officially recognized by city Opinions of gods held by certain individuals.. (Anexaogoras allegedly prosecuted for impiety at Athens; Socrates) Obligations of community involved above all respect for ancestral tradition. Antique rituals were performed without citizens knowing precisely what they mean, whereas more recently introduced rites sometimes decried as being less worthy of veneration, on the grounds, for instance that they attributed too much importance to banquets that followed animal sacrifice. Polis considered itself to be a concrete and living entity under sure protection of the gods who would not abandon it as long as it did not abandon them. To unity of gods around a city at its moments of crisis there had to correspond a unity of men, and the force and symbolic efficacy of this human solidarity was expressed in collective manifestations like the Panathenaic festival or the Athenians' public civic funeral of their war dead. To be eusebes was to believe in the efficacy of the symbolic system that the city had established for the purpose of managing relations between gods and men, and to participate in it, moreover, in the most vigorously active manner possible. Sources of evidence for study of Greek religon: literary texts, epigraphic documents, and archaeological data The more one studies religions, the better one comes to undrstand that, just like tools or language, they are integral components of the machinery of symbolic thought. Despite their diversity, they all perform the double and mutually reinforicing function of both giving to things a fullness of meaning, which in themselves they appear to lack, and uprooting human beings from their individual isolation and embedding them in a reassuring and transcendently important community. Complexity of Greek culture better expressed in Greek religion than in any other area. Greek religion is a subject area where the scholar is obliged to conceptualize in combination religion and politics, anthropology and history, morality and daily life. Observance of rituals rather than fidelity to a dogma or belief that ensured permanence of tradition and communal cohesiveness. Everyday life, no less than public civic life, was rhythmically regulated by all kinds of rituals, so that every moment and every stage of citizens' existence imbued with a religious dimension.
SACRIFICEMost common ritual, sacrifice; Ritual slaughter of one or more animals, a part of which was offered up to the gods by being cremated on an altar, while remaineder was consumed according to precisely fixed rules by those participting in the sacrifice. Initiataed by an act of consecration, the riual of animal sacrifice was concluded by cooking and eating. Without this strict framework of sacrificial regulation, humans would have risked sinking to level of the beasts whenever they ate animal flesh. Victims, domestic animals, placed on a scale of value from at one end a goat, pig, sheep, or even a cock (humblest offering) to top end, cow or ox, most precious of all. At great festivals many animals. e.g. 240 bulls at Athenian Great Dionysia of 333. Every day several hundred animal sacrifices were taking place in different contexts within each of the thousand and more separate Greek poleis. Sale of meat made its first appearance in form of a simple, post-sacrificial distribution. A sacred law from Didyma(LSAM 54.1-3) laid down that, if it proved impossible for someone after the sacrifice to feast in the tent specially set aside for the purpose, then whoever so wished might take the meat away to be sold by weight. In agora stalls one might find either meat of a ritually sacrificed animal by a mageiroos, meat which had been consecrated by a first fruits offering before slitting animal's throat and from which the gods' portion had been duly set aside (at Athens a tithe, entrusted to the prytaneis) -- or sacrificial meat that had been allotted to the priests and resold by them. The cutting up of the mwat that was sold in the stalls was done on precisely same egalitarian basis as that of meat of victims distributed at a sacrifice. Most solemn form of thusia was that of public sacrifices on occasion of religious festival and culminating in a civic banquet. The Panathenaia at Athens and Hyakinthia at Sparts, most grandiose respective examples, required slaughter of a huge army of cattle to feed mass of citizens participating. In a stage preceding sacrificial ritual itself victim was chosen by a procedure of variable length and complexity. At least priest had to assure himself that the victim met criteria for purity (e.g. blemish on coat might be sign of impurity) and conformed in all other respects to ritual regulations. Thusia proper began with procession led by priest and sacrificers. Around altar stood all participants: the woman who carried the lustral water, the woman who bore the basket of grain in which sacrifical knife was concealed, the sacrificer and his assistants, and finally ordinary citizens. Priest pronounced customary prayers, sprinkling victim's head with lustral water. Act of purification designed to elicit victim's assent to its slaughter which it signified by nodding its head. Next priest offered up first fruits of sacrifice by throwing onto altar fire some grains and hairs. Slaughterer now authorized to kill victim, first smiting it on forehad with an axe and then cutting its throat. for the latter the animal's head had to be turned up so blood might spurt skywards and fall in a stream. Women let out indispensable ritual scream (ololuge) Third act was butchering and sharing out of the carcass. Mageiros first opened beast's thorax in order to remove entrails (lungs, heart, liver, spleen, kidneys) and digestive system (entera, eaten as sauges and black puddings). Then victim was skinned. In private sacrifices skins went to the priest, but in public, sold off for benefit of state's sacred treasury. Finally, carcass cut up. First stage, removing thigh bones which were placed on the altar, covered with fat, sprinkled with a libation and incense, and then burnt for the gods. Second stage, cutting up and cooking of remaining flesh but the slankhna, vital and precious elemnts were spit roasted and shared by those who were thereby assured of maximal participation in sacrifice A different type of sacrifice consisted of slaughtering and offering of an animal that was burnt whole (holocaust); such a sacrifice dedicated in entirety to gods through the agency of the flames. This was primarily for certain hero cults or cults of the dead. Blood made to flow onto a low altar or a grave or ground. Third type of bloody sacrifice performed annually at Patrai in honor of Artemis Laphria in which both domesticated and wild animals sacrificed together with game birds and were put into flames when still alive. Bloodless sacrifices, whether comestibles or spices, aroma of which was transmitted to gods through the flames. In this bloodless form that daily sacrifices in private homes typically made. Libations: could be associated with animal sacrifice but could be autonomous ritual. At start of meals, same function as first fruits offering. Used to mark arrival or departure, placing familiar actions under protection of gods who were thereby invoked as witnesses or helpers. Prayer, e.g. Thesmo, Aristophanes 295-305; Libation Bearers, 124-51
Religious personnelReligious authority belonged to people as a whole, on whose behalf it was exercised by a range of personnel. Number and importance of these civic functonaries grew in course of fifth century, at expense of certain ancient priesthoods. It was their job to maintian order and respect for laws within the sactuary enclosure (temnos). They organzied religious festivals in collaboration with other officials and relevant priests. They controlled religious finances, checking revenues and expenditure. Office of hieropoioi (those who make the heira) attested in numerous poleis. At Athens were a board of ten choen each year by Council of 500, with responsibility of all major quadrennial festivals except the Great Panathenaia which had its own special board. So oversaw the Brauronia (Artemis) the Herakleia, the Eleusinian Mysteries, and Athens' official deligation to festival of Apollo and Artemis on Delos, as well as annual Lesser Panathenaia. Remit included provison of animals for the sacrifices and administration and policing of festivals as a whole. In return, were privileged to share in honors accorded other officials, in particualr in distribution of the hecatomb sacrificed during Panathenaia. At Athens epimeletai (overseers) appointed individually for particular fesivals, among others Great Dionysia and Panathenaai. Origlnally, those elected expect to pay for the processions out of their own pocket, so was equivalent of performing liturgy. By 330s cost borne by state funds. For Eleusinian Mysteries four epimeletai appointed, two chosen from all Athenians over age thirty, other two from the two priestly families who had hereditary prerogatives in cult of Demeter and Persephone, the Eumolpidai and Kerykes. The three senior Archons of Athens included religious affairs in their portfolios. The Basileus, who legendarily inherited religioius functions of old king of Athens, was principal religious dignitary of Athenian state. Charged abaove all with sacrifices involved in ancestral cults, i.e., whose antiquity was guaranteed by traditon. Included Eleusinian Mysteries, Lenaia. Responsibility for religious calendar. The Eponymous Archon, who had charge of more recently established civic festivals, ta epitheta, most famously Great or City Dionysia and was responsible for Delian theoria, the processions in honor of Zeus Soter, and Asklepios and the Thargelia (Pythian Apolloo) War Archon (polemarch) religious role in field of cults with military application: Artemis Agrotera (to whom battlefield sacrifices made) and Enyalios (by name of Ares), public funeral in honor of Athenian war dead, and festival commemorating Marathon. Alos festival for Harmodios and Aristogeiton. Priesthoods and Priestesshoods tied to particualr sanctuaries and cults. In most cases functioned like a civic magistrate, exercising liturgical authority in parallel to legislative, judicial, financial or military authority of city officials. Method of selection makes clear affinity to status of magistrates. Most appointed annually and often by lot and at end of term were obliged to render accounts. Into this category at Athens, priests of Dionysos Eleuthereus, Asklepios and Zeus Soter and Priestesses of Athene Soteria and Athene Nike. No foreigners or metics. Other priesthoods preserve of particualr families or gene. Holders selected from among relevant family members for life. Athenian examples inlude priest of Athene Polias and priest of Poseidon Erekthehus, who had to be members of the Eteoboutadai genos ; and male Hierophant and Dadoukhous (Torchbearer) of Eleusinian Mysteries, former a member of Eumolpidai and latter of Kerykes. Other priests such as those of Apollo at Delphi appointed for life but without any stipulatoin of aristocratic birth. In addition to sacrifical duties, had to take care of accoutrements of the temple and sanctuary with assistance of one or more sacristans. Looking after cult statue and relevant cult buildings but also included responsibility ofor mainting sanctuary as a going cencern both financially and as a secure place of worship. State increasingly compete in these two spheres, not least by deciding how much revenue to allot for a sanctuary's upkeep. Portion of sacrificial animals belongs to priest or priestess by right. So economic status varied depending on importance of sanctuary Exegetes, oracle mongers, and diviners. See Plato, Laws759a-760a