Ancient Greek Religious Personnel 12:53:00

17/09/2007

Religious Personnel in Ancient Greece: preliminary considerations Prominence of Athens in evidence • Cultural, political dominance in classical period • How are can we generalize based on Athens? (example of gender) Ancient Greek religious personnel generally • Non-professional, but not amateur (no divinity school learn by doing) • Part-time, often at least partly self-financed Social status and cult officials: religious duties confer prestige • Office allows holder to make public display (social propriety) • Limits on participation o Private funding (most offices require some personal expense) o Time demands (farmers, sailors, etc.) Gender and participation in cult • Priestess hoods often (limited) female participator in public life • Assertion of male control: example of Pythia at Delphi officials in charge of festivals: usually limited-term appointments officials in charge of cults and rituals: usually long–term appointment financing ancient Greek festivals expenses: • sacrificial animals and implements o mixture of private and public funding • sacred garments o office-holder provides: robe, headband, girdle, staff ($$)

cult building and image o public usually finances (property difficult to transfer)

income • sacrificial meat, hide: sold to festival participants, citizens • donations: requests, thanksgiving, guilty consciences • access to temple lands: agriculture, pasturage, timber, water, etc. officials in charge of festivals public selection • various committees and officials (many opportunities for participation) • appointed, elected, chosen by lot, family prerogative • leitourgia: financial/ceremonial duty for wealthy citizens o other examples: outfit warship, public works o advantages: opportunities for profit, patronage example of Demeter festival at Eleusis • combination of hereditary and appointed officials • reflects historical absorption of Eleusis under Athens diffusion of religious authority (effect or goal?) • no one person, group controls choice of officials • overlapping responsibilities: o general festival financing, oversight of specific festivals, etc. titles reflect historical separation of religious from political authority • investment with symbolic authority (compare origin of temples) archon basileus • ceremonial office, appointed by council; BA or EIA holdover (?) • oversees festivals thought to be ancient (ta patria) eponymous archon

highest political office in classical Athens, appointed by council only religious authority oversight over relatively recent festivals o religious authority equated with antiquity of rite/office polemarch • appointed or chosen by lot • Archaic period: military commander • Classical period: oversees festivals associated with military Selection (cult-specific): by lot, inherited (similar to festival officials) • Criteria for inclusion o Participation in government; family perquisite • Criteria for exclusion o Gender, social class, perceived imperfections Example: priesthoods of Athena Polias and Poseidon Erechthues • Inherited prerogative of Eteoboutadai clan o Trace ancestry to hero Boutes  Polis incorporates hero cult, compensates with priesthood Duties • Procure sacrificial materials, perform rites, organize worshippers • Penalties for neglect of duties Specific officials • Hiereus (masc.), hiereia (fem.): “priest,” “priestess” o Responsible for specific cult functions; various levels of authority • Exegetai (not cult-specific): interpreters of sacred law • Again: overlapping responsibilities; absence of single authority Officials in charge of oracles Oracles: sites where god or hero gives advice or predictions

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Consulted by private individuals, governments Polis officials involved with oracles • Ambassadors (theoroi): appointed by polis government o Consult for public business (alliances, colonies, war, etc.) • (pro)mantis: communicates will of gods o various forms: hereditary, selected; itinerant professional • chresmologos: interpreter of oracles oracular utterances • defined poetic rhythm (meter: dactylic hexameter) • ex: oracle of local hero Trophonios obtained by Thebans other types of divination • signs (meteorological, dreams, birds, entrails) o gods generally communicate non-verbally spontaneous (ex: Telemachos’ sneeze) by lots (kleromancy): no element of chance oracles and politics again, diffusion of authority: interpretation open for debate • lack of single authority over oracles (as generally) • ex: Themistokles debates with the chresmologio decreasing role of oracles in politics • Athens: little consultation after empire gained in 5th c. • •

17/09/2007 12:53:00

17/09/2007 12:53:00

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