Religion in the Ancient Greek Household 21/09/2007 12:54:00

Family rituals in ancient Greece Religion tied to rhythms of life: “rite of passage” defined by cults • Birth: Hera, Eileithyia, Artemis • Adulthood: Zeus Phratrios & Athena Phratria (“of the clan”) o Apatouria festival: transition from family to polis • Marriage: Hera, Aphrodite (two sides of love/marriage) o Gamelia sacrifice at Apatouria: debut as husband & wife • Death: Hermes Psychopompos; Hades & Persephone o Ancestor cult: continuity of generations through choai o Ex: women who die in childbirth “brides of Artemis” The ancient Greek household (oikos) Oikos: extended household • Father, mother, children, elders, slaves & ex-slaves Family structure • Rigid patriarchy o Father has power of life and death over members of oikos o Adult males leave house, remain under living father’s power o Equal division of father’s possessions on his death  Limited primogeniture (primacy of firstborn)  Daughters have some inheritance rights in some poleis • Virilocal marriage: bride joins oikos of husband o Wife severs cult ties with parental home Religious topography of the oikos Outside: family agricultural cults (Demeter) • Appearance from outside: walled off

Perimeter of house: apotropaic (“turning away [evils]”) deities • Apollo aguileos (“of the street”), Herkles: o Common guardians of street/house boundary • Zeus Herkeios: guardian of those within oikos Inside: hearth, spritiaul center of oikos (cp. Polis) • Hestia (genering of deities) • Gendering of space: separate women’s & men’s quarters o Separate spheres of cult activity Religion & the ancient Greek family: the father Head priest of oikos • Regular observance at shrines (Zeus Herkeios, Hestia, etc.) Ancestor worship • Maintain tomb: filial duty open to public scrutiny • Yearly choai: continuity of household cult Symposia: social/political drinking parties • Father defines social/political allegiances of household Represents oikos in larger cults • Genos: group defined by birth (mthic bloodline; hero cult) • deme: political district within polis • phratry: “tribe” (Zeus Phratrios; hero cult) Religion & ancient Greek family: the mother Women’s roles in cult reflect roels in society generally • Virilocal: learns oikos cults from husband ( and mother in law) • Cult provides opportunities to leave oikos (burial, female cults) Assits father with cults inside house • Prepares bodies for burial; role in ancestor worship

Responsible for fertility cults • Artemis, Asklepios: childbirth • Hera: mother assits in marriage of children Represents oikos in larger female-only cults • Athenian Thesmophoria: female-only Demeter festival before sowing o Initiation rites (young women equated with fertile field) o Piglet sacrifice (agricultural fertility) o Aischrology (ritual obscenity) Religion & the anceitn Greek family: children Daughters • Early marriage leading to integration into husband’s oikos o Age / power differential o Dowry: daughters a liability • • Limited role in oikos cult o Family cults abandoned with marriage Represents oikos in polis cults (opportunity to interact in public) o Artemis Brauronia: girls as bears (arktoi)  Symbolic wild life before being tamed Question of legitimacy: father recognizes son in ritual setting o Apatouria festival: formal integration into community  “ionic” festival: celebrated in Attica (Athens), Ionia  deities: Zeus Phratrios, Athena Phratria, Apollo Patroos preparation for adulthood/citizenship o ephebate: prep for full citizenship & assumption of cult duties o City Dionysia: performance (of women’s roles) in plays choruses

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Learns oikos rituals from father Joins father in representing oikos in larger cults Religion & the ancient Greek family: slaves Integration into the community • Induction ceremony at household Hestia shrine o Defined ritually as part of household (range of experiences) Role in cults and rituals • Assist, but generally excluded from sacrifice, festivals • Perhaps a role in processions • Major exception: mystery religions o Eleusinian Mysteries (Demeter), Dionysiac Mysteries • Asylum: right of refuge in sacred space • Slave rituals, cult (probable)

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21/09/2007 12:54:00

21/09/2007 12:54:00