Church and State in Ancient Greece 12:56:00

26/09/2007

Religion and the polis The public hearth (hestia) • As in oikos: perpetual fame at spiritual center • Maintained at or near agora o Often in central government building (prytaneion) • Connection to Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries o Renewal of sacred flame • Reception of dignitaries (ambassadors, statesmen etc) o Symbolic incorporation into community Religion and the polis Foundation of colonies: consultation of oracle • Example: thera founds colony of Kyrene in north Africa o Polis consults Delphi about drought: colonize Libya o Political myth: divine imperative for appropriation of land • Transfer of cult from mother-city (model of family) o Sacred flame, cult images and practices etc. Religion in day-to-day government Sacred calendar • 12 months named after gods and their festivals • polis schedules rituals, festivals

o sacred days: for sacrifice, festivals, processions etc o profane days: for government, war, business etc • archon basileus reconciles solar-lunar cycles o yearly, biennial, quadrennial festivals o one level of control over polis business religious and political geography • altar of the Twelve Gods in the Athenian agora: o point from which distances in Attika calculated council (boule): dogs preside, inspire good government • Athens: Zeus Boulaios, Athena Boulaia Assembly • Opening prayer, sacrifice o Athens: piglet sacrificed, blood sprayed on officers Fist business relates to religion Elected officials: dokimasia (investigation), horkoi (oaths) Public finances • Treasury of poliad deity doubles as polis treasury • Polis raises funds for temples, priests etc • Leitourgia: state imposes contribution by wealthy o Festivals, cults (equivalency with military expenses) Religious financing and politics • •

Athenian empire: “donations” made to “to Athena” Religion and the law Polis jurisdiction over sacred property • Destruction of, boundaries, lawsuits Murder incurs miasma (contagious guilt) • Ex: Oidipous, Orestes • Punishment: exclusion from cult o Permanent: execution o Temporary: exile purification Sacrilege incurs criminal penalties • Ex: Alkibiades and Sacrilege o Sokrates and New Gods Alkibiades of Athens: convicted of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries (415 BCE) Leading statesman, general, “radical democrat” Aggressive foreign policy (Peloponnesian War) Charges • Destruction of Herms (boundary markers) • Profanation of Eleusinian Mysteries o Revealing secrets to uninitiated o Parodying rites • Motivation: opposition to his politics and policies

Result: flees Athens for Sparta o Recalled in 407 (Athens losing war) Sokrates of Athens: convicted of introducing new gods (399 BCE) • Philosopher, craftsman, soldier • Friend of Alkibiades • 399: aftermath of Athens’ loss to Sparta o political payback by democracy • charges include o introducing new gods (without state sanction) o failure to recognize state gods • results: convicted; option of exile or death religion and political reform: salon solon of Athens (early 6th century) • enacts major constitutional reforms • implementation of laws = overhaul of (sacred) calendar • debt restructuring = moving horoi • sumptuary laws o grave goods (private religious expression) o festival prizes (public expression) take-home lesson: • political reform involves religious reform

religion and political reform: Peisistratos reorganization of cults linked to political reform in Athens • Peisistratos and sons: mid-late 6th c. “tyrants” o Public works as propaganda for one-man rule o Reorganize Panathenaia  Opportunities for patronage  Reform of sacred texts (epics?)  Broaden Pan-Hellenic appeal o Found/reorganize City Dionysia  Dramatic performances Religion and inter-polis politics Basis for diplomacy • Treaties: signed with sacrifices and oaths by gods • Sacred truce: interstate travel for religious festivals o Opportunity for informal diplomacy Festivals as arena for inter-polis rivalry • One end of spectrum ending in war • Pan-Hellenic cults o Treasuries: building, votives o Competition: athletics; epic poetry, hymns Introduction of cults to benefit polis

Ex: Thracian goddess endis o 432: becomes state cult in Athens  goddess of wild places  alliance between Athens and Thrace o 413: add festival  Athens holding empire together Religion formalizes, sanctifies alliance • Symbolic compensation of allies Religion and political power • Control of Pan-Hellenic festivals o Ex: repeated meddling by powerful poleis in Olympics • Influencing oracles o Ex: “sacred Wars” for control of Delphi •  6th, 5th, 4th centuries (part of every major conflict) Athens and the Delian League (480 – 404 BCE) o Fund for defense against Persians o Movement of treasury (from Delos to Athens)

26/09/2007 12:56:00

26/09/2007 12:56:00