Religion and Society

12/09/2007 12:59:00

Polis “city state” Basic form of community in ancient Greece • Begins taking shape during Greek Renaissance (800-700 BCE) • Self-governing (not necessarily independent foreign policy) • Dimensions o Urban center: market, government, cult, shops, houses o Surrounding countryside: agriculture, hunting, timber, mining o Population: 100s to several hundred thousand people Defining architectural features • Walls: surround entire community, publicly financed • Temples: open to citizens, publicly financed • Agora: public marketplace o Last feature to be constructed in most communities Bronze age: palaces • Walls: protected palace only; elaborate, costly construction • Probably limited public space (dominance of palaces, priest-kings) Early iron age: small, isolated settlements • Absence of monumental construction • Sacred space relatively undifferentiated • Centrality of ruler’s dwellings Archaic period (mid-late Geometric to Orientalizing): poleis • Monumental construction of public space: walls, temples, agora • Sacred space highly differentiated (spatially, temporally, legally) • Rulers reside in private dwellings, separate from public space Public space: arena for discussion regardless of government

Compare Tiananmen, Red Square, Mall in D.C. Variety of polis governments • Monarchy (rule by one): rare and weak in historical period o Ceremonial kingship: religious status without political status • Oligarchy (rule by a few): powerful families; elemet of most polis o Special priesthoods: reserved for “old” families • Aristocracy (rule by “best” = wealthy): more inclusive oligarchy o Prestige attained by donating temple, financing festival, etc. • (quasi) democracy: most poleis have some form of assembly o associated with specific cults (ex: Zeus Agoraios) demography • polis emerges with population increase in 8th century o “Greek Renaissance” critical period for emergence of polis growing communities seek economic, social stability citizenship emerges through definition of social identity • EIA isolation: identification with the (small) community • Archaic polis: identification within the community by exclusions o Language/dialect: regional, local identity by speech o Gender: only men have full citizenship rights  Cults: some separate male & female, other for both o Social status: extent of citizenship defined by wealth  Economic barriers to cult membership (sacrifice) o Families: inherited land basis for social status  Family, clan cults alongside polis cults Emergence of polis coincides with • Public temples •

Hero cult Proliferation of rural cult sites Shift in distribution of votive offerings (gifts to gods, spirits, etc.) o 8th century: marked increase in number, kinds, expense  from groves to shrines, temples (public > private) o polis takes control: delegates authority to priests polis established in religious terms • territory defined by cults • social integration within community through cults • definition of sacred/profane ground o burial: cemeteries shift to edge of community within polis: monumental temples and associated cults • development from EIA rulers’ dwellings • poliad deity o ex: Athena at Athens; Artemis of Ephesos central location (acropolis) outside polis (countryside, chora): rural/suburban cults • focus of earliest community worship (ex: hero cult at BA tholol) • location of earliest monumental temples o ex: Samian Heroaion (8th century) • often define city/territory boundary o ex: Argive Heraion 6 miles from center of Argos  Isthmian Posideion: between Corinth and Megara Main recipient of polis cults: • Apollo (associated with rational thought) • Athena (associated with wisdom, rulers, government) •

• • •

Hera (marriage, childbirth) Artemis (boundaries) NOT Zeus (Panhellenic god) Location of cults (much variation) • Urban cults: Apollo and agora, Athena and acropolis • Rural/suburban: Hera, Apollo, Artemis, Poseidon Thus, polis territory is defined by urabn/rural axis of cults • Cults: integrate political, social, economic, spiritual aspects • Urban cults: acropolis, around agora • Suburban: at boundaries, sacred places o Symbolic extension of city into-countryside o Compare Minoan Knossos (palace hornes & hilltop shrine) Example of Corinth • Cult of Apollo near city center • Cult of Artemis on hill outside city • Cult of Poseidon at territorial border Hero cults: community appropriation of ancestor worship • Urban: assoaciation of hero with poliad deity o Ex: cults of Athena & Erechtheus or Athenian acropolis • Rural: ancient sacred sites integrated into polis o Ex: BA tholoi, EIA Lekand heroon • Define territory o Ex: Spartan Helenaion/Menelaion  Central location among village that fuse to form polis Membership in polis meant membership in civic cult system • Urban/rural integration • Social integration Religion permeates Greek life & is regulated by the polis • Household cults

• • •

12/09/2007 12:59:00

12/09/2007 12:59:00