Ancient Religions

Religion is everywhere in the ancient world. It structures society and the everyday lives of ordinary people, it legitimates political systems and hierarchies, and it shapes peoples' attitude to the world, their 'mentalities'. It is also a dominant theme in ancient literature and visual culture. Ancient religion, particularly Greek religion, is an established research-cluster in the Department, and in terms of the number of staff with active interests in this area and the range of our projects and publications, we can claim to be one of the best Classics departments in the UK, if not the world. We hold regular international conferences on aspects of Greek religion and invite applications from prospective students.

Major research interests of members of staff include:aphrodite7

- representation of gods, e.g. hybrid deities and personifications; the Department hosted a successful conference on the goddess Aphrodite in 2008.  The papers from this have recently been published as The Brill Companion to Aphrodite (edited by Amy Smith and Sadie Pickup). Emma Aston has written a book (at press) on Greek animal-hybrid deities, exploring further themes of iconography and the relationship between divinity and physical manifestation.

- animal sacrifice in the ancient world, subject of a one-day conference in 2007, the proceedings of which will soon be published in a volume by Cambridge University Press (edited by Sarah Hitch and Ian Rutherford).

- the visual experience of the sacred in sanctuaries and temples: with its wonderful Ure Museum, the Department is a natual centre for research in this area. Susanne Turner takes up a 3-year British Academy postdoctoral fellowship in the Department, in autumn 2009; the subject is 'Viewing the Divine'.

- pilgrimage and religious travel; Ian Rutherford has worked extensively in this area, coediting with Jas Elsner the volume Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity. Seeing the Gods (Oxford, 2005), which arose from a conference at RU in 2000). He has worked particularly on the practice of Greek city-states sending sacred delegations to sanctuaries (theoria), and has a forthcoming book on the subject.

- religion and Greek society: Barbara Goff recently published a well-received book on the role of women in the Greek polis (Citizen Bacchae); in 2008 the Department hosted a successful international conference on Greek religion and the city-state; Emma Aston is is currently working on a monograph on Thessaly which contains detailed examination of the region's cults and associated myths.

- the representation of religion in Greek Literature, particularly in Greek tragedy (Barbara Goff) and lyric poetry (Ian Rutherford).

- Greek religion and the East, and the processes by which rituals and religious ideas migrate from one culture to another. Ian Rutherford is currently working on the relationship between Greek religion and the religions of Anatolia in the Late Brone Age, and has a forthcoming book on the subject. Phiroze Vasunia has published a book on the Greek and Roman sources for Zoroastrianism.


Relevant Staff

Aston, Goff, Marzano, Rutherford, Smith, Vasunia.


Relevant Publications

Aston, E (2004). 'Asclepius and the Legacy of Thessaly.' Classical Quarterly 54: 18-32.

Aston, E (2006). 'The Absence of Chiron.' Classical Quarterly 56: 349-362.

Aston, E (2009). 'Hybrid Statues in Ancient Greece: Animal, Human, God.' In A. Alexandridis, M. Wild, L. Winkler-Horacek, Mensch und Tier in der Antike: Grenzziehung und Grenzüberschreitung : Symposion vom 7. bis 9. April 2005 (Rostock, 2005), 481-502.

Aston, E. (2009) 'Thetis and Cheiron in Thessaly.' Kernos 22: 83-107.

Aston, E (forthcoming, at press), Mixanthrôpoi: Animal-Human Hybrid Deities in Greek Religion. Liège: Centre International d'Étude de la Religion Grecque Antique.

Goff, B. (2004). Citizen Bacchae: women's ritual practice in ancient Greece. Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press.

Goff, B. (2007). Improvising on the Athenian Stage: women's ritual practices in drama. Finding Persephone: women's rituals in the ancient Mediterranean. M. Parca and A. Tzanetou. Indianapolis, Indiana University Press: 79-91.

Goff, B. (2007). The Priestess of Athena Grows a Beard. The Sacred and the Feminine: Image, Music, Text, Space. G. Pollock and V. Turvey-Sauron. London, I. B. Tauris.

Rutherford, I. (2004). 'Theoria and the Olympic Games. A Neglected Aspect of Ancient Athletics.' The Olympic Games in Antiquity. Bring Forth Rain and Bear Fruit. M. e. a. Kaila. Athens: pp. 171-183.

Rutherford, I. (2004). 'Women Singers and the Religious Organisation of Hatti. On the Interpretation of CTH235.1, CTH235.2 and Other Texts'. Offizielle Religion, locale Kulte und individualle Religiositt. Akten des religionsgeschichtlkichjlichen Symposiums. 'Kleinasien und angrenzende Gebeite vom Beginn des 2. bis zur Mitte des 1. Jahrtausends v. Chr'. M. a. H.-B. Hutter, S. Bonn.

Rutherford, I. (2004). "The Keian Theoria to Delphi: Neglected Data from the Accounts of the Delphic Naopoioi (CID2.1-28)." Zeitschrift fr Papyrologie und Epigraphik 147: 107-114.

Rutherford, I. (2004). "Khoros heis ek tesde tes poleos: State-Pilgrimage and Song-Dance in Athens", P. Murray, P. Wilson edd., Music and the Muses: the Culture of "Mousike" in the Classical Athenian City (Oxford, 2004), 67-90

Rutherford, I., Ed. (2005). With J. Elsner. Pilgrimage in Greco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity. Seeing the Gods. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rutherford, I. (2005), "Down-Stream to the Cat-Goddess: Herodotus on Egyptian Pilgrimage", in J. Elsner and I. Rutherford edd., Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity. Seeing the Gods (Oxford), 131-150

Rutherford, I., (2005), "Andros at Delphi. CID1.7 and Insular Theoria", in The Greek Islands and the Sea: Proceedings of the International Colloquium held at RHUL, 21-22 September 2001, ed. C. Dendrinos, J. Chryostomidies and J. Harris (London, 2005 [March 17th]), 59-75

Rutherford, I. (2005), "In a Virtual Wild Space. Pilgrimage and Rite de Passage from Delphi from Sabarimalai", in Greek Ritual Poetics, ed. D. Yatromanolakis, P. Roilos edd. (Cambridge, Mass, 2005), 323-338

Rutherford, I. (2006). "Introduction." Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 6: pp. 1-10.

Rutherford, I. (2007). "Network Theory and Theoric Networks " Mediterranean Historical Review 22: 23-37.

Rutherford, I. (2007), "Achilles and the Sallis Wastais Ritual. Performing Death in Greece and Anatolia", Performing Death. Social Analyses of Funerary Traditions in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean. N. Laneri. Chicago, Oriental Institute: 223-236.

Rutherford, I. (2007), "Theoria and Theatre at Samothrace. The Dardanos of Dymas", The Greek Theatre and Festivals Documentary Studies. Wilson, P. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 279-293.

Rutherford, I. (2007), "Trouble in Snake Town. Interpreting an oracle from Hierapolis-Pamukkale", Severan Culture. S. Swain. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 449-457.

Rutherford, I. (2007). "The Song of the Zintuhis. Choral and Ritual in Anatolia and Greece", Anatolian Interfaces. B. J. Collins, M. Bachvarova and I. C. Rutherford. Oxford, Oxbow Books: 73-84.

Rutherford, I. (2008). 'When you go to the meadow, do not pull the cord.' The performance of the taptara-women in the Hittite funerary ritual. Lament Studies in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond. A. Suter. New York, Oxford UP: 73-84

Rutherford, I. (2009), "Black Sails to Achilles. Pilgrimage and Initiation in Philostratus' Heroicus", in E. Bowie and J. Elsner edd., Philostratus (Cambridge, 2009)

Smith, A. (2005). "The Politics of Weddings at Athens: an iconographic assessment." Leeds International Classics Studies 4.1: pp. 1-32.

Vasunia, P., Ed. (2007). Zarathushtra and the Religion of Ancient Iran: The Greek and Latin Sources in Translation. Mumbai, K. R. Cama Oriental Institute.

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