Tag Archives: ancient Greece

Delphi

Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World by Michael Scott, from Princeton University Press, is a recent release that may be of interest [HT Corinthian Matters].

Michael Scott Delphi from Princeton University Press

“The oracle and sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo at Delphi were known as the ‘omphalos’—the ‘center’ or ‘navel’—of the ancient world for more than 1000 years. Individuals, city leaders, and kings came from all over the Mediterranean and beyond to consult Delphi’s oracular priestess; to set up monuments to the gods in gold, ivory, bronze, marble, and stone; and to take part in athletic and musical competitions. This book provides the first comprehensive narrative history of this extraordinary sanctuary and city, from its founding to its modern rediscovery, to show more clearly than ever before why Delphi was one of the most important places in the ancient world for so long.

In this richly illustrated account, Michael Scott covers the whole history and nature of Delphi, from the literary and archaeological evidence surrounding the site, to its rise as a center of worship with a wide variety of religious practices, to the constant appeal of the oracle despite her cryptic prophecies. He describes how Delphi became a contested sacred site for Greeks and Romans and a storehouse for the treasures of rival city-states and foreign kings. He also examines the eventual decline of the site and how its meaning and importance have continued to be reshaped right up to the present. Finally, for the modern visitor to Delphi, he includes a brief guide that highlights key things to see and little-known treasures.

A unique window into the center of the ancient world, Delphi will appeal to general readers, tourists, students, and specialists.”

The Greeks and the Irrational

The Greeks and the Irrational by E R Dodds, the 1966 paperback from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

E R Dodds The Greeks and the Irrational from University of California Press

“Greek culture has long been identified with the triumph of rationalism. The role of primitive and irrational forces in Greek society has been largely glossed over or neglected even when it was obviously touched on by the Greeks themselves. In this volume, armed with analytical weapons of modern anthropology and psychology, Professor Dodds asks, ‘Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from ‘primitive’ modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?'” — back cover


The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece

The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece by Marcel Detienne, foreword by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, translated by Janet Lloyd, a 1996 paperback from Zone Books, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Marcel Detienne Janet Lloyd The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece from Zone Books

The Master of Truth in Archaic Greece traces the odyssey of ‘truth,’ Alētheia, from mythoreligious to philosophical thought in archaic Greece. Marcel Detienne’s starting point is a simple observation: In archaic Greece, three figures — the diviner, the bard, and the king — all share the privilege of dispensing truth by virtue of the religious power of divine memory which provides them with knowledge, both oracular and inspired, of the present, past, and future. Beginning with this definition of the prerational meaning of truth, Detienne proceeds to elaborate the complex conceptual and historical contexts from which emerges the philosophical notion of truth still influencing Western philosophy today.” — back cover


Approaches to Greek Myth

Approaches to Greek Myth, edited and introduced by Lowell Edmunds, a 1991 paperback from Johns Hopkins, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Lowell Edmunds Approaches to Greek Myth from Johns Hopkins

“There was no simple agreement on the subject of ‘myth’ in classical antiquity, and there remains none today. In Approaches to Greek Myth, Lowell Edmunds brings together practitioners of eight of the most important contemporary approaches to the subject. Whether exploring myth from a historical, comparative, or theoretical perspective, each lucidly describes a particular approach, applies it to one or more myths, and reflects on what the approach yields that other do not.

Contributors are H. S. Versnel, on the intersections of myth and ritual; Carlo Brillante, on the history of Greek myth and history in Greek myth; Robert Mondi, on the Near Eastern contexts , and Joseph Falaky Nagy, on the Indo-European structures in Greek myth; William F. Hansen, on myth and folklore; Claude Calame, on the Greimasian approach; Richard Caldwell, on psychoanalytic interpretations; and Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood, on the iconography of vase painting of Theseus and Medea—and on a methodology for ‘reading’ such visual sources. In his introduction, Edmunds confronts Marcel Detienne’s recent deconstruction of the notion of Greek mythology and reconstructs a meaning for myth among the ancient Greeks.” — back cover


The Homeric Hymn to Demeter

The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretative Essays, edited by Helene P Foley, 3rd printing of the 1994 paperback published by Princeton University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Helene P Foley The Homeric Hymn to Demeter from Princeton University Press

“The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, composed in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E., is a key to understanding the psychological and religious world of ancient Greek women. The poem tells how Hades, lord of the underworld, abducted the goddess Persephone and how her grieving mother, Demeter, the goddess of grain, forced the gods to allow Persephone to return to her for part of each year. Helene Foley presents the Greek text and an annotated translation of the Hymn, together with selected essays by Helene Foley, Mary Louise Lord, Jean Rudhardt, Nancy Felson-Rubin and Harriet M. Deal, Marilyn Arthur Katz, and Nancy Chodorow. These essays give the reader a rich understanding of the Hymn’s structure and artistry, its role in the religious life of the ancient world, and its meaning for the modern world. The authors also study the Hymn in the context of early Greek epic and cosmology, examine its critical attitude to the institution of marriage, and analyze the dynamics of mother-daughter relations in the poem.” — back cover

Phrasikleia

Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece by Jesper Svenbro, tranlated by Janet Lloyd, part of the Myth and Poetics series edited by Gregory Nagy, the 1993 paperback from Cornell University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Jesper Svenbro Janet Lloyd Phrasikleia from Cornell University Press

“One of the most haunting early examples of Greek alphabetical writing appears on the life-sized Archaic funery statue of a young girl. The inscription speaks for Phrasikleia, who ‘shall always be called maiden,’ for she has received this name from the gods instead of marriage.

First published in French in 1988, this extraordinary book traces the meaning and function of reading from its very beginnings in Greek oral culture through the development of silent reading. Focusing on metaphors of reading and writing, Jesper Svenbro offers a series of rich analyses of sepulchral and votive inscriptions and myths as well as works of epic and lyrical poetry, legal exegesis, drama, and philosophy. Svenbro draws upon the theoretical insights of Foucault as he discusses such texts as the Iliad, the poetry of Sappho, and the ABC Show by Callias. With reference to the shift to silent reading, Svenbro illuminates a pervasive metaphor in Greek culture—the pederastic paradigm, in which the reader submits to the domination of the writer. In the central section of Plato’s Phaedrus, however, Svenbro discerns an alternative model: reader and writer mutually engaged in the search for truth.

Phrasikleia opens up fascinating new perspectives on the culture of ancient Greece and the genesis of reading. A wide range of classicists, literary theorists, anthropologists, and ancient historians will welcome its availability in Janet Lloyd’s lucid and fluent translation.” — back cover

Oracle Bones Divination

Oracle Bones Divination: The Greek I Ching by Kostas Dervenis, a 2014 English paperback from Destiny Books, originally published in Greek as Manteia ton Astragalon (Divination by astragalomancy), has arrived at the Reading Room, courtesy of Inner Traditions.

Kostas Dervenis Oracle Bones Divination from Destiny Books / Inner Traditions

“In ancient Greece methods of foretelling the future were widespread, whether they were official oracles of the gods or simple dice games to divine one’s luck. One of the most popular and accessible ways of determining one’s fate and fortune was through the ritual casting of animal bones, similar to the casting of coins or yarrow stalks with the Chinese I Ching.

Kostas Dervenis explains how to interpret the casting of the oracle bones—either traditional sheep anklebones or coins—to answer your questions on love, health, wealth, and the future. Using the original stanzas discovered in ancient Greek temples in Greece and Turkey, the author reconstructs the complete matrix of interpretation for each possible casting of the bones. He explores how this practice traces back to the Golden Age of the Neolithic period in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria—predating the I Ching—and how it is still practiced today as the popular folk game of ‘knucklebones.’

Providing the first complete guide to this ancient practice, Dervenis allows anyone to cast the bones for guidance, inspiration, and insight into their fate.” — flap copy

Dionysos

Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy by Vikki Bramshaw, from Avalonia UK, may be of interest. This volume was due to release in December but appears to still be in pre-order, both via the Avalonia site and through Amazon.

Vikki Bramshaw Dionysos from Avalonia

Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy is a phenomenal and scholarly exploration of one of the most complex, liminal and paradoxical gods of the ancient world. The author Vikki Bramshaw guides the reader through the mysterious world of the multifaceted Dionysos, revealing his hidden faces and forms and his presence in different cultures, the growth cycles of nature, the establishment of theatre and the ancient Greek calendar.

The roots of the wine god Dionysos, like his vines, spread throughout the ancient world. From the Cretan Zagreus, to the Thracian Sabazios and the Egyptian Iachen, his stories permeated the myths and traditions of both the untamed wilderness and the culture of cities such as Athens. Joined by slaves and rulers, wild flesh-ripping Maenads and vegetarian Orphics, wine-makers and hunters, the thrice-born Dionysos danced his way through the challenges of rebirth and initiation, with the liberating ecstasy of trance and possession.

The god Dionysos unites opposites, he is many-formed, dying yet eternal, chthonian and heavenly. His ancient myths, mystical symbols, pagan rites and incarnations represent a uniquely detailed and relevant perspective of the transformation he brings through prophecy and personal liberation which is still relevant today.” [via]

Atlantis and the Cycles of Time

Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations by Joscelyn Godwin, the 2011 softcover edition from Inner Traditions, which arrived courtesy of the author, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Joscelyn Godwin's Atlantis and the Cycles of Time from Inner Traditions

“Atlantis has held a perennial place in the collective imagination of humanity from ancient Greece onward. Many of the great minds of the occult and esoteric world wrote at length on their theories of Atlantis—about its high culture, its possible location, its ultimate demise, and their predictions of a return to Atlantean enlightenment or the downfall of modern society.

Beginning with a review of the rationalist writings on Atlantis—those that use geographic and geologic data to validate their theories—renowned scholar Joscelyn Godwin then analyzes and compares writings on Atlantis from many of the great occultists and esotericists of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Fabre d’Olivet, G. I. Gurdjieff, Guido von List, Julius Evola, Edgar Cayce, Dion Fortune, and René Guénon, whose writings often stem from deeper, metaphysical sources, such as sacred texts, prophecy, or paranormal communication. Seeking to unravel and explain the histories and interpretations of Atlantis and its kindred myths of Lemuria and Mu, the author shows how these different views go hand-in-hand with the concept of cyclical history, such as the Vedic system of the four Yugas, the Mayan calendar with its 2012 end-date, the theosophical system of root races, and the precession of the equinoxes. Venturing broader and deeper than any other book on Atlantis, this study also covers reincarnation, human evolution or devolution, the origins of race, and catastrophe theory.”

 

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