The foremost historian of Greek religion provides the first comprehensive, comparative study of a little-known aspect of ancient religious beliefs and practices. Secret mystery cults flourished within the larger culture of the public religion of Greece and Rome for roughly a thousand years. This book is neither a history nor a survey but a comparative phenomenology, concentrating on five major cults. In defining the mysteries and describing their rituals, membership, organization, and dissemination, Walter Burkert displays the remarkable erudition we have come to expect of him; he also shows great sensitivity and sympathy in interpreting the experiences and motivations of the devotees.
Walter Burkert’s publication of his 1982 Jackson Lectures at Harvard University is another of his important contributions to our understanding of the religions of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern cultures. Everything from his pen is welcome and an education… His knowledge of the sources is encyclopedic, his judgment in combining them original, illuminating, and persuasive… This study is bound to become a standard text in the history of religion and in the interpretation of individual experiences in antiquity… This slender but packed volume is another powerful document in intellectual history.
The standard book on the subject, encyclopedic in nature, well structured, and readable, all that the interested student and scholar wants to know about ancient Greek polytheism.
Widely recognized as our best scholar of ancient Greek religion…Burkert deals with the evidence directly, clearing away misconceptions and discussing problems of interpretation… Extremely valuable.
Fascinating… The writing is clear and engaging… [Readers will] learn much about how ancient human beings attempted to find security and joy in a difficult world. They will be able to enter, at least partially, into very different minds and glimpse experiences of ecstasy and wonder that took place many centuries ago.
- 192 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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