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Exploring ancient Greek religion
Exploring ancient Greek religion

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In this course, you explored the concepts of ‘personal’ and ‘polis’ religion by using the cult of Amphiaraos at Oropos as your case-study. In particular, you learned to approach visual source material as a means of interpreting how this deity’s cult practice was lived and experienced by the ancient Greeks. As set out in the Introduction to this course, the ancient Greeks did not distinguish between personal and political religious acts as scholars of ancient religions do today. In fact, in your studies of the Amphiareion you discovered traces of both through close examination of the sanctuary’s material remains.

On the one hand, you tapped into the expectations and experiences of individuals who sought to consult Amphiaraos for healing purposes by close analysis of the sanctuary’s sacred regulation and the dedication offered by Archinos. On the other hand, you also explored how political communities (most notably Athens) could merge their own religious practices with Amphiaraos’ mythological tradition as a means of bolstering their own political agenda to control Oropos and its sanctuary. The case of the chariot dismount competition and the resonances it also bore to the Athenian celebration of the Panathenaia highlight the potential for religious festivals to have underlying political meaning.