Greek and Roman Religion: Honouring the Gods
(HUMA 3105 6.00; 2010-11)
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Instructor: Philip Harland, Click here to email me. Office hours: Wednesdays TBA, Vanier 248
Meetings: Wednesdays 11:30-2:20, VC 118
Office hours: Wednesdays 2:30-3:30 or by appt.
This course explores practices associated with honouring the gods in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, particularly during the first two centuries of the common era. This year the geographical focus in term one is on the Greek-speaking, eastern part of the Roman empire, especially the Greek cities of Asia Minor (what is now Turkey). In term two, we turn to several related phenonema that will provide us further glimpses into the nature and meaning of honours for the gods in various contexts in the Roman empire. In that term, we begin by surveying certain deities and their "mysteries" before moving on to other informal associations and cultural minorities. Throughout, we will draw on both archaeological (especially inscriptions) and literary materials. We will be attentive to variations in practice and belief from one locale to another and from one level of society to another (imperial elites, civic elites, urban populace, rural populace). Through examining rituals and beliefs in their contexts, students will gain an understanding of ancient worldviews that informed the development of western culture. We will also deal with theoretical problems in defining and describing ancient "religion" in modern terms. In particular, honouring the gods (traditionally labelled "religion") through sacrifice and other means was embedded within what we as moderns distinguish as social, economic, and political spheres of activity.
- James B. Rives, Religion in the Roman Empire. Blackwell Ancient Religions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
- Walter Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
- Coursepack for HUMA 3105 (Canadian Scholars Press, available at the York bookstore)
Evaluation (see assignment descriptions at the end of the syllabus)
- Attendance and participation in discussions 15%
- Essay 1 (historical analysis of primary source), 5 pages, due FALL WEEK 5 15%
- Essay 2 (book review), 6 pages, due WINTER WEEK 5 20%
- Test 1 (in class FALL WEEK 11) 25%
- Test 2 (in class WINTER WEEK 11) 25%
Penalties for lateness: One grade (10%) per day (e.g. B becomes C, if one day late). Assignments are due at the beginning of class in printed, hardcopy form. My aim here is fairness both to you and to your fellow students.
Useful online resources
- Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (Harland):
- Ancient History and Religions links (Harland): http://www.philipharland.com/links.html#ANCIENT_HISTORY_AND_RELIGIONS_(GREEK,_ROMAN,_ANCIENT_NEAR_EASTERN)
- Jon Mikalson, Religion in Hellenistic Athens. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Free online edition at: http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft267nb1f9
Unit 1: Orientation
Week 1 (Sept 15)
Overview of course outline, etc.
Intro: How do we approach the study of religion in an academic context? How do we define ancient "religion"? What problems do scholars have in approaching cultural life in the ancient world?
Week 2 (Sept 22)
The Roman empire: Geographical and cultural overview (photos from Asia Minor)
Key questions: 1) What was entailed in honouring the gods (offerings, sacrifice, meals, prayers, mysteries, festivals, etc.)? What social groupings and contexts were involved? 2) What theoretical issues come to the fore in studying cultural life in the Hellenistic and Roman eras?
- Scholarly sources: Rives, intro and chs. 1-2
Unit 2: Civic, Provincial, and Regional Cults
Week 3 (Sept 29)
Civic cults in a Greek city: Case of Artemis Ephesia at Ephesos
- Primary sources: Acts 19:23-41 (in the Bible); "Holy Days in Honour of Artemis", from G.H.R. Horsley, ed., New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, Vol. 4, no. 19, pp. 74-76; Strabo, Geography, section 14.20-26 (coursepack), also online at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text.jsp?doc=14.1&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0198
- Scholarly sources: Rives, ch. 3; Paul Trebilco, "Artemis of Ephesus," in The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius, pp. 19-30 (course pack).
- Online materials: "Greco-Roman deities: Artemis of Ephesus", parts 1-3 at http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/category/greco-roman-religions/gods-and-goddesses/
Week 4 (Oct 6)
Healing sanctuaries: Case of Asklepios at Pergamon
- Primary sources: Aelius Aristides, Orations 48-49 (= Sacred Tales 2-3), from Charles A. Behr, trans., P. Aelius Aristides: The Complete Works, vol. 2 (Leiden: Brill, 1981), pp. 292-317 (coursepack)
- Scholarly sources: Rives, ch. 4
**Reading week Oct. 9-15 - no classes**
Week 5 (Oct 20)
Divination and oracular sanctuaries: Case of Apollo at Didyma
- Primary sources: Inscriptions nos. 4-28 (under caption "Text" + Question and Response sections) from Didyma: Apollo's Oracle, Cult and Companions (Berkeley: U. California Press, 1988), pp. 177-203; Builders' inscription from Miletos (alphabetical under "Miletos" in the inscriptions appendix at the end of the coursepack)
- Scholarly sources: Sarah Iles Johnson, "The Divine Experience Part Two: Claros, Didyma and Others," Ancient Greek Divination (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2008), pp. 76-108.
- Online readings: Harland, "Consulting the gods about your favourite blanket" at http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2008/11/13/consulting-the-gods-about-your-favourite-blanket/
Week 6 (Oct 27)
At home project: The methods and approaches of archeology
(NOTE: No class meeting this week)
- Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (German Archeological Institute) on excavations at Pergamon: http://www.dainst.org/index_650_en.html
- Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut on excavations at Ephesos: http://www.oeai.at/eng/ausland/geschichte.html
- King's College London, Inscriptions of Aphrodisias project: http://insaph.kcl.ac.uk/iaph2007/index.html
Week 7 (Nov 3)
Honouring the Roman emperors as gods: Imperial cults (provincial, civic, and local)
- Primary sources: Inscriptions translated in Harland article; SEG 4, 490 = OGIS 458 (coursepack); IPergamon 374 from Pergamon and IEph 3801 from Ephesos/Hypaipa (inscriptions appendix at the end of the coursepack)
- Scholarly sources: Rives, ch. 5; Harland, "Imperial Cults within Local Cultural Life: Associations in Roman Asia," Ancient History Bulletin / Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 17 (2003), pp. 85-107; Rives, pp. 148-156.
Week 8 (Nov 10)
Elite (literary) perspectives 1: Dio of Prusa, a Stoic-Cynic philosopher and public speaker
- Primary sources: Dio Chrysostom, Oration 12, especially sections 27-85 (coursepack), also online at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Dio_Chrysostom/Discourses/12*.html
- Scholarly sources: Luke Timothy Johnson, "Religion as Moral Transformation: Epictetus," in Among the Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 64-78. (coursepack); Rives, pp. 21-42 (again)
Week 9 (Nov 17)
Regional and indigenous practices: Cults of Phrygia and Lydia
- Primary sources: "Expiation and the Cult of Men," in G.H.R. Horsley, ed., New Documents illustrating Early Christianity, vol. 3 (Sydney: Macquarie University, 1983), pp. 20-31, especially the inscriptions (coursepack).
- Scholarly sources: Stephen Mitchell, "Pagans, Jews, and Christians from the First to Third Century," in Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 11-31 (sections "I. Pagan Worship" and "II. The Indigenous Cults of Anatolia"); Rives, ch. 5
Week 10 (Nov 24)
Elite perspectives 2: Artemidoros of Daldis, dream-interpreter
- Primary sources: "Examples of Divination by Dreams, from Artemidorus's Oneirocritica," in MacMullen and Lane, ed., Paganism and Christianity 100-425 CE: A Sourcebook (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), pp. 15-18 (coursepack).
- John S. Hanson, "Dreams and Visions in the Graeco-Roman World and Early Christianity," ANRW 23.2 (1980), pp. 1395-1427 (course pack).
Week 11 (Dec 1)
**IN CLASS TEST**
Week 12 (Dec 8)
Unit 3: Case Studies - Mysteries and Associations
Week 1 (Jan 5)
Elite perspectives 3: Lucian of Samosata, an Epicurean-influenced satirical writer
- Primary sources: Lucian, Alexander the false-prophet (coursepack), also online at: http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_alexander.htm
- Scholarly sources: C.P. Jones, "Alexander of Abonuteichos," in Culture and Society of Lucian (1986), pp. 133-148 (coursepack); Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, intro.
Week 2 (Jan 12)
Intro to "the mysteries" within Greco-Roman cults; Social forms associated with the mysteries (discussion of Burkert, ch. 2); World-renowned, "institutional" mysteries: Demeter and Kore at Eleusis and the "Great gods" at Samothrace
- Primary Sources: Homeric Hymn to Demeter, online http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/demeter.shtml; IEph 4337 and IEph 213 from Ephesos (coursepack inscriptions appendix)
- Scholarly sources: Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults, chs. 1-2; Kevin Clinton, "The Mysteries of Demeter and Kore," from A Companion to Greek Religion, edited by Daniel Ogden, pp. 342-356.
Week 3 (Jan 19)
Dionysos-worshippers and their mysteries
- Primary sources: IMagnMai 215 and IMagnMai 117 from Magnesia, IMiletMcCabe 457 from Miletos, ISmyrna 622, 600, 639, and 728 from Smyrna (coursepack inscriptions appendix); The Rule of the Iobacchoi (handout)
- Online readings: Harland, "Paintings of Pompeii 1: Villa of the Mysteries of Dionysos (Villa Item)" online at http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2009/08/06/paintings-of-pompeii-1-villa-of-the-mysteries-of-dionysos-villa-item/
- Scholarly sources: Burkert, Ancient Mystery Cults chs. 3-4; Harland, "Internal Activities and Purposes: Honoring the Gods, Feasting with Friends," in Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 78-83 on associations of Dionysos (you will be reading the entire pp. 55-88 for a subsequent meeting).
Week 4 (Jan 26)
Cults of Isis, Osiris, and other Egyptian deities in the Greco-Roman world
- Primary sources: Apuleius' The Golden Ass, book 11; IG XI/4 1299 regarding the temple of Sarapis at Delos as translated on pp. 206-208 in McLean (coursepack)
- Bradley McLean, "Sarapeion A" and "Sarapeion B," pp. 205-212 in Kloppenborg and Wilson, eds., Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (coursepack).
**Feb 2 class cancelled due to snow storm - new makeup day on Tuesday April 5 (same classroom as usual)**
Week 5 (Feb 9)
Introduction to Associations in the Greco-Roman world
- Primary sources: Inscriptions at the back of the coursepack, especially LSAM 20 from Philadelphia in Asia Minor
- Scholarly sources: Harland, "Internal Activities and Purposes: Honoring the Gods, Feasting with Friends," in Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 55-88 (coursepack).
**BOOK REVIEW DUE IN CLASS**
Week 6 (Feb 16)
Associations within Greco-Roman Society and Culture: Comparative Studies (civic context, imperial context, issues of identity)
- Primary sources: Inscriptions at the back of the coursepack
- Scholarly sources: Harland, “Imperial Cults within Local Cultural Life: Associations in Roman Asia” (coursepack)
**Reading week Feb. 19-25 - no classes**
Week 7 (March 2)
Immigrant Associations: Syrians / Phoenicians and their gods
- Primary sources: IDelos 1520 on the Berytians translated in McLean, "The Place of Cult in Voluntary Associations and Christian Churches on Delos: The Poseidonistai of Berytos," in Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 196-205; Other inscriptions involving Syrian immigrants (coursepack inscriptions appendix).
- Harland, "Other Diasporas: Immigrants, Ethnic Identities, and Acculturation," from Dynamics of Identity in the World of the Early Christians, copyright Philip A. Harland (coursepack); Rives, ch. 6
Week 8 (March 9)
Immigrant Associations and Cultural Minorities: Judeans in the Diaspora
- Josephus, Judean Antiquities 14.185-267, online at: http://pace.mcmaster.ca/ (instructions: click on The Judean Antiquities, choose book 14, choose Niese section 185, then choose translation Whiston, then click right arrow to continue reading and browsing to section 267)
- John M. G. Barclay, "The Province of Asia," from Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora (T&T Clark, 1996), pp. 259-281 (coursepack); Mitchell, "Pagans, Jews, and Christians...", pp. 31-37 (same article as used earlier in the course for indigenous cults) (coursepack)
Week 9 (March 16)