Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion, Volume 2: Transition and Reversal in Myth and Ritual


Author: Henk Versnel
This is the second of a two-volume collection of studies on inconsistencies in Greek and Roman religion. Their common aim is to argue for the historical relevance of various types of ambiguity and dissonance. While the first volume focused on the central paradoxes in ancient henotheism, the present one discusses the ambiguities in myth and ritual of transition and reversal.
After an introduction to the history of the myth and ritual debate (with a focus on New Year festivals and initiation) in the first chapter, the second and third chapters discuss myth and ritual of reversal—Kronos and the Kronia, and Saturnus and the Saturnalia respectively; the fourth treats two women's festivals—that of Bona Dea and the Thesmophoria; the fifth investigates the initiatory aspects of Apollo and Mars. In the background is the basic conviction that the three approaches to religion known as 'substantivistic', functionalist and cultural-symbolic respectively, need not be mutually exclusive.

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H.S. Versnel is Professor of Ancient History at Leiden University. His main interests are in Greek and Roman Religion. Publications include: Isis, Dionysos, Hermes: Three Studies in Henotheism Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion I, (1990). He is the editor of the Brill series Studies in Greek and Roman religion, which is brought to completion by the publication of this book, and is co-editor of the new series Religions in the Graeco-Roman world.
' Versnel identifies a coherent set of problems and applies a sober mind to solve them.'
Donald Lateiner, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 1993.
' Much can be learned from a scholar who advocates and demonstrates the practice of a healthy "eclectic" methodology.'
Internationale Zietschriftenschau für Bibelwissenschaft und Grenzgebiete, 1992/93.
' Il est un exemple type de la meilleure recherche actuelle, faisant un excellent feu de tout bois utilisable, ancien et moderne: passer à travers ce livre équivaut à être "initié" par un spécialiste des religions grecque et romaine, ce qui n'en est pas moins "fécond".
P. Bonnechere, Les Etudes Classiques, 1995.
students and scholars of classical studies, religious studies and anthropology.