Lady E. S. Drower's Scholarly Correspondence

An Intrepid English Autodidact in Iraq

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Jorunn Buckley

An edition of the scholarly letters of the English Lady E. S. Drower, famous for her novels, travel accounts, and studies in the Middle East, especially on the Mandaeans. Drower (1879‐1972) kept up a lively correspondence with scholars, and the letters here span the years 1938 to the mid 1960s. It presents a window on Near Eastern studies in the mid 20th century, from the viewpoint of an autodidact insisting on, and succeeding in, a place among the academics.. Correspondence with many famous scholars and intellectuals are included, such as Cyrus H. Gordon, Rudolf Macuch, Sidney H. Smith, Godfrey R. Driver, Samuel H. Hooke, and Franz Rosenthal. The letters focus on four of Lady Drower's main books: The Book of the Zodiac (1949), Water into Wine (1956), A Mandaic Dictionary (with Rudolf Macuch, 1963), and Drowers hoped for, crowning achievement: the presumably lost, large manuscript, Mass and Masiqta.

Coping With the Gods

Wayward Readings in Greek Theology

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Henk Versnel

Inspired by a critical reconsideration of current monolithic approaches to the study of Greek religion, this book argues that ancient Greeks displayed a disquieting capacity to validate two (or more) dissonant, if not contradictory, representations of the divine world in a complementary rather than mutually exclusive manner. From this perspective the six chapters explore problems inherent in: order vs. variety/chaos in polytheism, arbitrariness vs. justice in theodicy, the peaceful co-existence of mono- and polytheistic theologies, human traits in divine imagery, divine omnipotence vs. limitation of power, and ruler cult. Based on an intimate knowledge of ancient realia and literary testimonia the book stands out for its extensive application of relevant perceptions drawn from cultural anthropology, theology, cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics.

Isis on the Nile. Egyptian Gods in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt

Proceedings of the IVth International Conference of Isis Studies, Liège, November 27-29 2008 

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Edited by Laurent Bricault and Miguel John Versluys

The diffusion of the cults of Isis is recently again intensively studied. Research on this fascinating phenomenon has traditionally been characterised by its focus on L'Égypte hors d'Égypte, while developments in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt itself were often seen as belonging to a different domain. This volume tries to overcome that unhealthy dichotomy by studying the cults of Isis in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt itself in relation to developments in the Mediterranean at large. The book not only presents an overview of the most important deities, often based on new or unpublished material, but also pays ample attention to the cultural processes behind Isis on Nile, like relations between style and identity, religious choice, social- and cultural memory and Egypt’s view of its own past.

Magical Practice in the Latin West

Papers from the International Conference held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept. – 1st Oct. 2005

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Francisco Marco Simón and Richard Gordon

How different was the practice of magic in the Latin West from that of the eastern Mediterranean basin? Was it just derivative from Greek practice, or did it have its own originality? The recent discovery of important new curse-tablets in Mainz and in the Fountain of Anna Perenna at Rome has made the question newly topical. This volume contains the first commented editions in English of most of these new texts as well as major surveys of new prayers for justice. Other sections are devoted to the discourse of magic in the West, to the linguistics and aims of cursing, and to the major field of protective and eudaemonic magic up to and including the Visigothic slates and the Celtic loricae. The essays are by well-known scholars in the field as well as by established and younger Spanish scholars.

Language and Ritual in Sabellic Italy

The Ritual Complex of the Third and the Fourth Tabulae Iguvinae

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Michael Weiss

The Iguvine Tables ( Tabulae Iguvinae) are among the most invaluable documents of Italic linguistics and religion. Seven bronze tablets discovered in 1444 in the Umbrian town of Gubbio (ancient Iguvium), they record the rites and sacral laws of a priestly brotherhood, the Fratres Atiedii, with a degree of detail unparalleled elsewhere in ancient Italy. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that combines philological and linguistic, as well as ritual analysis, Michael Weiss not only addresses the many interpretive cruces that have puzzled scholars for a century and a half, but also constructs a coherent theory of the entire ritual performance described on Tables III and IV. In addition, Weiss sheds light on many questions of Roman ritual practice and places the Iguvine Tables in their broader Italic and Indo-European contexts.

Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire

Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5-7, 2007)

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Edited by O. Hekster, Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner and Christian Witschel

This volume presents the proceedings of the eighth workshop of the international network 'Impact of Empire', which concentrates on the history of the Roman Empire and brings together ancient historians, archaeologists, classicists and specialists in Roman law from some thirty European and North American universities. The eighth volume focuses on the impact of the Roman Empire on religious behaviour, with a special focus on the dynamics of ritual. The volume is divided into three sections: ritualising the empire, performing civic community in the empire and performing religion in the empire.

Roman Gods

A Conceptual Approach

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Michael Lipka

The book is concerned with the question of how the concept of "god" in urban Rome can be analyzed along the lines of six constituent concepts, i.e. space, time, personnel, function, iconography and ritual. While older publications tended to focus on the conceptual nature of Roman gods only in those (comparatively rare) instances in which different concepts patently overlapped (as in the case of the deified emperor or hero-worship), this book develops general criteria for an analysis of pagan, Jewish and Christian concepts of gods in ancient Rome (and by extension elsewhere). While the argument of the book is exclusively based on the evidence from the capital up to the age of Constantine, in the concluding section the results are compared to other religious belief systems, thus demonstrating the general applicability of this conceptual approach.

Ovid in Exile

Power and Poetic Redress in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto

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Matthew McGowan

In response to being exiled to the Black Sea by the Roman emperor Augustus in 8 AD, Ovid began to compose the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto and to create for himself a place of intellectual refuge. From there he was able to reflect out loud on how and why his own art had been legally banned and left for dead on the margins of the empire. As the last of the Augustan poets, Ovid was in a unique position to take stock of his own standing and of the place of poetry itself in a culture deeply restructured during the lengthy rule of Rome's first emperor. This study considers exile in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto as a place of genuine suffering and a metaphor for poetry's marginalization from the imperial city. It analyzes, in particular, Ovid's representation of himself and the emperor Augustus against the background of Roman religion, law, and poetry.

Romanising Oriental Gods

Myth, Salvation and Ethics in the Cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras

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Jaime Alvar

The traditional grand narrative correlating the decline of Graeco-Roman religion with the rise of Christianity has been under pressure for three decades. This book argues that the alternative accounts now emerging significantly underestimate the role of three major cults, of Cybele and Attis, Isis and Serapis, and Mithras. Although their differences are plain, these cults present sufficient common features to justify their being taken typologically as a group. All were selective adaptations of much older cults of the Fertile Crescent. It was their relative sophistication, their combination of the imaginative power of unfamiliar myth with distinctive ritual performance and ethical seriousness, that enabled them both to focus and to articulate a sense of the autonomy of religion from the socio-political order, a sense they shared with Early Christianity. The notion of 'mystery' was central to their ability to navigate the Weberian shift from ritualist to ethical salvation.

The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East

In the Hellenistic and Roman Periods

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Ted Kaizer

A ‘Near Eastern religion’, along the lines of ‘Greek religion’ or ‘Roman religion’, is hard to distinguish for the Classical period, since the religious cultures of the many cities, villages and regions that constituted the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman periods were, despite some obvious similarities, above all very different from each other. This collection of articles by scholars from different disciplines (Ancient History, Archaeology, Art-History, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Oriental Studies, Theology) contributes to our quest for understanding the polytheistic cults of the Near East as a whole by bringing out the variety between the different local and regional forms of worship in this part of the world.