At the outset of the Republic, Polemarchus advances the bold thesis that “justice is the art which gives benefit to friends and injury to enemies”. He quickly rejects the hypothesis, and what follows is a long tradition of neglecting the ethics of enmity. The parallel issue of how friendship (and other positive relationships) affects the moral sphere has, by contrast, been greatly illuminated by discussions both ancient and contemporary. This article connects this existing work to the less explored topic of the normative significance of our negative relationships. I explain how negative partiality should be conceptualized through reference to the positive analogue, and argue that at least some forms of negative partiality are justified. I further explore the connection between positive and negative relationships by showing how both are justified by ongoing histories of encounter (though of different kinds). However, I also argue that these relationships are in some important ways asymmetrical (i.e. friendship is not the mirror image of enmity).
This article discusses the challenges facing scholars exploring the nature of belief in ancient Greek religion. While recent scholarship has raised questions about individual religious activities, and work on ritual, the body, and the senses has broadened our methodological palette, the nature and dynamics of generally held “low intensity” beliefs still tend to be described simply as “unquestioned” or “embedded” in society. But examining scholarship on divine personifications suggests that ancient beliefs were — and our perceptions of them are — more complex. This article first explores the example of Tyche (“Chance”), in order to highlight some of the problems that surround the use of the term “belief.” It then turns to the theories of “ideology” of Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller and argues that these can offer provocative insights into the nature and dynamics of ritual and belief in ancient Greek culture.
Religious Prejudice and Bacchantic Worship in Greek Literature
Ancient Greek descriptions of ecstatic and mystic rituals, here broadly labeled as Bacchantic worship, regularly include elements of moral corruption and dissolution of social unity. Suspicions were mostly directed against unofficial cult groups that exploited Dionysiac experiences in secluded settings. As the introduction of copious new cults attests, Greek religion was receptive to external influences. This basic openness, however, was not synonymous with tolerance, and pious respect for all deities did not automatically include their worshippers. This article reconsiders the current view of ancient religious intolerance by regarding these negative stereotypes as expressions of prejudice and by investigating the social dynamics behind them. Prejudices against private Bacchantic groups are regarded as part of the process of buttressing the religious authority of certain elite quarters in situations where they perceive that their position is being threatened by rival claims. It is suggested that both the accentuation and alleviation of prejudice is best understood in relation to the relative stability of the elite and the religious control it exerted.