Item description for Religion and the Greeks (Classical World) by R. Garland & Robert Garland...
No area of Greek life was wholly untouched by religion, and a basic knowledge of this aspect of life is essential to anyone seeking a proper understanding of the classical world. In this engaging survey Robert Garland brings out the unique quality of Greek religion - its practical and worldly approach to man's relationship with the divine - and shows how religious ritual was integral to the daily routine of both public and private life.
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More About R. Garland & Robert Garland
Robert Garland is Professor of Classics at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York.
R. Garland has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Religion and the Greeks (Classical World)?
Greek religious life May 18, 2008
I wasn't expecting much at all when I finally got my hands on this tiny tome, but boy was I surprised! The 100 pages of text, including quite a few illustrations and photos, are chockfull of information on the religious life of the Ancient (and to some extent, the Hellenistic) Greeks. The book is divided into 20 chapters, so if my brain is still working correctly, that should mean about 5 page per chapter.
Garland begins the book by listing up what Greek religion wasn't, as opposed to for example the Semitic Religions. The main interesting point here, to me, is the fact that "There was no concept of conversion". So, like Judaism, the Greek religion was an ethnic religion, which means that "conversion" would be meaningless if one lacked the genes of the ethnic group. Another thing is that the Greeks, like most early Indo-European religions, lacked a central "church" that would implement dogma and work out the theology, something that would cost them dearly when the slave religion of the Christians rose up a few centuries later.
To my joy, Garland also stresses the Olympian aspect of the Greek religion a lot. He explains how they fought the Chthonian and Dionysian religions, but eventually was forced to take up some of these aspects into the religion to placate the lesser castes. The rest of the book covers all sides of religious life; the Gods, Divine Intervention, Ethics, War, Sacred Places, The Dead, The Afterlife, Purity and so on.
Greek religion, unlike most of today's "religious life", was quite conservative, as Garland writes on p. 26; "For they recognized that piety consists not in paying out large sums of money but in preserving unchanged the rites which their ancestors had handed down to them".
I really cannot explain how good this book is, if you have even the slightest interest in Indo-European and/or Greek Religion, you will love it. 5 stars.