Initiation in Ancient Greek Rituals and Narratives: New Critical Perspectives
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Scholars of classical history and literature have for more than a century accepted `initiation' as a tool for understanding a variety of obscure rituals and myths, ranging from the ancient Greek wedding and adolescent haircutting rituals to initiatory motifs or structures in Greek myth, comedy and tragedy.
In this books an international group of experts including Gloria Ferrari, Fritz Graf and Bruce Lincoln, critique many of these past studies, and challenge strongly the tradition of privileging the concept of initiation as a tool for studying social performances and literary texts, in which changes in status or group membership occur in unusual ways. These new modes of research mark an important turning point in the modern study of the religion and myths of ancient Greece and Rome, making this a valuable collection across a number of classical subjects.
epigram by Ion.27 In Pindar's Nemean 10, the Dioscuri, who share one life by spending each alternate day on earth and the other in Hades, are said to be in the caves of Therapne, en gualois, deep under the earth.28 In Euripides' Andromache 1092^5, the underground caverns at Delphi are both caverns and treasury, they are caverns filled with gold: ``See that man 30 RITE OF PASSAGE OF ANCIENT GREEK WEDDING who moves along the god's caverns (guala) filled with gold, treasure-houses (thesaurous) of
of this service is to prepare the 67 CHRISTOPHER A. FARAONE 68 69 70 71 72 73 young woman for marriage'' (with my emphases). The sources, however, say only that they must ``play the bear'' before marriage, with the implied threat that they or perhaps the whole city will perish if the rite is ignored; we have no information on what effect the ceremony has on the woman herself or how it prepares her for marriage. Burkert (1985) 151, I think, comes closer to the truth, when he suggests that
ephebes at the frontiers were, as far as the evidence tells us, not antithetical to the norms of civilized community. We have also seen that the Athenian imaginary does not indiscriminately associate wilderness or antisocial behavior with frontiers, but rather with mountains. It seems to me that we have to conclude that the topographical position of the Athenian ephebes on the frontiers does not impart to them the characteristics of liminality. This does not mean, however, that the ephebes were
class. The ``age cohort'' in question is therefore restricted to the sons of citizen men, and many maturation rites are in fact performed by representatives of this class only. Finally, some scholars acknowledge that in many cities there is no single rite that is ``necessary and sufficient'' for admission to citizenship. In Athens, for example, induction into a phratry, induction into a deme, and swearing the oath of citizenship took place on three separate occasions over a period of two years.
agoª geª . They are a declaration of the act of heterosexual initiation, as it were. Such an interpretation is compatible with the epithet of Aphrodite Skotia (``the dark one'') who has been connected on other grounds with the initiation of young men on Crete.69 `Dark Aphrodite' may be interpreted as the goddess who operates at night. Furthermore, the role of Aphrodite as a patroness of the ephebe Theseus becomes comprehensible if the goddess is an initiatrix.70 Conversely, Hippolytus is a failed