Greek Priests from Homer to Julian

Greek Priests from Homer to Julian Conference

Greek Priests from Homer to Julian

Organized by Professor Beate Dignas, the University of Michigan
and Professor Kai Trampedach, the University of Konstanz
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From the conference program:

The intent of the symposium is to bring together scholars of Greek history and religion in order to present their work and discuss the social and political role of Greek priests and priestesses from Homeric times to late antiquity. Our initial and unassuming ‘definition’ of ‘priests’ merely asserts that the term includes cult personnel in the widest sense and that it relates to religious specialists such as seers. We emphasize “Greek priest” and do not want to compare the role of priests and priesthood in different cultures (as did, e. g., Beard/ North, Pagan Priests, 1990), but want to include “Greek” priests in any area of the ancient world. We want the conference to have such a wide temporal and spatial scope in order to gain a more founded general understanding of Greek priests and their place or places in various contexts and periods of Greek history. This means that we look at daily ritual practice as well as the administration of sanctuaries in a wider sense, at profiles of priests that differ immensely, at the evolution of Greek priesthoods in non-Greek areas, at non-Greek priests in a Greek context, at priests and priestesses, as well as at priests in ‘theory’ and priests in ‘practice’. Within this broad frame participants pose corresponding questions in papers and discussions so that all papers and sections form part of one study.

The overall idea is to explore the factors that shaped or even determined the role of priests and priesthoods: time or space, gender roles, specialization and knowledge, constitutional premises or political autonomy, philosophical ideas or ritual tradition. Such criteria might be found among the following terms:

  •     power and prestige
  •     descent and wealth
  •     knowledge and expertise
  •     personal integrity and ethical ideals

A comparison of these criteria for different periods and places will be the link and challenge for the whole symposium. Participants draw on and reflect about the character of different forms of evidence; juxtaposing and contrasting the profiles of priests established through a particular medium promises to be a crucial aspect of the project. Papers that focus on (the role of) material evidence and place the observation in the overall discussion form a valuable part of the symposium as much as papers that draw mainly on textual evidence.