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Ancient Greek Religion (Blackwell Ancient Religions) Paperback – August 2, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0631232230 ISBN-10: 0631232230 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Blackwell Ancient Religions
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (August 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631232230
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631232230
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A brilliant general synthesis covering the Greek world over the period of 'classical' Athens ... [Mikalson's] book is a model of how it should be done." BBC History Magazine<!--end-->

"This book will fill an obvious gap and I shall make it my first recommendation to students looking to start out in the field." Emily Kearns, St Hilda’s College, Oxford

"A first introduction to ancient Greek religion, which encompasses hudreds of deities of several different types, and varied widely over nearly two thousand years and thousands of large and small Greek city-states." Reference and Research Book News

"Clearly written and organised, it will be appreciated by students." Antiquity

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

"It is well written, very accurate, and communicative."
Australian Religion Studies Review

Book Description

Ancient Greek Religion provides an introduction to the fundamental beliefs and practices, and the major deities of Greek religion. While the focus is on Athens in the classical period, the book includes detailed discussion of Greek gods and heroes, myth and cult from the archaic age to the Hellenistic world.The book clearly sets out the fascinating but alien concepts of Greek polytheism, building up a picture of Greek religion as it was actually practiced. It emphasizes the experience of worshippers, considering Greek religious practice from a variety of perspectives from that of the slave and members of the family, to that of priests and public officials. It examines views of the gods and the afterlife, the relationship between cult and myth, thenature of piety and impiety and the wider social and political context in which religion functioned.Throughout the book, vivid descriptions of actual sanctuaries and practices, the inclusion of ancient texts in translation, and the use of abundant illustrations, recreate the rich and varied religious life of ancient Greece.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joao Miguel Oliveira on August 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ancient Greek Religion by Jon D. Mikalson is the best book I have found for people just beginning their journey in Greek Religion studies. Its language is very simple and conveys subjects in a very interesting way, you'll want to read what comes next, which is something that many books on Greek Religion seem to miss.
It covers sanctuaries and their primary components, come cults and a few myths as well as religious practices (ideas and interpretations are left aside) at both state, family and individual levels.
It focus primarily in Athens, except for the cult of Dionysus at Thebes, Apollo at Delphi and Zeus at Olympia, and sometimes the author doesn't make it clear that he is referring to Athens, which may give people just beginning the wrong idea (for instance, in the family chapter he doesn't say that he is describing Athenian families and their practices and that, for example, at Sparta both family organization and practice was quite different).
This is however a minor problem for an introductory book, which obviously focus on what is most widely known and discussed.
It is also interesting that it has a chapter on religion in the Hellenistic period, something lacking from most books. However it fails to provide information on the Archaic, Dark and Bronze Age, which means it gives no clue to origin.
However, since this is an introductory book, with a simple and understandable language, good structuring and, in my opinion, a good though not perfect selection of subjects, I think you should start by this. And if you are not starting, it still is an interesting reading and helps us getting back to the basics and organize information a lot better. Good for both scholars, people interested in the subject and modern practitioners of Hellenismos. Five stars!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vincent D. Pisano on January 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jon D. Mikalson's Ancient Greek Religion is an adequate introduction to the subject, but would perhaps be more accurately titled Classical Greek Religion, as this period is the main focus of the book, with a brief look at Hellenistic religion at the end. Also, for those looking primarily for religious practices outside of Athens, it is best to look elsewhere, as this Greek city-state is the central model for this work. Mikalson is easy to read and understand as he speaks specifically to an audience unfamiliar with the concepts dealt with. His organization is well-plotted and covers the basics of the sanctuary, the functional quality of polytheism, the mystery cults, and how religion was played out in the spheres of the city-state, the family/village and the individual. However, though the book covers nearly all important aspects clearly, it does not do so in depth, but it will whet the reader's appetite and prepare for further study.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stacey on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
All around it is a good text. It is a good covering of the subject, even for non-Classists.It covers the general layout of temples, aspects of cult as well as some in depth looks at particular deities, rituals and places. It reads well and isn't too dense for people with only a casual interest.
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