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Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion (Clarendon Paperbacks) Paperback – May 23, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0198147428 ISBN-10: 0198147422

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The most important book on Greek religion to appear in many years....Not only is this book an extraordinarily penetrating study of religious thought and practice, it also presents a most cogent and balanced analysis of Greek social values."--The Classical Outlook


"This excellent study is not for literary students alone: any Hellenist, whatever his chosen field, is likely to find illumination in it."--The Classical World


"A lucid, judicious, and well-documented assessment of the relevant literary and inscriptional evidence, which is characterized by enormous diversity in time, geographical reference, and genre....A significant and permanent contribution, this book warrants and should enjoy a wide readership."--Journal of the History of Medicine


About the Author


Robert Parker is Fellow and Tutor in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at Oriel College, Oxford. Dr. Parker is also the author of Athenian Religion: A History (OUP, 1996).
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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 23, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198147422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198147428
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.9 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,295,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By donovan@newsb.buffalo.edu on September 30, 1997
Format: Paperback
"Miasma" (or me-ahz-MAH' as the ancients would say it, we think) is a subject and a book that will be of most interest to scholars of ancient Greek culture, religion and language, as well as to students of comparative languages and literatures. It is a dense but well-written text by Parker, an important and recognized scholar. Organized conceptually, the book begins with an introduction to related and apparently overlapping terms: miasma, agos, enages, katharsos, hosios, hagnos, and the like. These terms can be examined in terms of how they are thought to relate to birth/death rituals, lustrations, the shedding of blood, purification of holy sites, etc. This would be quite enough but Parker's erudition ups the book's score. He analyzes each concept and situation in terms of the various genres of his sources and in terms of the time periods in which tehy were written. These are the materials from which we have derived our notion of daily life in ancient Greece, and Parker is well-versed in the entire canon of Greek dramas, philosophy, history, cult records, oratory, mythology, and on and on. The author's observations and conclusions are surprising and very valuable not only because of his close and careful of the citations that illuminate his theories, but because the care taken itself reminds us of the danger of making broad assumptions based on a narrow review of primary sources. This is a major text in the field of Greek religion and it's been a long time coming. I wish he'd put forth his own hypotheses at the beginning of each section, which would make note-taking a lot easier, but it would deprive the reader of the carefully-reasoned arguments that lead him -- and us -- to his conclusions. Kudos.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S W on May 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this book. If you want to get inside the head of an ancient Greek, to understand what miasma was all about, then read this book. It has been beneficial to me in my practice of Hellnismos as well. It goes into detail about *why* washing your hands in the lustral water is important, etc. This notion now has a more central influence on the way I practice my own religion.
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