Ancient Mystery Cults

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Overview


The foremost historian of Greek religion provides the first comprehensive, comparative study of a little-known aspect of ancient religious beliefs and practices. Secret mystery cults flourished within the larger culture of the public religion of Greece and Rome for roughly a thousand years. This book is neither a history nor a survey but a comparative phenomenology. Concentrating on five major cults. In defining the mysteries and describing their rituals, membership, organization, and dissemination, Walter Burkert displays the remarkable erudition we have come to expect of him; he also shows sensitivity and sympathy in interpreting the experiences and motivations of the devotees.
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Editorial Reviews

Wilson Library Bulletin

Fascinating...The writing is clear and engaging...[Readers will] learn much about how ancient human beings attempted to find security and joy in a difficult world. They will be able to enter, at least partially, into very different minds and glimpse experiences of ecstasy and wonder that took place many centuries ago.
— Judith Amory

The Key Reporter
Widely recognized as our best scholar of ancient Greek religion...Burkert deals with the evidence directly, clearing away misconceptions and discussing problems of interpretation...Extremely valuable.
American Historical Review

Walter Burkert's publication of his 1982 Jackson Lectures at Harvard University is another of his important contributions to our understanding of the religions of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern cultures. Everything from his pen is welcome and an education...His knowledge of the sources is encyclopedic, his judgment in combining them original, illuminating, and persuasive...This study is bound to become a standard text in the history of religion and in the interpretation of individual experiences in antiquity...This slender but packed volume is another powerful document in intellectual history.
— Emily Vermeule

Classical World
The standard book on the subject , encyclopedic in nature, well structured, and readable, all that the interested student and scholar wants to know about ancient Greek polytheism.
Wilson Library Bulletin - Judith Amory
Fascinating...The writing is clear and engaging...[Readers will] learn much about how ancient human beings attempted to find security and joy in a difficult world. They will be able to enter, at least partially, into very different minds and glimpse experiences of ecstasy and wonder that took place many centuries ago.
American Historical Review - Emily Vermeule
Walter Burkert's publication of his 1982 Jackson Lectures at Harvard University is another of his important contributions to our understanding of the religions of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern cultures. Everything from his pen is welcome and an education...His knowledge of the sources is encyclopedic, his judgment in combining them original, illuminating, and persuasive...This study is bound to become a standard text in the history of religion and in the interpretation of individual experiences in antiquity...This slender but packed volume is another powerful document in intellectual history.
Key Reporter
Widely recognized as our best scholar of ancient Greek religion...Burkert deals with the evidence directly, clearing away misconceptions and discussing problems of interpretation...Extremely valuable.
Emily Vermeule
Walter Burkert's publication of his 1982 Jackson Lectures at Harvard University is another of his important contributions to our understanding of the religions of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern cultures. Everything from his pen is welcome and an education...His knowledge of the sources is encyclopedic, his judgment in combining them original, illuminating, and persuasive...This study is bound to become a standard text in the history of religion and in the interpretation of individual experiences in antiquity...This slender but packed volume is another powerful document in intellectual history.
American Historical Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674033870
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 8/2/2008
  • Series: Carl Newell Jackson Lectures Series , #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 963,021
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Burkert is Professor Emeritus of Classics, University of Zurich.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Personal Needs in This Life and after Death

2. Organization and Identities

3. Theologia and Mysteries: Myth, Allegory, and Platonism

4. The Extraordinary Experience

Abbreviations

Bibliography

Notes

Index of Greek Terms

General Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2002

    Classical Studies

    Burkert has successfully comprised a text that is intellectually demanding, and is directed towards people who are serious about the acquisition and learning process of ancient cults and the mystery and secrets behind them. I felt this particular text was a somewhat difficult read, but was well worth the time spent in reading it. I would highly recommend this text to anyone, especially those individuals interested in classical mythology and history.

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