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5999Re: [ANE-2] Greek Mystery Religions

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  • Michael F. Lane
    Sep 4, 2007
      Dear Daniel,

      Might Paganism and Christianity, 100-425 C.E.: A Sourcebook, edited by Ramsay
      MacMullen and Eugene N. Lane (my late father, in the interest of "full
      disclosure"), Fortress Press, Minneapolis (1992), be of use?

      It contains quotations from various sources on Isis, Mithras, Sabazios
      (et al.),
      as well as on "entrance fees," etc.

      All best,

      Michael Lane

      Quoting Daniel Grolin <dgrolin@...>:

      >
      >
      > Dear Stephanie,
      >
      > Thank you for your quick and thoughtful reply.
      >
      >> 2) use "mystery" as a badge of power. To have it sets you aside
      > from
      >> the rabble. To reveal it cheapens it.
      >
      > Interesting. I am not sure entry criteria contradicts what I am
      > suggesting above. I suspect that paying for the rites did, if not
      > formally, at least in practice exclude people. You were not allowed,
      > if I understand correctly, the mysteries to those initiated because
      > it cheapened it.
      >
      > Aside from that, traditional polis-based religions were even less
      > exclusive, were they not?
      >
      >> 3) are upper class phenomenons. Which is why the badge provokes
      >> little social tension (i.e. those that have power, manifest it).
      >
      > And Pakkanen says something similar about the Isis cult. I buy that
      > recruitment was open to all classes. I am still trying to figure out
      > how it works as a social phenomenon within Hellenistic society.
      > Somehow, I don't see a hierarchical society standing still for
      > religions that try to recast into, one where all are equal despite
      > class. I am wondering if the expenses of progressing within the
      > Eleusinian mysteries didn't mean that one's level within it reflected
      > the status or class one had outside. (If you look at p. 78, footnote 4
      > it mentions that despite being open to both sexes women did not reach
      > the highest positions.)
      >
      > Another thing that makes me somewhat sceptical is that it is my
      > strong impression that there was no real middle class to speak of in
      > the ancient world (at least not as we have it in the West today). The
      > gap between the top and the bottom was far.
      >
      > I am wondering whether such movements as Free Masons are comparable
      > contemporary versions of Mystery Religions. Was the lack of social
      > tension due to secrecy?
      >
      > Hopefully, these things will become clearer to me when I get to read
      > some more social/phenomenologically oriented material.
      >
      >> 4) are not all that concerned with the popular version (Greek or
      >> foreign) of the religion that their adapting.
      >
      > That was not what I meant. What I meant was that they become detached
      > entities with respect to their "originators". Someone who had
      > practiced the traditional worship of Demeter would not be considered
      > a member of the mystery religion, and the fortunes of traditional
      > temples were not the concern of practitioners of the Mystery
      > Religion. This is my impression, anyway.
      >
      >>
      >> I was trying to locate books that would approach Mystery Religions
      >> from this sort of perspective (sociological/ phenomenological )
      > and,
      >> if warranted, support the above conclusions. I started reading S.
      >> Angus' "The Mystery-Religions" which sounded promising at first.
      > It,
      >> however, reads like an Orientalist approach, harping on and on
      >> about the greatness of the Greek, human rights for all, racial
      >> equality, etc.. I will finish reading it, but I am on the lookout
      >> for something that will actually deliver the above and wasn't
      >> written before 1st WW.
      >
      > I have the two first on order. I will just have to see if they
      > deliver.
      >
      >>
      >> I have come across a dissertation by Petra Pakkanen, "Interpreting
      >> Early Hellenistic Religion: A study based on the cult of Isis and
      >> the Mystery Cult of Demeter", which looks very interesting.
      >
      > I have put aside Angus to read Pakkanen all the same.
      >
      > Regards.
      >
      > Daniel Grolin
      >
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