This article needs additional citations for verification . (April 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Born||February 2, 1931|
|Died||March 11, 2015 84) (aged|
|Awards|| Balzan Prize (1990) |
Sigmund Freud Prize (2003)
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2008)
|Alma mater|| Erlangen University |
|Sub-discipline||Ancient Greek Religion|
|Institutions|| TU Berlin |
|Notable works||Homo Necans (1972)|
Walter Burkert (German: [ˈbʊɐ̯kɐt] ; born 2 February 1931, Neuendettelsau; died 11 March 2015, Zurich) was a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.
Neuendettelsau is a local authority in Middle Franconia, Germany. Neuendettelsau is situated 20 miles southwest of Nuremberg and 12 miles east of Ansbach. Since 1947 it has a Lutheran seminary.
Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
A professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he taught in the UK and the US. He has influenced generations of students of religion since the 1960s, combining in the modern way the findings of archaeology and epigraphy with the work of poets, historians, and philosophers.
The University of Zurich, located in the city of Zürich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy.
Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions, or epigraphs, as writing; it is the science of identifying graphemes, clarifying their meanings, classifying their uses according to dates and cultural contexts, and drawing conclusions about the writing and the writers. Specifically excluded from epigraphy are the historical significance of an epigraph as a document and the artistic value of a literary composition.
He published books on the balance between lore and science among the followers of Pythagoras, and more extensively on ritual and archaic cult survival, on the ritual killing at the heart of religion, on mystery religions, and on the reception in the Hellenic world of Near Eastern and Persian culture, which sets Greek religion in its wider Aegean and Near Eastern context.
Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a gem-engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.
Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.
The Near East is a Eurocentric geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt. Despite having varying definitions within different academic circles, the term was originally applied to the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire. The term has fallen into disuse in American English and has been replaced by the terms Middle East, which includes Egypt, and Western Asia, which includes Transcaucasia.
Burkert married Maria Bosch in 1957 and has three children, Reinhard, Andrea and Cornelius. He studied classical philology, history, and philosophy at the Universities of Erlangen and Munich (1950–1954), and obtained his doctorate in philosophy at Erlangen in 1955. He became an Assistant in course teaching at Erlangen for five years (1957–1961) and, following his marriage, returned to his former University as Lecturer for another five years (until 1966). From early 1965 he worked as a Junior Fellow in the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. for one year. The first academic era of his life ended with a placement as Professor of Classical Philology at the Technical University of Berlin (1966–1969), and as Guest Professor at Harvard University for a year (1968).
Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics. Philology is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. A person who pursues this kind of study is known as a philologist.
Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg is a public research university in the cities of Erlangen and Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany. The name Friedrich–Alexander comes from the university's first founder Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, and its benefactor Christian Frederick Charles Alexander, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach.
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich is a public research university located in Munich, Germany.
The start of a new era began in 1981 when his work of ancient Greek religious anthropology, Homo Necans (1972), was published in an Italian translation, followed in 1983 by an English translation. The book is today considered an outstanding account of concepts in Greek religion.[ citation needed ] He was Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Zurich (1969–1996); Visiting Professor of Classical Literature at the University of California for two years (1977 and 1988); Lecturer at Harvard in 1982; Dean of the Philosophical Faculty I at Zurich (1986–1988); and presented the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews in Scotland (1989). After holding these posts and receiving numerous honorary awards (including Balzan Prize in 1990, for Study of the Ancient World), he retired as an Emeritus in 1996.
Homo Necans: the Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth is a 1972 book on ancient Greek religion and mythology by Walter Burkert. It won the Weaver Award for Scholarly Literature, awarded by the Ingersoll Foundation, in 1992.
The University of California (UC) is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-system public higher education plan, which also includes the California State University system and the California Community Colleges System.
Three of his most important academic works (a selection from seventeen books and two hundred essays, including encyclopedia contributions and memorabilia), which are still at the base of the study of Hellenic religion, are Homo Necans (1972, English 1983), Greek Religion (1977, English 1985), and Ancient Mystery Cults (1982 lectures, published 1987).
In his preface to the English translation of Homo Necans Burkert, who characterised himself on this occasion as "a philologist who starts from ancient Greek texts and attempts to find biological, psychological and sociological explanations for religious phenomena",expressed some of the principles underlying a book that had seemed somewhat revolutionary to German readers in 1972 in its consistent application of inter-relationships of myth and ritual, the application to texts of the kind of functionalism espoused in Jane Ellen Harrison's Themis and the use of structuralism to elucidate an ethology of Greek religion, its social aspect. Burkert confirmed that an impetus for his book had come from Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression , "which seemed to offer new insight into the disquieting manifestations of violence." The book argues that solidarity was achieved among the Greeks through a sacred crime with due reparations: "for the strange prominence of animal slaughter in ancient religion this still seems to be the most economical, and most humane explanation" (p. xv). Its first chapter "Sacrifice as an Act of Killing" offers conclusions that are supported in the ensuing chapters through individual inquiries into myth, festival and ritual, in which the role of poetic creation and re-creation are set aside "in order to confront the power and effect of tradition as fully as possible". The term gods, Burkert concludes, remains fluid, whereas sacrifice is a fact (p. xv).
Jane Ellen Harrison was a British classical scholar and linguist. Harrison is one of the founders, with Karl Kerenyi and Walter Burkert, of modern studies in Ancient Greek religion and mythology. She applied 19th century archaeological discoveries to the interpretation of ancient Greek religion in ways that have become standard. She has also been credited with being the first woman to obtain a post in England as a ‘career academic’. Harrison argued for women's suffrage but thought she would never want to vote herself. Ellen Wordsworth Crofts, later second wife of Sir Francis Darwin, was Jane Harrison's best friend from her student days at Newnham, and during the period from 1898 to her death in 1903.
Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait. Behaviourism as a term also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually referring to measured responses to stimuli or to trained behavioural responses in a laboratory context, without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity. Throughout history, different naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles O. Whitman, Oskar Heinroth (1871-1945), and Wallace Craig. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907-1988) and of Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch (1886-1982), the three recipients of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Ethology combines laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to some other disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Ethologists typically show interest in a behavioural process rather than in a particular animal group, and often study one type of behaviour, such as aggression, in a number of unrelated species.
Konrad Zacharias Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch. He is often regarded as one of the founders of modern ethology, the study of animal behaviour. He developed an approach that began with an earlier generation, including his teacher Oskar Heinroth.
In 1985, Burkert used ancient sources (both literary and visual representations) to put together some of the pieces of how ancient Greek sacrificial ritual actually proceeded, and to link together the ritual with myth. Firstly, under the direction of the priest, priestess, father, mother (at least, in certain women's rites like Thesmophoria), or king, a basket containing the utensils and a bowl of water were placed around the altar. The participants then dipped their hands into the consecrated water, and sprinkled it on the altar, victim and offerer. Salted-barley corns from the basket were thrown on the animal’s head and into the altar fire. A lock of hair from the animal is then cut and burned, libation being poured on the altar with prayer. After silence is proclaimed, the music of flutes begins and the animal is slain. The larger animals were killed with a sacrificial axe. The head is turned toward the heavens, and the throat cut. The blood then spreads on the altar and is caught in a vessel. In early literary sources such as the Homeric epics the Iliad and Odyssey , onlooking women raise a cry of worship ( ololugma ) at this point in the ritual .
After the animal is skinned and cut into pieces, the inner parts are tasted and shared, and a part burned on the altar with incense. The remainder is roasted and eaten by all participants present. If the entrails are of normal shape and color, it is an omen that the sacrifice is acceptable to the gods. In both the Iliad and Odyssey, as well as other early sources such as the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the priest or sacrifice-leader wrapped the thigh pieces in fat and burned them on the altar. The tail and back, along with other bones and pieces with less meat left over were burned with a libation. After this procedure, it was then that the worshippers shared the roasted meal, while music and dance took place in the service of the gods. At some special festivals, there are instances where everyone in the banquet consumes hundreds of animal sacrifices.
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.
Hermes is the god of trade, heraldry, merchants, commerce, roads, thieves, trickery, sports, travelers, and athletes in Ancient Greek religion and mythology; the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, he was the second youngest of the Olympian gods.
In Ancient Greek religion, Hestia is the virgin goddess of the hearth, the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state. In Greek mythology, she is the daughter and firstborn child of Kronos and Rhea.
Semele, in Greek mythology, was the youngest daughter of the Phoenician hero Cadmus and Harmonia, and the mother of Dionysus by Zeus in one of his many origin myths.
Erechtheus in Greek mythology was the name of an archaic king of Athens, the founder of the polis and, in his role as god, attached to Poseidon, as "Poseidon Erechtheus". The mythic Erechtheus and the historical Erechtheus were fused into one character in Euripides' lost tragedy Erechtheus. The name Erichthonius is carried by a son of Erechtheus, but Plutarch conflated the two names in the myth of the begetting of Erechtheus.
Animal sacrifice is the ritual killing and offering of an animal usually as part of a religious ritual or to appease or maintain favour with a deity. Animal sacrifices were common throughout Europe and the Ancient Near East until Late Antiquity, and continue in some cultures or religions today. Human sacrifice, where it existed, was always much more rare.
A libation is a ritual pouring of a liquid, or grains such as rice, as an offering to a god or spirit, or in memory of the dead. It was common in many religions of antiquity and continues to be offered in cultures today.
In the material culture of classical antiquity, a phiale or patera is a shallow ceramic or metal libation bowl. It often has a bulbous indentation in the center underside to facilitate holding it, in which case it is sometimes called a mesomphalic phiale. It typically has no handles, and no feet. Although the two terms may be used interchangeably, particularly in the context of Etruscan culture, phiale is more common in reference to Greek forms, and patera in Roman settings.
Ancient Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs, rituals, and mythology originating in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared similarities.
Chthonic literally means "subterranean", but the word in English describes deities or spirits of the underworld, especially in Ancient Greek religion. The Greek word khthon is one of several for "earth"; it typically refers to that which is under the earth, rather than the living surface of the land, or the land as territory.
In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus. They were called Olympians because, according to tradition, they resided on Mount Olympus.
In Greek mythology, Antiope was the daughter of the Boeotian river god Asopus, according to Homer; in later sources she is called the daughter of the "nocturnal" king Nycteus of Thebes or, in the Cypria, of Lycurgus, but for Homer her site is purely Boeotian. She was the mother of Amphion and Zethus.
A pharmakós in Ancient Greek religion was the ritualistic sacrifice or exile of a human scapegoat or victim.
In ancient Greece, the Buphonia denoted a sacrificial ceremony performed at Athens as part of the Dipolieia, a religious festival held on the 14th of the midsummer month Skirophorion— in June or July— at the Acropolis. In the Buphonia a working ox was sacrificed to Zeus Polieus, Zeus protector of the city, in accordance with a very ancient custom. A group of oxen was driven forward to the altar at the highest point of the Acropolis. On the altar a sacrifice of grain had been spread by members of the family of the Kentriadae, on whom this duty devolved hereditarily. When one of the oxen began to eat, thus selecting itself for sacrifice, one of the family of the Thaulonidae advanced with an axe, slew the ox, then immediately threw aside the axe and fled the scene of his guilt-laden crime.
In Ancient Greece, the Lykaia was an archaic festival with a secret ritual on the slopes of Mount Lykaion, the tallest peak in rustic Arcadia. The rituals and myths of this primitive rite of passage centered upon an ancient threat of cannibalism and the possibility of a werewolf transformation for the epheboi who were the participants. The festival occurred yearly, probably at the beginning of May.
Xanthika or Xandika was an ancient Macedonian annual festival, shortly before the vernal equinox, in the month Xanthikos, containing a spring purification march of the army between the two halves of a sacrificed dog, which is associated with the assimilation of the new year's ephebes into the army. According to a fragment of Polybius 23.10 they make offerings to Xanthus as a hero, and perform a purification of the army with horses fully equipped. There was also a Spartan military festival of youths who sacrificed a dog to Enyalius.
The Greek lyric poet Pindar composed odes to celebrate victories at all four Panhellenic Games. Of his fourteen Olympian Odes, glorifying victors at the Ancient Olympic Games, the First was positioned at the beginning of the collection by Aristophanes of Byzantium since it included praise for the games as well as of Pelops, who first competed at Elis. It was the most quoted in antiquity and was hailed as the "best of all the odes" by Lucian. Pindar composed the epinikion in honour of his then patron Hieron I, tyrant of Syracuse, whose horse Pherenikos and its jockey were victorious in the single horse race in 476 BC.
The Pandia was an ancient state festival attested as having been held annually at Athens as early as the time of Demosthenes. Although little that is known of the Pandia is certain, it was probably a festival for Zeus, and was celebrated in the spring after the City Dionysia in the middle of the month of Elaphebolion.
Ceremonies of Ancient Greece encompasses those practices of a formal religious nature celebrating particular moments in the life of the community or individual in Greece from the period of the Greek dark ages to the middle ages. Ancient Greek religion was not standardised and had no formalised canon of religious texts, nor single priestly hierarchy, and practices varied greatly. However, ceremonial life in pre-Christian Greece generally involved offerings of a variety of forms towards gods and heroes, as well as a plethora of public celebrations such as weddings, burial rites, and festivals.