With Ancestor of the West, three distinguished French historians reveal the story of the birth of writing and reason, demonstrating how the logical religious structures of Near Eastern and Mesopotamian cultures served as precursors to those of the West.
"Full of matter for anyone interested in language, religion, and politics in the ancient world."—R. T. Ridley, Journal of Religious History
"In this accessible introduction to the ancient world, three leading French scholars explore the emergence of rationality and writing in the West, tracing its development and its survival in our own traditions. . . . Jean Bottero focuses on writing and religion in ancient Mesopotamia, Clarisse Herrenschmidt considers a broader history of ancient writing, and Jean-Pierre Vernant examines classical Greek civilization in the context of Near Eastern history."—Translation Review
For the Greeks, the sharing of cooked meats was the fundamental communal act, so that to become vegetarian was a way of refusing society. It follows that the roasting or cooking of meat was a political act, as the division of portions asserted a social order. And the only proper manner of preparing meat for consumption, according to the Greeks, was blood sacrifice.
The fundamental myth is that of Prometheus, who introduced sacrifice and, in the process, both joined us to and separated us from the gods—and ambiguous relation that recurs in marriage and in the growing of grain. Thus we can understand why the ascetic man refuses both women and meat, and why Greek women celebrated the festival of grain-giving Demeter with instruments of butchery.
The ambiguity coded in the consumption of meat generated a mythology of the "other"—werewolves, Scythians, Ethiopians, and other "monsters." The study of the sacrificial consumption of meat thus leads into exotic territory and to unexpected findings.
In The Cuisine of Sacrifice, the contributors—all scholars affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies of Ancient Societies in Paris—apply methods from structural anthropology, comparative religion, and philology to a diversity of topics: the relation of political power to sacrificial practice; the Promethean myth as the foundation story of sacrificial practice; representations of sacrifice found on Greek vases; the technique and anatomy of sacrifice; the interaction of image, language, and ritual; the position of women in sacrificial custom and the female ritual of the Thesmophoria; the mythical status of wolves in Greece and their relation to the sacrifice of domesticated animals; the role and significance of food-related ritual in Homer and Hesiod; ancient Greek perceptions of Scythian sacrificial rites; and remnants of sacrificial ritual in modern Greek practices.
Edited by Jean-Pierre Vernant University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress DF78.U5913 1995 | Dewey Decimal 949.5
What do we mean when we speak of ancient Greeks? A person from the Archaic period? The war hero celebrated by Homer? Or the fourth century "political animal" described by Aristotle? In this book, leading scholars show what it meant to be Greek during the classical period of Greek civilization.
The Greeks offers the most complete portraits available of typical Greek personages from Athens to Sparta, Arcadia, Thessaly and Epirus to the city-states of Asia Minor, to the colonies of the Black Sea, southern Italy, and Sicily. Looking at the citizen, the religious believer, the soldier, the servant, the peasant, and others, they show what—in the Greek relationships with the divine, with nature, with others, and with the self—made him "different" in his ways of acting, thinking, and feeling.
The contributors to this volume are Jean-Pierre Vernant, Claude Mosse, Yvon Garlan, Giuseppe Cambiano, Luciano Canfora, James Redfield, Charles Segal, Oswyn Murray, Mario Vegetti, and Philippe Borgeaud.