While I was packing them up and sorting them, I realized it had been a while since I last talked about my source books. I also haven't updated my reading list in forever, something I should remedy soon. To celebrate this little move, I'll share with you my favourite authors and titles of sourcebooks on ancient Hellas. These are the books I reach for first when I don't know the answer to a question or I want to look something up.
Summaries by Amazon.com (and thus the respective publishers).
Bruit Zaidman, Louise & Schmitt Pantel, Pauline - Religion in the Ancient Greek City
This book is an English translation of the French work La Religion Grecque. Its purpose is to consider how religious beliefs and cultic rituals were given expression in ancient Greece. The chapters cover first ritual and then myth, rooting the account in the practices of the classical city while also taking seriously the world of the imagination. For this edition the bibliography has been substantially revised to meet the needs of a mainly student, English-speaking readership. The book is enriched throughout by illustrations, and by quotations from original sources
Burkert, Walter - Greek Religion
In this book Walter Burkert, the most eminent living historian of ancient Greek religion, has produced the standard work for our time on that subject. First published in German in 1977, it has now been translated into English with the assistance of the author himself. A clearly structured and readable survey for students and scholars, it will be welcomed as the best modern account of any polytheistic religious system.
Harrison, Jane Ellen - Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion
Jane Harrison examines the festivals of ancient Greek religion to identify the primitive "substratum" of ritual and its persistence in the realm of classical religious observance and literature. In Harrison's preface to this remarkable book, she writes that J. G. Frazer's work had become part and parcel of her "mental furniture" and that of others studying primitive religion. Today, those who write on ancient myth or ritual are bound to say the same about Harrison. Her essential ideas, best developed and most clearly put in the Prolegomena, have never been eclipsed.
Keans, Emily - Ancient Greek Religion: A Sourcebook
Ancient Greek Religion: Historical Sources in Translation presents a wide range of documents relating to the religious world of the ancient Greeks from the earliest surviving literature to around the end of the fourth century BCE. It presents a wide range of documents relating to the religious world of the ancient Greeks, from the earliest surviving literature to around the end of the fourth century BCE, provides extensive background information for readers with no previous knowledge of classical studies, brings together new and rare passages for comparison – with occasional new interpretations – to appeal to professionals, offers a variety of less frequently examined material and looks at familiar texts in new ways, includes the use of extensive cross-referencing to indicate the interconnectedness of different aspects of religious practice and thought, and includes the most comprehensive commentary and updated passages available in a single volume.
Kindt, Julia - Rethinking Greek Religion
Who marched in religious processions and why? How were blood sacrifice and communal feasting related to identities in the ancient Greek city? With questions such as these, current scholarship aims to demonstrate the ways in which religion maps on to the socio-political structures of the Greek polis ('polis religion'). In this book Dr Kindt explores a more comprehensive conception of ancient Greek religion beyond this traditional paradigm. Comparative in method and outlook, the book invites its readers to embark on an interdisciplinary journey touching upon such diverse topics as religious belief, personal religion, magic and theology. Specific examples include the transformation of tyrant property into ritual objects, the cultural practice of setting up dedications at Olympia, and a man attempting to make love to Praxiteles' famous statue of Aphrodite. The book will be valuable for all students and scholars seeking to understand the complex phenomenon of ancient Greek religion.
Mikalson, Jon D. - Ancient Greek Religion
Ancient Greek Religion provides an introduction to the fundamental beliefs, practices, and major deities of Greek religion. It focuses on Athens in the classical period, includes detailed discussion of Greek gods and heroes, myth and cult, and vivid descriptions of Greek religion as it was practiced, ancient texts are presented in boxes to promote thought and discussion, and abundant illustrations help readers visualize the rich and varied religious life of ancient Greece. The revised edition includes additional boxed texts and bibliography, an 8-page color plate section, a new discussion of the nature of Greek “piety,” and a new chapter on Greek Religion and Greek Culture.
Mikalson, Jon D. - The Sacred and Civil Calendar of the Athenian Year
Amazon doesn't have a summary of this one. In short, this book offers an overview of the entire Athenian year, all the festival dates, and dates in which there were assemblies. It's an invaluable resource to figure out the Hellenic calendar.
Ogden, Daniel et. al. - A Companion to Greek Religion
This major addition to Blackwell’s Companions to the Ancient World series covers all aspects of religion in the ancient Greek world from the archaic, through the classical and into the Hellenistic period. It was written by a panel of international experts and focuses on religious life as it was experienced by Greek men and women at different times and in different places. It features major sections on local religious systems, sacred spaces and ritual, and the divine.
Parker, Robert - On Greek Religion
In On Greek Religion, Robert Parker offers a provocative and wide-ranging entrée into the world of ancient Greek religion, focusing especially on the interpretive challenge of studying a religious system that in many ways remains desperately alien from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. One of the world's leading authorities on ancient Greek religion, Parker raises fundamental methodological questions about the study of this vast subject. Given the abundance of evidence we now have about the nature and practice of religion among the ancient Greeks—including literary, historical, and archaeological sources—how can we best exploit that evidence and agree on the central underlying issues? Is it possible to develop a larger, "unified" theoretical framework that allows for coherent discussions among archaeologists, anthropologists, literary scholars, and historians?
Parker, Robert - Polytheism and Society at Athens
This book is the first attempt that has ever been made to give a comprehensive account of the religious life of ancient Athens. The city's many festivals are discussed in detail, with attention to recent anthropological theory; so too, for instance, are the cults of households and of smaller groups, the role of religious practice and argumentation in public life, the authority of priests, the activities of religious professionals such as seers and priestesses, magic, the place of theatrical representations of the gods within public attitudes to the divine. A long final section considers the sphere of activity of the various gods, and takes Athens as a uniquely detailed test case for the structuralist approach to polytheism.
Warrior, Valerie M. - Greek Religion: A Sourcebook
Greek Religion: A Sourcebook provides an introduction to the fundamentals of ancient Greek religious beliefs and rituals through a rich collection of ancient source readings. The translations draw from the Focus Classical Library sources as well as new translations by the author and other outstanding scholars. Chapters cover such topics as ancient magic, mystery cults, divination, and festivals.