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Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek ReligionVolume I: Early Greek Religion$
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Andrej Petrovic and Ivana Petrovic

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768043

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198768043.001.0001

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Heraclitus on Purification

Heraclitus on Purification

Inner Purity and Sacrifice after Pythagoras

Chapter:
(p.67) 3 Heraclitus on Purification
Source:
Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion
Author(s):

Andrej Petrovic

Ivana Petrovic

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198768043.003.0004

Chapter 3 concerns Heraclitus of Ephesus, c. 500 BC. It discusses Heraclitus’ general stance on ritual purity as demonstrated in Frs. B 5 DK and B 61 DK before focusing on Fr. B 69 DK, which states that the sacrifices of ‘people completely purified in every respect’ are few in number. The authenticity of the fragment has been doubted and the matter cannot be settled with confidence. Its original context in Iamblichus’ On the Mysteries is discussed, and an outline is provided of the philosophical debates of the nexus of inner purity and sacrifice. Iamblichus’ theology of sacrifice is conceptualized as a response to Porphyry’s and is a product of a long philosophical debate. We trace this debate from Plato, who redefined catharsis to mean the freeing of the soul from the taint of corporeality. By claiming exclusive ownership over the knowledge and skills necessary in order to purify the soul, post-Platonic philosophical discourses insulate the notion of inner purity and attempt to divorce it from its place in the mainstream of Greek religion.

Keywords:   Heraclitus, Iamblichus, rituals, purification, catharsis, Porphyry, thysia, sacrifice, psyche, Xenophon, Plato, Theophrastus

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