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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 11 May 2021

The Tragic Outlook on Ritual

The Tragic Outlook on Ritual


(p.127) 7 The Tragic Outlook on Ritual
Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion

Andrej Petrovic

Ivana Petrovic

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7 outlines the ways in which tragedy dramatizes rituals and thus offers a unique view of ritual action and ritual actors. Tragedy often represents the ritual sequence together with its outcome and consequences, and allows for an exploration of the impact which the attitudes of the ritual actors have on the outcome of the rituals. This is achieved by offering insights into the characters’ states of mind, intentions, and disposition towards the acts performed. More than any other genre, tragedy is concerned with the phenomenon of pollution. In depicting the inner state of the ritual performers, tragedy is remarkably consistent in its use of terminology—it is the phren that represents the seat of religious behaviour, and phren is occasionally described as polluted or impious.

Keywords:   tragedy, staged rituals, phren, piety, impiety, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, hubris, pollution of the mind

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