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Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks$
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Esther Eidinow

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199277780

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199277780.001.0001

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Exploring Uncertainty

Exploring Uncertainty

(p.10) 1 Exploring Uncertainty
Oracles, Curses, and Risk Among the Ancient Greeks

Esther Eidinow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the history of the idea of risk and different ways of theorising this concept. It argues that the theory that ‘risks’ are socially constructed (an approach developed by the anthropologist Mary Douglas) can help modern scholars to understand the role played by oracles and curses in ancient Greek culture. The social construction of risks holds that different communities will select some dangers from others for particular attention as ‘risks’. These selections are connected to a community's worldview and its values and beliefs; in particular, conceptions of blame, accountability and responsibility.

Keywords:   construction of risks, social construction, Mary Douglas, anthropology

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