Working Papers by Subject - Ancient Religions

060901 State Intervention and Holy Violence Timgad / Paleostrovsk / Waco
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - The investigation attempts to analyze the role of state violence in the particular circumstance of a religious community that is put under siege by state military forces. It does this by comparing three type cases: two pre-modern instances, those of Timgad in early fifth-century north Africa and of dissident monasteries and churches in mid-seventeenth-century Muscovy; and the modern-day siege at Waco, Texas.
This paper replaces version 1.2 (020901) originally posted in February 2009.
This paper has now been published in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol 77.4 (2009), pp. 1-42.

020901 State Intervention and Holy Violence Timgad / Paleostrovsk / Waco
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
This paper has been revised. See 060901 entry.

010802 State Intervention and Holy Violence: Timgad / Paleostrovsk / Waco
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
A revised version of this paper is forthcoming Summer 2008.

090705 Cult and Belief in Punic and Roman Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: This is a second attempt at a synthesis of the main problems for the forthcoming Cambridge History of Ancient Religions. The problems are complex and still threaten to overwhelm. This version remains a cri de coeur: any helpful comments and criticisms are encouraged.
This paper replaces version 1 (010701) originally posted in January 2007.

070704 Tiberiana 4: Tiberius the Wise
Edward Champlin, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: This is one of five parerga preparatory to a book to be entitled Tiberius on Capri, which will explore the interrelationship between culture and empire, between Tiberius’ intellectual passions (including astrology, gastronomy, medicine, mythology, and literature) and his role as princeps. These five papers do not so much develop an argument as explore significant themes which will be examined and deployed in the book in different contexts. This paper examines the extraordinary but scattered evidence for a contemporary perception of Tiberius as the wise and pious old monarch of folklore.
This paper has now been published in Historia vol. 57 (2008), pp. 408-425.

070701 The Epic Adventures of an Unknown Particle
Joshua Katz, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This paper, a mini-"Autour de ‘ταρ épique’," is above all a contribution to the study of Homeric formulas and compositional technique. I give an overview and expand our understanding of the under-appreciated Homeric particle tar, whose Cuneiform Luvian cognate Calvert Watkins discovered over a decade ago and whose essential Greek-ness M. L. West accepts in his Teubner edition of the Iliad; demonstrate on linguistic and stylistic grounds that tar is part of the conjunction autár but not of the semantically similar near-look-alike atár; and explain why this unstressed and almost unknown monosyllable is of unexpectedly wide interest, being not just a bit of Homeric and Indo-European linguistic trivia, but an important rhetorical device in the description of ancient Greek ritual.
This paper has been published in Greek and Latin from an Indo-European Perspective, ed. Coulter George, Matthew McCullaugh, Benedicte Nielsen, Antonia Ruppel, & Olga Tribulato (Cambridge, Cambridge Philological Society, 2007), pp. 65-79.

060702 A Dove and a Nightingale: Mahābhārata 3.130.18-3.131.32 and Hesiod, Works and Days 202-13
A. T. Zanker, Princeton University
Abstract - The Hesiodic Fable of The Hawk and the Nightingale remains a scholarly problem, but perhaps light can be shed on it by stepping outside the Greek tradition and comparing it with a story from the Indic Mahābhārata that involves not merely a hawk and a dove, but also a king who protects the latter.
This paper has now been published in Philologus 1531 (2009), pp. 10-25.

040701 Golden Verses: Voice and Authority in the Tablets
Richard P. Martin, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: This paper attempts to read the gold “Orphic” tablets found in tombs from Thessaly to Sicily against the background of Homeric epic. It introduces the notion of “speech type-scene” and draws conclusions, from the deployment of formulae and pragmatic situations, about the “voice” one is supposed to hear behind the tablet texts. It was originally delivered as a paper at the Ohio State University conference Ritual Texts for the Afterlife (April 2006), organized by Fritz Graf and Sarah Iles-Johnston.

030702 Religion in the Ancient Novel
Froma I. Zeitlin, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - This chapter of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the Ancient Novel, ed. Tim Whitmarsh, (2007) surveys the pervasive presence of religion and the sacred in the extant Greek and Roman novels and addresses the much discussed issues of its roles and functions, with an emphasis on the challenges the topic poses to the interpretation of the genre's core erotic ideology. It also explores instances of the fictional imagination at work in absorbing, modifying, and creatively refining a few selected religious elements.
This paper has now been published as "Religion" in Tim Whitmarsh, ed. Companion to the Greek and Roman Novel, Cambridge Univerity Press, 2008. pp 91-108.

010703 Rereading the Death of Turnus: Ritual, Time and Poetics in the Aeneid
Kellam Conover, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: The death of Turnus, which is depicted in terms evocative of sacrificial rite, evinces a close interconnection between ritual and poetics in Vergil’s Aeneid. By reincorporating Juturna into the economy of sacrificial imagery at the epic’s close, I argue that Turnus’ sacrificial death should be seen as a metapoetic act. Indeed, as suggested by an examination of how time operates in the epic and especially in its final scenes, time in the poem is structured like time in ritual practice. The Aeneid thus engages the reader in a process of ritually renewing the past.

010701 Cult and Belief in Punic and Roman Africa
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Revised September 2007. See entry 090705.

050601 Saving the Appearances: The Phenomenology of Epiphany in Atomist Theology
Jacob L. Mackey, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: In this paper I propose an approach to Epicurean theology that avoids the stalemate of "realist" and "idealist" interpretations. I argue that Epicurean theology is more phenomenological than metaphysical, its purpose less to ground and justify dogmatic commitment to whatever form of existence the gods may enjoy than to account for a prevalent aspect of ancient religious experience, epiphany, and to assimilate that experience to Epicurean philosophical therapeia. In the process I reconstruct and reassess the equally epiphanic theology of Democritus that forms a source for Epicurus' theological thought. His theology has also been unprofitably construed by modern scholars as a reductive dismissal of the gods as mere psychological effects or manifest fictions. Instead, Democritus was at least as accommodating of the phenomena of religious experience as Epicurus: his own theology is likewise founded on epiphany and he too attempts a therapeutic analysis of its attendant effects.

020603 Bad Boys: Circumcellions and Fictive Violence
Brent D. Shaw, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract - The circumcellions were roving bands of violent men and women found in late Roman Africa. The problem is that far more of them have been produced by literary fictions, ancient and modern, than once existed. The fictions have their own intriguing history, but they are otherwise useless for those who are interested in the banality of what actually happened.

120513 Religion in Roman Historiography and Epic
Denis Feeney, Princeton University
Download PDF Abstract: A version of this paper is due to appear as a chapter in the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Roman Religion (edited by Jörg Rüpke). The paper gives an overview of the religious dimensions to Roman epic and historiography, and argues for taking seriously the literary questions of representation, genre, and convention which are often elided by historians who wish to disinter hard evidence for ‘real’ religious attitudes and practice from these texts.
This paper has now been published in J. Rüpke (ed.), A Companion to Roman Religion (Oxford, 2007), pp. 129-142.

120512 The Palaikastro Hymn and the modern myth of the Cretan Zeus
Mark Alonge, Stanford University
Download PDF Abstract: The Palaikastro Hymn—better known as the Hymn of the Kouretes—does not celebrate a god of pre-Hellenic pedigree, who is Zeus in name only, as scholars have believed with virtual unanimity. Rather, an understanding of the conventions of Greek hymnic performance in its ritual context goes far to elucidating many of the ostensibly peculiar features of the Hymn. Moving out from Palaikastro, in eastern Crete, to survey the island as a whole, I show that the Cretan iconographic and epigraphic records contradict the widely accepted theory of a special, Minoan “Cretan Zeus.”