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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the nature of religious expertise in ancient Greece and the role and function of various religious experts. ‘Experts’ include the priest (hiereus) and priestess (hiereia) who were attached to public cults (which they managed) and who offered public sacrifices, as well as freelance specialists who provided a variety of supernatural services (the mantis, magos, agurtes, goes, and pharmakeus). Such services included divination, purification, healing, and cursing. Though the ability to sacrifice is one function of being a hiereus, it is not the defining one, and the hiereus cannot be considered the ‘mediator’ between gods and men or between the gods and the polis. Also, it is misleading to construct ‘ideal’ types, since the functions of priest (hiereus) and seer (mantis) might overlap, and those who called themselves manteis might perform services that our elite literary sources usually attribute to the magos (sorcerer) and other freelance specialists.

Keywords: cursing, divination, supernatural services, hiereia, hiereus, mantis, magos, agurtes, goes, pharmakeus, priest, purification, sacrifice, sorcerer, seer

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