Douglas Cairns, Andreij Petrovic, Ivana Petrovic: Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion. Volume I: Early Greek Religion. in:

Gnomon, page 481 - 488

GNO, Volume 91 (2019), Issue 6, ISSN: 0017-1417, ISSN online: 0017-1417,

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Bibliographic information
Andreij Petrovic, Ivana Petrovic: Inner Purity and Pollution in Greek Religion. Volume I: Early Greek Religion. Oxford: Oxford UP 2016. XVI, 337 S. In this timely volume,1 Petrovic and Petrovic (as their blurb announces) confront the view that ancient Greek religion was a matter of «mere ritualism» (what contemporary researchers call orthopraxy) and replace it with an emphasis on «purity of mind, soul, and thoughts» that promises to place the notion of belief at the centre of our attention. Laying the groundwork prior to an examination of fourth-century and later (especially philosophical and epigraphic) sources in their second volume, the authors deal in this first instalment with the evidence of Hesiod, Presocratic philosophy (Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Empedocles), archaic elegy (Xenophanes and the Theognidea), and drama (including Aristophanes alongside the tragedians), as well as several of the ‘Orphic’ gold tablets. There is no question of an approach to Greek religion, however fixated on orthopraxy, that does not – at least de facto – entail an important role for belief, even if only for that set of beliefs that focuses on the efficacy of ritual and the nature of the divinities to whom ritual appeals. The authors recognize that the image of the Greek worshipper merely «going through the motions of ritual» (p. 1) is a caricature. What they seek to establish is a much greater degree of «inner investment» (pp. 169–70, 298), thereby aligning themselves with a growing trend in scholarship that assigns importance not only to ‘low-intensity’ beliefs but also to more substantial commitments, involving, they argue, the particular forms of motivation that might be described in terms of eusebeia, sôphrosynê, ‘religious correctness’ (hosia phronein), and moral or inner purity (pp. 2–4). This, the authors recognize (pp. 3–4), will not satisfy those for whom religious belief is matter of adherence to a systematic body of theological doctrine, but still the project’s direction of travel and its focus on the motives and character of the worshipper qua performer of ritual mark a welcome shift in approaches to the nature and scope of Greek religion. The authors’ own commitment both to the seriousness of their project and to the clarity of its presentation is commendable. Each chapter is headed by a concise summary of its argument. The extensive conclusion is much more helpful than such chapters often are: it includes clear tabular summaries of the salient variables in the data discussed in the volume’s individual chapters and informatively highlights continuities between the material addressed in this volume and that to be discussed in the next. This exemplary desire to elucidate and contextualize is evident throughout. Among the book’s many solid discussions of individual works and passages the penultimate chapter on the gold tablets stands out as particularly strong and judicious, especially for its clarity about what it is trying to achieve and what the available evidence will support. The authors’ explicit thesis is a specific one: they «focus on the role of the invisible, intangible, inner purity of the worshipper in the context of ritual action in order to shed light on the Greek notion of ‘belief’» (p. 4, my italics). The inner purity on which they focus is «tightly intertwined with ritual», involving states of mind manifested «when approaching the gods and performing rituals» (ibid.). «A ritual perspective», they write, «is fundamental to our study, since Greek ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 Received by the present reviewer in January 2018. GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 482 texts concerning the purity of worshippers were usually formulated in the context of a sacred space or of participation in a religious ritual. Accordingly, we concentrate on the representations and evidence of ritual practices» (ibid.). Or again: «In order to understand the role of inner purity and pollution in ritual action, we restrict our discussion to passages which explicitly deal with the inner states of ritual performers» (p. 36). This emphasis on the role of inner purity in facilitating efficacious ritual communication recurs in explicit formulations throughout the work. We are thus looking for forms of purity of thought analogous to the ritual purity that derives from abstention from certain physical acts or from purification of the physical taint felt to derive from such acts. And this purity of thought (including beliefs associated with «morality, righteousness, and justice» as well as about «the specific nature and powers of individual divinities», p. 5, original emphasis) must, to meet the authors’ criteria for inclusion, demonstrably affect the performance of ritual. These formulations raise a number of questions. First, do the gods reject the impure of thought even when their inner impurity is not manifested in word or deed? The examples considered in the book generally deal with motives which lead to action, though the authors tend to assume that they indicate that it is states of mind that matter above all. Concern, on the part of worshipper and divinity, for motives as well as for actions is a significant phenomenon, but it is not quite the same phenomenon as an interest in the inner life of the individual as an object of moral evaluation in its own right, apart from its expression in behaviour. Second, how should we situate the evidence for the importance of inner purity against its wider background? The authors discuss cases in which, they argue, the gods demand such purity; but they do not deal with counter-examples in which the gods show no regard for it.1 Third, a distinction might be made between (a) the attitudes required to perform effective ritual; (b) more general attitudes, failure to cultivate which in one’s life as a whole might disqualify one from performing a given ritual or rituals in general; and (c) yet more general attitudes which might be required as part of the kind of morally good life of which the gods approve. To what extent do the authors take account of this distinction? Some of these issues arise in the course of Chapter 1 (pp. 41–52), which treats Hesiod, Op. 724–59, but in fact turns on the single line Op. 740. Here it is said ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 Not even where such considerations clearly arise: «In this case [OT 1347–8], it is not only [Oedipus’] fate which renders him impious; just as in the other situations we have observed in Sophoclean drama, it is also the content of Oedipus’ mind, his wrongful mental attitude, which affects his religious status» (p. 182). But these lines say nothing about impiety; the chorus-leader says merely that Oedipus is equally wretched in his nous and in the calamity that has befallen him, and whatever wretchedness of mind consists in here, it is not an impure motive that led Oedipus to kill his father, marry his mother, and thereby incur pollution. The Chorus’ reference to «purity in words and deeds» in the second stasimon (864–5, discussed on pp. 180–1) refers to actions, not states of mind, and that song is in any case at least partly on the wrong track about acts and their motives in the play and its background. Though the authors treat the evidence of Oedipus Tyrannus as consonant with the book’s overall thesis, its implications take us quite some distance from the position that it is inner purity that secures either ritual efficacy or divine favour more generally. GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 483 that the gods are indignant at, and so punish, ‘anyone who crosses a river unwashed as to badness and hands’ (ὃς ποταμὸν διαβῇ κακότητ’ ἰδὲ χεῖρας ἄνιπτος). On the basis of earlier passages in the poem the authors argue that kakotês for Hesiod is moral in nature, before using Op. 256–62 (and esp. 260) to argue that this moral badness resides in the mind (noos). But this passage is about the expression of moral character in action – the noos of the unjust, the atasthaliai and ‘baneful thoughts’ of kings, are manifested in the act of pronouncing unjust verdicts (260–2): evidence that moral worth is determined both by motives and by the actions to which they lead is not evidence that it is determined by motives alone. And Zeus punishes these people for those actions; the morally bad stand in a bad relation to the gods because of the immoral actions that express their character. This would suggest that, if the kakotês of Op. 740 really does refer to this sort of thing, such people would be incapable of ever engaging effectively in ritual or indeed of securing divine favour in general. The authors argue that this «badness» can be «put aside», «at least for the duration of direct encounter with the divine» (p. 49). What is required is «a mindset which ought to be maintained for the duration of the ritual – in our case, it pertains to the time the person spends sunk in the water that is a god … The state of ritual purity in general is temporary – it does not represent a complete and lasting transformation of a person, but rather a temporally brief state of mind and body» (p. 48).1 As the authors put it in their conclusion (p. 294), «Hesiod’s view on inner purity is predicated on an assumption that the gods reward those who adhere to justice and punish transgressors». It therefore seems unlikely that, for the purposes of participation in ritual, Hesiod’s gods should regard the requirement to refrain from injustice as a temporary one. A tension, which is never satisfactorily resolved, between the motives required for ritual efficacy and those required for the kind of morally good life of which the gods approve emerges clearly in this first chapter. Though the authors’ explicit formulations suggest an exclusive focus on states of mind strictly related to the effective performance of ritual, much of their evidence deals with forms of motivation that are (at best) only tangentially related to such performance. Both their requirements regarding the link between mental states and ritual performance and their definition of ritual efficacy are elastic. The same is true of their definition of inner purity: much of the evidence presented is not concerned specifically with purity as such (as opposed to other mental states). These features coalesce: throughout, evidence that morally bad actions (such as might excite the anger of ethically judgemental divinities) spring from morally bad motivations is taken as confirmation of the thesis that inner impurity impairs ritual. A good example of the cogency of the authors’ thesis is the purity that Euripides’ Hippolytus, in the speech in which he dedicates his garland to Artemis (Hipp. 73–87), says is demanded of worshippers like himself; this and other relevant passages in the play in which a link is indeed drawn between mental states ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 This view of Op. 724–59 is supported with reference to 755–6: «Another significant passage … testifies to the idea that mental correctness is required during the performance of a ritual … » (p. 50). But these lines concern an onlooker’s attitude to others’ ritual performance; this is different from a requirement that participants must be pure in thought. GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 484 and ritual efficacy are well discussed on pp. 184–216. But not every passage that the authors consider here is relevant: the mega phronein that excites Aphrodite’s anger in line 6 (pp. 185–90) is not just the obverse of the inner purity that underpins Hippolytus’ worship of Artemis. Aphrodite’s concern is not just Hippolytus’ state of mind or his motives, but the fact that he refuses to honour her divinity (5, 8, 10–16, 21–2, 49–50). This is a matter not just of his explicit verbal insults (13, corroborated by his words at 113) but also of his denial of the goddess’s sphere of influence altogether (he refuses sex and marriage, 14). Hippolytus is pure in his worship of Artemis, but his offence against Aphrodite involves more than just ritual observance (contrast p. 215: «It is this motivation, the way humans approach ritual actions, that incites the gods to perceive them as good or bad»). Equally, though it springs from ‘thoughts’ (i.e. motives expressed in action) that Aphrodite finds excessive, these are not motives that the offended divinity regards as impure. The notion of inner impurity does clearly arise at line 317 (χεῖρες μὲν ἁγναί, φρὴν δ’ ἔχει μίασμά τι). Yet this is not a matter of Phaedra’s relation to ritual; it is about the illicit sexual passion that overwhelms her. This line (unlike line 612) does not, as the authors allege, invite «the audiences to think about their own inner disposition in the moment of ritual action» (p. 216). Though ritual actions are important in the play, the pervasive theme of inner and outer purity is by no means focused exclusively on «ritual efficacy» (ibid.). In numerous cases of this sort in tragedy and elsewhere, even though ritual actions regularly feature, the texts’ emphasis on good and bad motives is not just a matter of ritual performance. But if the real aim of the book is to prove that the ancient Greeks traced actions that pleased or displeased the gods – pious and impious actions, morally good and bad actions – to the mental states of their agents, then a much wider evidential base would need to be considered. Chryses, a priest of Apollo, performs the ritual of supplication properly at the beginning of the Iliad, but it does not please Agamemnon’s thymos (1.22); as a result, a ritual crisis develops, through the intervention of Apollo. At Il. 24.33–54, as Achilles prevents one ritual (the funeral of Hector) and perverts another (his own mourning for Patroclus), the god Apollo attributes this behaviour – a potential cause of divine mênis – to Achilles’ phrenes, noêma, knowledge, and thymos (40– 2). To be sure, Apollo intervenes in both these cases because of what human agents do; but those actions are nonetheless – as is absolutely regular even in the earliest sources – derived from states of mind and character. It is difficult to see what distinguishes passages such as these, which the authors do not include, from many passages that they do. If it be objected that these passages do not deal with the ‘inner purity’ that ritual efficacy demands, then, again, the same can be said of many passages that are discussed. The treatment of the Theognid corpus (pp. 115–23) is not untypical. Here, the prayer that Apollo should keep straight the tongue and mind (noos) of the symposiasts (759–60), it is said, «effectively constitutes a prayer for the purification of nous» (p. 119).1 Much evidence from the corpus is adduced for the ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 Cf. p. 120: «the alignment of words and thoughts … in effect amounts to purification»; p. 280: «Imagery of correctness and straightness is closely associated with ideas of purity, while its opposite, crookedness, is assimilated to impurity in the Theognidea. A prayer for an orthos nous amounts to a request for purity …». GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 485 role of noos in morally good and social desirable conduct, but in only three cases is there a connection with purity: the metaphor of purity as such underpins the lines 447–52 (pp. 116–17), in which the speaker is undefiled, like gold to the touchstone, its bloom pure (katharon); but this is about consistency of behaviour ‘in all matters’ (πᾶσιν ἐπ᾽ ἔργμασιν, 499), and its affiliations are with the use of the image of genuine versus counterfeit currency as a metaphor for honesty and dishonesty elsewhere in the corpus (e.g. 117–28, 963–70). At 197–8, ‘purely’ (καθαρῶς) amplifies σὺν δίκῃ and again refers to behaviour (in connection with the acquisition of material possessions), whereas in line 89 (p. 121) the notion of a pure noos does occur, but its antithesis is with the ‘double mind’ that is concealed by a ‘single tongue’, and the context is one of sincerity and loyalty among friends. Thus, where the metaphor of pure behaviour or the pure noos that lies behind such behaviour does occur, there is no reference to the inner purity that promotes efficacious ritual; and where there is a tangential connection with ritual (given that the ‘straight mind’ of 760, though a matter of one’s conduct at symposia in general, will necessarily also encompass the ritual aspects of that occasion) the metaphor of purity is not used. The way in which these elements are synthesized into a single overarching metaphor of inner purity is illustrated by the recapitulation of this element of the argument in the book’s conclusion, where it is said (pp. 294–5) that «in the Theognidea the moral badness of the kakoi is envisaged as a dangerous, contagious, and corrupting pollution (vv. 305– 8)».1 But these lines concern the social effects of associating with the wrong people;2 the operative phrase, ἔργα τε δείλ’ ἔμαθον, is precisely not about contagion. It is not just that the metaphor of contagious impurity simply happens not to be used here; it is rather that ‘learning bad behaviour’ and ‘catching bad behaviour like a contagious disease’ are two different ways of conceptualizing the situation in question. When dealing with ancient metaphors, it is important to avoid importing one’s own. And these are metaphors. A section of the concluding chapter (pp. 288–94) is devoted to the issue of whether notions of inner purity or pollution are religious categories or metaphors. The authors conclude that sincerity of belief precludes metaphor (p. 288), that a metaphorical concept cannot constitute a religious category (p. 289), and that moral and physical purity/impurity are therefore two members of a single superordinate category (ibid.). This idea, that standard ways of thinking or talking about a topic must be literal rather than metaphorical, is common, but fundamentally mistaken. Religious categories in fact furnish clear counter examples: there is nothing that can be said of God or gods that is not drawn from some other domain of experience.3 The attribution of agency to a ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 Cf. pp. 279 («the Theognidea overtly juxtaposes the purity of a true agathos to the dangerous and contagious social and religious impurity of the kakoi»), 295 (in Theognis «purity occupies a prominent position in the lifestyle of an agathos»). 2 The text in full is: τοὶ κακοὶ οὐ πάντες κακοὶ ἐκ γαστρὸς γεγόνασιν, ἀλλ’ ἄνδρεσσι κακοῖς συνθέμενοι φιλίην ἔργα τε δείλ’ ἔμαθον καὶ ἔπη δύσφημα καὶ ὕβριν ἐλπόμενοι κείνους πάντα λέγειν ἔτυμα. 3 See e.g. S. Guthrie, ‘Faces in the Clouds: A New Theory of Religion’ (Oxford, 1993); P. Boyer, ‘Religion Explained: The Human Instincts that Fashion Gods, Spirits, and An- GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 486 putative divine being is one of the things that creates the domain of divinity and gives it its structure. The issue is not whether one believes that there are divine agents: even those who do so believe are making use of a concept that derives the putative agency of the gods from the experientially encountered phenomenon of agency in the world. The typical direction of travel, from the concrete world of experience to domains that are not directly accessible to the senses, is a clear sign that we are not in such cases dealing simply with what Lakoff and Johnson term the «abstraction view», i.e. membership of a superordinate category.1 The Petrovics, in fact, accept that a mapping from the concrete domain of physical experience to the abstract domain of psychological concepts has taken place in the case of inner pollution: «metaphysical pollution resulting from a transgressive inner disposition is that which is furthest removed from the presumed original tactility of pollution» (p. 35, original emphasis). Yet not only do they conflate evidence for sincerity of belief with literalness, they also assume that sincerity of belief entails empirical verifiability: to call inner pollution metaphorical is «misleading», because it would mean that «no actual defilement is taking place» (p. 289 n. 57);2 the issue, they assert (p. 290) is «whether there is genuinely a defilement taking place or are we dealing with purity language used metaphorically». But no matter how deeply ancient Greeks may have believed that certain forms of immoral conduct defiled their minds or their souls, there has never been any possibility that such beliefs might entail that there was «genuinely a defilement taking place». The depth of the authors’ confusion is clear when they write (ibid.) that «Already the existence of sacred regulations which demand inner purity as a condition for entry to a sanctuary prove[s] that phronein hosia or pure nous, phren, gnome, and psyche are not literary figures but literal requests which should be taken at face value». Of course phronein hosia is a ‘literal request’ – ‘thinking’ belongs in the abstract domain of the psychological; but the notion of a pure, undefiled mind or soul involves a transfer from the physical and external to the internal domain of psychological experience. That this is metaphorical does not mean that it is merely a ‘literary figure’. The seminal work of Lakoff and Johnson has had almost forty years to exert influence and inspire confirmation beyond the fields of cognitive linguistics and philosophy in which it was first promulgated. But none of that work has left any ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– cestors’ (London, 2001); S. Atran, ‘In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion’ (Oxford, 2002). 1 See G. Lakoff and M. Johnson, ‘Metaphors We Live By’ (Chicago, 1980), 107–10. 2 Here (and at p. 30 n. 126) the authors are opposing the designation ‘metaphorical’ as opposed to ‘metaphysical’ for all forms of religious pollution, including those that derive from sexual activity, death, or bloodshed. In both places they attribute this preference to Robin Osborne (‘The History Written on the Classical Greek Body’ [Cambridge, 2011], 171–3). I do not find that point on those pages, in the relevant chapter (pp. 158–84), or anywhere else in the book (though pp. 181–3 [sic] do discuss the conventional, socially constructed nature of beliefs in invisible pollution). Osborne in fact uses ‘metaphysical’ on pp. 158, 164, 167, and 222 (distinguishing between ‘metaphysical dirt’ and ‘real dirt’ on p. 164). But ‘metaphorical’ would be perfectly correct: even though pollution of this sort derives from bodily actions and is felt to be spread by physical contact, one is not dealing solely with the primary phenomena of visible dirt and physical contagion. For Petrovic and Petrovic, by contrast, «birth and sex» count as «physical pollutants», in contrast to «metaphysical pollution» (p. 239). GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 487 mark here, even though the authors do, on one or two isolated occasions, align themselves with approaches in cognitive science (pp. 205, 267). In the former passage, indeed, they cite research which in fact bears out the contention that primary, embodied, sensorimotor experiences really do inform, even at an unconscious level, the structure of abstract concepts.1 A greater openness to the cognitive sciences and their growing influence on the humanities would have yielded substantial dividends for their approach: ancient Greek concepts of metaphysical and inner defilement, for example, exemplify the same shift from the physical to the moral as has been demonstrated in the case of disgust.2 More broadly, the book’s more general claim (that ancient Greek thought, from the very beginning, traced moral behaviour to the mental states and motives of its agents) is substantiated, but perhaps rendered somewhat otiose, by the recognition that the ability to attribute mental states to others as well as oneself (what psychologists call Theory of Mind) is a general human trait whose evolution will antedate the development of any historical society that we are capable of studying. Human beings are cognitivists, not behaviourists – naturally enough, they attribute their own interest in agency and mental states also to their gods. And so, more generally still, the book’s focus on religious phenomena might have been contextualized by an appreciation that the phenomenon of religion itself is substantially predicated on the agent-detection and mind-detection abilities that are fundamental to the sociality of our species. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 As well as the article cited there (C.-B. Zhong and K. Liljenquist, ‘Washing Away Your Sins: Threatened Morality and Physical Cleansing’, Science 313 [2006], 1451–2), see (on the metaphorical status of moral pollution) C.-B. Zhong and J. House, ‘Dirt, Pollution, and Purity: A Metaphorical Perspective on Morality’ in M. Landau et al. (eds.), ‘The Power of Metaphor: Examining its Influence on Social Life’ (Washington DC, 2014), 109– 31. For corroboration with regard to other concepts, see (e.g.) C.-B. Zhong and G. J. Leonardelli, ‘Cold and Lonely: Does Social Exclusion Literally Feel Cold?’ Psychological Science 19.9 (2008), 838–42; L. E. Williams and J. A. Bargh, ‘Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth’, Science 322 (2008), 606–7; B. M. Wilkowski et al., ‘‹Hot-headed› is More than an Expression: The Embodied Representation of Anger in Terms of Heat’, Emotion 9 (2009), 464–77. Cf. R. W. Gibbs, ‘Metaphor Interpretation as Embodied Simulation’, Mind and Language 21 (2006), 434–58 at 439–40, 444–5, 448–50, 452; S. Lacey et al., ‘Metaphorically Feeling: Comprehending Textural Metaphors Activates Somatosensory Cortex’, Brain & Language 120.3 (2012), 416–21 at 416, 418–19; D. Casasanto and T. Gijssels, ‘What Makes a Metaphor an Embodied Metaphor?’ Linguistics Vanguard 1.1 (2015) 327–37. 2 For the links between non-moral and moral disgust, see J. Haidt et al., ‘Body, Psyche, and Culture: The Relationship of Disgust to Morality’, Psychology and Developing Societies 9 (1997), 107–31; P. Rozin et al., ‘Disgust’, in M. Lewis et al. (eds.), ‘Handbook of Emotions’3 (New York, 2008), 757–76; P. Rozin et al., ‘From Oral to Moral’, Science 323 (2009), 1179–80; cf. J. Haidt, ‘The Righteous Mind’ (London 2012) 103–4, 337–8; B. David and B. O. Olatunji, ‘The Effect of Disgust Conditioning and Disgust Sensitivity on Appraisals of Moral Transgressions’, Personality and Individual Differences 50 (2011), 1142–6. See also the articles in Emotion Researcher, March 2014 (, accessed 6 November 2018). Cf. D. Lateiner and D. Spatharas ‘Ancient and Modern Modes of Understanding and Manipulating Disgust’, in D. Lateiner and D. Spatharas (eds.), ‘The Ancient Emotion of Disgust’ (Oxford, 2017), 7–9. GNOMON 6/91/2019 D. Cairns: Petrovic/Petrovic, Inner Puritiy and Pollution in Greek Religion 488 The authors have substantiated their claim (pp. 9–10, 263) that there are some signs at earlier periods of phenomena, to be discussed in vol. 2, whose attestation increases from the fourth century BC. Their best examples of this, i.e. of inner purity as a requirement for participation in ritual, are Hes. Op. 740 (pp. 41–52); E. Hipp. 73–7 (pp. 190–7), Or. 1604 (pp. 217–18), Ba. 72–7 (p. 238); Ar. Ran. 355 (pp. 241–5); Orphicorum Fragmenta 488–91 Bernabé (pp. 249–62). They recognize that their discussions of Pythagoras and Heraclitus (pp. 55–66, 67–77 resp.), albeit suggestive, are speculative. The fragments of Empedocles (pp. 78–100) certainly present the notion of inner pollution, but in ways that the authors themselves regard as idiosyncratic. The positive evidence for the book’s central claim that inner purity is, at these earlier periods, a prerequisite for ritual efficacy is thus not extensive. The authors argue that, even where the evidence derives from idiosyncratic sources (such as Empedocles), it testifies to wider tendencies (p. 297), yet they occasionally use forms of words which suggest that some of the evidence that they regard as most persuasive is new, striking, or atypical.1 The argument that the scarcity of evidence at earlier periods for inner purity as a ritual requirement need not mean that the profusion of later attestations betokens discontinuity is attractive enough, but the comparatively meagre evidence is buried in discussions which do not, given the elasticity of the authors’ criteria, bear directly on the book’s central claim. Yet the wider phenomena that they canvass do at least suggest a climate in which ideas of inner purity might have been more widely distributed. A full discussion of these wider phenomena – i.e. of the importance of character and motivation in popular Greek religious ethics – needs a different book with a clearer conception of its remit. Edinburgh Douglas Cairns * Katarina Nebelin: Philosophie und Aristokratie. Die Autonomisierung der Philosophie von den Vorsokratikern bis Platon. Stuttgart: Steiner 2016. 424 S. (Hermes. Einzelschriften. 109.) 66 €. N. geht in der überarbeiteten Fassung ihrer 2011 von der TU Dresden angenommenen Dissertation der Frage nach, wie es in der griechischen Antike «und damit erstmals in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte» dazu kam, dass zwischen der Liebe zur Weisheit (φιλοσοφία) und Vortrefflichkeit (ἀρετή) ein «direkter Zusammenhang» behauptet wurde (S. 12). N.s Frage verknüpft zwei Forschungsstränge: einen traditionsreichen zur frühgriechischen Geistesgeschichte und einen gerade in jüngerer Zeit wieder vermehrt aufgegriffenen zu den Besonderheiten der archaischen Adelskultur und der Institutionalisierung der Polis. Eine ähnliche Fragestellung hat zuletzt Tanja Itgenshorst 2014 monographisch für die archaische Zeit behandelt.2 N. beschränkt sich anders als Itgenshorst auf die ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 1 See e.g. pp. 197–8, 204, 206–7, 238, 295. On p. 206, they observe that «Hippolytus’ reply [ἡ γλῶσσ᾽ ὀμώμοχ᾽, ἡ δὲ φρὴν ἀνώμοτος, E. Hipp. 612] … apparently created a furore among ancient audiences». But why should it have, if it was widely accepted that what really mattered in ritual action was the mental state and inner motivation of the agent? 2 T. Itgenshorst, ‘Denker und Gemeinschaft. Polis und politisches Denken im archaischen Griechenland’, Paderborn 2014. GNOMON 6/91/2019

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