The Twenty-Sixth Annual Carl C. Schlam Memorial Lecture

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Picture of Esther Eidinow
April 8, 2020
3:00PM - 6:00PM
Location
Round Meeting Room 3rd floor, The Ohio Union, The Ohio State University, 1739 North High Street Columbus, Ohio

Date Range
Add to Calendar 2020-04-08 15:00:00 2020-04-08 18:00:00 The Twenty-Sixth Annual Carl C. Schlam Memorial Lecture

The Department of Classics invites you to the
Twenty-Sixth Annual Carl C. Schlam Memorial Lecture

Esther Eidinow
(University of Bristol, UK)

"Mistrust, Uncertainty and Impurity in Ancient Greek Religion"

‘According to a widely accepted definition, trust is ‘a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon the positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.’ (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998: 395).

In this paper I explore ancient Greek relations with the divine, positing that the fundamental unknowability of the gods made an acceptance of vulnerability impossible: there were no securely positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of the divine towards mortals. Moreover, this was not simply about mistrust of mortal-divine relationships, but also about mistrust of the intentions and behaviours of other mortals in the context of the community’s relationship with the divine. Drawing on recent anthropological approaches, I propose that this context of mistrust gave rise to particular social forms, including specific constructions of the natural world. 

In this paper, I focus on the relationship between mistrust and notions of purity, impurity and purification, illustrating this focus with an examination of those rituals that have been grouped under the heading of ‘scapegoat’, in which an individual is apparently treated as a purificatory offering. The paper argues that taking such an approach underlines the (different) emotional and relational dynamics underpinning these rituals and associated concepts. This helps to explicate (one of) the roles of discourses of purification in ancient Greek communities and their link to constructions of moral and epistemological knowledge, while demonstrating the key role of mistrust in ancient Greek religion and society.

References

Rousseau, D., Sitkin, S., Burt, R., Camerer, C. 1998. Not So Different After All: A Cross-Discipline Review of Trust. Academy of Management Review 23: 393–404.

 

Round Meeting Room 3rd floor, The Ohio Union, The Ohio State University, 1739 North High Street Columbus, Ohio Department of Classics classics@osu.edu America/New_York public
Description

The Department of Classics invites you to the
Twenty-Sixth Annual Carl C. Schlam Memorial Lecture

Esther Eidinow
(University of Bristol, UK)

"Mistrust, Uncertainty and Impurity in Ancient Greek Religion"

‘According to a widely accepted definition, trust is ‘a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon the positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.’ (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998: 395).

In this paper I explore ancient Greek relations with the divine, positing that the fundamental unknowability of the gods made an acceptance of vulnerability impossible: there were no securely positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of the divine towards mortals. Moreover, this was not simply about mistrust of mortal-divine relationships, but also about mistrust of the intentions and behaviours of other mortals in the context of the community’s relationship with the divine. Drawing on recent anthropological approaches, I propose that this context of mistrust gave rise to particular social forms, including specific constructions of the natural world. 

In this paper, I focus on the relationship between mistrust and notions of purity, impurity and purification, illustrating this focus with an examination of those rituals that have been grouped under the heading of ‘scapegoat’, in which an individual is apparently treated as a purificatory offering. The paper argues that taking such an approach underlines the (different) emotional and relational dynamics underpinning these rituals and associated concepts. This helps to explicate (one of) the roles of discourses of purification in ancient Greek communities and their link to constructions of moral and epistemological knowledge, while demonstrating the key role of mistrust in ancient Greek religion and society.

References

Rousseau, D., Sitkin, S., Burt, R., Camerer, C. 1998. Not So Different After All: A Cross-Discipline Review of Trust. Academy of Management Review 23: 393–404.