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The Iconography of Greek Cult in the Archaic and Classical Periods

Robin Hägg


Robin Hägg

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1For the understanding and interpretation of the religions of times past, the religious imagery of those cultures has always been an important source of information, besides the written sources (if at all available) and the everricher archaeological material. The pictorial representations are, however, more often than not problematical for the interpreter who belongs to a different culture and tends to see them through “perceptual filters” which are not the same as those of the ancient viewer (Ch. Sourvinou-Inwood). As regards the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, and especially of Greece, there is currently a strong interest among scholars for the study of the religious iconography and for developing methods leading to a deeper understanding of cult practices and beliefs. It was therefore natural to choose the topic of “Iconography of Cult” for the first international seminar jointly organized by the European Cultural Centre of Delphi and the Swedish Institute at Athens. The aim of this first meeting was to promote the understanding of ancient Greek cult of the Archaic and Classical periods through the presentation of new evidence and new interpretations – of vase-paintings, figurines and cult images – to be discussed during a three-day meeting in the congenial atmosphere of the Cultural Centre at Delphi.

2Ten of the thirteen papers delivered at the Seminar are published here in enlarged and annotated form, whereas one, by Folkert van Straten, is presented only as a summary and two others (those of Kevin Clinton, “The omphalos at Eleusis”, and Olga Palagia, “Cult and allegory: the life story of Artemidoros of Perge”) are being published elsewhere.

3I wish to thank Dr. Charilaos Guitakos and Dr. Ioannis Loucas of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi for coorganizing the Seminar and for the splendid hospitality offered to all participants at the Delphi Centre. I am also most grateful to Professor André Motte for accepting to publish the proceedings of the Delphi Seminar as the first supplementary volume to KERNOS and to Mme Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge for seeing it through the press. Finally I wish to express my gratitude to the Society of the Friends of the Swedish Institute at Athens and to the Carl Lambert Endowment for generous support towards the present publication.

4Athens, January 1992.

5The abbreviations of titles of periodicals and standard reference works are those recommended by the American Journal of Archaeology, 95 (1991) 4-16.

© Presses universitaires de Liège, 1992

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