Studies of religion and history of Greece have traditionally gone their own, largely independent ways. Studies of Greek social and moral values are a more recent genre, but now that they exist they too follow a third path of their own that only occasionally intersects with the other two. Specialists in Greek religion may be inclined to seek an explanation in the inadequacies of traditional approaches to Greek history. Superficial similarities between the Greeks and ourselves have created the illusion, they might urge, that their political behaviour like ours can be analysed in secular and rational terms; the omnipresent myths, rituals, and expressions of respect for the gods are ignored, whereas in reality they are the underpinning, the emotional and cognitive foundation, of the whole of communal life. Respect for the gods, respect for the fatherland, respect for ancestral tombs, respect for parents: the deep conservatism inherent in Greek religion could not be more clearly revealed.
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