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The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization$
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Chester G. Starr

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195074581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074581.001.0001

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Gods and Priests

Gods and Priests

Chapter:
(p.63) Chapter 6 Gods and Priests
Source:
The Aristocratic Temper of Greek Civilization
Author(s):

Chester G. Starr

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195074581.003.0007

This chapter holds that the upper classes essentially established the way the Greeks visualized their gods and also the structure of worship. The nature of the heavenly pantheon, as Xenophanes angrily observed, had been firmly set by Homer and Hesiod. By the eighth century, the aristocrats were erecting temples to house statues that eventually attained canonical form so that a modern student of Greek art can easily identify Athena with her helmet or Zeus with his thunderbolt, both like the other gods essentially visualized in aristocratic shape. Ultimately, the figures of the great gods stood magnificently, visualized largely in aristocratic mien and attended by the rich mythological dress spun by Greek imagination, worshipped in formal procedures conducted by priests and priestesses of upper-class origins.

Keywords:   priests, statues, gods, Zeus

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