Altar'd States of Consciousness Ritual Intoxication in the Boiotian Kabeirion and the Athenian Anthesteria Festival Open Access

Kesler, Lara Kathleen (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1c18dg71x?locale=en
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Abstract

Altar'd States of Consciousness
Ritual Intoxication in the Boiotian Kabeirion and the Athenian Anthesteria Festival

The symposium is one of the most widely known images from ancient Greece - the civilized
gathering of philosophers who reclined on couches and drank wine while discussing important
matters of politics, science, and art. Certainly these festivities occurred frequently and their role
in the society of Athens in particular was essential to civic order, however the scholarship on
such activities is nearly exhaustive. The religious use of alcohol in Greece, as opposed to social,
is indeed a much less studied field and it is precisely this realm which this work seeks to explore.

This work is an effort to examine the role of ritualized communal intoxication in Greek religion,
using the case studies of the Boiotian Kabeirion and the Athenian Anthesteria festival.
The mystery cult of the Kabeiroi in Boiotian Thebes is a murky one full of far more questions
than answers, although there is nearly definitive evidence that heavy drinking occurred en masse
as part of the rituals there. The first chapter of this work explores the evidence regarding this
cult, beginning first with the fragmentary literary sources, then following with the ceramics.
Chapter two examines the Athenian Anthesteria festival beginning with the literature, then
looking to the often discussed, yet ill-defined ceramic evidence.

In an effort to contextualize these case studies, chapter three presents a more generalized view of
Greek drinking practices through a look at the symposium, libations, and mythological
perceptions of intoxication. The final chapter provides several anthropological theories which
may be useful when attempting to answer the question of why the ancient Greeks were becoming
intoxicated as part of the rituals of these cults, with intriguing conclusions.

Table of Contents

Introduction .......................................................................... 1
Chapter 1: The Mystery Cult of the Kabeiroi ............................... 5
Chapter 2: The Athenian Anthesteria ....................................... 26
Chapter 3: Alcohol's Role in Typical Greek Society ..................... 47
Chapter 4: Anthropological Analysis ......................................... 58
Conclusion ............................................................................ 70
Primary Works Cited ............................................................... 74
Bibliography .......................................................................... 76

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