Pollution and Religion in Ancient Rome

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 22, 2013 - History - 256 pages
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Pollution could come from any number of sources in the Roman world. Bodily functions, sexual activity, bloodshed, death - any of these could cause disaster if brought into contact with religion. Its presence could invalidate sacrifices, taint religious officials, and threaten to bring down the anger of the gods upon the city. Orators could use pollution as a means of denigrating opponents and obstructing religious procedures, and writers could emphasise the 'otherness' of barbarians by drawing attention to their different ideas about what was or was not 'dirty'. Yet despite all this, religious pollution remained a vague concept within the Latin language, and what constituted pollution could change depending on the context in which it appeared. Calling upon a range of research disciplines, this book highlights the significant role that pollution played across Roman religion, and the role it played in the construction of religious identity.
 

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Contents

Defining pollution
29
Birth sex and bodily margins
55
Blood
90
Death and remembrance
136
Pollution and rhetoric
167
Conclusion
188
Refirences
197
Index
223
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About the author (2013)

Jack J. Lennon is Teaching Fellow in the Department of History, University College London. He is an ancient historian with particular interests in pre-Christian Roman religion and magic, and especially the phenomenon of pollution and ritual impurity. His research frequently aims to integrate the theories of modern anthropology alongside those of ancient history and philology in order to explore beyond the traditional limits of classical scholarship. In addition to studying the nature of pollution within religion, he is also interested in the wider cultural perceptions of dirt and cleanliness across ancient Roman society.

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