The Material world in Greek Religious Thought and Practice (for postgraduates) CLASSIC5081

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

The course explores the importance and changing role of objects in Greek religion from the archaic to the Hellenistic period. Although several religions draw a divide between the spiritual and the material, Greeks seem to have done things differently and attributed to them a special role in their religion. We will explore this distinctively Greek perspective, as is demonstrated in a variety of phenomena: such as for instance the consistent association of gods with particular objects, their role in cosmogonic narratives, the existence of various 'talismanic objects' or the rite of dedication. We will also discuss modern theories of materiality, which explore the importance of the material world in shaping our understanding of human identity and structuring human relationships.


10 x 1 hour lectures across 10 weeks of one semester

8x1 hour seminar per week across 8 weeks

2x1 hour workshop per week across 2 weeks

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses

The Material World in Greek Religious Thought and Practice (Honours version)




Essay (3,500 words)-70%

Presentation (15 minutes) - 30%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ study a variety of aspects of Greek religion with a material dimension, such as temple economies, dedication, sacred space and objects in mythological narratives

■ engage closely with a variety of primary material, such myths, inventory lists, sacred laws, coins, and archaeological material

■ reflect on the relationship between Greek religion and the perception of the physical environment and material world

■ study modern theories about the importance of stuff in the construction of human identity

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ identify and evaluate the material dimension of a variety of religious practices and institutions

■ analyse the importance of these practices and institutions in the broader context of Greek society through time

■ analyse and combine a variety of primary sources

■ summarize, evaluate and criticize modern scholarly works on materiality and religion

■ produce sustained arguments based on their own interpretation of the primary and secondary sources

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.