Tropaion is a web-log / electronic journal and Carnival for the ancient Greek Religion and history. The main goal of the web-log is to present original peer-reviewed and well referred posts on theoretical and practical aspects of the ancient Greek religion, to add to a broader circulation of Humanities and Classics in the Internet as well as to rise awareness for the Hellenic Polytheism today and to explore its relation with its ancient past.

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One of the major - though not much used - source of ancient Greek religiosity and especially the household religion is Theophrastus Characters. One of them draws a extremely interest image of the every-day religious attitude of a Greek ancient Athenian 'zealot'. The Characters no. 16 is our main target. The text is impressive, as much as its sarcastic / comic feel and the information that provides. Deisidaimon is not so much equal with the superstitious (a Latin sŭperstĭtĭo), the 'fear' of the Gods / the divine must be re-examined. Was really a 'fear' of the divine in ancient Greek religion, and if yes was the deisidaimon a manifestation of that 'fear'?

I believe that regardless of the text's negative perspective of deisidaimonia (δεισιδαιμονία) the character presented is still operates within the sphere of normal religious practice, as nicely noted by Emily Kearns (Ancient Greek Religion : A Sourcebook, Willey-Blackwell, 2010: pp. 152-6). The 'fear' is a 'translation' of the lack of robustness towards a moment of wrong-doing and the believed consequences that may entails. If, therefore, an individual acts as Theophrastus deisidemon but is not fearful of the consequence of an error then is reasonable to call him pious (εὐσεβής).

Δεισιδαιμονίας Ισ᾽

Ἀμέλει δεισιδαιμονία δόξειεν ἂν εἷναι δειλία πρὸς [2] τὸ δαιμόνιον, δὲ δεισιδαίμων τοιοῦτός τις, οἷος ἐπιχρωνῆν ἀπονιψάμενος τὰς χεῖρας καὶ περιρρανάμενος ἀπὸ ἱεροῦ δάφνην εἰς τὸ στόμα λαβὼν οὕτω τὴν ἡμέραν περιπατεῖν. [3] καὶ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐὰν ὑπερδράμῃ γαλῆ, μὴ πρότερον πορευθῆναι, ἕως διεξέλθῃ τις λίθους τρεῖς ὑπὲρ τῆς ὁδοῦ διαβάλῃ. [4] καὶ ἐὰν ἴδῃ ὄφιν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, ἐὰν παρείαν, Σαβάδιον καλεῖν, [5] ἐὰν δὲ ἱερόν, ἐνταῦθα ἡρῷον εὐθὺς ἱδρύσασθαι. καὶ τῶν λιπαρῶν λίθων τῶν ἐν ταῖς τριόδοις παριὼν ἐκ τῆς ληκύθου ἔλαιον καταχεῖν καὶ ἐπὶ γόνατα πεσὼν καὶ προσκυνήσας [6] ἀπαλλάττεσθαι. καὶ ἐὰν μῦς θύλακον ἀλφίτων διαφάγῃ, πρὸς τὸν ἐξηγητὴν ἐλθὼν ἐρωτᾶν, τί χρὴ ποιεῖν: καὶ ἐὰν ἀποκρίνηται αὐτῷ ἐκδοῦναι τῷ σκυτοδέψῃ ἐπιρράψαι, μὴ [7] προσέχειν τούτοις, ἀλλ᾽ ἀποτραπεὶς ἐκθύσασθαι. καὶ πυκνὰ δὲ τὴν οἰκίαν καθᾶραι δεινὸς Ἑκάτης φάσκων ἐπαγωγὴν [8] γεγονέναι: κἂν γλαῦκες βαδίζοντος αὐτοῦ ἀνακράγωσι, ταράττεσθαι καὶ εἴπας: 'Ἀθηνᾶ κρείττων᾽ παρελθεῖν οὕτω. [9] καὶ οὔτε ἐπιβῆναι μνήματι οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ νεκρὸν οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ λεχὼ ἐλθεῖν ἐθελῆσαι, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὴ μιαίνεσθαι συμφέρον αὑτῷ [10] φῆσαι εἶναι. καὶ ταῖς τετράσι δὲ καὶ ταῖς ἑβδομάσι προστάξας οἶνον ἕψειν τοῖς ἔνδον, ἐξελθὼν ἀγοράσαι μυρρίνας, λιβανωτόν, πόπανα καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἴσω στεφανῶν τοὺς [11] Ἑρμαφροδίτους ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν. καὶ ὅταν ἐνύπνιον ἴδῃ, πορεύεσθαι πρὸς τοὺς ὀνειροκρίτας, πρὸς τοὺς μάντεις, πρὸς τοὺς ὀρνιθοσκόπους, ἐρωτήσων, τίνι θεῶν θεᾷ εὔχεσθαι [12] δεῖ. καὶ τελεσθησόμενος πρὸς τοὺς Ὀρφεοτελεστὰς κατὰ μῆνα πορεύεσθαι μετὰ τῆς γυναικὸςἐὰν δὲ μὴ σχολάζῃ [13] η γυνή, μετὰ τῆς τίτθηςκαὶ τῶν παίδων. καὶ τῶν περιρραινομένων ἐπὶ θαλάττης ἐπιμελῶς δόξειεν ἂν εἶναι. [14] κἄν ποτε ἐπίδῃ σκορόδῳ ἐστεμμένον τῶν ἐπὶ ταῖς τριόδοις, ἀπελθὼν κατὰ κεφαλῆς λούσασθαι καὶ ἱερείας καλέσας [15] σκίλλῃ σκύλακι κελεῦσαι αὑτὸν περικαθᾶραι. μαινόμενον δὲ ἰδὼν ἐπίληπτον φρίξας εἰς κόλπον πτύσαι.

. Theophrastus. Hermann Diels. Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1909; available electronically at Perseus.

To read an extremely well written analysis that includes an English translations of original sources on ancient Greek religion aspects such as: about Gods and religious feeling, mythology prayers and offerings; pollution, death and dreams; household religious practice, mysteries and cults as well as founding a new sanctuary purchase Emily Kearns Ancient Greek Religion : A Sourcebook, Willey-Blackwell, 2010 pp i-370 (link to our aStore)
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