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Divine Knowledge

Religion, Gender, Ethnicity, and Access to Power in the Hellenistic and Imperial Greek World

Divine Knowledge project intends to explore how in the Hellenistic and early Imperial period the teaching and learning of religions was affected by factors like gender, ethnicity, and social inequality. The comparatively large number of inscriptions dating from this period will shed invaluable light on the pedagogical strategies employed in the transmission of civic rituals and values as well as on the everyday life of children and young adults from different socio-economic milieus. 

The project develops three main research steps. I first identify textual and material evidence, in particular inscriptions from the third century BCE to the second century CE, on how ancient Greek cities organised knowledge and information about rituals, cults, and the gods. These texts will be then examined to assess the influence of gender, ethnicity, and social inequality in Greek religious education and access to influential positions. Thirdly and finally, I investigate which were the strategies and mechanisms for transmitting cultural information and knowledge.

The research aims to achieve a better understanding of a cultural history of religious education in the Hellenistic and Imperial world. It deconstructs stereotypes on gender identities and social roles. The gender of the agents of transmission will not be taken for granted but it will be considered from a queer perspective. Similarly, mentalities of the actors at play will be highlighted paying attention to their diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Praxeological approaches will help to ascertain how practices and human activities constituted empirical tools of knowledge transfer. Analysing the unfolding of individual identities, I discuss how the transmission of religious knowledge and learning processes embedded in society served to the formation and acquisition of culture.

My work is kindly sponsored by the A.G. Leventis Foundation.