Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Next Door Neighbors

R.E. Wycherley (1909-1986), The Stones of Athens (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 200:
Aristotle in the Politics (7.11.1) recommends that for the dwellings of the gods a suitable place should be chosen, the same for all. Pausanias (9.22.2) praises the people of Tanagra in Boiotia because they have their houses in one place, their shrines in a separate place, up above, "a pure and holy spot away from men." At Athens such segregation was obviously not achieved or even desired. There is no reason why one should not accept the district which we have been examining as fairly typical. Some cities possessed what was called an Agora of the Gods, a closely packed assemblage of important cults.52 At Athens the Acropolis was an elevated place, pure and holy and aloof from common human affairs; and several different spots might be considered in some sense Agoras of the Gods. But gods and heroes also lived in many modest or even humble abodes on ordinary streets as next door neighbors to ordinary citizens. If one wishes to understand the character of Athenian deisidaimonia, one must look at the whole city, with even more thoroughness than Pausanias, and at the many unpretentious shrines set in diverse places.

52 R. Martin, L'Agora Grecque, Paris 1951, 169-74.
On p. 175 Wycherley defines deisidaimonia (δεισιδαιμονία) as religiosity. Etymologically it's fear of the gods. The adjective δεισιδαίμων first occurs in Xenophon, himself a δεισιδαίμων man.

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