Thesaurus des Cultes et Rites de l’Antiquité. Animaux et plantes dans les cultes et les rites de la Méditerranée ancienne

Heracles and the Hind of Ceryneia

This project aimed to analyse the different ways in which nature was appropriated in the ancient Mediterranean by studying its figurative depictions. The study focused on the mythical and sacred aspect of animals and plants and their association with power, in the specific context of archaic and classical Greece (sixth-fourth century BC).

Nature, in the dynamic Aristotelian sense of the Greek term physis, is understood as a cultural construct that forms part of a historical process. It is also a form of social self-representation, which in archaic and classical Greece accompanied and reflected the development of the city—the polis—and was also projected, usually in an idealised manner, into the realm of death, where it served to integrate the deceased into the underworld landscape.

Images of nature, which were rich and abundant in ancient Greece and had precise, complex, well-structured meanings, constituted the central focus of our analysis. These images were compared and contrasted with the ample documentation contained in literary and epigraphic sources, and even with the archaeological data supplied by the sites themselves, especially the necropolises and shrines which are becoming increasingly popular subjects of study, spatial analysis and integration in historical landscapes.

 

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