Two Notes on the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms
Looking Back, Looking Forward
Launched in 2017, the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms provides an open-access commentary on selected ancient Greek inscriptions which define parameters of ritual practice. These short notes address two issues superficially concerning the name of the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms, but more deeply engaging with what one means by the notion of 'ritual norm' and what one implies in considering such norms 'Greek'. A term like 'cult regulation' might conveniently be used to replace the misnomer 'sacred law', but this encompasses a similarly broad and miscellaneous group of inscriptions. By contrast, the category of 'ritual norm' aims to reframe the discussion by focussing on normativity – paradigms and exceptions – with regard to two key rituals, sacrifice and purification. It thus only partly reprises the corpus of 'sacred laws', while also including other inscriptions or excerpts from them. Calling such norms 'Greek' is not intended as an 'ethnic' designation of the rituals they describe but rather as a reference to the language of the inscriptions. The label 'Greek ritual norms' is thus programmatic, allowing for a wider investigation of the normative characteristics of rituals within the religious 'middle grounds' of the ancient Greek world.
Keywords: Norm • Cult • Ritual • Hellenicity • Regulation