Vol.7, No.2 | [Articles] Death, Emotion, Gender and Identity in Greece




The article examines emotion and identity in connection with Greek death cult in an attempt to clarify certain political phenomena in the Mediterranean area. The cult of the dead is a common cultural pattern in the area. Why is this cult so persistent? What is death cult and how does it manifest itself? The article delves into its lasting importance in the Greek part of the cultural area, where the author has conducted several periods of fieldwork. To illustrate the persistence of this cultural pattern, the characteristic aspects connected with death cult in Greek tradition are discussed: The comparison is based on festivals, which are dedicated to deceased persons and domestic death rituals combined with ancient sources. Based on them an analytical survey of the relationship between the death cult dedicated to deceased mediators in ancient and modern society, as it is manifested through laments, burials and the following memorial rituals is made. The modern domestic rituals people perform for their own dead influence the official ideological rituals, and vice versa, the domestic rituals reflect public performances. A study of modern cult practices reveals many parallels with the official cult of the ancients, and suggests ways in which modern rituals can throw new light upon the ancient rituals and vice versa. The article seeks to demonstrate how new ideologies must adjust to older rituals and beliefs and how public and domestic rituals are connected. The article finally suggests how these similarities might represent a common way of expression within a larger context in which the Mediterranean cultural meaning of emotion is central.

Keywords : Modern and Ancient Greece, Death Cult, Death Rituals, Gender, Laments, Burials, Gifts, Communication