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5. Pantheons and Meaningful God Sets

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Chapter Summary

'Meaningful god sets' is a useful concept not only in describing 'personal pantheons', but also in distinguishing between what may be called a 'pan-cultural' pantheon, a necessarily artificial collection of all the known deities from all areas and time periods associated with a particular civilization. Both the proponents of the systemic (school of Vernant) and the chaotic (Burkert) views of Greek pantheons distinguish certain pairs (Burkert) or oppositions (Vernant) of deities. 'Deities' as a group tie all the aspects of a local religious system together, but the latter produces meaning through all its components, which are interdependent. The structures of a local cultic system, therefore, can be illuminated through the analysis of all components of the local religious world taken together and viewed within the context of local demography, geography, economy, and history. Social roles of local deities will therefore be determined by multiple social dimensions.

Keywords: Burkert; Greek pantheons; local cultic system; meaningful god sets; pan-cultural pantheon; personal pantheons; Vernant



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