This volume assembles approaches to rituals in several cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean (Egyptian, Punic, Greek, Italian, Roman) from the second millennium BCE to Late Antiquity. 'Ritual dynamics' is the common theme of the fourteen chapters. Rituals are understood as complex socio-cultural constructs that are connected with tensions: tensions within the cult community; tensions between norm and performance, expectation and reality, traditional significance and re-interpretation, stereotype and variability. Exploiting a variety of sources (literary sources, inscriptions, iconography), the authors approach the questions of how such tensions influence the performance and impact of rituals, how they generate change, how ritual agency is connected with gender and social standing, how rituals trigger particular emotions and create emotional communities, and how the literary and visual representations of rituals reflect their cultural relevance.
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