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Perceptions of Banquets in Ritual Contexts: Words, Gestures, Images

in “CHRONOS: Chronologies of Religious Evolution: Religious Forms, Cult Practices and Agents (2nd cent. B.C.-1st cent. A.D.)”


Sylvia Estienne (ENS), Valérie Huet (Université de Bretagne Occidentale)


The extensive scholarly literature of the last three decades has shown the importance of the banquet both as a privileged place for encounters between the human and the divine in ancient representations and as a heuristic model for modern studies. Yet the multiplicity and chronological distribution of the sources, far from enabling us to reconstruct a uniform model, betrays the diversity of dining and ritual practices.
By refocusing our analysis on the evidence from the Hellenistic period to the beginning of the Imperial era, we hope to better understand the practices and developments at work in the organization of these rituals. The investigation will incorporate written, figurative, and archeological sources so as to shed light on all forms in which the values associated with banquets are expressed. Several broad themes will be explored: the interpretation of banquets as ritual spectacles; the construction of the divine in communal dining practices and spatial organization; funerary banquet imagery.

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