Volume 126, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163


Contrary to the strong tendency to consider Athenian citizenship in strictly political and juridical terms, the Athenians themselves often described their membership of the polis in terms of active religious participation. Athenian polis religion was thus an important defining platform for citizenship, while at the same time differences in participation could articulate and display an ideal image of the different groups, roles, and relations within the (worshipping) community, an observation which closely ties in with influential anthropological and sociological approaches. This article explores the ways in which the men who gained equal access to Athens’ political and juridical institutions through Cleisthenes’ democratic reforms of 508 BC participated in Athenian polis religion. We can see how Athenian rites were instrumental not only in bringing citizens together and thus creating and strengthening cohesion among the members of a radically new group, but also, through events like torch-races, beauty contests, and pyrrhic dances, in articulating their role in society in terms of being physically strong, militaristic, beautiful, and competitive.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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