Religious Practices in Classical Thebes

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Virginia Tech

My thesis uses Thebes as case study to focus on Theban religious practices during the Classical age (traditionally defined as between 510 BCE and 323 BCE). By narrowing my study to this geographical and chronological scope, my research aims to add to the traditional narrative of Theban history by focusing on religious history rather than the political or military. More particularly, by using both literature (Classical Greek tragedies) as well as material culture found in exceptional religious settings of the Thesmophoria and Kabeirion, I strive to delineate some of the religious practices taking place in the polis of Thebes during the Classical age. While the Theban tragedies provide a view of religion from a broader perspective, the material evidence of the festival of the Thesmophoria and the rites to the Kabeiroi provide a glimpse into the practices of Theban religion that lie outside the traditional, Olympian pantheon. I argue that studying Theban literature and votive offerings in tandem can provide a perspective at the micro-level of Greek religion that can be expanded in order to understand the religious landscape of ancient Greece on a much deeper and richer level.

Greek Religion, Thebes, Greek Tragedy, Thesmophoria, Kabeiroi