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Temporary Tributes

Post  AgathonZante on Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:50 pm

Let's say you live in a home that has land and outside space, but you do not actually own it. Rather, you rent the property, which means you could move once your lease is up. During your time there, is it acceptable to build temporary outside sanctuaries or altars that can be disassembled and move away with you once you leave the property? If so, is there a right and a wrong way to do this?

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Re: Temporary Tributes

Post  DavidMcCann on Fri Feb 26, 2016 3:26 pm

That depends entirely on the wording of your lease. Mine says I mustn't hang laundry in the garden but it doesn't say I can't have an altar. One neighbour has added a statue, another a bird-table, and there's nothing to say they can't.

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Re: Temporary Tributes

Post  AgathonZante on Fri Feb 26, 2016 4:13 pm

I'm not talking about the lease, I am speaking in terms of religious practice. Is it religiously acceptable to construct an altar that will later be taken down and moved to another place entirely? Would that be an offense to Hellenic religion, or somehow irreligious?

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Re: Temporary Tributes

Post  DavidMcCann on Sat Feb 27, 2016 2:34 pm

Sorry I got that wrong!

I can't see any religious objection. We know that temples were often replaced with new buildings. A Greek living in an apartment block in Italy would often have had a built-in altar shelf, and that would be demolished when the building was.

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Re: Temporary Tributes

Post  Erodius on Sun Feb 28, 2016 1:23 pm

AgathonZante wrote:I'm not talking about the lease, I am speaking in terms of religious practice. Is it religiously acceptable to construct an altar that will later be taken down and moved to another place entirely? Would that be an offense to Hellenic religion, or somehow irreligious?

Yes, certainly – although such an installation would not possess the same kind of ethos as a long-established one.

Contrary to what some textbook accounts of Classical religion would lead one to believe, and as DavidMcCann mentioned above, the vast majority of average people did not reside in large, family courtyard homes. Some did, and such people would have had probably the most sophisticated household worship (and most interesting for discussion in a textbook), but these people were an elite, not the norm. Average people in urban areas, just as today, mostly resided in housing that we would call apartments. They would have a shelf, or niche set into the wall, where modest shrines would be set up – a few small statues, perhaps some painted panel images, and the basic accoutrements of worship (censer, bowls, lamps, etc.). Just as today, people did not usually own these residences privately, but paid rent to a landlord – as such, they would occasionally move to different buildings as work or need dictated, and their religious items would go with them.

Similarly, while traveling or on military or diplomatic campaigns, officials would have portable shrines and altar braziers that were carried along with them.

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Re: Temporary Tributes

Post  AgathonZante on Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:56 pm

You guys have been such a tremendous help to me on this forum with all of the answers I have sought, and you've always been extremely non-judgmental. I am very grateful for all the help and knowledge you have given me.

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