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Domestic Religion

By Kallistos

[Snip] It all starts with domestic religion. The family had its own religion with its own gods, the household gods, and the ancestors of the family. (I think we today tend to forget the importance of ancestor veneration in the ancient world, which rivals that of the Confucian East). The head of household is the priest of the family, and the family maintains the sacred fire. Each is independent of anyone else’s interference; and is the focus of the day-to-day religious life.

Over time, families began to unite, but kept their separate domestic faiths, but formed clans…phratries or curies, with their own gods and patrons, and their own chief priest, who tended worship at the sacred fire. Then several clans came together to form tribes, or phyles, also with its own separate sacred fire and priest, often called phyle king in Greece. At regular intervals, the citizens would, as at Apaturia, join with the others of their phratrie/curia, or phyle/tribu for a communal meal, sacrifice, and to sing prayers and hymns.

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