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      Healing Gods, Heroes and Rituals in the Graeco-Roman World

      Open Library of Humanities

      Open Library of Humanities

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          Abstract

          This editorial introduces the articles published within the OLH Special Collection, ‘Healing Gods, Heroes and Rituals in the Graeco-Roman World’. The first two articles in this collection interrogate the figures of specific healing gods. Olympia Panagiotidou’s article ‘Asclepius’ Myths and Healing Narratives: Counter-Intuitive Concepts and Cultural Expectations’ focuses on the curative features that defined the image of Asclepius, the most famous of the healing gods. The next article in the collection, ‘The Fate of a Healing Goddess: Ocular Pathologies, the Antonine Plague, and the Ancient Roman Cult of Bona Dea’ by Leonardo Ambasciano, interrogates the religious figure of another healing agent: the Italian goddess Bona Dea who was particularly venerated in Rome and in the region of Latium and whose cult reveals the way in which ancient Roman androcentric control over women was institutionalised through religious figures.

          The third article in the collection, Audrey Ferlut’s ‘Goddesses as Consorts of the Healing Gods in Gallia Belgica and the Germaniae: Forms of Cult and Ritual Practices’ considers the impact that cults dedicated to gods and goddesses had on populations in the wider area of the Roman Empire, focusing on the Northern provinces of the Western Roman Empire ( Gallia Belgica and the Germaniae). The collection’s final article, ‘From Textual Reception to Textual Codification: Thessalos and the Quest for Authenticity’ by Spyros Piperakis, moves the discussion from the question of cult practices to ‘alternative’ healing therapies in antiquity. Piperakis deals with astrological medicine, one of many alternative therapeutic methods that became popular during the Hellenistic and Roman period.

          Taken together, the articles in ‘Healing Gods, Heroes and Rituals in the Graeco-Roman World’ demonstrate that we need to approach the study of ancient myths and cults within their socio-cultural context. These articles thus challenge traditionalist approaches to the history of religion and reveal the richness of interdisciplinary approaches in the twenty-first century: offering new paths of inquiry that could help us to extract new data and shape a new interdisciplinarity in the current and future research of the religions and cults of Antiquity.

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          Most cited references 3

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          What Makes Anthropomorphism Natural: Intuitive Ontology and Cultural Representations

           Pascal Boyer (1996)
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            Memory for Expectation-Violating Concepts: The Effects of Agents and Cultural Familiarity

            Previous research has shown that ideas which violate our expectations, such as schema-inconsistent concepts, enjoy privileged status in terms of memorability. In our study, memory for concepts that violate cultural (cultural schema-level) expectations (e.g., “illiterate teacher”, “wooden bottle”, or “thorny grass”) versus domain-level (ontological) expectations (e.g., “speaking cat”, “jumping maple”, or “melting teacher”) was examined. Concepts that violate cultural expectations, or counter-schematic, were remembered to a greater extent compared with concepts that violate ontological expectations and with intuitive concepts (e.g., “galloping pony”, “drying orchid”, or “convertible car”), in both immediate recall, and delayed recognition tests. Importantly, concepts related to agents showed a memory advantage over concepts not pertaining to agents, but this was true only for expectation-violating concepts. Our results imply that intuitive, everyday concepts are equally attractive and memorable regardless of the presence or absence of agents. However, concepts that violate our expectations (cultural-schema or domain-level) are more memorable when pertaining to agents (humans and animals) than to non-agents (plants or objects/artifacts). We conclude that due to their evolutionary salience, cultural ideas which combine expectancy violations and the involvement of an agent are especially memorable and thus have an enhanced probability of being successfully propagated.
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              Minimal-Counterintuitiveness Revisited: Effects of cultural and ontological violations on concept memorability

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                10 May 2016
                : 2
                : 1
                Affiliations
                Aristotle of Thessaloniki, GR
                Article
                10.16995/olh.105
                Copyright: © 2016 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                Self URI (journal-page): https://olh.openlibhums.org/
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                Editorial introduction

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