Anyone who has sampled even a few of the most commonly read Greek texts will have encountered pollution. The pollution of bloodshed is a frequent theme of tragedy: Orestes is driven mad; Oedipus brings plague upon all Thebes. In historical texts we find cities intervening in the internal affairs of others to `drive out the pollution', or making war on account of it. Political orators represent their opponents as polluting demons. Purity is a constant concern in
ritual texts, and any Greek underwent many small purifications in his everyday life. Certain abnormal religious movements of the archaic age made `purification' the path to felicity in the afterlife.
First published in hardback in 1983, Miasma is the first work in English to treat this theme in detail.
`This book is packed with information, most lucidly and judiciously presented, and should be of great interest not only to Classicists (who often know less of this important area than they should), but to anthropologists and sociologists in general (a knowledge of Greek is not required, since everything essential is translated)."
`anyone who seriously wishes to know about Greek ethics and culture will need to refer to this book'
London Review of Books
`[Parker's] substantial and important book has set new standards of perceptiveness and subtlety, quite apart from its sheer learning, in this difficult but rich and revealing field of study.'
Times Literary Supplement