The category ‘sacred laws’ is one within which modern scholarship on Greek religion assembles inscriptions which in various ways regulate the conduct of cult. Many have a broadly policing function: fines or other punishments are imposed for the cutting of wood or pasturing of animals or lighting of fires within a sanctuary, or disorderly conduct at a festival. Some deal with other aspects of sanctuary management such as the positioning and care of votive offerings. Some prescribe the ritual activities such as processions or sacrifices to be conducted at new or re-organized festivals; the financing of cult is often a concern. Many define the duties and perquisites of priests and priestesses. A distinctive sub-class is the ‘sale of priesthood’ text, from those parts of the east Greek world where some priesthoods were so allocated; each time a sale was to occur, a job description was published which functioned as a cross between advertisement and contract. Calendars listing month by month the sacrifices to be offered by a particular city or sub-group within one are also conventionally included among sacred laws. Legally all the classes mentioned so far are decrees of the civic body concerned and have the force of law. But other so-called sacred laws have a more advisory function: they lay down the largely unenforceable rules of purity to be observed by visitors to sanctuaries, or by priests, or draw attention to small particularities of sacrificial practice in the cult concerned. Such regulations probably normally derived from ritual experts such as exegetes, and violations of them were punished by gods, not men. But these two broad classes of sacred law are not absolutely distinct: regulations on the conduct of funerals, for instance, blend advisory and enforceable elements.Less
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