Collection of Greek Ritual Norms

Director: Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge

The Collection of Greek Ritual Norms (CGRN) project has resulted in the online and open access publication of 222 inscriptions belonging to the misleading category of “sacred laws” / leges sacrae ( The texts are of very varied character. Their purpose is essentially prescriptive or restrictive, and related to religious matters, especially rituals. The documents are not always “laws” and do not necessarily have a “sacred” character in and of themselves, beyond the religious matters which they delineate—overall, the relationship of a Greek community with its gods. That is the reason why the new project has sought to recast this body of documents as “ritual norms”.

The texts currently included in the online publication (September 2017) concern sacrifice and purification. The next objective of the project is to expand the collection to comprise some 500 texts, which will more fully update and replace the still useful volumes Franciszek Sokolowski published after the middle of the 20th century.

Beyond establishing this digital tool and a forthcoming print-on demand book of the Collection, the CGRN project aims to provide a venue for analysing the diverse types of documents which constitute it. These emanate from different sources of authority, codify prescriptions that are no less varied, and reveal an abundance of information on the rituals carried out by cities and the multitude of groups that constitute them, including households in the case of familial “foundations”. To say the least, the inscriptions concerned—thankfullycomplemented and regularly augmented by systematic excavations and chance finds—provide us with a wealth of data which would otherwise remain largely inaccessible to the historian of Greek religion.

Originally funded by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles at University of Liège, the project will now be pursued within the framework of the chair “Religion, history, and society in the ancient Greek world” undertaken by Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge at the Collège de France. The project’s team members are Jan-Mathieu Carbon, Assistant Professor at the Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada), and Saskia Peels, Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen (Netherlands).

Bibliography and videorelated to the projet

« Two Notes on the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms: Looking Back, Looking Forward » (avec Jan-Mathieu Carbon), Axon: Greek Historical Inscriptions 3 (2019)
[online :]

Jan-Mathieu Carbon, Saskia Peels, Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, Collection of Greek Ritual Norms, 2 volumes forthcoming by De Boccard in 2018.

Jan-Mathieu Carbon, Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, « Codifying ‘Sacred Laws’ in Ancient Greece », in D. Jaillard & C. Nihan (éd.), Legal Codification in Ancient Greece and Ancient Israel, Wiesbaden, 2017 (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte, 19, p. 141-157
[online :]

Presentation of the projet by Saskia Peels at the Digital Classicist Seminar in London (July 2015)
[online :]

Jan-Mathieu Carbon, Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, « Beyond Greek “Sacred Laws” », Kernos 25 (2012), p. 163-182
[online :]