Miasma (Greek mythology)

In Greek mythology, a miasma is "a contagious power ... that has an independent life of its own. Until purged by the sacrificial death of the wrongdoer, society would be chronically infected by catastrophe."[1]

An example is Atreus who invited his brother Thyestes to a delicious stew containing the bodies of his own sons. A miasma contaminated the entire family of Atreus, where one violent crime led to another, providing fodder for many of the Greek heroic tales. Attempts to cleanse a city or a society from miasma may have the opposite effect of reinforcing it.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Armstrong, p. 64–65.


  • Armstrong, Karen (2007). The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 9780385721240.
  • Parker, Robert (1983). Miasma : pollution and purification in early Greek religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 9780198147428.