Political and spiritual ecologies provide a framework for comparative analysis between the Melanesian kula and the civic and ritual institutions around the mystery cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace. These ecologies recognize the role of cosmology and cultural narrative in organizing social behavior into resilient responses that enable social and economic needs. This study utilizes three categories F. H. Damon has established for exploring the kula: collective thinking, social organizations, and the coupling of nature and culture in complex adaptive systems. Both Greek and Melanesian systems are characterized by asymmetrical exchange, a role for prominent families, identity, trust, and emotional intensity. Analogies at the cosmological level, legible in three Samothracian myths, suggest that the Greek systems rendered the natural world a model of the moral forces stipulated by proxenia grants that mitigated the anthropogenic risks of maritime travel, making myth as critical as civic institutions in realizing maritime safety.

You do not currently have access to this content.