The Sacred and the Feminine in Ancient Greece

The Sacred and the Feminine in Ancient Greece

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0415126630

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In classical Greece women were almost entirely excluded from public life. Yet the feminine was accorded a central place in religious thought and ritual.This volume explores the often paradoxical centrality of the feminine in Greek culture, showing how out of sight was not out of mind. The contributors adopt perspectives from a wide range of disciplines, such as archaeology, art history, psychology and anthropology, in order to investigate various aspects of religion and cult. They include the part played by women in death ritual, the role of heroines, and the fact that goddesses had no childhood, at the same time posing questions about how we know what rituals meant to their participants.
The Sacred and the Feminine in Ancient Greece is a lively and colourful exploration of the ways in which religion and ritual reveal women's importance in the Greek polis, showing how ideologies about female roles and behaviour were both endorsed and challenged in the realm of the sacred.

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chosen by lot. The chosen figure was then designated as the bride, and underwent the wedding preparations typically observed by brides. First the figure was taken to the local River Asopos and was given the usual ritual bath in the stream. It is likely that the women of Plataia played a significant role in cleansing and preparing the xoanon, not least because of the assistance they give to Hera in the myth linked with the festival. Next the wooden bride was dressed up, probably in some form of

eventually into the building. Athena’s difference from human females was central to this discourse, which not only counterposed Athena to Pandora, the first woman, but probably also contrived to suggest a structural link between the victory over Poseidon by which Athena was established as the city’s patron and the disenfranchising of real Athenian women. Visual representations of deities and the assumptions underpinning them are also the subject of Lesley Beaumont’s discussion in Chapter 5, which

whose date is uncertain, but who is traditionally thought to be a predecessor of Herodotus. 37 Kearns 1989:57–63; 1990:31–2. 38 Notably the Amazons, who were worshipped as heroines both individually and as a group in Athens, and whose raison d’être was the inversion of norms; see most recently Blok 1994, also duBois 1982 and Tyrrell 1984; on their different role in the Asian cities, Larson 1995:114–16. Huntresses, too, are well-known in myth (Prokris, Atalante) but are unlikely to have been so in

of commentaries on Euripides’ Cyclops (1984) and Bacchae (1996), of Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State (1994) and of numerous articles on Greek literature and religion. Karen Stears lectures in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh. Margaret Williamson is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at St Mary’s University College, University of Surrey. She is the author of Sappho’s Immortal Daughters (1995), and of various articles on Greek

Filologia e di Istruzione Classica 108:100–22. Jocelyn, H.D. (1982–3) ‘Varro’s Antiquitates rerum divinarum and religious affairs in the late Roman republic’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 65:148–205. Johansen, J.P. (1975) ‘The Thesmophoria as a women’s festival’, Temenos 11:78–87. Johnston, S.I. (1995) ‘Defining the dreadful: remarks on the Greek child-killing demon’ in M.Meyer and P.Mirecki (eds), Ancient Magic and Ritual Power , Leiden: Brill, pp. 361–87. Jost, M. (1985) Sanctuaires et

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