Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion

Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion

Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion

Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion

Synopsis

It has often been thought that participation in fertility rituals was women's most important religious activity in classical Greece. Matthew Dillon's wide-ranging study makes it clear that women engaged in numerous other rites and cults, and that their role in Greek religion was actually more important than that of men. Women invoked the gods' help in becoming pregnant, venerated the god of wine, worshipped new and exotic deities, used magic for both erotic and pain-relieving purposes, and far more besides.Clear and comprehensive, this volume challenges many stereotypes of Greek women and offers unexpected insights into their experience of religion. With more than fifty illustrations, and translated extracts from contemporary texts, this is an essential resource for the study of women and religion in classical Greece.

Excerpt

This book has been many years in the writing, frequently interrupted by teaching commitments. My hope is it represents a serious start on my study of girls and women in classical Greek religion. I have many debts. I would like to thank Professors Deborah Boedeker and Kurt Raaflaub who allowed me use of the library facilities at the Center for Hellenic Studies at Washington DC while my wife held an eight-month fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks (1997-8), where also I was allowed access to the library. These libraries were far superior to anything available in Australia, and since Washington DC I can hardly have kept pace with recent publications. To those museums which supplied me with photographs, I am deeply indebted. Many colleagues have commented on versions of this book given as papers, and their criticisms have been valued. An especial thanks for those close friends who politely asked, especially over the last few months, whether 'the book' was finished: I am grateful for their encouragement. To my wife, Lynda, who read several drafts and commented upon them, I am very indebted, especially for her patience in allowing me to spend so much time on this project while the grass in the garden grew longer and longer and the weeds flourished as this last summer progressed. As a final note, if I have unwittingly employed patriarchal language or expressions, or employed a train of thought that reveals a misunderstanding of the 'female race', or overlooked observations that would seem self-evident to women, I apologise.

February 2001

Armidale, Australia

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