Citizen Bacchae: Women's Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece

By Barbara Goff | Go to book overview

Introduction

What activities did the women of ancient Greece perform in the sphere of ritual, and what were the meanings of such activities for them and for their culture as a whole? By offering answers to these questions, this book attempts to recover and reconstruct an important dimension of the lived experience of ancient Greek women. Classical scholars have only recently begun sustained investigation of women's ritual practices, but the topic is of increasing interest for the study of women in various disciplines. This book is therefore designed to be of use not only to classical scholars but also to students and specialists in many different disciplines who are interested in the history of women.

The paradigm that informs much writing on ancient Greek women is that of seclusion and exclusion. Often secluded within the private household, or oikos, women were also excluded from the public areas of endeavor valued by their culture, such as politics, law, commerce, and art. Sources are unanimous in their approbation of this ideal of seclusion. Andromache in Euripides Trojan Women 644–56 claims:

The behavior that is considered prudent for women, That's what I practiced beneath Hektor's roof. Firstly, whether or not blame attaches to women, If a woman does not remain indoors That very choice brings down a bad reputation; And so I gave up my desire to go out and stayed within.1

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1
That Andromache is complaining that her virtue brought her no reward only makes her description of the norm more pointed. See Croally 1994 for the irony of this utterance. Since copyright laws continue to be the bane of academic publishing, all translations are my own, except where noted. I have aimed, as will be painfully obvious, for accuracy rather than grace of expression.

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Citizen Bacchae: Women's Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • One - Working Toward a Material Presence 25
  • Two - The Reproduction of Sexuality 77
  • Three - Imaginary Citizens 160
  • Four - Ritual as a Cultural Resource 227
  • Five - Ritual in Drama 289
  • References 371
  • Index 393
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