Citizen Bacchae: Women's Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece

By Barbara Goff | Go to book overview

THREE
In and Out of the City
Imaginary Citizens

Although the models of ritual action elaborated in the Wrst and second chapters of this study subtend an obvious tension, I shall not attempt to resolve it here but rather re-stage it, on different terrain. Emphasizing a model of female presence, agency, and autonomy as exercised in the ritual sphere, I have also stressed that sizable tracts of that ritual elaborate versions of female identity that can only operate at the expense of those women themselves. To understand the ritual sphere comprehensively seems to require that we elaborate a dialectical model, in which both possibilities are seen to be simultaneously at work. In this chapter I shall consider, in the light of such a model, the intersections of women's ritual practice with the political culture of the Greek cities. I shall seek to show that in such intersections, women's ritual practice dramatizes their marginality in or exclusion from the determining structures of the city yet conversely fantasizes that they are fully qualified citizens.

The political experiments among the Greek cities of the classical period produced a highly developed self-consciousness about systems of governance and decision making. Aristotle's Politics compares not only the functioning constitutions of Athens, Sparta, Carthage, and Crete but also the ideal cities planned by Plato, Hippodamos of Miletos, and Phaleas of Chalkedon. While the field of practice and theory embraced by the term “politics” (ta politika) is necessarily different from what is implied by the modern understanding of the word, we can nonetheless identify a relatively consistent and coherent discourse about the distribution and transfer of authority and about the regulation of internal strife. The object of this discourse is the independent, self-governing city (and to some extent its surrounding rural territory), and the agents targeted by this discourse are the “citizens, ” who comprise either all or a selected part of the population of

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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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