Citizen Bacchae: Women's Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece

By Barbara Goff | Go to book overview

FIVE
Women Represented
Ritual in Drama

Thus far we have examined women's ritual practice in ancient Greece from a variety of perspectives, exploring its connections to discourses of work, sexuality, and civic identity, and its possible role in a women's subculture. Throughout, numerous different kinds of testimony have been marshaled, and attempts have been made to circumvent the fact that our evidence is almost entirely generated by men, rather than by the women who were both the subjects and the objects of the ritual process. This chapter, then, marks a departure as well as providing a conclusion, for it concentrates on a single, well-defined body of texts and abandons all attempt to investigate women's experience of women's ritual in favor of a focus on a particular genre of representation by men: drama.1 What are the justifications for such a proceeding?

One answer is the simple prestige of the dramatic texts; along with Homeric epic, they are the ancient Greek literary productions most accessible to nonspecialists and most frequently offered to them in the form of new translations and new productions for the stage. If these dramas have anything at all to say about women and ritual, the dominance that they exert in the field of Greek studies would probably assure them a place in an investigation such as this. A more cogent reason for their inclusion is that they actually have a great deal to say, about both ritual and women, and have therefore generated an extensive secondary literature on these topics. The

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1
Chapter 5 incorporates in revised form material previously published in the following articles: “Aithra at Eleusis, ” Helios 22.1 (1995) 65–78; “The Women of Thebes, ” Classical Journal 90.4 (April–May 1995) 353–65; “The Violence of Community: Ritual in the Iphigeneia in Tauris, ” Bucknell Review 43.1 (1999) 109–25. I am grateful for permission to use that material here.

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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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