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Women of Ancient Greece$
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Pierre Brule

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780748616435

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748616435.001.0001

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The feminine and the sacred

The feminine and the sacred

(p.6) Chapter 1 The feminine and the sacred
Women of Ancient Greece

Pierre Brulé

Antonia Nevill

Edinburgh University Press

In the distribution of genders (and sexes) among the Greek immortals, the feminine position is by no means subordinate. Goddesses such as Demeter, Athena and Hera are not concerned with under-secretaryships of state for the affairs of Olympus. From the time that gods were recorded in Greece (the middle of the second millennium bc) up to the period which interests us, representation of the feminine in this pantheon showed a decline. Nevertheless, it still holds a record ‘feminization rate’ among religions. Goddesses are classed as women in a status whose definition is derived from the sexual, the biological and the social at the same time. This triple conjunction of conditions defines three of the greatest – Athena, Artemis and Hestia – as parthenoi (‘virgins’). Other goddesses who inhabit Olympus have a sexual life. These include the Muses, Nymphs and the Mother of the Gods. This chapter focuses on women and religion in ancient Greece, feminine in the divine, humans seeking the divine, maenadism, the origins of Greek misogyny, Hesiod and Pandora, and women and Pandora's snare.

Keywords:   Demeter, Athena, Hera, ancient Greece, Olympus, goddesses, religion, women, Pandora, misogyny

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