Landscapes, Gender, and Ritual Space: The Ancient Greek Experience

Landscapes, Gender, and Ritual Space: The Ancient Greek Experience

Susan Guettel Cole

Language: English

Pages: 306

ISBN: 0520235444

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The division of land and consolidation of territory that created the Greek polis also divided sacred from productive space, sharpened distinctions between purity and pollution, and created a ritual system premised on gender difference. Regional sanctuaries ameliorated competition between city-states, publicized the results of competitive rituals for males, and encouraged judicial alternatives to violence. Female ritual efforts, focused on reproduction and the health of the family, are less visible, but, as this provocative study shows, no less significant. Taking a fresh look at the epigraphical evidence for Greek ritual practice in the context of recent studies of landscape and political organization, Susan Guettel Cole illuminates the profoundly gendered nature of Greek cult practice and explains the connections between female rituals and the integrity of the community.

In a rich integration of ancient sources and current theory, Cole brings together the complex evidence for Greek ritual practice. She discusses relevant medical and philosophical theories about the female body; considers Greek ideas about purity, pollution, and ritual purification; and examines the cult of Artemis in detail. Her nuanced study demonstrates the social contribution of women's rituals to the sustenance of the polis and the identity of its people.











impression of a bastion in a barbarian land, protected by its gods and preserved by its rituals. Sanctuaries, public buildings, residential areas, and open spaces were symmetrically arranged. The agora was located on level ground near the harbor. A recently discovered inscription describes a protected space in the town center, bounded by the prytaneion (a building where important town officials dined), symposion, argyramoibeïon (the coin exchange), and the sanctuary of the Charites. The agora

Introduction vidual male the obligation to cultivate a piece of land also made him responsible for choosing his own wife. These two issues were tied together. Marriage provided the means, and the wife provided the instrument, for securing the allotment (kleros) to the lineage for the next generation. Burdens could be heavy. Maintaining minimum levels of agricultural production to sustain a family was always a concern— one complicated by anxiety about female fertility and, for the head of

from a copy by Fourmont; LSCG 63. The Ritual Body / 101 Thasos is not the only place where Herakles was so particular. His antipathy to females was so strong that in Phokis he was called “WomanHater” (Misogynes),58 and a well-known proverb stated: “A woman does not go to a shrine of Herakles.” 59 Aelian tells an anecdote that clarifies the implications of that proverb. He describes two adjacent sanctuaries, one of Herakles and the other of Hebe. The hens of Hebe never visited the roosters in

The disturbance, carried to her eyes and projected through the air, strikes the surface of the mirror and stains it with a bloody cloud. This description of the menstruant’s gaze assumes a direct pathway between the eye and the womb. Hippocratics described the eye as an en- 95. With reference to a cult of Despoina in Lykosoura. The generic participle is in the masculine; LSCG 68.12 –13, third century. 96. The involuntary pollution at LSS 115 B.7 – 8 could be menstruation, but see Parker (1983)

of “cutting” a boundary is essential. Plato makes this very clear when he uses the language of maintaining and disputing political boundaries as a second analogy for his philosophical method (231a–b). The image of political boundaries assumes complete encirclement, an idea emphasized in the many Greek terms for purification compounded with peri-, “around.” 304 Creating a new boundary was part of recovery. Purification with pure water was ubiquitous and took many forms. Purification with the blood of

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