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.














Martha Malamud, Chris Faraone, Carolyn Dewald, Seth Schein, Ann Hanson, Dirk Obbink, Sarah Johnston, Jan Bremmer, and Lesley Dean-Jones. Readers will recognize my debts to Michael Jameson, Pauline Schmitt Pantel, and the editors of Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Preface / xi An invitation from Mogens Hansen to participate in the 1994 sessions of the Copenhagen Polis Project provided the opportunity to test my ideas on city gods. I have been challenged by my own students—in particular the

to pollute rivers or springs with urine or excrement. The other (no. 6) advises clean hands and a prayer before stepping into a river to cross it. Both strictures originate in a belief that rivers and springs are alive with a divine presence. Rivers were male, represented as gods, and springs were female, classified as nymphs. Fresh water, flowing water, and water for public use had to be respected. Water from sacred springs or water directed into sanctuaries had to be kept as clean as possible,19

supported by donations; potluck) was as important as sanctuaryfocused dining ritual. 17. Morgan (1994). Inventing the Center / 69 be handled by local leaders, but conflicts between larger groups required more widely recognized mechanisms for adjudication of disputes. Collective ritual practice at the major sanctuaries provided an apparatus for mediation. Ritual traditions provided procedures to regulate aggression and competition,18 to ratify agreements, and to moderate warfare. Temple

referred originally not to his political functions but to the location of his altar.134 The Dipolieia incorporated two events: murder on the akropolis and a ritual trial in the prytaneion.135 The dispute turned on the definition of murder and the nature of responsibility.136 The trial took place at the prytaneion because in the sixth century this was where texts of important laws and legislative pronouncements were exhibited. The ritual narrative of murder on the akropolis and trial in the

The similarities between excrement therapy and ritual practice have more to do with this analogy than with any similarity between the material means of purification and excrement. The fundamental division acknowledged by ritual was not between pure and polluted materials, nor even between pure and polluted individuals, but rather between sacred and productive spaces. Rites of purification addressed conditions that would transgress this boundary. Excrement therapy targeted pathological moisture, not

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