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Lecture 8

CLA219H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Athena, 8 Women, Hieros Gamos

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Regina Höschele

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CLA219: Women in Antiquity
Tuesday Nov 6, 2012
Lecture 8 - Women and Ritual
Fragment from Euripides The Captive Melanippe
Women have greatest part in divine affairs
In holy service woman plays the righteous role
Women in priesthoods would get the skins of sacrificial animals, part of the meat
Sometimes dates are attributed to priestesses (their year of reign)
Female deities required female cult attendants
Analogy between temple and house
Woman looks after house just like priestess looks after temple
Aristophanes Lysistrate
List of all the roles of a woman in religion at different stages in their life
Aletris - corn grinder for goddess
Kanephoros - woman who carries basket, garlands, grains in front of procession that they
would sacrifice before the animal
Contrasts with what we know of women - used to them being behind closed doors
Gentilician priesthood
Restricted to genos - tribe
Athena Polias
Priest drawn from the Eteoboutadai genos (family grouping)
Pandion, Boutes, and Erechtheus
When King Pandit of Athens died Erechtheus was given kingship and Boutes priesthood of
This is an example of people using myths to legitimized their role
Democratic priesthood: had to be a of the demos (the people) but not open to just anyone:
Paths to priesthoods
Inheritance (Gentilician priesthood)
Allotment (drawn by lot, the god would choose who was to be priest. To get on the list you
had to have specifications like wealth or good family)
Election/appointment (had to pay a fee in order to become a priest(ess)
Purchase (particularly in Asia Minor. Didn’t have to make payouts for public services if
this is purchased [like to build temples and ships])
Would get an income as a priest
Had to be free from physical defects to be priest (the gods were perfect so you had to be)
Athena Polias
Athena in her role as guardian of the city
Athenian festival
Arrhe - secrets; Phoria - carrying. The carrying of secrets
2 girls form athenian families aged 7-11 live on acropolis for a year and hang out with
priestess of Athena Polias. One of their main tasks was to weave new robe for Athena
The girls were given a basket of something and told to carry it through an underground
corridor to the sanctuary of Eros and Aphrodite. They would leave the basket there and
take another thing back. The had no idea what they were carrying

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CLA219: Women in Antiquity
Tuesday Nov 6, 2012
Lecture 8 - Women and Ritual
Hephaestus ejaculates on Athena’s thigh, she wipes semen off with wool and chucks it on the
Ericthonius born from the ground
How the athenians get around Athena being a virgin but yet still decedent of her
Cecrops daughters Heres, Algiers, Pandrosus were given basket by Athena, told not to
look inside. They looked inside and saw the baby Erichtonius born from the ground
along with snakes. They were so terrified by this that they jumped from the acropolis
and died
Arrhephroia connected to sexual initiation
Snake is phallic
Athena’s peplos on the Parthenon frieze
On the right is young child carrying Peplos woven every year for Athena
They hand it to Athenian magistrate
Shows importance of peplos as it is on the Parthenon
Celebrated at Brauron at the sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia
Festival for artemis
Arktoi - bear
Young girls active in this festival as Artemis is associated with maidens
Brauron is in attica
Happens every 4 years
Only daughter of athenian citizens could take place
Procession from Acropolis in Athena to Brauron (20k!)
Dancing, races
Wear saffron colored robes
There was a bear sacred to artemis, girl playing with bear and the bear scratched her. The
bear was killed, artemis unhappy, she caused plague. She said the plague would only be re-
moved when little girls pretended to be bears
Wore bear masks
Slaves could take place, festival of wine and drinking associated with Dionysus
Spring festival celebrated on three days:
First day
Opening of the jars
Go to temple of Dionysus of the Marshes and open the jars and taste the new wine
Festival for making the libations
Considered day of pollution
At home they would paint doors with pitch
Eat together in silence
Drink a lot
Every person including slaves would drink 2.5l of wine (cut with water)
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