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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - Women in Ritual

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University of Toronto St. George
Regina Höschele

Lecture 8 – Women in Ritual  Women had important roles in religious ceremonies  Priestesses were granted a share of the sacrificial animals as well as get paid for their work  Sometimes years were dated based on the priestesses at that time (see Thucydides)  Female deities required female priestesses  Women were also necessary for many tasks at the temple o Weaving, sewing, etc.  Many choices for women in religion besides being a priestess depending on the age of the girl o Alteris – corn grinder for the goddess o Kanephoros – carries grains, garlands, sacrifices, etc. at the front of a procession Getting Priesthood  Each order had their own specific requirements  Gentilician priesthoods o Priesthood restricted to a particular genos (tribe)  Ex. Eteoboutadai Genos worshipped Athena Polias – Athena in her role as guardian of the city  Pandion was an early king of Athens – had two sons, Boutes and Erectheus o When he died, Boutes was given priesthood, Erectheus was given kingship  All priests must descend from Boutes  All kings must descend from Erectheus  Democratic priesthood – held by a citizen o 4 paths:  Inheritance  Allotment – drawing a name at random (the gods would guide it)  qualifications – wealth and a good family  Election – needed to pay a fee once elected  Purchase – after which no payouts were needed for wars, etc.  They would also get portions of sacrificial animals  A priest needed to be healthy with a sound body and free from physical defects o The bodies of the gods are perfect, yours must be as well Arrhephoria  Early kings were often depicted in artwork with the body of a snake (sign of fertility, connection with the earth)  Arrhe – secrets, phoria – carrying o Carrying of secret things  Two girls between the ages of 7 and 11 would live on the acropolis for a year o Would help to weave new peplos (robe) for the statue of Athena  The girls were given a basket full of something unknown o Carried in to an underground sanctuary for Eros and Aphrodite o They would leave that basket at the sanctuary and pick up a new one (contents were still unknown)  Ericthonius born from the ground – semen of Hephaestus wiped off by Athena  The daughters of Cecrops (the king of Athens at the time), Herse, Aglaurus, and Pandrosus, were given a basket by Athena, told not to look inside o They do, inside is baby Ericthonius and a bunch of snakes o The daughters are so sacred that they jump off the acropolis to their deaths  This is a festival of sexual initiation o Snake, basket, and Aphrodite all represent sex Arkteia  Arktos – bear  Celebrated at Brauron (sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia)  Virgin goddess associated with young children and transitions  Brauron was located in Attica, about 20km from Athens  This festival would occur every 4 years, and only daughters of Athenian citizens could participate  They would walk from the acropolis at Athens o When they arrived there would be dancing and races that occurred  The girls would wear saffron coloured robes and could be seen in artwork wearing bear masks o The bear was sacred to Artemis o A girl was playing with a bear, it scratched her and was killed o Artemis sent a plague that could only be cured if young girls pretended to be bears  Function of this festival was to please/satisfy the gods Anthesteria  Spring festival lasting 3 days o Pithoigia o Choes (chous) o Chytroi  Slaves were able to participate  Wine and drinking – festival for Dionysus Day 1 – Pithoigia  “the opening of the jars”  Dionysus of the Marshes o Opens jars and taste the new wine Day 2 – Choes  “libations/ vessel used to make libations”  A day of pollution  The people would paint their doors black and eat together in silence  Each person was given a jar that held 2.5 litres of wine o children over the age of 3 would get their first pitcher (considerably smaller though)  this represented their initiation into the family  there was the idea of sacrifice associated with the wine (wine=blood) o Dionysus torn apart by Titans, blood of Dionysus himself  Then the people would decorate their pitchers with wreaths and make a procession to the temple of Dionysus  14 women called the Gerarai (‘venerable ones’) o Swore a sacrificial oath binding them together o They were appointed at the Temple of Dionysus o Had some sacred functions during the festival  They were led by the Basilinna, the wife of the Archon Basileus (the king magistrate) o She would have a sacred marriage to Dionysus  Maybe with someone dressed like Dionysus (maybe even her husband)  would have sex with this stand-in Dionysus Day 3 – Chytroi  “cooking pots”  The people would cook grains for Hermes  Association with underworld, therefore a connection to death  Girls would swing on swings  Erigone, daughter of Icarius o Icarius was the first man given wine by Dionysus o Shared it with other men, they thought that they were being poisoned (having never been drunk before) so they killed Icarius o Erigone finds hims and hangs herself o Association between swinging and hanging Adonia  Adonis was the mortal lover of Aphrodite o Very very attractive  He was gored by a boar o Went hunting even after Aphrodite told him not to  Bion writes ‘Lament for Adonis’ o Really beautiful and sad o Aphrodite’s thoughts when she finds out Adonis has been killed  Celebrated in early summer  This was not a formal festival organized by the city o It was held informally by gatherings of women who would lament Adonis’ death by shouting from rooftops  The women would grow gardens, let them die, and then throw the dead plants into the sea o Mock funeral o Represented how the beauty of Adonis was only able to live for a short amount of time  Gave the women a chance to celebrate and mourn the death of beauty o Most women would have been married to older, less attractive men Thesmophoria  Associated with pigs and pig sacrifice  “law-giver” – referring to Demeter  This festival was held for Demeter and Persephone in fall before the crops had been sown  3 day festival o Anodos (ascent) o Nesteia (fasting) o Kalligenia (good birth) Day 1 – Anodos  Women would meet on a hill called the Pnyx o Typically where the assembly was held, but during this time, the assembly was held elsewhere  The women would bring food and sacrificial animals with them Day 2 – Nesteia  This was a day of mourning  The women would sit around the statue of Demeter fasting  Represented when Demeter was fasting as she searched for Persephone Day 3 – Kalligenia  This was a day of celebration  The women would tell each other dirty and obscene jokes o Representative
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