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Chapter 11

Classical Studies 2200 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Cult Of Artemis At Brauron, Fetus, Minos

Classical Studies
Course Code
CS 2200
Aara Suksi

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Chapter 11 Heroines of Myth: Women in Many Roles
The Heroine: Women’s Mysteries in a Man’s World
Never engage in quests or engage with combat with monsters or gods
The wife’s of heroes are usually granted a gift only when their husbands likewise
achieve stellar status
Divinity doesn’t motivate females as it does to heroes
Even when women are granted divine status and transformed into a goddess, their
names are usually changed, so that their mortal name has no meaning to them
Women’s Rituals
Females rites of passage are collective rather than individual
The goddess Artemis tends to govern over the females (both young girls and
The initiation ritual for girls was called Brauronia
o This takes place in Attica
o Took place before the girls experienced puberty
o The most important part of the ritual was Arkteia, in which the girls ran as
“bears”, either nude or wearing short garments
o The connection to the natural world is emphasized through the act of
playing the bear
o Artemis is the bear goddess, often appearing as a doe or she-bear
Artemis has connections with all three levels of cosmos: with the heavens (both as
Olympian twin sister of Apollo and in her connection with the lunar cycle), with
the earth (as the lady of beasts/bear), and with the Underworld (in her association
with Hecate, her Underworld counterpart)
She prepares the young girls for motherhood as well as being a bride
Interestingly, clothes of women who died in childbirth were offered to Artemis at
Artemis’ followers cannot become a virgin goddess because marriage and
motherhood were the only ways to enter adulthood
Running as a bear, each girl enters the sisterhood of Artemis and leaving the cave
of her childhood hibernation behind, becomes the bear goddess
Example: Zeus tricks Callisto when he disguises himself as Artemis. He
impregnates her and Callisto is forced to leave Artemis’s band of followers. After
she gives birth, Callisto is turned into a bear. Her son grows up without knowing
his mother. One day while he is hunting in the woods, comes across Callisto and
before he hunts her, Zeus intervenes and turns Callisto into a constellation (called
the Great Bear)
The Amazons
Refused the normal path of Heroines
They are a tribe of formidable female warriors who lived apart from men,
engaged in combat with most of the male heroes
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Have the physical skill of men
Wield weapons
The Amazon queen is Hippolyte
Patterns of the Heroine Myths
The male is the norm
Women are always described in terms of their relationships to their fathers or
brothers or husbands
Women must uphold loyalty and obedience, and if they don’t abide by this they
are names whores, witches, or monsters
Obedient wives of heroes end up widows
Wives or mothers of heroes will remain obedient even in the face of death
Women who are helper maidens, assist the heroes in their quests
Brides of Death martyr themselves rather than compromise their integrity
The Heroine as Mother or Wife
Mothers and Daughter of the Heroes
To be the mother of a hero, a women must first be the consort of a god
The experience of the divine raptus is the high point of their lives
Some stories have extreme endings
Example: Zeus, who comes in human form, impregnates Semele. But when,
provoked by Hera, she insists on making love to the god in his natural form
(lightening bolt), she has a brief but electrifying experience and then goes up in
smoke. Zeus saves the fetus by placing him in his thigh (soon to be baby
The women who do survive, don’t live happily afterwards
Wives of Heroes
Hecuba, wife of King of Troy and mother of Hector, is taken into slavery when
the city falls, as is Hectors wife Andromache
In Andromache, to please Hector she joined him in admiring the women with
whom he has affairs with and even goes to nurse Hectors illegitimate children
Alcestis: The Model Wife
She is the eldest daughter of Pelias
Admired for her beauty and virtue
Many of her suitors compete for her
o To win her hand, a suitor must harness two wild beasts to a chariot
o With the help of Apollo, Admetus succeeds by harnessing a boar and a
Admetus is the ruler of Pherae and is known to be a good man and especially a
good host
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