Finding Persephone

Finding Persephone

Women's Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean
Maryline Parca and Angeliki Tzanetou
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/27/2007
Format: Paperback 20 b&w photos, 1 figures, 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21938-1
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Drawing upon the latest research in gender studies, history of religion, feminism, ritual theory, performance, anthropology, archaeology, and art history, Finding Persephone investigates the ways in which the religious lives and ritual practices of women in Greek and Roman antiquity helped shape their social and civic identity. Barred from participating in many public arenas, women asserted their presence by performing rituals at festivals and presiding over rites associated with life passages and healing. The essays in this lively and timely volume reveal the central place of women in the religious and ritual practices of the societies of the ancient Mediterranean. Readers interested in religion, women's studies, and classical antiquity will find a unique exploration of the nature and character of women's autonomy within the religious sphere and a full account of women's agency in the public domain.

Author Bio

Maryline Parca teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is author of The Franchetti Collection in Rome: Inscriptions and Sculptural Fragments.

Angeliki Tzanetou teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has published articles on women's rituals and politics in Greek drama.


“As the excellent introduction makes clear, there are good reasons why the study of women and religion is an exciting topic at this time.”
 — H. Alan Shapiro, Johns Hopkins University

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Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction
1. Ritual and Gender: Critical Perspectives Angeliki Tzanetou
Part 2. Sources and Methodology
2. The Scandal of Women's Ritual Deborah Lyons
Part 3. Gender and Agency
3. Looking for the Images: Representations of Girls' Rituals in Ancient Athens Jenifer Neils
4. Improvising on the Athenian Stage: Women's Ritual Practice in Drama Barbara Goff
5. Sanctissima femina: Social Categorization and Women's Religious Experience in the Roman Republic Celia E. Schultz
6. Threat and Hope: Women's Rituals and Civil War in Roman Epic Vassiliki Panoussi
Part 4. Performance
7. Folk Songs as Ritual Acts: The Case of Work-Songs Andromache Karanika
8. The Rise of the Demon Womb in Greco-Roman Antiquity Christopher A. Faraone
9. Thesmophoria and Eleusinian Mysteries: The Fascination of Women's Secret Ritual Eva Stehle
Part 5. Appropriations and Adaptations
10. Worshipping Demeter in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt Maryline Parca
11. Nuptiarum Sollemnia? Girls' Transition to Marriage in the Roman Jurists Lauren Caldwell
12. Maidens and Manhood in the Worship of Diana at Nemi Eve D'Ambra
13. Male Improvisation in the "Women's Cult" of Eileithyia on Paros David D. Leitao
14. Early Christian Antipathy toward the Greek "Women Gods" Kathy L. Gaca