Attic women and goddesses: Democracy, patriarchy and religion

White, Kathryn (2014). Attic women and goddesses: Democracy, patriarchy and religion MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2014.204

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
s41421895_mphil_submission.pdf Thesis full text application/pdf 2.57MB 9

Author White, Kathryn
Thesis Title Attic women and goddesses: Democracy, patriarchy and religion
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2014.204
Publication date 2014
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor David Pritchard
Amelia Brown
Total pages 130
Total colour pages 5
Total black and white pages 125
Language eng
Subjects 2103 Historical Studies
Formatted abstract
Classical democratic Athens was dominated by her free adult males, particularly in the areas of war and politics. They were also the kurioi or masters of their households. Attic women, on the other hand, had no such power. They were seen as perpetual minors, only capable of managing their husband’s household and bearing their husband’s legitimate children. Ideally, women were to remain in seclusion within their homes. This was to protect their reputation and, by extension, their husband’s, safeguard a girl’s virginity, and ensure that a wife only bore her husband’s legitimate children. Yet Attic women could and did break their seclusion to participate and to take prominent roles in various religious cults. Moreover, their menfolk actively encouraged them to do so. The religious sphere then appears to be a clear anomaly within the patriarchal society of Athens. This thesis aims to provide an explanation for the anomaly of female prominence in religion in classical Athens. To this end, I intend to use three case-studies, which focus on different goddesses and a festival/ritual associated with them. Each case-study is designed to answers distinct questions that will contribute to an overall explanation for why women were given such a prominent place in the religious life of classical democratic Athens. I conclude that this prominence would not have occurred without the financial assistance of individual husbands and of the dÄ“mos as a whole and in the Athenians’ own belief in the deities they worshipped. However, this assistance was not altruistic; men could not worship certain goddesses and so could not show their piety. Their assistance was a way to ensure their piety towards certain goddesses. Women, on the other hand, could actively show their piety, as there was a general belief that only women could worship goddesses. Furthermore, the citizens of Athens gave their female relatives prominence in religion because the cults that women did participate in reinforced their roles as wives, mothers and mourners within society. Goddess cults also reinforced certain behaviours and beliefs for men and for women. Through the imitation of goddesses, the roles, behaviours and beliefs of Attic women were further brought into line with mainstream male beliefs. Finally, by allowing their female relatives to participate actively and dominate certain festivals, the men of Athens helped to ensure the continuation and safety of both individual oikoi or households and the polis as a whole.
Keyword Classical athens

Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Thu, 17 Jul 2014, 10:24:15 EST by Ms Kathryn White on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service