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.
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
"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
"... a good representation of the potential of the study of women's rituals as a medium for relocating women to the center of ancient society from their long relegation at the edge. January 2009"
Randall S. Howarth
"[T]he scholars who contributed to this volume have done a fine job of initial recovery with careful re-interpretation of their maddeningly fragmentary primary sources. 69.1, 2010"
"[T]his volume has advanced the study of women and men and ritual in the ancient Mediterranean, an area which has rightly entered the mainstream of classical scholarship."
"[This] volume spans nearly a millennium of the Greco-Roman world. It offers a snapshot of the best work in a burgeoning subfield. Especially welcome is the fresh attention paid to issues of female agency, local differentiation in cult practices, and the precise literary, material, and socio-political contexts of our evidence. August, 2011"
Journal of Folklore Research