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La religion des femmes en Grèce ancienne: mythes, cultes et société

Reviewed by Marietta Horster

The papers in this volume are based on a colloquium organised in Cork in honour of (more or less) 20 years since the publication of Pierre Brulé’s “La fille d’Athènes. La religion des filles à Athènes à l’époque classique. Mythes, cultes et société” (Paris 1987). One of the very interesting and innovative aspects of Brulé’s publication was the combination of various approaches and views on girls in classical Athens, exploring not only the contexts of cult, religion, myths, and ritual, but also of biology or, for example, physiology.

The first section of the conference-volume deals with female divinities and heroines. V. Sebillotte-Cuchet (p. 19-32) focuses on the Carian Artemis of Halicarnassus (Hdt. 6.68, 7.99-8.93) and questions the construction of an ‘historic’ heroine whose glory and memory was promoted by her fellow-citizens but who received no cult. The second paper deals with Callisto, a nymph of Artemis until she was metamorphosed into a bear and later into the constellation of the ‘Great Bear’. Sandra Boehringer (p. 33-50) is mostly interested in one of the variants of the myth of Callisto. It is the one in which Zeus, who raped Callisto, was able to come close to her and kiss her because he had transformed himself into the goddess Artemis. Boehringer argues that, because this female contact (the kiss of ‘Artemis’ and Callisto) was supposed to create positive feelings and not arouse suspicion, it demonstrates the predominance of a positive or at least neutral vision of female homosexuality in Greek culture. Philippe Monbrun (p. 51-64) compares the discourses on the beauty of the straight and high palm-tree on Delos, the straight and tall beautiful girl Nausikaa, and the parthenos Artemis, and the connections between the ‘virginity’ of palm trees, girls and goddess. The conclusions are rather weak; however, the connections among the assembled material are evident. Artemis is also one of the main subjects of Pierre Brulé’s paper (p. 65-80) in which he pursues Artemis’ various epicleses, connecting them with local variants of Iphigenia stories and Artemis myths. Artemis’ myths and epicleses are also the focus of Claude Calame’s examination of the material, mythological and narrative landscape of the Brauron sanctuary (p.83-92).

Read the original article at: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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