Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

The History of Ancient Greece and The Partial Historians

Ryan Stitt, the host of the incredibly detailed and popular The History of Ancient Greece Podcast was kind enough to invite Dr G to discuss all things women and religion! In this special episode, we compare and contrast all kinds of elements of the women’s participation in rites and rituals.

Bona Dea and the Thesmophoria

We talk all things Bona DeaWe consider the ritual component of the festival and the connections between this ostensibly Roman goddess and her Greek counterpart Ceres and Eastern deities such as Magna Mater and Cybele.

We delve into the different facets of Roman deities and consider the potential significance of women-led festivities under the patriarchal system. This leads to an examination of the parallels between the rites to Roman Bona Dea and the Thesmophoria. Be on the listen for sacrifices of sows and the digging up of piglets!

Vesta and Hestia

It is perhaps no surprise that Dr G waxes lyrical about the Vestal Virgins, but you know, Ryan did ask! There are lots of details to enjoy here including:

  • the selection of young women into the cult
  • the cult image of Vesta
  • some of the politico-religious connections between Vestals and the state

We also follow the relationship between Vesta and Hestia comparing the differences in their worship and debate the flow of Greek migrants into the Italian peninsula and the influence of the Etruscans in the evolution of the worship of Vesta.

We trace some of the ancient source material for Vesta, including the Greek sources Plutarch and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

This special episode is packed with details! Other highlights include women’s role in ritual weaving, and the role of women in service to gods rather than goddesses.

You can find the episode here, posted after Ryan’s Episode 075 – Pregnancy, Abortion, and Divorce in the Libsyn player, or on iTunes.

Women and Religion in Ancient Greece and Rome
The Parthenon Sculptures are an appropriate expression of the Ancient Greeks to headline this episode on women and religion. This east pediment is identified with Hestia, Dione and Aphrodite. The Partial Historians support the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece.
Image Courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons © Marie-Lan Nguyen

Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!

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