Women's Roles During the Thesmophoria Festivall? Research Paper

Women's Roles During the Thesmophoria Festivall?
An exploratory analysis of women's roles in the ancient Greek Thesmophoria festival.
# 146762 | 2,554 words | 13 sources | APA | 2008 | GB
Published on Jan 16, 2011 in Anthropology (Cultural) , History (Greek and Roman) , Religion and Theology (Other)

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This paper focuses its analysis on the often complicated roles of women in the Thesmophoria festival, a Greek celebration that took place all over Greece, in Asia Minor and on the island of Sicily, apparently in the month of Pyanopsion from the eleventh to the thirteenth. The paper explains that the festival itself was particularly associated with Demeter, and was open only, within Athens at least, to citizen women who were married, thus excluding all men, virgins, slaves and prostitutes. Reconstruction of the rituals and their meanings connected with the Thesmophoria is difficult, the paper notes, because of the nature of the scant evidence left behind. The paper also evaluates the subtle characteristics of the play of Aristophanes, 'Women at the Thesmophoria." The paper discusses the specific roles occupied by this select group of people included to participate in the rituals of the Thesmophoria and the reasons behind this.

From the Paper:

"The example of the regression to virginity is part of an all-encompassing theme of the Thesmophoria, namely that it was a festival of exception where the roles of society are reversed. Another example of the exceptional nature of the Thesmophoria lies in its primitivism with the women returning to an 'ancient manner of life'. The regression to becoming a maiden becomes part of returning to an uncultivated past, also without agricultural fertility. Women within the Thesmophoria represent this physically by 'sitting upon the ground', living outside the oikos and preparing food with only the heat of the sun. There is a literal re-enactment of the myth when Demeter mourned and there was an uncivilised world. Combined with participation in swearing, sacrifice and an implied approval of adultery, by Aristophanes, in the context of the festival we see a complete reversal of the socially acceptable image of the citizen, married woman. They are, for the three days of the festival, no longer constrained by the rules of the male dominated polis and even elect two leaders within themselves to act as official magistrates. Detienne argues that women are allowed to take part in political life because they have transgressed back to the virgin status and are allowed to sacrifice."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ashmole. B. Kalligeneia and Hieros Arotos. The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 66. (1946), pp. 8-10.
  • Broneer. O. The Thesmophorion in Athens. Hesperia. 11. (1942), pp. 250-274.
  • Burkert. W. 1985. Greek Religion. (Cambridge, Massachusetts).
  • Clinton. K. 'The Thesmophorion in Central Athens and the Celebration of the Thesmophoria in Attica' in Hagg. R. {ed.). 1996. The Role of Religion in the Early Greek Polis. (Stockholm), pp. 111-125.
  • Detienne. M. 'The violence of wellborn ladies: women in the Thesmophoria' in Detiennce. M. & Vernant. J.P. (eds.). 1989. The cuisine of sacrifice. (Chicago), pp. 129-147.

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

Women's Roles During the Thesmophoria Festivall? (2011, January 16) Retrieved June 09, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/research-paper/women-roles-during-the-thesmophoria-festivall-146762/

MLA Format

"Women's Roles During the Thesmophoria Festivall?" 16 January 2011. Web. 09 June. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/research-paper/women-roles-during-the-thesmophoria-festivall-146762/>