The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece

The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece


By (author) Marguerite Rigoglioso

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  • Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Format: Paperback | 292 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 216mm x 17mm | 376g
  • Publication date: 18 March 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Basingstoke
  • ISBN 10: 0230111327
  • ISBN 13: 9780230111325
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,160,287

Product description

Greek religion is filled with strange sexual artifacts - stories of mortal women's couplings with gods, rituals like the basilinna's "marriage" to Dionysus, beliefs in the impregnating power of snakes and deities, and more. In this provocative study, Marguerite Rigoglioso suggests these are remnants of an early Greek cult of divine birth, not unlike that of Egypt. Scouring myth, legend, and history from a female-oriented perspective, she argues that many in the highest echelons of Greek civilization believed non-ordinary conception was the only means possible of bringing forth true leaders, and that special virgin priestesshoods were dedicated to this practice. Her book adds a unique perspective to our understanding of antiquity, and has significant implications for the study of Christianity and other religions in which divine birth claims are central.

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Author information

MARGUERITE RIGOGLIOSO Adjunct instructor at the Dominican University of California, USA.

Review quote

'This book is bold, creative, and courageous, and makes a considerable contribution to feminist re-readings and reinterpretations of religious and mythological traditions from the Graeco-Roman world.' - Marvin Meyer, Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies, Chapman University; author of The Gospel of Judas, The Gospels of Mary, The Gnostic Bible, and Ancient Christian Magic 'Thought provoking and superbly written, this is the only book to examine thoroughly and seriously the question of divine birth in ancient Greece. Imperative for classical scholars, the book provides stunning insights that should be a fascinating read for anyone who has even the slightest interest in spirituality, religion, feminism, or ancient history.'- Jorge N. Ferrer, coeditor of The Participatory Turn: Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies 'Her insightful study of the priestesshoods of divine birth brings the subject into focus and suggests new scholarly perspectives.' - Charlene Spretnak, author of Lost Goddesses of Early Greece 'Rigoglioso argues that the divine birth priestesses engaged in mystical practices intended to allow them to give birth parthenogenetically (without a man). The evidence she brings together in support of this idea is impressive. I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in the roles of women in ancient Greek religion.' - Carol P. Christ 'We can accept...that it is really "the first scholarly book to explore the theme of divine birth in ancient Greece in an in-depth and comprehensive fashion" and value its contribution to women studies and value its contribution to women studies and interpretation of Ancient Mythology generally.' -Ostrava Journal of English Philology

Table of contents

A Taxonomy of Divine Birth Priestesshoods Divinity, Birth, and Virginity: The Greek Worldview Athena's Divine Birth Priestesshood Artemis's Divine Birth Priestesshood Hera's Divine Birth Priestesshood The Divine Birth Priestesshood at Dodona The Divine Birth Priestesshood at Delphi Is Virgin Birth Possible? and Other Outrageous Questions