Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece

Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece

by Joan Breton Connelly
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press

Paperback - Rent for

Select a Purchase Option (New Edition)
  • purchase options
    $38.29 $52.50 Save 27% Current price is $38.29, Original price is $52.5. You Save 27%.
  • purchase options


Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece

In this sumptuously illustrated book, Joan Breton Connelly gives us the first comprehensive cultural history of priestesses in the ancient Greek world. Connelly presents the fullest and most vivid picture yet of how priestesses lived and worked, from the most famous and sacred of them—the Delphic Oracle and the priestess of Athena Polias—to basket bearers and handmaidens. Along the way, she challenges long-held beliefs to show that priestesses played far more significant public roles in ancient Greece than previously acknowledged.

Connelly builds this history through a pioneering examination of archaeological evidence in the broader context of literary sources, inscriptions, sculpture, and vase painting. Ranging from southern Italy to Asia Minor, and from the late Bronze Age to the fifth century A.D., she brings the priestesses to life—their social origins, how they progressed through many sacred roles on the path to priesthood, and even how they dressed. She sheds light on the rituals they performed, the political power they wielded, their systems of patronage and compensation, and how they were honored, including in death. Connelly shows that understanding the complexity of priestesses' lives requires us to look past the simple lines we draw today between public and private, sacred and secular.

The remarkable picture that emerges reveals that women in religious office were not as secluded and marginalized as we have thought—that religious office was one arena in ancient Greece where women enjoyed privileges and authority comparable to that of men. Connelly concludes by examining women's roles in early Christianity, taking on the larger issue of the exclusion of women from the Christian priesthood. This paperback edition includes additional maps and a glossary for student use.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691143842
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/14/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

List of Abbreviations xiii

Chapter 1: Introduction: Time, Space, Source Material, and Methods 1

Chapter 2: Paths to Priesthood: Preparation, Requirements, and Acquisition 27

Chapter 3: Priesthoods of Prominence: Athena Polias at Athens, Demeter and Kore at Eleusis, Hera at Argos, and Apollo at Delphi 57

Chapter 4: Dressing the Part: Costume, Attribute, and Mimesis 85

Chapter 5: The Priestess in the Sanctuary: Implements, Portraits, and Patronage 117

Chapter 6: The Priestess in Action: Procession, Sacrifice, and Benefaction 165

Chapter 7: Priestly Privilege: Perquisites, Honors, and Authority 197

Chapter 8: Death of the Priestess: Grave Monuments, Epitaphs, and Public Burial 223

Chapter 9: The End of the Line: The Coming of Christianity 259

Chapter 10: Conclusions 275

Notes 283

Bibliography 365

Index of Monuments 383

Index of Inscriptions 387

Index of Priestesses 393

General Index 399

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews