The Roman Goddess Ceres

The Roman Goddess Ceres

by Barbette Stanley Spaeth

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Overview

Interest in goddess worship is growing in contemporary society, as women seek models for feminine spirituality and wholeness. New cults are developing around ancient goddesses from many cultures, although their modern adherents often envision and interpret the goddesses very differently than their original worshippers did.

In this thematic study of the Roman goddess Ceres, Barbette Spaeth explores the rich complexity of meanings and functions that grew up around the goddess from the prehistoric period to the Late Roman Empire. In particular, she examines two major concepts, fertility and liminality, and two social categories, the plebs and women, which were inextricably linked with Ceres in the Roman mind. Spaeth then analyzes an image of the goddess in a relief of the Ara Pacis, an important state monument of the Augustan period, showing how it incorporates all these varied roles and associations of Ceres. This interpretation represents a new contribution to art history.

With its use of literary, epigraphical, numismatic, artistic, and archaeological evidence, The Roman Goddess Ceres presents a more encompassing view of the goddess than was previously available. It will be important reading for all students of Classics, as well as for a general audience interested in New Age, feminist, or pagan spirituality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292776937
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 11/01/1995
Edition description: 1st ed
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Barbette Stanley Spaeth is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Historical Overview
    • 1.1 Ancient Italy
    • 1.2 Regal Rome
    • 1.3 The Early Republic
    • 1.4 The Middle Republic
    • 1.5 The Late Republic
    • 1.6 The Augustan Period
    • 1.7 The Early Roman Empire
    • 1.8 The Late Empire and Afterward
  • Chapter 2. Fertility
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Agricultural Fertility
    • 2.3 Human Fertility
    • 2.4 Ceres and Fertility in Roman Imperial Political Symbolism
    • 2.5 Conclusion
  • Chapter 3. Liminality
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Rites of Passage
    • 3.3 Rites of Intensification
    • 3.4 Ceres and the Death of Tiberius Gracchus
    • 3.5 Conclusion
  • Chapter 4. The Plebs
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 The Temple of Ceres, Liber, and Libera
    • 4.3 Plebeian Magistrates and Ceres
    • 4.4 Ceres and Plebeian Social Consciousness
    • 4.5 Ceres, the Plebs, and Political Propaganda
    • 4.6 Conclusion
  • Chapter 5. Women
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 The Cult of Ceres and Proserpina
    • 5.3 Female Virtues
    • 5.4 Ceres and Women of the Imperial Family
    • 5.5 Conclusion
  • Chapter 6. Ceres in the Ara Pacis Augustue
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 The Central Figure of the Ara Pacis Relief
    • 6.3 The Side Figures of the Ara Pacis Relief
    • 6.4 The Ceres Panel and the Relief Program of the Ara Pacis
    • 6.5 Ceres and the Political Message of the Ara Pacis
    • 6.6 Conclusion
  • Appendix 1. Original Text of Translated Passages
  • Appendix 2. Women of the Imperial Family Identified with Ceres
  • Notes
  • References
  • General Index
  • Index of Passages Cited

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