Artemis Brauronia-kulten: Menstruasjon og religion i det antikke Hellas
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The ancient Greek cult of Artemis Brauronia has been discussed by a variety of scholars of Greek religion. This master thesis aims to explore how ancient Greek cultural, social and biological perceptions of menstruation can contribute or add to the understanding of the cult of Artemis Brauronia. The focus of the thesis is on late archaic and the classical period. Artemis is best known as the goddess of the hunt and wilderness, but she was also a goddess of transformation and transition. In Brauron she is most likely to have been a goddess with responsibility for women during the reproductive process, which includes the female transformation from parthenos (often translated ‘maiden’) to gyné (‘woman’ or ‘wife’). At the same time one can identify a vengeful aspect of the goddess in this cult, where Artemis’ anger poses a threat to females in the vulnerable reproductive process. When women in classical antiquity fell ill, it was often attributed to something being wrong with their reproductive organs. Ancient medical text suggests there was a concern with menstruation and menarche (fist bleeding). In the same way as pregnancy and birth, menstruation seems to also have been perceived as potentially dangerous to women and girls, especially menarche. Archeological sources indicate that women dedicated statues, figurines, clothes and other personal belongings to Artemis Brauronia for help in childbirth, and the nurture of young children. Studying inventory lists of votive gifts in the sanctuary, suggests that votives could have been dedicated in connection with menarche and menstruation as well. Another intriguing activity that has been associates with the Brauron sanctuary is the arkteia. In modern scholarship the arkteia is usually understood as a ritual where girls “played the Bear” for Artemis Brauronia and Artemis in other locations (most notably the sanctuary of Artemis Mounichia). The ritual is often understood as an initiation ritual or a rite de passage for girls. Rituals like this is often associated with menarche. In this thesis I explore the possibility that the arkteia was a means of pacifying the angry Artemis, who was the goddess responsible for the girls ascending to womanhood.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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