The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece

Paperback | February 15, 2011

byMarguerite Rigoglioso

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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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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 bir...

Marguerite Rigoglioso, Ph.D., is a member of the faculties of Dominican University of California, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where she teaches courses on women and religion. Her pioneering research on female deities and women’s religious leadership in the ancient Medite...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:292 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.66 inPublished:February 15, 2011Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230111327

ISBN - 13:9780230111325

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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

Editorial Reviews

"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