Greek Heroine Cults (Wisconsin Studies in Classics) by Jennifer Larson

By Jennifer Larson

It is a thorough exam of the literary and iconographical proof for girl hero cults within the historic Greek international (8th-4th centuries BC). legendary ladies have been commonly worshipped in familial teams or in collaboration with male heroes and, indicates Larson, performed an immense function in reinforcing institution values in Greek society. She indicates how heroic cults bolstered the Greeks' gender expectancies for either men and women via ritual prestige, iconography, and narrative motifs, and examines issues corresponding to maiden sacrifice, the Amazons, the function of the goddess Artemis and feminine ghost ideals in folklore.

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The iconography is a fixed type modeled on the usual representation of a prototypical divinized couple, Khandoba and Mhalsa. 55 In both cases, the hero stones extending back to prehistoric times and the contemporary ancestor stones, husband and wife are associated in a heroic, high-status context, signaled by the horse or other 56 57 I Heroines and the Heroic Family I As Deborah Lyons has shown, the heroine's story may illustrate any of several aspects of a woman's life. l Sometimes she simply completes the hero's biography, since the hero must be born of woman.

In the central position are Persephone and Pluto, who holds a large cornucopia, the symbol of his ability to grant abundance. The horn-shaped rhyta held so often by the heroes in the reliefs may have a similar connotation. Four groups decorate the periphery: Zeus and Hera attended by Ganymede; Poseidon and Amphitrite; Dionysos and Ariadne attended by a satyr; and Ares and Aphrodite. The figures are carefully labeled. 5l Apparently the pose of the banqueting couple has connotations which allow its use for gods and heroes, but not in general for ordinary humans.

34 OTHER HEROIC RELIEFS In the case of the banquet scenes, it might be argued that one reason for the presence of the female figure was its prominence in the Near Eastern models for the banquet. However, the female figure is' also quite prominent in the other categories of hero relief, even the equestrian styles. In these reliefs there is no reason to include the female figure except as a cult partner of the hero. The non-banqueting reliefs can be divided for our purposes into two groups: (1) those including the sponde motif, in which the female companion pours wine for the man; (2) those in which the female companion merely stands behind or to one side of the man.

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