transvestism, ritual

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The wearing of a dress of the other sex during ritual. Ritual transvestism belongs to rituals of reversal, where the values of ordinary life are temporarily abandoned. It is a special case of ritual change of dress; a structural equivalent is the taking up of freedmen's dress by Roman citizens during the Saturnalia (see saturnus). Persons who perpetually live on the margins of society might perpetually wear transvestite attire, as did the eunuch priests of Cybele (see eunuchs, Religious).

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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