Chapter

Goddesses and World Renewal in the Ancient Mediterranean

Rosemary Radford Ruether

in Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780520231467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940413 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231467.003.0003
Goddesses and World Renewal in the Ancient Mediterranean

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This chapter focuses on particular patterns of mythic thought in the ancient cultures of the Near East, Egypt, and Greece in which goddesses play a central role in world renewal. It looks specifically at the figure of Innana/Ishtar of the Sumero-Akkadian traditions of the third and second millennia BCE and makes some comparisons with three other goddesses: Anat in Canaanite Ugaritic myth, Isis in Egypt, and Demeter in Greece. In addition to their myths about nature renewal, the first three have been reinterpreted in their historic forms in relationship to state formation and kingship. In the form in which their stories have come down to us, the first three goddesses express a construction of female divinity that sacralizes not only male but also royal or class-dominated societies. This chapter also examines the difficult question of the relationship of these powerful and enduring female divine figures to the status of women in the societies that fostered their myths and cults.

Keywords: Egypt; Greece; goddesses; renewal; Innana; Anat; Isis; Demeter; female divinity; myths

Chapter.  13013 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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