Ritual Management of Desire

Barbara Goff

in Citizen Bacchae

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780520239982
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930582 | DOI:
Ritual Management of Desire

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According to Greek medical writers' notion of female identity, women are figured predominantly as containers, and the sign of excess that governs their sexuality is shifted to the physiological plane, where femaleness is perceived as a problem in the management of liquids such as blood, milk, and semen. Women's contentment in sexual intercourse is acknowledged but is carefully delineated as dependent on men, to be harnessed and disciplined in the interests of healthy conception and pregnancy. The Greek woman was constantly subjected to bodily practices over which she exercised limited physical or social control given the cultural impossibility of reaching adulthood without experience of marriage and repeated pregnancies. On the other hand, the ritual sphere of Greeks does not simply reflect the construction of gender that is undertaken in other spheres, but actively participates in it.

Keywords: physiological plane; containers; conception; pregnancy; adulthood

Chapter.  39332 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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