The University of Wisconsin Press

Classical Studies / Literature and Criticism / Religion / Women's Studies


Greek Heroine Cults
Jennifer Larson

"Greek Heroine Cults addresses a vital aspect of ancient Greek religion in particular and civilization in general, that is, the practice of worshipping heroes, both male and female. As Larson shows clearly, the female aspect of this practice has not received the scholarly attention that it demands, and this book fills that need."
—Gregory Nagy, Harvard University

This is the first book to show that the worship of heroines, as well as of gods and heroes, was widespread in the Greek world from the eighth through the fourth centuries B.C. Drawing upon textual, archaeological, and iconographic evidence as diverse as ancient travel writing, ritual calendars, votive reliefs, and Euripidean drama, Jennifer Larson demonstrates the pervasiveness of heroine cults at every level of Athenian society.

Larson reveals that a broad range of heroic cults existed throughout the Greek world, encompassing not only individuals but couples (Pelops and Hippodameia, Alexandra and Agamemnon, Helen and Menelaos) and families such as those of Asklepios and the Dioskouroi. She shows how heroic cults reinforced the Greeks' gender expectations for both women and men through ritual status, iconography, and narrative motifs. Finally, Larson looks at the intersection of heroine cults with specific topics such as myths of maiden sacrifice, the Amazons, the role of the goddess Artemis, and folk beliefs about female "ghosts."

Jennifer Larson is assistant professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies at Kent State University.

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April 1995

LC: 94-011044 BL
192 pp. 6 x 9
7 halftones

Both the paper edition ISBN 978-0-299-14374-9 and the cloth edition ISBN 978-0-299-14370-1 are currently out of print.



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Updated January 31, 2013

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