GODDESSES AND WOMEN OF ANCIENT GREECE:
CASE STUDY UNITED NATIONS ON WOMEN, FEMINIST MOVEMENT IN AFRICA (NIGERIA) AND THE GODDESS MOVEMENT
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The topic for examination is a very interesting one as it poses puzzles, complex observations and scholarly thoughts into the world of the feminine.
An outstanding analysis of data on goddess worship in ancient Greece suggested that the phenomenon is part of a complex notational system for feminism today rather than merely an indication of fertility symbolism.
It discusses the goddess worship and the feminine amongst the people of antiquity. The Case Study for this discussion is Ancient Greece were this kind of worship greatly flourished.
The scope and antiquity of goddess worship are remarkable. Female sacred images are associated with some of the oldest archaeological evidence for religious expression and they still have efficacy in the contemporary world. Goddess images are depicted in a wide range of forms, from aniconic representations, such as abstract organs of reproduction to fully elaborated icons decorated with the finery of monarchy. They are linked to all major aspects of life including initiation, marriage, reproduction and death.
They display the elaborate variegation of religious experiences in different cultural contexts. A historical survey reveals goddess worship to be a continuous phenomenon despite periodic ebbs and tides during certain critical epochs.
Quite interesting and breath-taking is the religious symbology associated with it. It tends to mirror the arts and symbols portrayed in the pictures and deeds of this goddesses and how its relevance to Religious and Sociological aspect of life.
The aforementioned is cleverly linked through the Goddess Movement and its indelible influence on feminist drive by present day women.
This piece is set to change the world view about the feminine and give them an equal opportunity to express themselves by relieving them of the over-bearing burden of the patriarchal world.
1.2 CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
This caters for the brief explanation of some complex words contained in the topic of this work.
For better understanding of this work, the following words need some clarification and a little insight so as to make the reader quite grounded. They include-
Iconography as a branch of History studies the Identification, Description and the Interpretation of the content of images: the subjects depicted the particular compositions and details used to do so and other elements that are distinct from artistic style.
The word iconographycomes from the Greek (image) and (‘’to write’’). A secondary meaning (based on a non-standard translation of the Greek and Russian equivalent terms) is the production of religious images, called ‘’icons’’,in the Byzantine and Orthodox Christian tradition.
In Art History, ‘’an iconography’’ may also mean a particular depiction of a subject in terms of the content of the image, such as the number of figures used, their placing and gestures.
Religious images are used to some extent by all major religions and often certain highly complex iconography, which reflects centuries of accumulated tradition.
A Goddess is a Female Deity in polytheistic Religions. Goddesses most often have Feminine characteristics that are apotheosize in their pure form. However in some cases Goddesses may embody neutral forms, personifying both Male and Female characteristics (like Sophia), or they may even exhibit traits that are traditionally associated with the Male gender (for example, Artemis).
Goddesses have been especially linked with virtues such as Beauty, Love, Motherhood and Fertility (Mother-Goddess cult in prehistoric times), but because of their flexibility in gender portrayal, they have also been associated with ideas, such as War, Creation and Death.
The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic ‘’great goddess’’ is advocated by some modern Matriarchists as a female version of, preceding or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean axis Age.
Polytheist religions, including polytheistic Reconstructionists, honor multiple Goddesses, and usually view them as discrete, separate beings.
The noun ‘goddess’ is a secondary formation, combining the Germanic Godwith the Latinate- ess suffix. It first appeared in Middle English, from about 1350. The English word follows the linguistic precedent of a number of languages- including Egyptian, ClassicalGreek, and several Semitic languages that add a feminine ending to the language’s word for God.
Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a Deity. It is also used in addressing or referring to an important or high-ranking personality.
1.2.4 ANCIENT GREECE
Ancient Greece was a Civilization belonging to a period of Greek History from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th-19th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (c.600AD).Immediately following this period was the beginning of the early middle Ages and the Byzantine Era.
Roughly three centuries after the late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek Urban Poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the period of archaic Greece and colonization of the Mediterranean basin.
This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC.
Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Hellenistic civilization flourished from central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.
Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy had a powerful influence on Ancient Rome, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean basin and Europe. For this reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern western culture and is considered theCradle of Western Civilization.
The Civilization of Ancient Greece has been immensely influential on Language, Politics, Philosophy, Science, Arts and the Educational system. It became the leitkulturof the Roman Empire to the point of marginalizing native Italic traditions. As Horace put it,
‘’Graecia capta ferumvictoremcepit et artis/intulitagrestilatio’’.
“Captive Greece took captive her uncivilized conqueror and instilled her arts in rustic Latium”.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ancientgreece. Retrieved 5/06/2017
Via, the Roman Empire, Greek Culture came to be foundational to Western Culture in general. The Byzantine Empire inherited Classical Greek Culture directly, without Latin intermediation, and the preservation of Classical Greek learning in Medieval Byzantine tradition further exerted strong influence on the Slavs and later on the Islamic Golden Age and the Western European Renaissance. A modern revival of Classical Greek learning took place in the Neoclassicism Movement in 18th and 19th century Europe and the America.
This is a connection of series of connections linking two or more things. It originated in the mid 17th century. It is from Latin meaning “a binding together”, fromnex-“bound”, from the verb NECTERE.
This is a range of Political movements, Ideologies and Social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve Political, Economic, Personal and Social Rights for Women.
Feminist Movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for Women’s Rights, including the Right to Vote, to hold Public Office, to work, to earn fair wages or equal pay, to own property, to receive Education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage and to have Maternity Leave. Feminists have also worked to promote bodily autonomy and integrity, and to protect Women and Girls from rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
According to Daisy UdonMorsi, a graduate of Religions from the University of Benin and a Feminist, she says ‘’feminism is not a fight for equality with men but for equity amongst men”. By men she meant both male and female.
Feminist Theory which emerged from Feminist Movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety disciplines in order to respond to issues concerning gender.
1.3 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
‘’…successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.’’[Frymer-kensky, p.45]
Archaeological findings have in no mean terms affirmed at several times that the earliest form of worship was matrilineal. The people of antiquity worshipped various goddesses that were in-charge of the various aspects of life and the environment. Most times they had their attention on only the mother goddess or the great mother as the case maybe. The mother goddess was referred to sometimes as the Creatrix (creator of the universe) or most times as the mother over the other goddess.
During this time, society wore the robes of matriarchy even though women did not have as much right compared to the heavyweight of their male folks. One striking thing of note was that religion at that time was the defining factor of all man’s activity. Man consulted and offered to the deities before he could embark on anything. Religion then was very vital, as the feminine was the focal point of the religious activities.
Not too long from that time did the male folks begin to wage an aggressive war against the worship of goddesses. They started by installing the worship of the God-worship. This resulted in attention shift from Goddess worship, by creating a God equivalent for all Goddesses and their aspects.
This shift in religious position affected the influence of women in the society as there was nothing tangible that the women folks could hold on to as the source of their strength. Women were more than ever before relegated to the background.
In ancient Greece, a woman was seen as the property of her husband and hardly possessed any rights. Even a slave then, possessed rights of ownership and even more when liberated. A woman was merely kept in the ‘cage’ of her father and handled over to her husband after marriage consummation.
Understanding the fact that the feminine held sway in the religious circle amongst the Greek ancients, and in retrospectof the limitation of women in terms of right in ancient Greece, it awakens and prompts a clarion call for modern day feminism and giving women a chance.
In a nut-shell, this project work tends to address three (3) key issues-
The influence and iconography of goddess worship and the feminine in ancient Greece.
The nexus between the feminine position in ancient Greece and feminism today and;
The lesson for a matriarchal society.
1.4 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
What this research work tends to achieve is to relate the value and prestige the goddesses possessed in ancient Greece in spite the fact that women of the Age were to a very large extent marginalized and these events spurred the spirit of the present day feminist movement.
The purpose of this work therefore, is to show how the feminist enthusiastof today recognize the intimate connection between the situations of things amongst the women of antiquity and how they have positioned their social tractor towards crushing the patriarchal order that is holding sway and give way to a better society built on gender equality.
Women in no mean words are on a fast-track driving off to eradicate gender inequality in all its forms and ramifications.
The method employed in this research work is analytical and evaluative. These methods helped in relaying the message behind the goddess worship, the feminine of ancient Greece and feminism today. This makes the work what it is and it features materials ranging from speeches, books, journals and the internet.
The work is exhaustively a Socio-Religious compendium about the sacred feminine with ancient Greece as the case of study and contemporary feminism.
1.6 SCOPE OF STUDY
The scope of this works cut across goddesses and women of ancient Greece, Feminism with an insight into the declarations of the United Nations on women, Feminist Movement in Africa with Nigeria in view, the Goddess Movement and the attempts at reviving goddess worship.
1.7 DIVISION OF WORK
This work is organized into five (5) chapters. It is structured in a way that rightly guides the reader through bit by bit analysis of the concept of the feminine amongst the Ancient Greeks and how it relates to the contemporary Feminist struggle.
This work is as thus organized-
Chapter One Introduces and set the ground for further discussions on the study. It is divided into Seven (7) Sections with Section Two (2) containing Six (6) Sub-Sections.
The First is the Background to the Study. This highlights different themes of the study that includes the Goddess Worship by the Ancient Greeks, Feminism and how it relates to this present day Feminist struggle.
Next is the Clarification of Terms as contained by the Project Work. The clarified terms are Iconography, Goddess, Worship, Ancient Greece, Nexus and Feminism.
It is followed by the Statementof Problemi.e. the problem of the marginalized feminine, worship of Goddesses and the issues surrounding Feminism the work tends to resolve.
Also, the Aims and Objectives of the work is well-spelt out in other to reveal its purpose and significance of the study.
Methodology employed in the course of the Project Work.
Scope of Study and what it encomprises, and finally;
Division of Work.
Chapter Two X-rays the History of Goddess Worship, an overview of ancient Greece, women in ancient Greece and the Socio-Religious iconography. The chapter is further divided intoFive (5) Sections.
The First gives a vivid insight into the Origin of Goddess Worship.
The Second gives an overview of Ancient Greece.
The Third highlights Classical Goddesses of Greek antiquity.
The fourth pin-points the position of Women in Ancient Greece.
The Final section discusses the Religious and Sociological Iconography of the feminine in Ancient Greece.
Chapter Three focuses on Feminism which is divided into Four (4), with section one (1) containing three (3) sub-sections and section three (3)containing three sub-sections.
The First discusses on the History of Feminism and the background to the ideology.
The Second talks about the United Nations and women.
The Thirdfocuses on Feminism in Africa and in extension,Nigeria.
Finally, it poses a case for a Matriarchal Society.
Chapter Four bears the Central Theme of this Work. It relates Goddess Worship in a complex way through the eye of Goddess Movement and how it influenced the Feminist struggle.
ChapterFive which is the final chapter gives a Grand Evaluation, Criticism and Conclusion to this Work.
It cites the challenges of the Feminine in this present dispensation that adores the Patriarchal Religions as well as the issues surrounding Feminism in the Contemporary World. This chapter proffers solution to all of this.
Ancient Greece: Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ancientgreece. Retrieved 5/06/2017
Frymer-kensky and Tikva, S., , In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth. New York, Cambridge Press.
Goddess: Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/goddess. Retrieved 5/06/2017
Iconography: Merriam-Webster,Www.merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 5/06/2017
Worship: dictionary, Www.Dictionary.com. Retrieved 5/06/2017