Foreign Cult and Female Agency

This study on foreign religious cults in the multi-ethnic society of Hellenistic Cities in Greece will address issues of interaction between different religious groups in shaping the cultic landscapes of Greek cities – an important aspect of their membership regimes – with a focus on women’s agency in establishing and participating in new cults.

Our understanding of female agency and ‘religious creativity’ is regrettably limited, partly owing to the place of women on the margins of Ancient Greek society and, consequently, in our written sources. A central question that needs to be addressed in this context is whether religious activities in the cult for foreign deities were a means by which immigrant women integrated into society. It furthermore aims to detect boundaries like institutions such as professional priesthoods and the reformulation of religion as a knowledge that is kept and elaborated by professional males as well as gendered conceptions of deities.

Sabine Neumann