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In his closing words the speaker raises the spectre of the event's having compromised the Athenian identity of everyone who had participated in this sacrilege of a proper ritual in which " t he feminine body is figured as the site that engenders masculine civic identity" Xenophon, a pupil of Socrates, described a private performance of this ritual that served as dramatic entertainment for men gathered together at a symposium.

Here Gilhuly sees the figure of the 'wife' emerging as the dominant one in the matrix. The focus of Xenophon's description turned to the erotic embrace performed by the actors playing Dionysos and Ariadne, reported as so sexually charged that the men present left their homosocial environment immediately after the performance to hurry home to their wives.

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Gilhuly reads into this enactment of the divine embrace an epiphany of the god Dionysos, where the god confirms for the symposiasts a version of their masculinity that privileged marital sex. The correct performance of the basilinna at the Anthesteria was a crucial event that reinforced civic cohesion and collective identity in Athens. In Finding Persephone, a group of essays edited by Parca and Tsanetou, the focus is, in most of the essays, on the agency conferred on women by their religious activities, and its political significance.


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With the principal concern of the book that of women's actions and the consequent definition of their selfhood, there is only an occasional recognition that male identity would be co-constructed by this. Lyons "The Scandal of Women's Ritual" looks at the transgressive features of women's activity in Bacchic rituals and the Thesmophoria and the gender and political tensions these aroused, despite the fact that the rituals themselves were supported by men.

Looking at the visual evidence adolescent girls performing in public Greek rituals that were important for the wellbeing of the state, Lyons concludes that this seems to indicate that their actions had more significance than religious performances by boys Class appears to have been a factor: certain girls were chosen — in most cases aristocratic ones. As basket-carriers or grinders of grain boys are also shown, albeit in less public venues and in much smaller numbers. The question of why these adolescent girls would be awarded this prominence, or why in some cases age, not gender, was the important factor in these venues is not discussed.

In "Improvising on the Athenian Stage: Women's Ritual Practice in Drama" Goff sees an array of female characters who appear to possess subject status as agents in religious actions.

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Classical antiquity

At the same time, however, they are objectified, when their traditional gendered status is re-inscribed in the drama by highlighting the negative consequences of their actions Antigone interrogates the political action of Creon, the Theban king and dies ; the Eumenides in the Oresteia or the Theban women in Septem function as change-agents with their disorderly conduct, but are ultimately reined in with their public participation in an orderly civic procession The gender interplay rendered by the fact that these female figures were played by male actors, and the question of the degree to which they are the focus of a male-to-male dialogue about their masculine identity is not considered.

The dark deprivation during the Nesteia period of the festival allowed them to "transform the contact with death into new energy, getting access to reproductive energy without male input" There was a marked difference between this type of performance and that in which women engaged alongside men in another Demeter-festival.

In the Eleusinian mysteries, the focus was on re-enacting the experiences of the mother-goddess as she lost then regained her daughter; these human activities did not emerge from inside the participants' bodies but became an external spectacle for Demeter's viewing pleasure The degree of 'agency' awarded women at these mysteries would appear to be considerably less than at the Thesmophoria; did the fact that at Eleusis they were initiated as equals with men — as were foreigners and prostitutes — not only compensate for this but perhaps confer a sense of self that went beyond the confines of gender or class?

That men found ways to participate in that most fundamental function of womanhood, reproduction, is the subject of Leitao's "Cult of Eilythyia on Paros. Votives left in the sanctuary contain body parts of men as well as women. During the Roman period an intriguing statue of a boy was left for Eilythyia by his adoptive parents. On the statue's dedication the adopting father — a foreigner — inscribes his legitimacy by words attesting to his "motherhood. Leitao cites mythical and ritual parallels for acts of male surrogate motherhood, such as Zeus' giving birth to Dionysus and the couvade practiced by men in a festival at Amathus Cyprus who imitated Ariadne in childbirth.

Masculine motherhood was obtained through ritual performance. D'Ambra "Maidens and Manhood in the Worship of Diana at Nemi" looks at an Italian cult site where there was a crossover not only of gender but status. Diana's protection was sought for young girls as with her Greek counterpart Artemis but also for the vulnerable generally — freedmen and women, and runaway slaves. Votives, including body parts like those in Eilythyia's sanctuary on Paros, were left behind at Nemi in equal measure by men and women. Young girls, when depicted, were shown as "aspiring to the masculine world of risk and adventure" Ritual performances at adolescence or when participants were in need of Diana's healing invited the presentation of a gender identity that was not traditional and segregated.

In "Sancta Femina" Schultz aims to look at ways in which Roman women's religious activities reflected or interrogated the traditional Roman social hierarchies The functions of Vestal Virgins, as others have noted, overlapped with those of married women and men. Their celibacy Schultz contends — as in the case of the priestess of Ceres — was active, not passive, a case of "interior sexuality" There is much more that could be explored here, such as other cases in which gender overlapped with class, as in the cult of Diana at Nemi or with the patrician and plebeian cults of Pudicitia.

But certain Roman cults such as that of Juno Regina, functioned as a means to keep women under control acknowledged by Schultz in Women's Religious Activity in the Roman Republic, Clearly, the fact that Roman women's cult activities served both to confine and liberate women within a male-dominated hierarchical society would produce tension; Schultz' essay invites us to look further into ways in which the interrogation of this ordered social construction occurred in ritual.

By exploring its 'otherness' from the standpoint of our own practices she is able to raise the question whether sexual orientation is biologically or culturally determined or whether it is by nature unstable, and has always allowed for the possibility of new configurations. As sexuality is a performance, whether in public including religious contexts or privately, debates arising from sexual practices such as pederasty, homoeroticism or adultery are a code for recognizing broader socio-political dissention in Greek and Roman cultures.

Skinner reads conflicting attitudes in Greek antiquity toward pederasty as a reflection of tensions between aristocrats and democrats. Women's sexuality was publicly acknowledged in their religious performances; this did not provoke anxiety, Skinner argues, until the diffuse sexual experiences of Greek men began to change when they took a greater interest in females as potential emotional partners This climate was a feature of Athens in the Hellenistic period, when the gender power imbalance shifted.

Less autonomy was enjoyed by the city's male citizens and more freedom was awarded to women; nude statues of Aphrodite were erected, a sign that the female body was becoming as iconic as the youthful male's had been in the earlier periods. Copies of Cnidian Aphrodite were commissioned by Roman patrons, for whom the voyeuristic pleasure in contemplating the body of the goddess was on a par with the romanticizing of the courtesan in Latin love elegy In the relief figure of Venus Genetrix on the Ara Pacis, on the other hand, Skinner sees something different — a representation of the tension between the beneficial and destructive aspects of love that informed much of the literature of the Augustan period.

In the Aeneid she traces a muted form of sexuality that "lends it a bleak pathos" Latin elegiac poetry, professing an adulterous love affair with a female dominatrix-lover, reflected a new freedom for women of a certain class in the early Empire but also the destabilizing of traditional Roman masculinity. In Imperial Rome, Skinner sees insecurity over social status erupting in protests against an empress like Messalina — seen as sexually out of control — or against effeminate men.

In the prose texts of Petronius and Apuleius impotence and humiliation dog the principal male characters. The savagely misogynistic attacks of writers like Persius and Martial, characterizing tribads or independent women as "phallic monsters," became a useful trope for characterizing not only the destabilizing of masculine and feminine identity but the dysfunctional Imperial court Changes in sexual mores or in gendered identity produce behaviour that can be read as metonymic for broader social conflict.

What Skinner uncovers in this book invites us to observe the responses to current changes in our own sexual practices, particularly the tensions these provoke; what does this say about our collective social and political life? Langlands' Sexual Morality in Ancient Rome promises more in its title than it delivers: it is, in effect, a study of pudicitia "chastity," "purity" throughout Roman history.

However, an investigation of pudicitia as a moral term takes Langlands directly into the realm of sexual behaviour and, like Skinner's study, provides the wherewithal for a broader look at the Roman social fabric. Like so many other features of this society pudicitia was defined by, and in turn reinforced, a highly-stratified social grid for the Roman people: the pudicitia of an individual was metonymic for his or her social standing. This was true even for slaves, who were treated as moral agents. When pudicitia was applied to sexual activity, this was not understood as simply phallic — reflecting an individual's experience as the active partner — for slaves and women were expected to exercise it.

Performance was vital to the public display of pudicitia; in festivals for Pudicitia, married women competed with each other in a demonstration of control over their sexuality.

Performance and Identity in the Classical World

Convinced that narratives lie at the heart of a culture, Langlands examines a number of Roman legends that contained pudicitia at their core. Most fruitful for her examination is the story of Lucretia, the Roman wife who commits suicide after being raped by a member of the royal family in Rome. The political consequences of this legendary event were epochal: the expulsion of the rule of Rome by the Tarquin kings and the issuing in of the Republic. In another central Roman legend a father kills his daughter to save her from sexual violation by one of the Roman magistrates, and this results in political changes guaranteeing the freedom of the plebs.

In these two high-profile cases the performance of pudicitia, demonstrated on a woman's body, altered the complexion of the entire political fabric.

Romans read the fragility of women's chastity as a sign of the vulnerability of the Roman state. Langlands includes the familiar example of the cases of the Vestal Virgins, whose vow of chastity was assumed to have been compromised when there was a political or military crisis. As a moral imperative applied with equal force to men and women, individuals of all ages and social status, pudicitia did not fit with a model in which gender or social class are treated as polarities. The courage of a Lucretia was described as a demonstration of manly virtue.

And the ideal was problematic in other ways. How could an ordinary woman 'prove' her pudicitia? Its proximity to beauty and lust, and the involvement of men in assessing whether a woman possessed it, rendered it unstable and open to redefinition. The Latin elegiac poets would resent the fact that they had to "steal" their lover's chastity that was owed to a husband, and demanded adulterous fidelity. In fictions of the Imperial period the traditional gendered understanding of pudicitia had disappeared; women who clung to their chastity were characterized as androgynous or masculine.

The term, and related concepts such as castitas or continentia were useful rhetorical strategies throughout the entire Roman Republic and Empire: invective that charged someone with the violation of appropriate self-control exploited the metonymic potential of sexual incontinence. Schultz, in Women's Religious Activity in the Roman Republic, like several other authors in this review, makes a case for women exercising agency in rituals that were important to the state. She focuses on the Roman Republic, and supports her claim that the state acknowledged the contribution of women, whose ritual performances went beyond securing the aid of female deities or promoting fertility.

From the archaeological record Schultz finds evidence of their seeking the attention of Mithras and Hercules 61, 69, The state invited Roman matrons to participate with men in expiatory sacrifices and supplications for gods whose anger had been demonstrated in prodigies For particular religious duties the Senate made a selection from among matrons of noble descent with impeccable reputations, after consultation with the matrons themselves Schultz does not speculate on why married women and not virgins or widows, for example, were singled out.

She does, however, provide evidence for a class distinction in religious offices: the highest positions, sacerdotae "priestesses" were reserved for freeborn women, particularly wealthy women; freedwomen and slave women served only as attendants magistrate, ministrae, Some major public priesthoods were reserved for women of status, such as the chief Vestal or the wife of the Flanen Dialis, and allowed them to act in their own right on behalf of the Roman people.

Ancient Concepts of Personal Identity - Oxford Handbooks

As Schultz notes, there were many other uncontroversial Roman rites in which women performed along with men, and the real source of tension was a political one, the fear that Italic centres outside Rome such as the location where the rites had taken place were plotting revolution. One of the features that most clearly marks the cultural difference between ourselves and the people of ancient Greece and Rome is the degree to which sexuality and religious activity are separated or integrated.

As early as Homer, textual evidence attests to a Greek belief in the "numinous" quality of human sexuality, reinforced through the experience of the eroticism that was characteristic of a number of women's rituals. Several of these festivals, such as the Haloa or the Thesmophoria, encouraged obscene banter and the playing with models of male and female genitalia, heightening the erotic energy of the women assembled.

Where other classical pianists seek to conform, Creech strives to differentiate, highlighting himself as well as his playing ability. It was a great way to do something that I was passionate about and a good way of spreading the word about me as a pianist and the work that I do. The turning point for Creech came when he moved to Toronto a few years ago and got a gig playing at a queer arts festival in Toronto called Nuit Rose.

Between musical works, Creech tells a narrative through pre-recorded poetry, which facilitates wardrobe changes, or by speaking directly to the audience about his own stories and those of others. Creech lived in Senegal, West Africa, during his high school years, when he was forming a base for his piano studies. From there, he moved straight to Waterloo to study at Laurier.