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Woolger, Jennifer Barker, and Roger J. Woolger. The Goddess Within: A Guide to the
Eternal Myths That Shape Women's Lives. New York, NY: Random House, 1989.
Women in Greek Myth
The myths of ancient Greece, although old in terms of time, convey a message that continues to have relevance for modern society and, in particular, women of today. While little appears to be known about the traditions that preceded and engendered Greek myths, indications from anthropological artifacts suggest that the earliest inhabitants of the region of what is today Greece engaged in an agrarian culture and worshiped female deities. (p.145) These goddesses were commonly associated with three functions: life, death, and rebirth, in conjunction with the female pro-creative powers. Their stockpile of powers was subsequently divided and assigned to separate deities, resulting in an overall loss of power among the individual goddesses and allowing more patriarchal belief systems to gain a foothold.
In short, the goddesses of the period were pushed into the mythological shadows of the gods.
Greek mythology is part history and part myth, where myth performed a function of religion and sophisticated psychology that shaped individual thinking, culture, and even institutions, such as marriage and politics. The characters depicted in the various stories are archetypical in nature, symbolizing the most basic roles and/or functions of men and women in society.
With respect to matters of state, myths established Zeus as chief god to activate and reinforce a patriarchal social ethos. Stories of his many sexual liaisons with females, both divine and mortal, speak to the figurative seduction and subjugation of one tradition, tribe, and nation over another. The thread of male dominance over the realm of politics has remained...