Perceptions of gender and the divine in Greek texts of the second and third centuries A.D
This thesis investigates the construction and reflection of gender identities in the religious sphere, namely the gods, their worshippers, and the rituals which link them. Religiously-interested Greek texts written by Artemidoros, Pausanias, Plutarch and Heliodoros in the second and third centuries A.D. form the basis of four chapter- studies. The introduction explores how deploying gender as a tool for investigating the texts reveals the author's own perceptions of how male and female operate within his discourse, and considers how these perceptions relate to the world beyond the text. Chapter two examines Artemidoros' Interpretation of Dreams: his analytical system of dream interpretation reveals contemporary thought patterns. Artemidoros places striking reliance on gender in his structuring of divine and human power, and employs two differing divine models of gender, which have significant implications for the social construction of human gender. Chapter three emphasizes Pausanias' fascination with the marvellous in his Guide to Greece, and focuses on why he considers female priests more noteworthy than male. The problematic sexuality of female priests is frequently his focus in descriptions of myth and rite. The fourth chapter considers Plutarch's Pythian dialogues and Isis and Osiris. It is the marriage-like nature of their relationship with their gods that makes both human and divine females perfect mediators between worshippers and their male god, the Pythia with Apollo, and Isis with Osiris. Chapter five finds a middle way between opposing views that Heliodoros' An Ethiopian Story is either a religious mystery text or entertainment without religious meaning. It focuses on how the relationship between the two lovers, Theagenes and Charikleia, is patterned by their relationship to their gods, Apollo and Artemis. The concluding chapter draws out the significance of gendered hierarchy amongst the gods, and the importance of gender in the role and function of priests and prophets. It also considers the implications of the thesis' findings and approach for Jewish and Christian texts of the same period.