The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece
Greek religion is filled with strange sexual artifacts––stories of mortal women's couplings with gods, rituals like the basilinna's “marriage” to Dionysus, beliefs in the impregnating power of snakes and deities, and more. In this provocative study, Marguerite Rigoglioso suggests these are remnants of an early Greek cult of divine birth, not unlike that of Egypt. Scouring myth, legend, and history from a female-oriented perspective, she argues that many in the highest echelons of Greek civilization believed non-ordinary conception was the only means possible of bringing forth true leaders, and that special virgin priestesshoods were dedicated to this practice. Her book adds a unique perspective to our understanding of antiquity, and has significant implications for the study of Christianity and other religions in which divine birth claims are central.