[PAST EVENT] Pre-modern Studies Forum Lecture

October 19, 2011
Morton Hall, Room 340
100 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
All are welcome to this lecture

"Hercules and the Founding Mothers: Women's Rituals in Ovid's Fasti," by Prof. Lily Panoussi (Classical Studies).

In ancient Rome, the performance of women-only rituals showcases the value of female sexuality and fertility. At the same time, it is intimately related with Roman notions about the need for peace and stability in society and, by extension, the Roman state. Accounts of these rites in the works of different authors in the Augustan age in particular, reflect their close connection with the ideology that Augustus sought to promote as part of his state and religious reforms. In the works of Vergil, Propertius, and Ovid, we see a preoccupation with the role of women's collective religious action and its ability to affect the public domain. In particular, Ovid's Fasti 6 is almost wholly devoted to women's rituals, providing aetiologies tracing back to the beginnings of Rome.
Prof. Panoussi's presentation will focus on Ovid's Fasti 6 (473-648), the narrative offering an aetiology for the cult of Mater Matuta. This episode is representative of the different ways in which women's ritual activity affects directly the life of the state. Their actions are linked to the days of the city's foundation and are offered as a positive alternative to male foundation narratives encountered in other Augustan authors, primarily Vergil's Aeneid. Panoussi's analysis aims to point out the ways in which women's rituals are presented as an alternative narrative to the male foundation story of war and violence. Through their engagement with cult, women thus emerge as agents of Rome's foundation and capable of containing the potential for violence inherent in all human action.

For more information contact [[jfdona, John Donahue]] or [[hutton, Bill Hutton]].