The Many-Faced Goddess : An Examination of the Female Divine from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Sergeant, Zoe M.
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This paper will explore the transitional period between Paganism and Christianity, through the lens of divine female worship, along with the role of women from Antiquity into the Middle Ages. First, it will necessarily begin with a brief historiography of works that have sought to contextualize and understand classical goddess worship and Marian veneration. Then, it will turn to the main Mediterranean goddesses that are vital to an understanding of divine worship in the Classical world, and, in order to demonstrate the origins of the seeming female shaming Christianity. Next, the physical conversion of sacred spaces will provide a tactile example of what will be considered the death of the goddess. Following this will be a detailed overview of the Virgin Mary and her relationship with the past goddesses, and later, the women of late antiquity and those of the early medieval period. Finally, a short overview of the artistic representations of divine female figures will conclude the work. Together these sections reveal that it is an innate human instinct to worship a female figure, a practice which persisted despite, the Christian conversion, as Classical Mediterranean goddesses metamorphosed into the figure of the Virgin Mary