Sibyls, Goddesses and Women in Republican Rome

Wednesday 7 November 2012, 18.00

First lecture in the Rome-London series

Sibyls, Goddesses, and Women in Republican Rome

The only Sibylline Oracle to have survived from the republican period contains in its first section a set of rituals in honour of Demeter/Ceres and Persephone/Proserpina. The passage is full of allusions to looms and to weaving, including the weaving of the text of the oracle itself. The occasion of its alleged application (dated to 125 BCE) was the discovery of a hermaphrodite, in the middle of a period (133-91 BCE) in which this particular prodigy seems to have been both frequent and seen as deeply disturbing. The lecture will explore possible connections between the prodigy, women, weaving, fertility and infertility in the context of this particular period and the two goddesses; it will also ask how our understanding of the situation might be improved by introducing archaeological perspectives to the discussion.

J. A. North (Institute of Classical Studies, London)