This volume argues that ancient Greek girls and early Christian virgins and their families made use of rhetorically similar traditions of marriage to an otherworldly bridegroom in order to handle the problem of a girl’s denied or disrupted transition into adulthood.
In both ancient Greece and early Christian Rome, the standard female transition into adulthood was marked by marriage, sex, and childbirth. When problems arose just before or during this transition, the transitional girl’s status within society became insecure. Walker presents a case for how and why the dead Greek virgin girl, depicted in Archaic through Hellenistic sources, in both texts and inscriptions, as a bride of Hades, and the life-long female Christian virgin or celibate ascetic, dubbed the bride of Christ around the third century CE, provide a fruitful point of comparison as particular examples of strategies used to neutralize the tension of disrupted female transition into adulthood.
Bride of Hades to Bride of Christ offers a fascinating comparative study that will be of interest to anyone working on virginity and womanhood in the ancient world.
Table of Contents
Part I: Virgin suicides
1. Loving death
2. Protecting the virgin bride
Part I conclusion
Part II: Parents of the bride
3. Hades takes a bride
4. Recruiting brides of Christ
Part II conclusion
Abbe Lind Walker is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics at Connecticut College, USA. Her research unites multiple strands of interest, including gender in antiquity, religions in the ancient Mediterranean, and the social and cultural history of classical Greece and late antique Rome. This is her first book.
"[This volume] combines the study of two discrete historical periods and cultures – ancient Greece and early Christian Rome – and will be of interest to scholars seeking to appreciate better the connections often drawn between virgins and brides in the context of the ancient world ... an engaging monograph."
- Peta Greenfield, The Classical Review