15. The Gendered Deep History of the Bona Dea Cult

Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion - Armin W. Geertz

Leonardo Ambasciano [+-]
Independent researcher
Leonardo Ambasciano earned his PhD in Historical Studies at the University of Turin, Italy, in 2014 with a cognitive and evolutionary analysis of gender & sexuality in the ancient Roman cult of Bona Dea. In 2016, he was Visiting Lecturer in Religious Studies at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. He also served as Editorial Assistant and Managing Editor of the Journal of Cognitive Historiography from 2014 to 2021. He is the author of An Unnatural History of Religion (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Description

The chapter offers an overview of the cult of Bona Dea in light of the gendered social framework of ancient Roman society. Intrasexual competition and patriarchal, institutionalized sociodicy are taken into account, respectively, as ultimate and proximate explanations of the Bona Dea mythography. The diffusion of the cult and its spread in the literary environment are also tentatively explained by the presence of specific narrative elements (e.g. metamorphosis), some of which are apt to elicit strong reactions (i.e. rape, incest). Finally, the December cult devoted to the goddess is interpreted as a teletropic ritual device both symbiotic/euphoric (i.e. stress-relieving) and exploitative (i.e. a top-down concession enhancing psychological dependence on masculine hierarchy).

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Citation

Ambasciano, Leonardo. 15. The Gendered Deep History of the Bona Dea Cult. Studying the Religious Mind - Methodology in the Cognitive Science of Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Aug 2022. ISBN 9781800501614. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=43015. Date accessed: 22 Jan 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.43015. Aug 2022

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