1st Edition

Bride of Hades to Bride of Christ
The Virgin and the Otherworldly Bridegroom in Ancient Greece and Early Christian Rome

ISBN 9781138481626
Published March 5, 2020 by Routledge
180 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

USD $155.00

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Book Description

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


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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.