Poetry of Goddess Worshippers of the Ancient Mediterranean

This section will include links to a wide range of poetry that is badly neglected by specialists and therefore by general readers.  Obviously Sappho's poetry is the most important example of such poetry, but notwithstanding her popularity few people look into the poetry of other goddess worshipers.

Greek Poetry Of Goddess Worshippers

Because of their influence as well as the large amount of their poetry that survives the two most important Greek poets are Empedocles and Parmenides.


Here is a link to the longest fragment of Empedocles as reconstructed by Richard Janko.

The Empedocles of Clement of Alexandria (fragments that are referred to or quoted by Clement and which therefore are uniquely valuable when read together as a means of appreciating both the significance of Empedocles as a religious figure in his own right but also for understanding how early Christianity drew upon the ancient Greek (pre-Platonic) spiritual tradition).


The goddess as governess of the cosmos.

Here is a link to my translation and discussion of a fragment of the poetry of Parmenides that has been all but ignored by modern scholars: Parmenides Fragment 18 (Diels-Kranz numbering).  As you will see I think it is one of the most important texts to survive from ancient Greece because of how it can be related to the history of the recognition of sexual egalitarianism.  

Latin Poetry Of Goddess Worshipers:

The volume of Latin poetry that can be related directly or indirect to goddess worship is enormous. Lucretius is one example even though his commitment to goddess worship is primarily evidenced only in the introduction to Book 1 of De Rerum Natura and a few other places.


Here is a link to the Latin text of Moretum, an English translation of it and my extensive notes thereto.  Few are familiar with this poem or its importance largely because its attribution to Vergil has been rejected.  Nevertheless, it happens to be the source of the most familiar Latin phrase in the United States: e pluribus unum.


Because he it is often characterized as (a) Medieval and (b) Christian, the Consolatio Philosophiae is generally overlooked as belonging generally to the ancient poetic tradition and particularly to the tradition of poetry composed by goddess worshippers.  I doubt I will write much about this and only want to note here that it is not obvious that Consolatio Philosophiae is a Christian work and because of the role of the personification of Philosophy it is fair to raise a question about whether it was influenced directly, for example, by the wife of Boethius, or indirectly by poetry written by women (perhaps even the poetry of Sappho (Aeolic meters are used in it) with which Boethius was surely familiar given his own metrical virtuosity).

Additional Reading:

To understand how to be informed by but not stuck in the ultimately irretrievable past of goddess worship, and therefore concerned with current and future trends in theology and philosophy, an excellent place to start is Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology.  For example, those familiar with the trajectory of Heidegger's thought should be especially interested in this.

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