Women in Corinth

It’s widely accepted that Roman as well as Greek culture was vividly patriarchal. While researching ancient Corinth, it is hard to miss the overarching masculine environment, in fact, it was even more male dominated than today’s world (shock!). Much of the pottery depicts men battling in the Arena.

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While the men of the Julio-Claudian era Corinth were busy making clay replicas of their body parts to present to the Temple of Apollo, temples to the female Gods such as Isis and Aphrodite were being built and restored. Interestingly these temples were mostly destroyed since the fall of the Roman Empire, yet unlike to Temple to Apollo, were not preserved through the ages. The following photograph is of the remains of a Temple of Isis at the ancient harbour of Cenchrea. Allegedly this also was where Phoebe’s house church was and also where Paul had a haircut.

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The small harbour to the South of the polis housed the Temple of Aphrodite at one end and the Temple of Isis at the other and welcomed visitors who had sailed from the Aegean. According to the archaeologists who first discovered the ancient harbour, an early house church was also next door to the temple of Isis. In fact, from where I stood to photograph this aspect (above), the house church was exactly here. GSPLCA13

Needless to say, the feminine gods played a very large part in civic community in the 1st century and stood as an emblem of the whole area. Although poorer rural women were undoubtedly oppressed in many ways, richer city women were highly visible in society. This should also be considered with the many holy women of Corinth, or Vestal Virgins who served the gods and were praised higher than many men of the city.

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