Goddesses, like gods, are archetypes, and as such, provide latent, internalized models for women and men.
This inquiry will examine the Greek goddesses and the
relationship between these mythological figures and the social role of women in ancient Greece. In undertaking an inquiry of this nature we shall look at the archetypal meanings attached to the goddesses, as these archetypes provide clues as to the role of women in society. We shall also consider the historical
predecessors of the Greek goddesses as a means of examining the
social and historical context of mythology and the role of
The ancient Greek historian Hesiod (who lived about 700
B.C.) was the first to describe the hierarchy of Greek gods and goddesses. Hesiod delineated a number of generations of mythological figures. These constituted a patriarchal mythology dominated in turn by three principal father-figures: Uranus, his son, Cronis, and finally, Cronis' son, Zeus (Hamilton, 1940).
Bolen (1984), however, points out that the patriarchal
mythology of the Greeks reflects the actual historical encounter and subjugation of peoples who had matriarchal or mother-based religions, by invaders who had warrior gods and patriarchal mythologies and religions. Matriarchal mythologies flourished at least 5,000 years (or perhaps even as much as 25,000 years ago) before the rise of male-based mythologies (Bolen, 1984).