Claire’s categorized bibliography

Methodology (apart from the methodology built in to other sources)

Honig, Bonnie. A Feminist Theory of Refusal. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2021.

  • Feminist methodology reading of Dionysiac text, applicable to Dionysiac hymns and more broadly as a way of feminist rereading 

Johnston, Sarah Iles. The Story of Myth. Harvard University Press, 2018.

  • Creation of characters, how we conceive of divine, how myth is transmitted and received 

Peels-Matthey, Saskia. “Polytheism as Language: A Linguistic Approach to Greek Polytheism.” In Divine Names on the Spot. Peeters, 2021.

  • Application of polythetic categories to the gods themselves, thinking about gods as categories (multiplicity in unity, divinities as mental lexical entries) 

Gender Studies 

Barrow, Rosemary. Gender, Identity and the Body in Greek and Roman Sculpture. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Brisson, Luc. Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. The Joan Palevsky Imprint in Classical Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 10th anniversary edition. Ebook Central (Collection). New York: Routledge, 1999.

Halperin, David M. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Taylor & Francis Group, 1989.

Masterson, Mark, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, and James Robson. Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World. Rewriting Antiquity. Abingdon, Oxon ; Routledge, 2015.

Segal, Charles. “Arms and the Man: Sex Roles and Rites of Passage.” In Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides’ Bacchae, 158–214. Expanded Edition. Princeton University Press, 1982.

Zeitlin, Froma I. Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature. Women in Culture and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.


Delforge, Vinciane Pirenne, and Gabriella Pironti. “Many vs. One,” October 1, 2015.

Griffin, Jasper. Homer on Life and Death. Clarendon Press, 1983.

Holmes, Brooke. The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece. Princeton: University Press, 2010.

Petridou, Georgia. Divine Epiphany in Greek Literature and Culture. First edition. Oxford Scholarship Online. Oxford: University Press, 2016.

Platt, Verity J. Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion. Greek Culture in the Roman World. Cambridge, UK ; Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Stafford, Emma. Worshipping Virtues: Personification and the Divine in Ancient Greece. ISD LLC, 2000.

Webster, T. B. L. “Personification as a Mode of Greek Thought.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17, no. 1–2 (January 1, 1954): 10–21.

Orphic Hymns/Orphic literature 

Chrysanthou, Anthi. “Defining Orphism: The Beliefs, the Teletae and the Writings.” Phd, University of Leeds, 2017.

  • A recent dissertation on Orphism with a helpful literature review, which nicely outlines the Edmonds/Bernabé approaches to Orphism as a category. 

Edmonds, Radcliffe G. First-Born of Night or Oozing from the Slime? Deviant Origins in Orphic Cosmogonies. Brill, 2020.

  • A very helpful article for thinking about why different sources position different figures as cosmogenic deities. Lines up two different types of cosmogonies; material-origin and Night-origin. 

Edmonds, Radcliffe G. Myths of the Underworld Journey Plato, Aristophanes, and the “Orphic” Gold Tablets. Cambridge: University Press, 2004.

  • Potentially useful chapters on the Orphic Gold Tablets and Plato’s Phaedo

Edmonds III, Radcliffe G. Redefining Ancient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

  • Extremely valuable book. Chapters on methodology and mythology are most important, although there are bits from most chapters that I can use.

Fayant, Marie-Christine. Hymns Orphiques. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 2014.

  • The main Greek text, with French translation, commentary, and introductions that I am using. 

Furlan, Anna Lucia. “Henotheism in Orphic Sources : Origins, Development and Reception.” Ph.D., King’s College London, 2020.

  • Recent dissertation that has a chapter approaching the Orphic Hymns through a henotheistic lens. Also uses Boyer for methodology.  

Gartziou-Tatti, Ariadni. “The « Orphic » Voyage of the Suitors’ Souls and the Role of Hermes in the Second Nekyia (Odyssey 24, 1-204).” In Ο Επάνω Και ο Κάτω Κόσμος Στο Ομηρικό Και Αρχαϊκό Έπος: Από Τα Πρακτικά Του ΙΓ’ Διεθνούς Συνεδρίου Για Την « Οδύσσεια » : Ιθάκη, 25-29 Αυγούστου 2017, edited by Menelaos Christopoulos and Machi Païzi-Apostolopoulou, 129–61. Ithaki: Kentro Odysseiakon Spoudon, 2020.

  • Possibly helpful comparison between Orphic and Homeric stories. 

Herrero de Jáuregui, Miguel, and Alberto Bernabé Pajares, eds. Tracing Orpheus: Studies of Orphic Fragments; in Honour of Alberto Bernabé. Sozomena 10. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011.

  • Presents the perspective of Bernabé, who opposes Edmonds’ approach to Orphism. Both Edmonds and Bernabé are mentioned in every literature review I’ve seen. 

       Jáuregui, Miguel Herrero. “The Poet and His Addressees in Orphic Hymns.” (2015): 224-243.

  • Article on the role of Orpheus, Mousaeus, and the gods in the Hymns. 

Meisner, Dwayne A. “Introducing Orphic Theogonies.” In Orphic Traditions and the Birth of the Gods, edited by Dwayne A. Meisner, 0. Oxford University Press, 2018.

  • Seems to be a general overview of the way different Orphic texts describe theogony. Should be useful with First Born of Night

Morand, Anne-France. Études sur les Hymnes Orphiques. Brill, 2015.

  • The only definitive study on the Hymns. Very important. 

Morand, Anne-France. “The Narrative Techniques of the Orphic Hymns.” Hymnic Narrative and the Narratology of Greek Hymns, n.d., 209.

  • Narratological analysis of the hymns in general using Protogonos as a case study.

Ricciardelli, Gabriella. Inni Orfici. Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, 2000.

  • The best translation, but sadly in Italian. Using the commentary as needed. 

West, M. L. The Orphic Poems. Oxford [Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press, 1983.

  • An early but foundational text for the study of Orphism. 

Hymnic literature 

Faraone, Christopher A. “Mixing the Hexametrical Genres of Hymn and Curse in the Longest of the Greek Magical Handbooks (PGM IV 2714-83).” In Hymnen Und Aretalogien Im Antiken Mittelmeerraum: Von Inana Bis Isis, edited by Laurent Bricault and Martin Andreas Stadler, 154:177–94. Philippika. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2021.

Furley, William D., and Jan Maarten Bremer. Greek Hymns: Selected Cult Songs from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Period. Mohr Siebeck, 2001.

  • A really helpful overview of the conventions of hymnic literature, and a lot of specific examples from most of the extant hymns. 

Hymnic Narrative and the Narratology of Greek Hymns. Brill, 2015.

  • Morand’s Narrative Techniques is in this volume, and another about Orpheus as the poet of the hymns.

Janko, Richard. “Homer, Hesiod, and the Hymns: Diachronic Development in Epic Diction.” Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge University Press, 1982.

  • Janko is one of the much earlier but very important authors about the genre of hymn. 

Pulleyn, Simon. Prayer in Greek Religion. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

  • Formative text/baseline for hymnic literature, cited regularly by Furley and Bremmer. 

Things I’m experimenting with (Gnosticism, Plato, etc) 

Benitez, Eugenio E. “The Good or The Demiurge: Causation and the Unity of Good in Plato.” Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 28, no. 2 (1995): 113–40.

  • Confusing  

Blanco, María José García, and María José Martín-Velasco. Greek Philosophy and Mystery Cults. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.

  • Two helpful chapters about Neoplatonic philosophy in Orphism. 

Fowler, Robert L. “Greek Magic, Greek Religion.” Illinois Classical Studies 20 (1995): 1–22.

Halvgaard, Tilde Bak. Linguistic Manifestations in the Trimorphic Protennoia and the Thunder: Perfect Mind : Analysed against the Background of Platonic and Stoic Dialectics. Brill, 2016.

  • Potential interesting analysis of paradoxical/dualist language in Gnostic texts. 

Primary texts

The Orphic Hymns

Aristotle, Physiognomonica

Euripides, Bacchae

Homer, The Iliad

Porphyry, On Images

Plato, Timaeus

—, Cratylus

—, Phaedo

Thunder, Perfect Mind

Apocryphon of John

Join the Conversation


  1. Categorized Deep Dive

    “Inoperativity and the Power of Assembly” in A Feminist Theory of Refusal by Bonnie Honig, 2021:
    Honig expands on another scholar named Agamben’s concept of “inoperativity”, refining it to fit not just a general theory of refusal but a specifically feminist theory of refusal. The idea of inoperativity is to refuse to participate in an aspect of society (and patriarchy, in Honig’s adoption of the concept) by rendering something inoperative, or unproductive. It stops being used in the way that contributes to society, and is repurposed to a new use that is ideally not a means to any end. Honig applies the concept of inoperativity to the women in the Bacchae to show how their actions on Mt Citaeron are a refusal of their role in patriarchal society. This chapter is not the most accessible because it assumes the reader is familiar with Agamben’s work, but it does give enough information that if the reader is not familiar they can still grasp the concept, it just might take a bit more work to understand what’s going on.

    “Narrating Myths” in The Story of Myth by Sarah Iles Johnston, 2018:
    Johnston looks at how the ways in which myths were narrated in the ancient world contributed to belief about the gods and figures who featured in the myths. She uses a lot of comparison with modern beliefs and modes of storytelling, switching often between the ancient world and the modern world, to analyse ways that stories are received and can contribute to belief by using modern examples which can be more easily studied and applying them to ancient peoples. The chapter is organized through sections that could be considered disconnected at first but actually build up different pieces that come together to form a picture of how myths and their narration worked in antiquity and their role in society in helping to keep up belief about the gods, which can be sometimes hard for modern people to understand but Johnston is able to paint it pretty coherently.

    Hi Claire! I swear I didn’t pick these two sources just because they’re the top two in your Categorized Bibliography; they really are the two that seemed most interesting to me! Anyway, I noticed that these are both in the Methodology section of your bibliography, and they don’t pertain exactly to the content of your thesis project though I know you’re working with myth so the chapter on Narrating Myth could be useful for thinking about the myth as a vessel for belief and how that functions and you could maybe consider how the myths you’re working with might have been received. The Honig piece is less directly related to your topic (at least as far as my understanding of your topic, which obviously isn’t fully accurate), but if you’re working with gender you might be able to do something with the idea of feminine refusal but that also depends on whether you can find anything in the texts you’re working with that could be viewed as refusal. I did think the Johnston chapter was really interesting, because I’d mostly only seen work that looks at myths more as literature and what they’re doing textually rather than thinking about how they influence belief and what they’re doing structurally, so a lot of Johnston’s ideas and concepts were new to me, and I hope you’ll find it interesting as well and maybe it can give you a new perspective for how to think about myth!

  2. Holmes, Brooke. “Forces of Nature, Acts of Gods:Euripides’ Symptoms” in The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece. Princeton: University Press, 2010.

    I chose the Euripides chapter because I thought that it may give me something useful for my own research. Throughout the chapter, Holmes analyzes multiple of Euripides’ plays–Trojan Women, Hippolytus, Heracles, and Orestes–in order to analyze intertextuality between the medical world of Ancient Greece and its relationship to divine spirits. I find her argument that “erupting on the tragic stage, symptoms allow the implications of different worldviews to be probed and the limits to different explanations of suffering exposed” (259) to be quite pertinent to my own research, though the medical language is not one I expect to focus on. The chapter’s strengths are its rich references and knowledge of the Ancient Greek medical world, though I think that some of the arguments she makes can be a bit of a reach and should be explored more thoroughly.

    Webster, T. B. L. “Personification as a Mode of Greek Thought.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17, no. 1–2 (January 1, 1954): 10–21.

    This article covers the emergence and use of personification of non-humans (topography, gods, etc.) by looking at literary and artistic sources in order to argue about “emotional” and “rational” personification, which gives nuances to the possibilities of communication personification engenders. It’s definitely from an older school of thought, and I think it’s weakness may be its tendency to sweep over arguments rather than using the “close reading” type analysis that scholars are expected to do nowadays. It think that its strengths are a) its age, which shows the dominant way of thinking about embodiment in a scholarly generation earlier than ours (which I think is surprisingly similar/friendly to ours in certain ways), and b) its rich compendium of primary sources it cites, which shows how often and in different ways the personification of gods appear.

    I’m always surprised by how there are tidbits in almost anything I read that can connect to my own thesis! I’m definitely adding the Holmes book to my own bibliography to use in my own thesis. These references definitely seem like they would be useful in Claire’s thesis; the Webster article especially theorizes in a way that seems directly related. I’m a little less clear on how Holmes’ book is relevant, but it could be that I read a chapter that focused heavily on medical language. It does use a type of close reading analysis that’s more what we’re expected to do, so I think there’s a happy medium combining all these sources together.

  3. Honig, Bonnie. “Inclination and the Work of Dis/orientation.” In A Feminist Theory of Refusal. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2021.
    The theories of refusal and inclination that Honig discusses in this book centers around the Bacchae napping and then dismantling upright systems of oppression. Honig discusses Oedipus in the chapter as being at once inclined, yet because of disability unable to crawl and experience mutuality or relations of care.

    Holmes, Brooke. The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece. Princeton: University Press, 2010.
    This article discusses the symptoms and the physical body in the medical texts as still containing some demonic or mysterious qualities despite the explanations also taking away some of mystery or redirecting blame.

    • Do you think these readings will be valuable for the person’s thesis?
    (Honig) I think that Honig’s reading could relate to Claire’s topic because of its analysis of the Bacchae and the positioning of the body within this feminist refusal. Her project focuses on gender and bodies so the consideration of posture underneath a feminist reading would serve valuable.
    (Holmes) I think that this chapter might be useful in her discussion of the cavities of the body. I have talked to Claire about her thesis and how gods did not have organs and were seen as these types of cavities. I think that a connection to cavities of the human body might be relevant, especially to ideas of embodiment.
    • Were they valuable for your own thesis?
    (Honig) Honig is valuable for my own thesis within the realms of affordances and the inclination that someone might have when using the amulet. The amulet’s agency might lend itself to forcing inclination. Disability might be seen as a born state of inclination. Postures of inclination and relations of mutuality are also useful when thinking about agency and illness because illness takes agency away from the body and the amulet allows interaction with the personified organ where agency is regained. It is a topic that I still wrestling with. I haven’t fully formed my thoughts yet.
    (Holmes) Yes, I found that her main claim behind the medical explanations of symptoms in the body as having a mysterious and demonic quality to them which may relate to earlier ideologies blaming sickness and illness on demons and the divine to be helpful. These medical texts blame the body, yet the body still has cavities in which symptoms may invade and exist. The womb is personified as a demonic entity and my arguments relate the medical texts to this idea of personification. Holmes hints at this in her article with these forces in the body causing illness (symptoms) being dangerous and sometimes outside of a physician’s control.
    • What surprised, intrigued, or persuaded you about these readings?
    (Honig) I was not extremely persuaded by Honig’s analysis of Oedipus. I think that there is room for improvement with her treatment of his disability and consideration of resulting mutuality and experience. It is difficult because she treats him as a patriarchic figure which he is, but there are also ways in which he exists in inclination throughout the entirety of his life because his has a limp throughout the entirety of his life.
    (Holmes) I found Holmes’ discussion of the physical body particularly helpful. She discussed the physical body as the cause of illness in these Hippocratic medical texts. She discusses it in terms that separate the body from the self and the body from the control of the physician at times.
    • What did you learn from reading these articles?
    (Honig) I learned new ways of looking at society with Honig’s use of posture and how refusal might inherently exist within the realms of illness if you apply her theories to illness and disability studies. I think that I also learned that her method might place too much weight on inclination and posture that might not quite fit with my work. Determining agency within illness is difficult when you are inclined against your will and don’t want to be or exist as inclined. It is a difficult subject especially when you think of autonomous refusal and inclination. Inclination and refusal for illness and people with disabilities is not something that is always chosen (I am hesitant to categorically say that all people say that disability or illness is not something you choose because it may take way agency or rather brings up the debate of whether or not people with disabilities want to be cured – as someone a part of the disability community it is something that I can say is debated to this day). Focusing on bodies’ movement, I think can be problematic and useful. Maybe it is better to think of inclination and refusal in the mind (inclination of the self away from the body as we see in the personification of the womb and separation from the self on these womb amulets).
    (Holmes) I have learned more about Holmes’ theories pertaining to the body and have gathered more evidence that can support my interpretations of medical texts in conjunction with religious and magical texts.

    • What other readings can you suggest to follow up on these articles?
    Hmmmm, I think Claire has done an amazing job with compiling this Bibliography. I think that she has thoroughly considered her topic from multiple angles. If she wants any information about women’s health or demonization in the ancient world, I have many works in my Bibliography that might be helpful.

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