Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Associate ProfessorRadliffe Edmonds, Major Adviser
PhD University of Chicago

Office: Thomas Hall 245
Phone: 610/526-5046
Email: redmonds@brynmawr.edu

Research Interests:

My research interests center on Greek social and intellectual history, with particular focus on mythology, religion, and Platonic philosophy. I have published on eros and midwifery in Plato, on Orphism and the mysterious gold tablets, and on magical techniques in the “Mithras Liturgy”, and myths of the journey to the underworld in the Greek mythic tradition (with special attention to Aristophanes' Frogs, Plato's myths, and the 'Orphic' Gold Tablets. My current research interests include the history of myth interpretation and the marginal categories of magic and Orphism within Greek religion.


Recent Publications:

The Orphic Gold Tablets and Greek Religion: Further Along the Path, Cambridge University Press, 2011. [editor, also contributed introduction, critical edition of texts with translations, and an article for a collection of articles on the ‘Orphic’ Gold Tablets]

Myths of the Underworld Journey: Plato, Aristophanes, and the ‘Orphic’ Gold Tablets, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

 “Orphic Mythology” in A companion to Greek mythology. Eds. Dowden, K., & Livingstone, N. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. (2011), pp. 73-106.

“Blaming the Witch:  Some Reflections upon Unexpected Death,” in Women and Gender in Ancient Religions: Interdisciplinary Approaches, ed. S. Ahearne-Kroll & J. Kelhoffer. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck (2010).

Entries for “Underworld”, “Afterlife”, “Styx” and “Necromancy” in The Homer Encyclopedia, ed. Margalit Finkelberg, Wiley-Blackwell (2010).

“Extra-ordinary People: Mystai and Magoi, Magicians and Orphics in the Derveni Papyrus,” Classical Philology 103 (2008), pp. 16-39.

“Recycling Laertes' Shroud:  More on Orphism and Original Sin,” (published online in 2008 at the Center for Hellenic Studies: http://chs.harvard.edu/chs/redmonds).

Personal Statement:

I love teaching in the atmosphere of Bryn Mawr: the small community of earnest and eager graduate and undergraduate students, the faculty's mix of disciplines and perspectives, the fantastic resources for research, not to mention the idyllic setting and beautiful traditions that surround us all. My research and teaching interests center on Greek social and intellectual history, with particular focus on mythology, religion, and Platonic philosophy. I enjoy the opportunity to teach courses on some of the less familiar aspects of ancient Greek culture, such as ancient Greek ideas of sexuality, magic, and mystery cults, as well as courses on the language, mythology, and history of ancient Greece.  My current research interests include the history of myth interpretation and the marginal categories of magic and Orphism within Greek religion, and I am working on a study entitled, Redefining Ancient Orphism. Orphism was taken by 19th-century scholars to be a particular, ancient Greek religious tradition, with a doctrine of original sin and a focus on practices of purification to expiate it, but I argue that we can't understand ancient Greek religion using modern Christian models; we can only make sense of the evidence within the dynamics of ancient polytheism. To the extent that 'Orphism' existed, it was not a coherent movement but a label given to a variety of religious practices that deliberately departed from the norm, elaborating on and altering traditional myths and rituals in innovative ways, while appealing to the authority of tradition by invoking the name of Orpheus, the greatest of poets. In addition to scholarship here, I have been enjoying directing the Greek Plays on May Day and singing with the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Renaissance Choir.