Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History



First Advisor

Dr. James Hutson

Second Advisor

Dr. Melissa Elmes

Third Advisor

Dr. Piper Hutson


This paper analyzes the figure Galatea, including the original narratives of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the visual representations of her character. Examinations of these images and the circumstances that surround Galatea’s character, including her association with Venus, provide an in-depth exploration of Galatea’s relationship to the archetypal Mother Goddess and the role of feminine deities throughout history. As interpreted in the prehistoric past, the ancient Mother Goddess was worshipped as an all-encompassing deity in ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Aztec, and Greek societies. Her duality as the source of life and death provided a superior nature to her surrounding male counterparts that was ultimately subjugated to a lesser status with the establishment of her powerful masculine counterparts, resulting in her image being transmuted into many lesser goddesses as smaller cults diffused among growing patriarchal societies. Galatea’s own superiority as a divine female presence has been lessened to an inferior status as an object of the masculine gaze and control. By analyzing the writings of Ovid with the works of art they inspired and applying the feminist methodology to these ideals, this research argues that the dual nature of Galatea is a figure who is both superior and inferior to the men that surround her and acts as an accurate representation of the treatments of the archetypal goddess as she transitioned from a supreme deity to one subjugated to a lower status due to the circumstances of growing patriarchal ideals. This paper hopes to elevate Galatea’s function from a minor character to one of more significance in identifying her image as a representation of the dual nature of the Mother Goddess. Applying the revisionist feminist methodology to Galatea’s figure provides an awareness that her character should be recognized as an accurate representation of the nature of the goddess.