Article

Dangerous Gifts: Ideologies of Marriage and Exchange in Ancient Greece

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

A familiar theme in Greek myth is that of the deadly gift that passes between a man and a woman. Analysis of exchanges between men and women reveals the gendered nature of exchange in ancient Greek mythic thinking. Using the anthropological categories of male and female wealth (with examples drawn from many cultures), it is possible to arrive at an understanding of the protocols of exchange as they relate to men and especially to women. These protocols, which are based in part on the distinction between metals and other durable goods as "male" and textiles as "female," are closely related to the gendered division of labor. Anxiety about women as exchangers derives in part from their status as objects exchanged in marriage (as exemplified by Helen in the Iliad), and partly from a misogynist and pessimistic strand of Greek thought (embodied by Hesiod's Pandora) that discounts any female economic contribution to the oikos. Indeed, the majority of destructive exchanges take place within the context of marital crisis. While some texts, beginning with the Odyssey, show the positive side of women's economic role, tragedy tends to follow the Hesiodic distrust of women as exchange partners. Passages from the Agamemnon and the Trachiniai are analyzed to show how in situations of perverted reciprocity brought about by marital discord, even women's traditional gifts of textiles may become deadly.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Sementara itu melalui maha karyanya Iliad, pujangga Homer (+ 750 SM) mendeskripsikan perempuan sebagai properti. Di situ perempuan digambarkan bukan sebagai pelaku ekonomi yang melakukan pertukaran, tapi sebagai objek pertukaran: yaitu sebagai hadiah yang dapat diperjual-belikan di antara laki-laki, hadiah untuk dimenangkan di dalam peperangan atau pertandingan atletik, serta anak perempuan untuk diberikan di dalam pernikahan (Lyons, 2003). Itulah sebabnya secara legal, perempuan adalah properti milik ayah dan lalu suami. ...
... Itulah sebabnya, perempuan disebutkan sebagai "diberikan di dalam pernikahan". Pemberian hadiah ini tidak setara, sebab ketika perempuan diberikan sebagai hadiah bagi suaminya, sang suami tidak dianggap sebagai hadiah bagi istrinya (Lyons, 2003). ...
... Tokoh dalam orasi tersebut yang bernama Euphiletos mengatakan bahwa di awal pernikahannya dengan istrinya, ia mengawasi istrinya dengan ketat. Tetapi ketika sang istri sudah melahirkan anak laki-laki baginya, maka ia mulai memberinya kepercayaan untuk bisa mengatur urusan rumah tangganya (Lyons, 2003). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the views on woman by comparing Greek-rooted thoughts prevailed upon the the Greek, Romans, and Jewish antiquities with Jesus Christ’s perspective, especially those written in the Synoptic Gospel and the Gospel of John. This study uses the multimethod research to gain a more thorough understanding about the issue. The integrative literature review is used to get insight on Greek philosophy’s perspective on woman and its influences on the thoughts existed in the Romans and Jewish antiquities. Meanwhile, the narrative-analysis method is used to gain understanding about Jesus Christ’s perspective on woman. This study concludes that the Son of God opposes various Greek-rooted thoughts on woman and shows that woman is God’s worthy creature and the heir of His promises for humanity.Abstrak: Tulisan ini menelaah pandangan tentang perempuan melalui komparasi antara perspektif yang berakar dari pemikiran Yunani yang terdapat di tengah masyarakat Yunani, Romawi dan Yahudi kuno dengan pandangan Yesus Kristus tentang perempuan yang terdapat di Injil Sinoptik dan kitab Yohanes. Digunakan cara penelitian multi-metode dalam kajian ini untuk mendapatkan pemahaman yang lebih menyeluruh tentang isu ini. Metode studi pustaka dengan pendekatan integratif digunakan untuk menelaah perspektif terhadap perempuan dalam pemikiran Yunani kuno dan pengaruhnya pada pemikiran Romawi dan Yahudi kuno. Sementara itu, metode analisis naratif digunakan untuk melihat pandangan Yesus Kristus tentang perempuan yang terdapat di Injil Sinoptik dan kitab Yohanes. Dari penelaahan ini disimpulkan bahwa Sang Anak Allah menentang berbagai pemikiran yang berakar dari filsafat Yunani dan justru menunjukan bahwa perempuan adalah ciptaan Allah yang berharga dan merupakan pewaris janji-janji-Nya bagi umat manusia.
... Per un approccio critico al tema dell'alterità (anche) femminile nel mondo greco e per gli opportuni riferimenti bibliografici, cf. duBois 1982, 4-18, 37-48;Lyons 2003, 126 a proposito della condizione altra della donna nell'economia del matrimonio. Sull'argomento, cf. ...
... 57 Per tali rappresentazioni della donna greca, cf. Rubin 1975;duBois 1982, 37-48;Redfield 1982;Lyons 2003. A proposito della vicenda di Circe Franco (2010, 197-203) ritiene che l'opposizione di genere fra ruolo maschile e femminile si stabilisca anche a Eea in seguito alla sottomissione della dea alla spada e alla richiesta di giuramento da parte dell'eroe: «Il lieto fine del racconto indica che l'intervento di Odisseo ha nor- ...
Book
Full-text available
The aim of this book is to shed new light on the connections between the islands of the Odyssey, setting aside the common perspectives which fully contrast Ithaka to the isles of Odysseus’s travels. Indeed, on a close reading, the idea of ‘otherness’ frequently associated to these isles can be perceived as the result of shared traits. The book first offers an introductory survey on the studies about islands and insularity (not only) in the Odyssey. Then, it analyses how and in which terms the Odyssean representations of the islands are elaborated by means of references to the characters’ senses and actions. These representations are frequently parts of archipelagos of memories, and all bear witness to the fact that fantastic and realistic traits are intermingled and can permeate each other on all the Odyssean islands. Thus, the isles of these travels can be perceived as marginal and mixed places which are also meaningfully part of the archipelago of thematic and formal relations which links all Odyssean islands. The second section of the book examines this archipelagic scenario by using the concepts of utopia and heterotopia. The section shows how the islands of the Odyssey and, especially, the islands the hero encountered on his travels should not be considered utopias in the strict sense of the word. It then goes on to show how M. Foucault’s heterotopia can help to highlight a series of insular aspects, which, otherwise, could pass unnoticed. These lands stand at the margins of the world of the Odyssey and are, at the same time, connected to all the other islands. As a result, they work like mirrors which reflect images of different and possible worlds. In particular, the Odyssean isles of women mirror different and possible relationships between Odysseus and the lady of the island and help to enlighten the place which the hero perceives as the perfect home among all the possible choices. Finally, a brief analysis of the prophecy about the hero’s future last adventure shows that there is no chance of Odysseus feeling at home on that ‘other’ place of this last journey.
... Appaduriai's edited volume on the 'social life of things' proved pivotal in exploring the desirability of objects in transactions, whether as commodities, gifts, heirlooms or bribes. A rich interpretation of the Iron Age Mediterranean now exists using this approach (see Crielaard [2003]; Lyons [2003]; Mueller [2010]; Whitley [2013]). Additionally, Marx's idea of labour value remains relevant, as the organization, time and skills devoted to making objects can change their level of desirability (e.g. ...
... For archaeologists biography is a means to assemble the sum of social relationships connected to an object (Joy 2009). Archaeologists working with texts have used biography to identify heirlooms, antiques and the glory of the weaver or the danger of the gift (Crielaard 2003;Lyons 2003;Mueller 2010;Whitley 2013). For the value of textiles, with their laborious chaîne opératoire of production and complex use life, biography draws attention to how connections to people of status, politics and power can enhance the desirability of textiles. ...
Article
In this paper, the author takes the approach that value is a judgment that people make about things based on desire, and the potential of the effects those things engender. On this basis, she argues that there are five principle ways that people desire objects: through material properties; in expense and exclusivity; as materials with conspicuous, sensory appeal; through object biography; and where objects can be substituted one for another, an attribute known as fungibility. These principles provide a multiple perspective through which to investigate why and how people desire things. This approach to value is explored through a case study of the desirability of textiles during the emergence of the early urban centres in central and northern Italy (900–500 BC) within its wider geographical setting. Addressing desirability, rather than fixed concepts of luxury, wealth or prestige, opens up questions as to how and why materials and objects are valued across social matrices and according to changing ambitions during the life course.
... Cfr. rubin 1975dubois 1982, 37-48;redfield 1982;lyons 2003;blondell 2005blondell . 16. Su questi aspetti, dubois 1982bergren 1983, 75-78. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this article is to investigate how the ancient Amazonian myth has been recently remythologised in Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman. The analysis of the similarities and differences between the antique and modern myths can indeed shed further light on the gender identity which is promoted in the film and based on the 20th century homonymous comics. Finally, the staging of Themyscira as an all-female society further problematises the theme of the identification and 'normativitisation' of the so-called 'Otherness'.
... For the exploitation of textiles as a mark of gender in Greek tragedy see Jenkins 1985; for Greek literary sources dealing with the social habit of exchanging textiles see Lyons 2003. business, in both the domestic and the workshop environment. ...
Article
Insidious uses of the gift and deadly objects in Sophocles’ tragedies This article looks at the gift of objects in Sophocles. Numerous objects can be found in the plays of the tragedian, and they serve many functions ; they can be deadly and, in the semantic context of the plot (war, ritual, funeral, for instance), they can carry important values for their owner. Beside these functions, the way the objects are given as a legacy, or as a gift is also significant. In Ajax on the one hand the gift of the sword leads to the death of the hero and on the other the gift of the shield signifies the transmission of the father’s heroic values to the son. In the Trachiniae the gift of the peplos in the context of the sacrifice and the bestial world is the answer to the «gift » of Iole by Heracles, fi rst to Deianeira then to Hyllos in the context of the wedding, as an «object » linked to the power or Eros. In Electra the gift of the facticious urn allows Orestes to unfold his identity and the urn represents the peak of the mise en abîme of tragic fi ction ; Clytemnestra’s offerings bring to light the opposition between language and non verbal signs. In Philoctetes the restitution of the bow to the hero puts an end to Ulysse’s trickery and echoes the previous gift by its fi rst owner, Heracles. These transactions, when deadly, are mostly linked to a trickery or a contrivance (μηχανή ) and are caracterized by a reciprocity (χάρις), which is false or unbalanced. In this context objects can be agents and express intentions which go beyond the action of the protagonists who handle them.
Article
Selected by Choice as a 2013 Outstanding Academic Title Awarded a 2013 PROSE Honorable Mention as a Single Volume Reference/Humanities & Social Sciences A Companion to Women in the Ancient World presents an interdisciplinary, methodologically-based collection of newly-commissioned essays from prominent scholars on the study of women in the ancient world. The first interdisciplinary, methodologically-based collection of readings to address the study of women in the ancient world Explores a broad range of topics relating to women in antiquity, including: Mother-Goddess Theory; Women in Homer, Pre-Roman Italy, the Near East; Women and the Family, the State, and Religion; Dress and Adornment; Female Patronage; Hellenistic Queens; Imperial Women; Women in Late Antiquity; Early Women Saints; and many more Thematically arranged to emphasize the importance of historical themes of continuity, development, and innovation Reconsiders much of the well-known evidence and preconceived notions relating to women in antiquity Includes contributions from many of the most prominent scholars associated with the study of women in antiquity.
Article
Ancient Greek expressed the agents of passive verbs by a variety of means, and this work explores the language's development of prepositions which marked the agents of passive verbs. After an initial look at the pragmatics of agent constructions, it turns to this central question: under what conditions is the agent expressed by a construction other than hupo with the genitive? The book traces the development of these expressions from Homer through classical prose and drama, paying attention to the semantic, syntactic, and metrical conditions that favoured the use of one preposition over another. It concludes with a study of the decline of hupo as an agent marker in the first millennium AD. Although the focus is on developments in Greek, translation of the examples should render it accessible to linguists studying changes in prepositional systems generally.
Article
Full-text available
Though Greece is traditionally seen as an agrarian society, cattle were essential to Greek communal life, through religious sacrifice and dietary consumption. Cattle were also pivotal in mythology: gods and heroes stole cattle, expected sacrifices of cattle, and punished those who failed to provide them.The Cattle of the Sunranges over a wealth of sources, both textual and archaeological, to explore why these animals mattered to the Greeks, how they came to be a key element in Greek thought and behavior, and how the Greeks exploited the symbolic value of cattle as a way of structuring social and economic relations.Jeremy McInerney explains that cattle's importance began with domestication and pastoralism: cattle were nurtured, bred, killed, and eaten. Practically useful and symbolically potent, cattle became social capital to be exchanged, offered to the gods, or consumed collectively. This circulation of cattle wealth structured Greek society, since dedication to the gods, sacrifice, and feasting constituted the most basic institutions of Greek life. McInerney shows that cattle contributed to the growth of sanctuaries in the Greek city-states, as well as changes in the economic practices of the Greeks, from the Iron Age through the classical period, as a monetized, market economy developed from an earlier economy of barter and exchange.Combining a broad theoretical approach with a careful reading of sources,The Cattle of the Sunillustrates the significant position that cattle held in the culture and experiences of the Greeks.
Article
In one of the three tragedies by Euripides performed at Athens in 431 BCE, the playwright presented his version of the story of Jason and Medea. He did not begin with their meeting in Colchis, the place to which Jason had sailed on a quest set by Pelias to retrieve the Golden Fleece and thereby, he believed, to regain his kingship of Iolcus. Nor did he begin with Jason and Medea’s arrival back in Greece and the troubles they encountered in their failed attempt to regain his patrimony from the usurper-king who sent him on his quest. Rather, Euripides begins his tragedy with Jason and Medea, now with two young sons, in Corinth, clearly sometime after they had fled as exiles from Iolcus. The play opens with Medea’s long-time confidante, her Nurse, ruing the day that Jason entered Medea’s life, for now, it seems, he has casually cast her aside in favor of making a new marriage with the daughter of Corinth’s ruler. This is the terrible deed that spurs Medea to action. Abandoned by her husband, her sole provider of parental and financial support, she retaliates, bringing to bear any means at her disposal to hurt those who have hurt her—not only her husband and his new bride and father-in-law, but even, necessarily, Medea’s own children. Euripides’ portrayal of the title character in Medea has, it has been argued, influenced all further versions of the Medea myth, especially her association with Corinth, the death of her children by her own hand, and her escape in the Sun’s chariot. Of Euripides’ new elements of characterization, it was the filicide of her children that most completely determined perceptions of Medea’s essential character. This particular event has inspired a significant number of scholarly discussions of the play, offering a variety of ways to read the tragedy from the perspective of both ancient and modern audiences. For instance, because of her act of child-murder, many modern critics have consistently viewed Medea as a woman who loses more than she gains, for example, as she sacrifices her femininity to the pursuit of more properly masculine concerns. A number of critics point to the irrevocable loss of Medea’s humanity, but as Carrie Cowherd (1983, 135) observes, the fact that Medea is no longer a mother does not entail she is no longer human. Several critics provide a specifically feminist reading of the play, interpreting Medea as an everywoman suffering under a patriarchal regime, while others argue that such a feminist interpretation is too ideologically narrow. In addition to contemporary gender questions, politicized postmodern criticism has focused on perceived ethnicity issues, especially on Greek self-definition in contrast to the ‘barbarian.’ While some critics identify important ambiguities of ethnicity in her characterization, others argue that ethnicity is peripheral or irrelevant to Medea’s story. In the following discussion, we offer an analysis of Medea’s response to her situation through an evolutionary literary critical approach. Evolutionary literary criticism (biopoetics), which is based on the findings of evolutionary psychology, holds that humans universally share innate feelings and motivations. Because of this, while evolutionary psychology can illuminate literary study, the universality of particular elements of fiction can contribute to a better understanding of human nature. This interface between evolutionary psychology and narrative has the potential to offer a new way of appreciating and explaining Medea’s perennial appeal as a literary character of depth and complexity. By considering Medea’s actions and motivations as reflecting the sociobiological drives shared by humans as evolved animals, we offer an explanation for why this story has simultaneously so fascinated and disgusted us for so long: it is a story informed by the irreconcilability of conflicting biologically evolved behavior in relation to reproductive success and parental investment. Evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby (2001, 8–9) have found that the phenomenon of human preoccupation with the imagined worlds of narrative fiction is both cross-cultural and universal. Evoking Aristotle’s conception of katharsis, they have observed that humans respond psychologically and emotionally to the characters and events in fictional worlds much as they do to people...
Article
Brill's Companion to Sophocles offers 32 chapters, newly commissioned and written by leading scholars, on Sophocles' life and works, as well as upon the basic historical, social, intellectual, moral, philosophical and religious issues of interest to Sophocles which remain central in the study of Greek tragedy to this day. © 2012. Photo Scala, Florence-courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Culturali. All rights reserved.
Article
This essay focuses attention on the cognitive and spiritual work of the dream and the devotional labor of the Jesuit missionary in seventeenth-century Quebec, and views these often passionately opposed spiritual efforts—performed by the various and often passionately opposed peoples of Catholic France and “New France”—through the lens of gender. In the case of early modern Atlantic dreaming, gender and its confusions in the social imaginary are not tied to the historical practice of female-bodied persons. The femininity investigated here is positional and symbolic. There are many kinds of “female” in the early modern shake-up: the terms of sex and gender lose purchase in an avalanche of novel categories at least transitionally operative in the social and epistemological chaos of the period. Confronted by the colonial New World, European gender and other fundamental categories are visible as fragile arrays of power relations, grounded in opposing forms of consciousness.
Book
Inspired by anthropological writing on reciprocity and kinship, this book applies the idea of gendered wealth to ancient Greek myth for the first time, and also highlights the importance of the sister-brother bond in the Classical world. Copyright
Article
A hydria by the Harrow Painter provides an opportunity to revisit the concept of genre and the depiction of women in classical Athenian vase painting. Scholars cannot agree on the social status of the female figure: hetaira or housewife? In this paper, I show that the criteria used to refute a “housewife” identification can be dismantled and that an oikos-centered interpretation is plausible. This does not, however, exclude the possibility of multiple readings; the ambiguity of this and other “genre scenes” is likely a deliberate strategy intended to attract the widest possible audience. Une hydrie du Peintre de Harrow nous donne l'occasion de revenir sur la notion de genre et sur la représentation des femmes dans la peinture classique athénienne sur vase. Les spécialistes ne s'entendent pas sur le statut social de la femme représentée: hétaïre ou femme au foyer? Dans cet article, je montre que les critères utilisés pour réfuter la thèse de la femme au foyer peuvent ětre déconstruits et qu'une une interprétation centrée sur l'oikos est plausible. Cela n'exclut toutefois pas la possibilité de lectures multiples, l'ambiguïté de cette situation et d'autres «scènes de genre» étant probablement une stratégie délibérée visant à attirer un public le plus large possible.
Article
This paper calls attention to the need to think about Greek property based on the evidence available. While scholars note the absence of relevant legal or economic sources, I argue that certain mythic texts reveal important aspects of the ideology of property and, specifically, that property relations tended to be understood in terms of exchange relations. Being an owner meant engaging in certain kinds of exchange, and abstaining from other kinds of exchange. The myths that I consider here reveal this notion by suggesting that property is destabilized when property owners conduct exchange in the wrong way.
Article
Scenes of textile production on Athenian vases are often interpreted as confirming the oppression of women, who many argue were confined to "women's quarters" and exploited as free labor. However, reexamination of the iconography - together with a reconsideration of gender roles and the archaeology of Greek houses dating to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. - suggests that these images idealize female contributions to the household in a positive way. The scenes utilize the dual metaphor of weaving and marriage to express the harmonia of oikos and polis, a theme particularly significant under the evolving Athenian democracy.
Article
This paper focuses on the central choral ode of Euripides' Medea in order to argue that the utopian image of Athens presented there is simultaneously a distillation of the central conflicts of the drama and an attempt to produce an aesthetically satisfying resolution to those very issues. The ode celebrates the homogeneous male citizenry through the discourse of autochthony, while simultaneously making provision for the positive aspects of heterosexual reproduction. Moreover, Euripides exploits the dramatic conventions of the stage to blur distinctions of time, place, and gender in a way that contributes to the production of a utopian vision.
Article
EURIPIDES’ MEDEA IS A CHARACTER WHO is adept at speaking many languages. To the chorus of Corinthian women, she presents herself as a woman like any other, but with fewer resources; to Jason in the ago\she speaks as if man to man, articulating her claim to the appropriate returns of charis and philia. Even when she addresses herself, in the great monologue, two distinct voices appear, that of the pitiful mother who loves her children and, opposed to this, the voice of the heroic warrior who demands revenge. 1 The subject of this article will not be the versatility of Medea’s speech, per se. Rather, I will consider the narrower but related issue of how—with what words and weapons—Medea enacts her revenge on Jason. Christopher Gill recently has argued that Medea’s revenge is the final episode in the series of exchanges of charis between husband and wife. 2 The exchanges began long ago in the mythical past, when Medea first helped Jason obtain the Golden Fleece. 3 My argument, building on that of Gill’s, is that the language of charis extends in this play to the material medium of the heroine’s revenge. The “textiles” given by Medea to Creon’s daughter are, I suggest, a significant component in the play’s construction of Medea’s agency and her participation in relations of philia. 4 What can the objects that Medea uses as instruments of vengeance tell us about the identity of this heroine and the active role she
Article
This collection of papers is the third and final installment in a series meant to update the archaeological study of Aegean Bronze Age economies based on current research in economic anthropology and new archaeological and textual data from Minoan and Mycenaean states. The first collection, titled ‘Redistribution in Aegean Palatial Societies’, was published in the American Journal of Archaeology in 2011 (volume 115.2). The second, titled ‘Crafts, Specialists, and Markets in Mycenaean Greece,’ was published in the American Journal of Archaeology in 2013 (volume 117.3). In these first two collections, we argued that studies of ‘redistribution’ in Aegean palatial societies, whether archaeological, textual, or both, fail to capture the totality of economic activity that must have occurred in Late Bronze Age states and largely ignore the social implications of such activity. Rather, in order to explain the regional distribution of artifacts, some form of ‘market’-based exchange must have occurred. In this introduction we suggest that systems of ‘reciprocity’ preceded and underpinned modes of redistribution and market exchange, and also served to integrate Bronze Age social structures. © The Fund for Mediterranean Archaeology/Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2016.
Chapter
Reading the Late Byzantine Romance - edited by Adam J. Goldwyn December 2018
Book
Full-text available
This volume provides an ambitious synopsis of the complex, colourful world of textiles in ancient Mediterranean iconography. A wealth of information on ancient textiles is available from depictions such as sculpture, vase painting, figurines, reliefs and mosaics. Commonly represented in clothing, textiles are also present in furnishings and through the processes of textile production. The challenge for anyone analysing ancient iconography is determining how we interpret what we see. As preserved textiles rarely survive in comparable forms, we must consider the extent to which representations of textiles reflect reality, and critically evaluate the sources. Images are not simple replicas or photographs of reality. Instead, iconography draws on select elements from the surrounding world that were recognisable to the ancient audience, and reveal the perceptions, ideologies, and ideas of the society in which they were produced. Through examining the durable evidence, this anthology reveals the ephemeral world of textiles and their integral role in the daily life, cult and economy of the ancient Mediterranean.
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper explores textile production-related iconography on seals from Bronze Age Greece. Thirteen motifs related to textile production are recognised in the imagery. These range from the flax plant and the woolly animals to fibre combing, purple dyeing, spinning and weaving using loom weights, and perhaps the comb and rigid heddle, to finished textiles and bands. All these processes and tools are symbolically interwoven in the figure of the spider, a frequent motif in the Aegean glyptic. New motif identifications are proposed which suggest that textile production and the material culture related to it, constituted an important semantic reference reflected in the imagery of seals, especially on Crete in the Middle Bronze Age.
Article
The Athenians of the fifth century BCE both created and were captivated by an unusual and memorable concept that provided citizens with an ancestry that was closely linked to the very earth they inhabited: autochthony. Although autochthony in classical Athens has been studied extensively, the methodology of viewing the myth as a representation of a ritual and performative act has not been widely considered. This paper reflects upon autochthony from the angle of its ceremonial (re)presentation, considering how iconography helped shape a concrete and specific understanding of Athenian civic identity, including familial ties with the gods and eponymous ancestors. By situating fifth-century visual representations in vase painting as the most effective conduit for what autochthony meant, we can better understand its power as a visual action that replicates a ritual gift.
Chapter
Female Characters in Fragmentary Greek Tragedy - edited by P. J. Finglass July 2020
Article
Cambridge Core - Classical Theatre - Female Characters in Fragmentary Greek Tragedy - edited by P. J. Finglass
Chapter
Full-text available
It has long been observed that in the theatre of Aeschylus, especially in the Persians and in the Oresteia trilogy, textiles have a strong economic symbolism. By revisiting one of the central scenes of the Oresteia, the so-called ‘carpet-scene’ (Agamemnon 905-74; pictured in a modern production below), this paper argues that in Aeschylus textiles have an ecological symbolism more precisely. In this scene, the woven, embroidered and purple-dyed textiles spread out of the interior of the Atreid oikos are understood to symbolise its wealth (i.e. both material wealth and human capital) which is being destroyed by its own members. The symbolism of the textiles has so far been explored in relation to the oikos as human economic unit alone; moreover, relatively little attention has been paid to the cultural associations of the textile production processes evoked through them. This paper argues that here, as in much of his theatre, Aeschylus relies on the culturally validated concept ‘oikos as Earth’, so that the wealth of the oikos is ultimately to be understood as ‘wealth of the Earth’. By developing this concept in relation to the natural and economic imagery of the scene, the paper analyses two processes of textile production which lie at the core of its symbolism: weaving and dying with murex purple. It argues that through the gendered, spatial and symbolic associations of these processes, as well as their power to evoke concepts of production, destruction, value-adding and waste, this scene explores natural productivity in relation to human economic activity and in contrast to human greed, destructiveness and wastefulness of resources.
Chapter
This chapter examines a particular instance, recorded in a literary work, in which gifts and or commercial exchange, that is, buying and selling, seem to collapse into each other. It explains why this happens and what it means for the understanding of one domain of classical behavior and values, namely, erotic relations with courtesan women. In the Rhetoric, Aristotle discusses charis, which signifies a freely bestowed favor. Aristotle's discussion of favors, which is to say, freely bestowed services or material goods without the expectation of repayment, is a good guide to the classical idea of the gift. The chapter addresses the nature of gifts as understood in antiquity, and some aspects of commercial exchange. It presents case studies that illustrate the dimension of the divergence between the idea of the gift and that of commercial exchange as it was perceived by the Greeks.
Article
This paper looks at the structure of Semonides’ catalogue in fragment 7, and at the metaphors that underpin it. There is a tension between the organising function of this catalogue and the hybrid entities it lists. It is suggested that the opening and closing lines frame the catalogue conceptually, exploiting ambiguities in the words χωρίς, γένος and φῦλον. Not only does Semonides play with ideas of order and embrace ambiguities of language, but he suggests that these are a feature of his poetic inheritance: the female types of his catalogue are a collection of hybrids assembled from a variety of Archaic texts and traditions.
Chapter
Full-text available
Chapter
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Embora tenha escrito mais de cinquenta biografias, Plutarco de Queroneia não compôs sequer uma que tratasse da vida de uma mulher ilustre. Portanto, nosso objetivo neste artigo é sistematizar informações esparsas sobre o papel das mulheres na sua obra biográfica de Plutarco.
Book
Full-text available
This volume provides an ambitious synopsis of the complex, colourful world of textiles in ancient Mediterranean iconography. A wealth of information on ancient textiles is available from depictions such as sculpture, vase painting, figurines, reliefs and mosaics. Commonly represented in clothing, textiles are also present in furnishings and through the processes of textile production. The challenge for anyone analysing ancient iconography is determining how we interpret what we see. As preserved textiles rarely survive in comparable forms, we must consider the extent to which representations of textiles reflect reality, and critically evaluate the sources. Images are not simple replicas or photographs of reality. Instead, iconography draws on select elements from the surrounding world that were recognisable to the ancient audience, and reveal the perceptions, ideologies, and ideas of the society in which they were produced. Through examining the durable evidence, this anthology reveals the ephemeral world of textiles and their integral role in the daily life, cult and economy of the ancient Mediterranean.
Book
Full-text available
This edited volume investigates knowledge networks based on materials and associated technologies in Prehistoric Europe and the Classical Mediterranean. It emphasises the significance of material objects to the construction, maintenance, and collapse of networks of various forms – which are central to explanations of cultural contact and change. Focusing on the materiality of objects and on the way in which materials are used adds a multidimensional quality to networks. The properties, functions, and styles of different materials are intrinsically linked to the way in which knowledge flows and technologies are transmitted. Transmission of technologies from one craft to another is one of the main drivers of innovation, whilst sharing knowledge is enabled and limited by the extent of associated social networks in place. Archaeological research has often been limited to studying objects made of one particular material in depth, be it lithic materials, ceramics, textiles, glass, metal, wood or others. The knowledge flow and transfer between crafts that deal with different materials have often been overlooked. This book takes a fresh approach to the reconstruction of knowledge networks by integrating two or more craft traditions in each of its chapters. The authors, well-known experts and early career researchers, provide concise case studies that cover a wide range of materials. The scope of the book extends from networks of craft traditions to implications for society in a wider sense: Materials, objects, and the technologies used to make and distribute them are interwoven with social meaning. People make objects, but objects make people – the materiality of objects shapes our understanding of the world and our place within it. In this book, objects are treated as clues to social networks of different sorts that can be contrasted and compared, both spatially and diachronically.
Chapter
Full-text available
In an article from 1978, which anticipates discussions more than a decade later, Mark Leone suggests that archaeologists ought to discover how we think, and more specifically, how we think about time (Leone 1978, p. 36). Just as archaeologists are becoming aware that gender is a social construct, so they are beginning to realize that time is a social construct. Too often, however, we are offered the simple distinction between Western linear time and the assumed circular or cyclical time of past societies. It is important to recognize that while we operate with exact years and dates, time in many other societies is more in accordance with seasonal cycles. However, my concern here is to demonstrate that modern time concepts go much deeper than this, and in fact are constituting factors for social and cultural values. These values are activated when we describe and evaluate gender in the present, and consequently also in the past. The time perspective affects our evaluations of various gendered activities and the material products of these.
Chapter
Rubin evaluates the feminist implications of the theories of Marx, Engels, Levi-Strauss, and Lacan. She argues that a sex/gender system exists whereby a society transforms biological sexuality into products of human activity. It relates to, but still stands in contrast to the overarching domination of capitalism. She also explores the role of kinship in the maintainence of gender roles and the reduction of women to properties of exchange. Kinship systems create an "exchange of women" that involves not only exchanging women but also sexual access, the right of genealogical significance, and social status. Gender becomes one way of maintaining the stratified sex/gender system. Sexuality is another way.
Book
Material culture is not a subject which has to date attracted much attention from historians, whose usual source material is the written word. This volume shows just how illuminating the study of artifacts, and documentation concerning the acquisition and meaning of artifacts can be for the study of history in any period. Ranging from the use of clothing as votive offerings in ancient Greece to the function of reproductive technology in the 20th century, the scope of this volume is excitingly dismissive of traditional chronologies and disciplinary boundaries. Gender historians will not be surprised to find the historical meaning of many artifacts to be permeated by gender difference.
Chapter
Specialized production activities termed ‘crafts’ have often been linked to archaeological discussions of social organization and status. With each shift in archaeological paradigms the study of crafts and products has changed emphasis. Research has now moved beyond the technical detail to consider the social contexts of production; the production-exchange relationship, technological choices, the ecology of production systems, human agency and social agency (Bradley and Edmonds, 1993; Torrence, 1983, 1986; Lemonnier, 1989, 1993; Arnold, 1988; Johnson, 1989; Dobres and Hoffman, 1994; Miller, 1985; Ingold, 1990). This chapter investigates some of the gendered social contexts of production using the time and the skill involved in production activities as a means of seeing social relationships. The theme is explored in a generalized way illustrated with some more detailed examples. New categories of time and of skill are proposed as a result.
Article
The dialogue between the model Athenian landowner Ischomachus and his wife recounted in Xenophon's Oeconomicus appears to offer a rare glimpse of the inner workings of an -ordinary Athenian household and a rare portrait of an ordinary Athenian wife. Through Ischoma­chus's report to Socrates of a series of conversations in which he instructed his wife in her proper activities. the dialogue provides both an account of the occupations of an Athenian wife and observations on her role in the household by both herself and her husband.
Chapter
This chapter takes up the most historically celebrated ethnographic example of exchange: the kula, an inter-island network of partners living on other Massim Islands with whom Trobriand Islanders exchange elaborately decorated armshells for necklaces. In the other kula areas of the Massim, kula activity provides a context for chiefly authority where actual ranking and chiefs do not exist. In these situations, ranking is sustained briefly, yet ultimately defeated because the shells are inalienable only for a limited time. But within that time period, exchange is subverted, keeping is paramount, and difference is politically flaunted. In the Trobriands, where difference is transformed into rank, brother–sister intimacy, materially expressed through exchanges of women's cloth wealth, provides the economic and cosmological resources that matter.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
The first half of Aiskhylos' "Agamemnon" presents three crimes of the House of Atreus: the sacrifice of Iphigeneia (184-247), the wasting of young Argive lives at Ilion (355-487) and the treading of the materials as the victorious king reenters his palace (810-974). We argue that the sequential presentation of the crimes of the House, which are connected thematically, stylistically, and causally, radically redefines the nature of transgression within contemporary models of the polis community. Crime as defined in relationship to oikos alone is displaced by crime as defined in relationship to both oikos and the broader polis community; transgression moves from an aristocratic (oikos alone) to an isonomic (oikos within polis) context. This redefinition culminates in the "Carpet-Scene." We reread Agamemnon's nostos as a contest of epinikia. The king represents himself as victorious idiôtês, and Klutaimestra strives to figure him as returning tyrant. She succeeds in the stichomythia, where Agamemnon fails to recognize the crucial distinction between φθόνος and ζῆλος. Aristotle differentiates the terms at Rhet. 1387-88, where φθόνος is envy toward a social superior and ζῆλος the emotion one experiences in rivalry between equals; we document the development of the terms from the archaic period onwards, demonstrate that Aristotle's distinction is valid for the late archaic and classical periods, and suggest that it arose in an attempt to outline relationships of appropriate and inappropriate competition among fellow-citizens. Agamemnon's failure to recognize this important distinction betrays his misunderstanding of the dynamics of, and his agreement to walk on the materials is an offense against, isonomic community. The rearticulation of the nature of transgression completed by this crime of Agamemnon against the polis does fundamental ideological work for the rest of the Oresteia, offering an aetiology of the claims of the polis against the aristocratic oikos.
Article
Rappelant les problemes de traduction et d'interpretation de la position ou du statut des femmes a partir des concepts anthropologiques classiques, l'A. propose une approche emic comparative du role et statut des femmes a travers les pratiques matrimoniales en Afrique subsaharienne et en Inde du nord, et reevalue la these developpee dans son ouvrage en collaboration avec J. Goody " Bridewealth and Dowry " (Cambridge University Press, 1973)| commentaires, critiques et reponse de l'A.
Article
The roles of the gift and the commodity in Greece c. 800-500 B.C. are analysed from the primary literary sources, and it is suggested that current anthropological models of the interrelationships of forms of production, exchange and social organisation are too simplistic. Historical evidence can be used to supplement the ethnographic record, and to show the great importance gift exchange can have in state and even imperial civilisations. Further, the great importance of the gift in Archaic Greece was not unusual in early Europe. It is argued that the archaeologist can attempt to identify spheres of exchange and a gift economy in the material record of the deliberate consumption of wealth in prehistory.
Article
The depiction of the Birth of Pandora on the base of the statue of Athena Parthenos has not received all the attention it deserves. This study attempts to place the meaning and function of the myth in the context of both the Parthenon sculptural program as a whole and the Athenian civic ideologies of patriarchy and autochthony. It suggests that the scene operated on several different levels (some of them mundane), but that the relationship of the mortal parthenos below to the divine Parthenos above was essentially one of ambiguity, even dissonance. Pandora may, in fact, have functioned as an "Anti-Athena," and the image of her creation may have reinforced the highly gendered social and political realities of fifth-century Athens.