Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TFBT: Excerpts from Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture

Honestly, I only read a sample chapter, but Marilyn B. Skinner produces some great insights.  Here are a few excerpts that caught my attention from Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture

“Pandora stands for something more than just “Woman.” In creating her, Zeus causes two sexes to exist where there was only one. This means that sexual intercourse has now become an inescapable part of human existence. Pandora is therefore a doublet of Aphrodite, whose emergence from the sea, after the forced separation of the primal parents Sky and Earth, introduces duality of the sexes into the cosmic order.” 

“Helen is to some degree a personification of epic values: she self-consciously voices the heroic perspective of the poet. When Iris, messenger of the gods, summons her to attend the single combat between Paris and Menelaus, Helen is weaving a great double-folded cloth on which are figured “the many contests the horse-taming Trojans and bronze-corseleted Achaeans had endured for her sake” (Il. 3.125–8). In this weaving project Homer has mirrored himself composing the plot of his song

“Aphrodite is portrayed as older than the other Olympian gods, for she emerges as a stimulus to union in the previous generation, immediately after the sky and the earth are forcibly separated. Her placement outside the genea- logical scheme of the Theogony indicates that she is not altogether subject to the same rules as the Olympians.”  

 “Anchises was foolish enough to let the truth slip (he’d been drinking). Zeus’ retaliatory thunderbolt disabled him for life. Long before Freud, ancient mythmakers represented castration as lameness.” 

“… in a “fallen world,” where an original harmony has been disrupted and the techniques of Aphrodite must come into play because men and women are naturally estranged from one another. We will understand why the sexes are forever alienated after we have studied Hesiod’s myth.”

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