Friday, February 6, 2015

TFBT: Bremer's Meadow

Maya M, asked me if the use of the phrase “untrodden meadow” as a euphemism for virginity, predated Euripides.  Most articles in Google and JSTOR reference only Euripides’ Hippolytus.  JM Bremer takes a different approach on the topic in “The Meadow of Love and Two Passages in EuripidesHippolytus 

Bremer begins the paper with two-fold purpose, one of which is to show that “the description of the meadow may have definite erotic implications."  Bremer goes on to reference Zeus and Hera’s love-making in a meadow atop Mt. Ida while the battle raged below them on the plains of Troy.  He references Hesiod description of Aphrodite coming ashore and creating a meadow made for loving making with her mere footstep.  (Aphrodite) “came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet.” Hesiod Theogony 194-195. Other quotes from the text are; “the lovely scenario (landscape with meadow) is the setting in which (Sappho) celebrates the mysteries of Aphrodite.”  and “the softness of the meadow is almost formulaic in epic” followed by many examples.   Bremer’s point is that the twenty thousand friendly faces watching the first performance of Hippolytus would have been expecting loving making in the meadow and would have been shocked at the main character’s hubris, disregard of the awful and lovely Aphrodite and his arrogance in relation to his fellow men.  Bremer also points out that when Phaedra fantasizes, she dreams of among other things, being in a meadow.  

Every tragedian hopes the audience eternal finds something new and exciting in his play.  I assume from Bremer’s argument that what was new, shocking and innovative about Euripides play was Hippolytus blatant disregard for convention; hence Euripides became the first reference for an “untrodden meadow”.   


  1. In a funny coincidence, I had introduced in my plot a meadow in relation to Aphrodite and sex:

    "...So the two went up the same path they had walked down not long ago. After a short time, they reached a pleasant meadow and Aphrodite asked for a rest. Maybe she indeed had some mysterious power over love-related affairs because the grass, for some strange reason, happened to be soft, dry, dense and devoid of any thorny plants or annoying insects..."

  2. Maya M,

    No coincidence. Discussing all this Ancient Greek stuff has slipped into your subconscious