The Distaff Side: Representing the Female in Homer's Odyssey

By Beth Cohen | Go to book overview

ture. Perhaps we may see here a parallel to the brutal scorn cast upon the physical decline of old women, which is expressed in excruciating detail in the contemporary writings of Martial and Horace. 43

In conclusion, by surveying the many representations from the Odyssey in ancient art, we learn that the footwashing during which the nurse makes her startling discovery of Odysseus' scar was never a favorite subject in the visual arts. 44 The preferred episodes are Odysseus' violent dispatch of the giant Polyphemos, his resistance to the seductive song of the Sirens, and the magic potion of Kirke. Penelope, the loving wife, also was portrayed far more often. The footwashing episode certainly revealed Odysseus' scar, and on a deeper level, it also exposed his weakness and vulnerability. This might explain these negative statistics. Rather than underscoring Odysseus' heroic and almost divine prowess, it unmasked his vulnerability and humanity. That this revelation should be carried out by a very old woman of the servant class makes the episode all the more poignant. For these reasons I am inclined to think the subject of the footwashing was not highly popular in Classical antiquity, which preferred its men to be remembered as triumphant heroes.


Notes

In loving memory of Eric A. Havelock. I am indebted to two former Vassar College colleagues, Eve D'Ambra and Steven Ostrow, for helpful comments on an earlier version, and to Beth Cohen for many valuable suggestions for the final version.

1
. On the Niptra: Robert, 1900, 337-38; Sutton, 1984, 88-90. It has often been suggested that theatrical performances of dramas are depicted in vase paintings because the stage is shown, but the painted scene is normally a conflation of several episodes. See Trendall and Webster, 1971, 2-11. But cf. Boardman, 1989, 222, on the improbability of stage plays as a source. Also see Taplin, 1993, chapters 1 and 3.
2
See Harris, 1989, chapter 4.
3
Cf. Herington, 1985, 50; Shapiro, 1992, 72-75.
4
See Bakker, 1993, 18-19.
5
I am assuming that the artist would react to oral performances like other members of the Greek audience. Audience reaction is best analyzed by Havelock, 1963, chapters 1 and 2.
6
Cf. Arnott, 1988, 1480-82; Taplin, 1993, 6-11, 21-29.
7
For Archaic Greek artists Cook, 1983, 1-6, is skeptical as to how widely they used epic poetry for their subjects, believing folktales to have been the most prevalent source. Moreover, Cook seems to take for granted that artists relied on a written text. The validity of my approach, at least for

-196-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Distaff Side: Representing the Female in Homer's Odyssey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Contributors xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Odyssey, History, and Women 3
  • Notes 14
  • 2 - Female Representations and Interpreting the Odyssey 17
  • Notes 26
  • 3 - Between Skylla and Penelope: Female Characters of the Odyssey in Archaic and Classical Greek Art 29
  • Notes 50
  • II - Female Representations in the Odyssey 59
  • 4 - The Plan of Athena 61
  • Notes 78
  • 5 - Sirens, Muses, and Female Narrators in the Odyssey 81
  • Notes 89
  • 6 - Penelope as Moral Agent 93
  • Notes 109
  • 7 - Figuring Fidelity in Homer's Odyssey 117
  • Notes 146
  • III - Representations of Female Characters from the Odyssey in Ancient Art 153
  • 8 - Coming of Age in Phaiakia: The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausikaa 155
  • Notes 161
  • 9 - Kirke's Men: Swine and Sweethearts 165
  • Notes 173
  • 10 - Les Femmes Fatales: Skylla and the Sirens in Greek Art 175
  • Notes 183
  • 11 - The Intimate Act of Footwashing: Odyssey 19 185
  • Notes 196
  • References 201
  • Index 219
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 229

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.