Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The Mute Nude Female Characters in Aristophanes' Plays

Bella Zweig

Considering the issue of the mute, nude female characters that have cameo appearances in many of Aristophanes' plays from the perspective of pornographic representation entails many problems, both of ancient scholarly criticism and of modern interpretation. Historically, the short, nonspeaking role assigned to these characters has resulted in comparably short scholarly attention to their dramatic and cultural significance. Classical scholarship has focused, in the words of Cedric Whitman ( 1964: 112), on "a minor, but enthusiastic, philological controversy," namely, were these characters portrayed by male actors in padded costume or by real, nude hetairai? 1 However enthusiastic the debate, and regardless of which position they espouse, critics curiously continue to discuss the thematic or dramatic significance of these scenes without regard to whether they were played by padded actors or real live women.

The situation is hardly better in the area of modern interpretations of pornography, where the scholarly literature is divided on both its definition and significance. How, or whether, one can distinguish between erotica and pornography continues in debate. Feminist, sociological, and psychoanalytical interpretations drastically oppose each other and are as often divided intra- as well as interdiscipline. Finally, once a coherent approach is proposed, whether it could validly be applied to the ancient material remains a serious question.

Undaunted by these multiple complexes of scholarly problems, I attempt in this chapter to accomplish several things. I first examine the role of the mute, nude female characters in Aristophanes' plays in their appropriate dramatic, religious, and societal contexts. I then briefly review some salient points in the modern debate


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.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

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

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome


Text size Smaller Larger
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?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 324

matching results for page

Cited passage

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

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?