Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview

objectification, degradation, and violence against women. They further parallel modern pornography in their production in a social environment that condoned and encouraged hostile attitudes and violent actions against women. Finally, the portrayal of these mute, nude female characters in Aristophanes' plays appears to be more like pornographic representation than like the expression of jubilant sexuality that many of us would wish they more truly were.


NOTES

My highest appreciation first to Amy Richlin for inviting me to contribute to this volume and for her constant encouragement. I am also grateful to the following readers for their supportive criticism on earlier drafts of this paper: Laura Stone Barnard, Jeffrey Henderson, and Robert Sutton.

1.
The word refers most commonly to the educated and cultured "companions," both slave and free foreigner, whose services include intellectual companionship, entertainment, and sex. For general summations, see Pomeroy 1976; Sutton 1981: 34-35; Cantarella 1987; Keuls 1985, chaps. 6 and 7. (A note on orthography: in keeping with contemporary practice, I prefer transliterating Greek spellings. However, when citing others, I maintain their Latinate spellings in the quotation, which occasionally leads to inconsistencies.)
2.
Although live theater might at first seem a more appropriate parallel for ancient comedy, scholarly literature on representations in film has treated the subject of pornography in a way not yet begun for live theater. I also wonder if both the formal distancing and social popularity of modern film may not better represent some of the roles ancient comedy played in its own society.
3.
These descriptions are adaptations of (1) Lys.1114 ff. (2) Thesm.1172 ff. ., and (3) Ach.765 ff.
4.
For general characteristics, see Lederer 1980; Kuhn 1985; Kappeler 1986. On child pornography, Rush 1980.
5.
In the Frogs, the fertile reveling Dionysos is celebrated by the first chorus of frogs (209 ff.). Next he is invoked by a chorus of mystic initiates (324 ff.). Finally, with Dionysos as its principal character addressing the notion of drama, both tragedy and comedy, the play unambiguously presents Dionysos in his guise as god of theater. See Reckford 1987: 403 ff.
6.
My gratitude to Jeffrey Henderson for pointing this out.
7.
M. Henry's contention ( 1985: 13, 24) that Mnesilochos actually sees the hetaira Kyrene in the audience ( Thesm.97-98) is inconclusive on its own. Mnesilochos might just as easily be stressing and ridiculing Agathon's effeminacy by addressing the tragic poet by this well-known hetaira's name.
8.
Recent woman-focused yet highly divergent analyses of these plays are found in Rosellini 1979; Said 1979; Zeitlin 1981; and Foley 1982.
9.
Henderson (personal communication) finds it hard to imagine that none spoke. He points out further that one comic actor, Pherekrates, is said to have specialized in hetaira roles.
10.
In the article here cited, Henderson notes the general respect accorded to older women protagonists in these three plays.
11.
For a more sinister analysis of the identification of the young girls with pigs, see Golden 1988.

-88-

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Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Time Line of Events, Sources, and Persons Discussed xxiv
  • 1: Pornography and Persuasion on Attic Pottery 3
  • Notes 34
  • 2: Tragedy and the Politics of Containment 36
  • Notes 51
  • 3: Eros in Love: Pederasty and Pornography in Greece 53
  • Notes 72
  • 4: The Mute Nude Female Characters in Aristophanes' Plays 73
  • Notes 88
  • Appendix Texts Relating to the Writers of Sexual Handbooks 108
  • Notes 109
  • 6: The Body Female and the Body Politic: Livy's Lucretia and Verginia 112
  • Notes 129
  • 7: The Domestication of Desire: Ovid's Parva Tabella and the Theater of Love 131
  • Notes 155
  • Notes 158
  • Notes 178
  • Notes 179
  • 9: Death as Decoration: Scenes from the Arena on Roman Domestic Mosaics 180
  • Notes 208
  • 10: Callirhoe 212
  • 11: Sweet and Pleasant Passion: Female and Male Fantasy in Ancient Romance Novels 231
  • Notes 249
  • 12: The Edible Woman: Athenaeus's Concept of the Pornographic 250
  • Conclusion 266
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 269
  • Notes 283
  • Bibliography 285
  • Contributors 313
  • Index 315
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