Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview

6
The Body Female and the Body Politic: Livy's Lucretia and Verginia

Sandra R. Joshel

Brutus, while the others were absorbed in grief, drew out the knife from Lucretia's wound, and holding it up, dripping with gore, exclaimed, "By this blood most chaste until a prince wronged it, I swear, and I take you, gods, to witness, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his wicked wife and all his children, with sword, with fire, aye with whatsoever violence I may; and that I will suffer neither them nor any other to be king in Rome!"

-- Livy 1.59.1, LCL 1

Reality, robbed of its independent life, is shaped anew, kneaded into large, englobing blocks that will serve as the building material for a larger vista, a monumental world of the future. . . . Empires can be built only on, and out of, dead matter. Destroyed life provides the material for their building blocks.

-- Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies


Pretext: The Conditions of a Reading

I read Livy's history of Rome's origins, its earliest struggles with neighboring states, and the political events that formed the state that conquered an empire. The historian writes within an immediate past he regards as decadent, a fall from the glorious society of ancestors who made empire possible; he stands at a point where his Rome is about to be reinvigorated by a new imperial order. Raped, dead, or disappeared women litter the pages. The priestess Rhea Silvia, raped by the god Mars, gives birth to Rome's founder, Romulus, and leaves the story. The women of the neighboring Sabines are seized as wives by Romulus's wifeless men. When the Sabine soldiers come to do battle with the Romans, the Roman girl Tarpeia betrays her own menfolk by admitting their foes into the citadel. She is slain by the enemy she helped. By contrast, the Sabine women place their bodies between their kin and their husbands, offering to take on the violence the men would do to each other.

-112-

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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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