Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

By Amy Richlin | Go to book overview
like Beloved, the dearly beloved ghost of grief, and to be blind to her is not to exorcise her. We need to know her and keep faith with history.The battle for consciousness must go on (see de Lauretis 1984: 185) and focus on concrete political improvements in women's lives. As classicists, as scholars, as teachers, as women and men who speak to other people, we can fight in this battle. What can we do?
(1) We can speak and write about antiquity for other feminists and people outside the academy. We can remake our disciplines ( Hallett 1985). We can move outside of Classics, and we can open up the boundaries of Classics itself; that's what this book is trying for.
(2) We can blow up the canon. Canons are part of social systems. We recognize the one we have as dysfunctional. It must and will change; we can surely critique the pleasure of the text without fear of breaking anything irreplaceable.
(3) We can claim our lack. We can ask, where am I in this text? What can it do for me? What did it do to its audience?
(4) We can appropriate; we can resist. The old stories await our retelling; they haunt our language anyway. And if the only names we have to speak in are names of blood, maybe we can speak the blood off them. History is what groups write as they come to power.

NOTES

Thanks to Marilyn Skinner and Susan Kapost for the bibliography that got me started; Terri Marsh for much help along the way; groups at Carleton University, UC Santa Cruz, Hamilton College, and Amherst College for critical listening; and the Lehigh Valley Feminist Research Group for jumping in. To the readers of the manuscript--Sandra Joshel, Molly Myerowitz, and Robert Sutton--I am more indebted than I can say.

Pro comite stuprata trucidat: postremo munere mortis.

1.
All translations are my own and are as close to word-for-word as possible.
2.
This tale bears a striking resemblance to a current joke: Batman sees Superman, who looks distressed. Batman asks why. Superman says he had flown down to the beach to look at women, when he saw Wonder Woman lying naked in an enclosed backyard, writhing and groaning sexily. So he zoomed down and . . . did it! Batman is horrified. But wasn't she scared? Did she scream? "Did she scream!" says Superman. "You should have heard the Invisible Man!" (Collected Norwich, Vermont, 1981.) There is the same transferral of the rape from female to male object (and from human to divine spheres). A similar flying-and- spying takes place in the tale of Mercury and Herse ( M. 2.708ff).

-179-

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