Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome

Synopsis

This collection of essays represents one of the very few large-scale applications of feminist theory to Greco-Roman antiquity. It is unusual in that texts and works of art are considered jointly. The essays consider Greek tragedy and major figures such as Aristophanes, the Roman historian Livy and the poet Ovid from a feminist perspective; they take into account the new work being done on ancient novels; and they deal with previously neglected topics such as the anthologist Athenaeus, and the fragments of erotic handbooks (the ancient pornographers).

Excerpt

This collection of essays is unusual in its content, its method, its authors, and the way it came together. It is one of very few large-scale applications of feminist theory to Greco-Roman antiquity; in fact, by starting from feminist theory we named and collocated a set of ancient phenomena that would otherwise not have received attention together. Many articles here are the first on their subject or of their kind, and the authors likewise include new and radical voices. What we have done constitutes part of an ongoing transformation of our field; it also serves to bring our material to a new audience. Yet as feminists we vary considerably in our approach, both in the kinds of theory we use and in the stands we take on the embattled issue of pornography. Finally, to an extent unusual in Classics, we wrote this book together; a collective made up of the six original panelists read all the papers, and rewriting took place in the context of group discussion and with much pooling of bibliography and ideas. Whatever effect we will have on our field, the experience has certainly transformed us as a group.

We share the following assumptions. (1) Our work fits into the discipline that is coming to be known as cultural studies. It is a methodological axiom of this volume that text and social context are interrelated, and we all consider issues of audience and conditions of production. (2) With this axiom firmly in place, the application of feminist or other modern theories to ancient material is not inherently problematical. Feminist theoretical models of the pornographic not only help us to understand what is going on in some ancient texts, images, and behaviors but also correspond with explicit Greek and Roman self-analyses. Furthermore, since some of the texts discussed here continue to enjoy canonical status, an adequate the-

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