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Playing the Other

Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature

Relations between the sexes was a pervasive concern of ancient Greek thought and literature, extending from considerations of masculine and feminine roles in domestic and political spheres to the organization of the cosmos in a pantheon of gods and goddesses. In Playing the Other Froma Zeitlin explores the diversity and complexity of these interactions through the most influential literary texts of the archaic and classical periods ranging from epic (Homer) and didactic poetry (Hesiod) to the theatrical productions of tragedy and comedy in fifth-century Athens.

Zeitlin demonstrates the indispensable workings of gender as a major factor in Greek social, religious, and cultural practices and in more abstract ideas about nature and culture, public and private, citizen and outsider, self and other, and mortal and immortal. Focusing on the prominence of female figures in these male authored texts, she enlarges our perspective on critical components of political order and civic identity by including issues of sexuality, the body, modes of male and female maturation, and speculations about parentage, kinship, and reproductive strategies. Along with considerations of genre, poetics, and theatrical mimesis, she points to the powerful mythmaking capacities of Greek culture for creating memorable paradigms and dramatic scenarios that far exceed simple notions of male and female opposition and predictable enforcement of social norms. Consisting of both new and revised essays, Playing the Other is a wide-ranging account of a central category of Greek literature by a scholar who pioneered an approach to classics through the perspective of gender.

484 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1995

Women in Culture and Society

Ancient Studies

Gender and Sexuality

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages

Table of Contents

Catharine R. Stimpson
Note on Transliteration and Translation
Pt. 1: Gender and Paradigm: The Privileged Models
1: Figuring Fidelity in Homer’s Odyssey
2: Signifying Difference: The Case of Hesiod’s Pandora
3: The Dynamics of Misogyny: Myth and Mythmaking in Aeschylus’s Oresteia
Pt. 2: Gender and the Body: The Woman’s Story
4: The Politics of Eros in the Danaid Trilogy of Aeschylus
5: The Body’s Revenge: Dionysos and Tragic Action in Euripides’ Hekabe
Pt. 3: Gender and Selfhood: The Boy’s Story
6: The Power of Aphrodite: Eros and the Boundaries of the Self in
Euripides’ Hippolytos
7: Mysteries of Identity and Designs of the Self in Euripides’ Ion
Pt. 4: Gender and Mimesis: Theater and Identity
8: Playing the Other: Theater, Theatricality, and the Feminine in Greek
9: Travesties of Gender and Genre in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazousae
Index of Key Passages
General Index

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