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The Sight of Semiramis: Medieval and Early Modern Narratives of the Babylonian Queen

Beginning with Diodorus Siculus’s first-century BCE account and extending to early modern German Meisterlieder, this book explores the plethora of narratives about the ancient Babylonian queen Semiramis. The selected texts, most from continental Europe, cover a range of genres and languages. Organized thematically around issues of visual communication — acts of seeing and being seen — this study highlights the narrative fluidity in the matière de Sémiramide, ultimately revealing a figure of excess and surplus that defies classification and categorization. In its thematic focus, this study also draws on the competitive yet complementary relationship between the visual and the verbal.

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Table of Contents




1. Ambivalence, Confusion, and Narrative Fluidity

2. Diodorus Siculus’s Narrative of Semiramis

3. Manipulating the Sight and Site of Royal Bodies

4. Viewing the Royal Body

5. Semiramis as Viewer

6. Conclusion

Selected Meisterlieder



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