Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World

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Overview

A dream in which a man has sex with his mother may promise him political or commercial success--according to dream interpreters of late antiquity, who, unlike modern Western analysts, would not necessarily have drawn conclusions from the dream about the dreamer's sexual psychology. Evidence of such shifts in perspective is leading scholars to reconsider in a variety of creative ways the history of sexuality. In these fifteen original essays, eminent cultural historians and classicists not only discuss sex, but demonstrate how norms, practices, and even the very definitions of what counts as sexual activity have varied significantly over time. Ancient Greece offers abundant evidence for a radically different set of sexual standards and behaviors from ours. Sex in ancient Hellenic culture assumed a variety of social and political meanings, whereas the modern development of a sex-centered model of personality now leads us to view sex as the key to understanding the individual. Drawing on both the Anglo-American tradition of cultural anthropology and the French tradition of les sciences humaines, these essays explore the iconography, politics, ethics, poetry, and medical practices that made sex in ancient Greece not a paradise of liberation but an exotic locale hardly recognizable to visitors from the modern world. In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume are Peter Brown, Anne Carson, Franoise Frontisi-Ducroux, Maud W. Gleason, Ann Ellis Hanson, Franois Lissarrague, Nicole Loraux, Maurice Olender, S.R.F. Price, James Redfield, Giulia Sissa, and Jean-Pierre Vernant.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
In 15 original essays, cultural historians and classicists not only discuss sex, but demonstrate how norms, practices, and even the definitions of what counts as sexual activity have varied over time. They explore the medical practices, ethics, politics, iconography and poetry of sex in ancient Greece. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Times Literary Supplement
[The contributors] have either renewed the study of traditional topics and sources . . . or brought neglected and marginalized topics centrally into the play of cultural history by means of their hermeneutic approach and omnivorous perspective.
From the Publisher

"[The contributors] have either renewed the study of traditional topics and sources . . . or brought neglected and marginalized topics centrally into the play of cultural history by means of their hermeneutic approach and omnivorous perspective."--The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691035383
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/1990
  • Pages: 552

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Preface xv
List of Abbreviations xvii
Introduction 3
1. Herakles: The Super-Male and the Feminine 21
2. The Sexual Life of Satyrs 53
3. Aspects of Baubo: Ancient Texts and Contexts 83
4. From Sex to Politics: The Rites of Artemis Triklaria and Dionysos Aisymnetes at Patras 115
5. Putting Her in Her Place: Woman, Dirt, and Desire 135
6. Laying Down the Law: The Oversight of Men's Sexual Behavior in Classical Athens 171
7. From Ambiguity to Ambivalence: A Dionysiac Excursion through the "Anakreontic" Vases 211
8. Why Is Diotima a Woman? Platonic Eros and the Figuration of Gender 257
9. The Medical Writers' Woman 309
10. Maidenhood without Maidenhead: The Female Body in Ancient Greece 339
11. The Future of Dreams: From Freud to Artemidoros 365
12. The Semiotics of Gender: Physiognomy and Self-Fashioning in the Second Century C.E. 389
13. The Poetics of Eros: Nature, Art, and Imitation in Longus' Daphnis and Chloe 417
14. One ... Two ... Three: Eros 465
15. Bodies and Minds: Sexuality and Renunciation in Early Christianity 479
Notes on Contributors 495
Index of Passages Discussed 499
General Index 511
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