Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Article | The Semiology of Rape

The Semiology of Rape: The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausikaa in Book 6 of the Odyssey.*

E. D. Karakantza

Hellenic Open University, 

Various interpretations have so far been given of the meeting between Nausikaa and Odysseus in book 6 of the Odyssey. These have ranged from sentimental musings about the princess’ innocence to the potentially fatal influence she may have exerted over the physically and psychologically exhausted Odysseus. Most of the approaches have rightly noted the pronounced marital framework of the meeting and some of them, the sexual overtones that might be detected in the encounter.[i] Our approach, however, will not scrutinize the intentions and wishes of the parties involved; instead it will attempt to unravel the cultural ideology governing the male-female relationship and its deconstruction, achieving this by pursuing our reading of the meeting onto a second level. This reading explores the devices of the poetic discourse through which this ideology is made evident in the minds of the ancient audience and the modern reader. Not only will the polysemous poetic language be taken into account but also the complex system of cross-references between signs of diverse systems, in order to construct a picture of the latent meaning that lurks beneath the literal one. There is a continual process of slippage from one of these systems to the other and these slippages, intentional or unintentional, expose the dominant ideology underpinning archaic and classical society. Thus Odysseus addresses Nausikaa as a suppliant but Homer compares him to a savage lion - the scourge of unprotected flocks; Nausikaa controls their meeting but the metaphorical poetic language describes her as the leader of a chorus of young girls, who – as it is well known from other mythic accounts[ii] - can fall easy prey to the lustful appetites of gods. The literal or prevalent meaning of the narrative is constantly deconstructed, and points to other parallel cultural realities present in this brief encounter.

The Meeting and its semiological (de)construction

The meeting carries its own literal meaning. Odysseus having been washed ashore on Scheria spends a perilous night in a heap of leaves under the meagre protective foliage of two small trees. While the famished Odysseus lies deep in exhausted slumber, a company of young maidens arrives in a nearby locality to wash clothes. The company comprises the young, pretty, and as yet unmarried, daughter of king Alkinoos leading a party of young maidens.[iii] The cries of the girls wake a frightened Odysseus; the hero approaches, covering his genitalia with a branch,[iv] and addresses his supplications from afar; Odysseus’ request is for a piece of clothing with which to cover himself and an introduction to the city of this unknown land. The meeting goes well, with the help of Athena, who inspires the young maiden with courage. Odysseus, despite his dishevelled and frightening appearance, succeeds in enjoying the bounty of a proper philoxenia; also, a sophisticated plan is devised by Nausikaa to engineer their entrance to the city. The meeting brings together two dissimilar people: on the one hand, a pretty young maiden, the well brought-up daughter of the king of the land, on the verge of getting married, and washing her trousseau for the happy event. She controls the meeting from beginning to the end, accepting the supplication, instructing the other maidens, devising the plan of return and giving clear instructions as to how Odysseus should extract a promise to be sent home. In introducing herself to him (6.186-197), moreover, she reaffirms her status as the daughter of greathearted Alkinoos, from whom the Phaiakians derive their power and dominion. Odysseus, on the other hand, is a beggar in the utmost need. The words uttered by Nausikaa confirm this picture. The little speech on morality to her companions puts the hero in the same category as beggars, although he is clearly a stranger, and suggests that anything, however little, is welcome to beggars like him (6.207-8). Odysseus is a faint shadow of the image of the mighty Iliadic hero, as he is entirely dependent on the charity of local royalty.[v] The politics of power have been clearly established here in a strange reversal of the societal code, that puts the man in an inferior position and the maiden in self-confident control. 

However, there are textual and iconographical signs that shake the conviction in the empowerment of the female that is exhibited here. Alongside the civilized and, at times, even sentimentally romantic atmosphere that marks the Phaiakian episode there is another, more threatening, reality that lurks beneath the surface ready to manifest itself through the fractures in the poetic discourse and the iconographical connotations that are implied by the text; another image, that of a menacing god, emerges threatening the maiden Nausikaa with abduction and rape;[vi] this image marks the existence of another more sinister world, omnipresent if not always in the foreground.

Let us begin with the physical appearance of Odysseus. After twenty days adrift on a raft, followed by three fighting for his life in the sea, his appearance is terrifying, a body swollen by sea water, a skin encrusted with brine (5.455-6); he has slept the night on a bed of leaves (5.482-7) and his unkempt hair is probably matted (6.226) with leaves and brine. Physically, he can be compared to a menacing god rising from the waters of the sea; his total nakedness, with only a branch to cover his genitalia,[vii] points to one of those lustful creatures of the wild who endanger young girls. Upon seeing him the young girls, with the exception of Nausikaa, flee in terror. This is a classic topos of scenes of rape in iconography and literature.[viii] Moreover, verdant places – like the locality of the girls’ expedition – are the traditional setting in which acts of sexual violence take place; in these places young maidens often find themselves in hazardous situations. The menace comes from these places being perceived as deeply erotic and sexually charged since they are populated with lustful creatures and often used as the nuptial beds of gods;[ix] nearly all narratives of divine rapes have taken place in similar localities where young maidens escape temporarily the protection of a civic place. These localities and the female universe are closely associated, for they are literally identified with mother-earth, the primordial female, and metaphorically with female genitalia (aidoion gynaikeion);[x] in our narrative the place is said to be covered with sweet clover or grass (agro¯stin melie¯dea, 6. 90) on which the mules of the cart are let graze. In addition, places near water - seashores, riverbanks, fresh water springs - are again fraught with sexual danger for they are localities beyond the limits of the ordered city. The river mouth where the maidens wash clothes had received, a few hours earlier, Odysseus, who now emerges, a weird apparition: a xenos (stranger) arrived from the sea. Communication with the open sea allows foreigners to come who eventually might take home, as a trophy, a beautiful woman of the land.[xi] After all this was the fate of Helen of Sparta, the cause of the Trojan War, the aftermath of which is the backdrop for the Odyssey.

The washing expedition may seem trivial but there are textual indications which point to a chorus of supernatural maidens. The first thought that crosses Odysseus’ mind is that the cries may come from the nymphs who belong to mountains, springs and meadows (6.122-4). And indeed Nausikaa is compared to Artemis, who delights in pursuing wild animals across mountainsides, and who is always accompanied by a chorus of young nymphs (6.101-5, 151-2). The Greeks could not gaze on a meadow in bloom without thinking of a chorus of young girls playing and dancing, disporting themselves among the flowers. In our passage there is no explicit dancing but there is the playing of ball (6.100, 115). This can be seen in a strongly ritualistic context, since ‘to play’ (paizo¯) is intimately linked with dancing and singing, - as is molpe¯ referred to a line later.[xii] Moreover, playing ball also refers to the brothers of Nausikaa, who excelled in a highly ritualistic dance with it (Od. 8.370-80).[xiii] It also refers to the young Athenian arrhephoroi who were prepared for such a game on the slopes of the Acropolis, accompanied perhaps by the flute of the god Pan; it seems that this game may have functioned as part of the institutionalized education of young girls.[xiv] In such a context, Nausikaa initiates the singing and the dancing of the chorus of the maidens of which she is the leader (archeto¯ molpe¯s, 6.101).[xv] Odysseus pictured Nausikaa in a similar manner when he described the joy of her parents at seeing her lead a dance of young maidens (6.156-7). Female rituals offer a secluded privacy to women and young girls; [xvi] this privacy, however, attracts male intruders who threaten their femaleness and virginity. This very virginity is a controversial issue in Greek mentality;[xvii] the premarital state of young girls is a sign of purity but also of wildness; and thus maidens who are seen participating in rituals are also considered as animals in the wild, not yet tamed.[xviii]

We can now turn to Nausikaa’s association with Artemis, which is far from being fortuitous. Artemis is a dedicated parthenos and as such she protects all parthenoi. However, abductions of young maidens from sanctuaries or choruses dedicated to her are a common mythological motif,[xix] because the goddess, in the Attic cult, stands for ‘the preparation for marriage and transition to womanhood’.[xx] The iconographic sign for the presence of an Artemis sanctuary, secluded but also fraught with danger for maidens, is the depiction of an altar with a palm tree in scenes of erotic pursuit leading to sexual consummation: this encapsulates the notion of a ‘girl being taken away from a place…where parthenoi belong’.[xxi] The presence of Artemis is established in the simile of the poet and the words of Odysseus, but it is surprising to realize that even the palm tree and the altar exist in the polysemous language of the poetic discourse, since Nausikaa is likened to a young palm tree that Odysseus once saw by the altar of Apollo[xxii] on the sacred island of Delos. The meaning of the simile could have been interpreted solely as an expression of admiration, respect and moderation by Odysseus, inspired by the beauty of the maiden. However, the signs of the images suggest the deconstruction of the romantic address of Odysseus, ‘for meanings are inscribed and read into the images through signs…’.[xxiii] Thus a whole imagery opens up and indicates what was a familiar cultural reality for the ancient Greeks; a young maiden, normally accompanied by her friends, crosses the boundaries of the city to visit a meadow to perform ritual or private duties, and thus fall easy prey to the lustful appetites of gods and heroes. Euphemistically, in iconography rape is depicted as erotic pursuit/abduction.[xxiv] The pictures speak eloquently not only of the sentiments of the parties involved but also about the conventions that govern the depiction of the action. An older god or an ephebe pursues a maiden, who in desperation raises her hands either to plead to be spared or to seek aid from her fleeing companions; sometimes she is even raised from the ground, a sign that the pursuer will soon overpower her. The girl turns at times to her abductor and holds a sustained gaze into his eyes,[xxv] a hidden sign perhaps of incipient consent. Occasionally a paternal figure stands composedly aside,[xxvi] which indicates that he might finally accept the formerly forbidden union, once regularized as a proper marriage. This is a puzzling inclination towards consent and marriage in the mythic narratives where sexual violence is also present. A plausible reason is that in Greek mythic accounts, marriage, seduction and rape are barely distinguishable, and metaphorically the acculturated form of marriage is consummated through the pursuit, capture and taming of a young girl, who then becomes a woman proper, a gyne¯.[xxvii] Thus the marital framework in which the meeting of Nausikaa with Odysseus takes place does not contradict the suggested latent sexual violence that lurks beneath the surface of the poetic discourse but, on the contrary, it seems to be a suitable supplement to the picture of the young maiden on the brink of passing over the threshold of sexual maturity.

The theme of sexual violence, which is established thus far with such a subtle and intricate network of signs, textual and pictorial, signifies its presence again by means of a powerful textual device: a lion simile. Homeric similes are in themselves a system of interconnected signs, which by their placement in the narrative opens up an entire intertextual network of oppositional or relational affinities; a simile in the Odyssey is bound to be read in conjunction with its fellows in both the Iliad and the Odyssey.[xxviii] Similes, however, have an ambiguous relationship to the narrative; some similes seem oddly or clumsily incorporated into the text, others seem to be employed to add pathos to the narrated event, yet others even to overturn and suppress the reality on which they comment. Surely with the simile there is a vivid textual image introduced, which is one option among others that the poet has for commenting on the action; as an illustrative image it maintains its independence from the narrative – which is momentarily suppressed - and it carries with it its own characters, actions, sounds, setting and tones, which are in congruence with the tone rather than the details of the narrative.[xxix]

The Odyssean lion simile is but one member of the large family of lion similes, explored and developed mainly in the heroic context of the Iliad, and among which the marauding lion is the strongest simile.[xxx] In book 6 of the Odyssey the hero is likened to a lion as he creeps out of the bushes and approaches the company of young maidens (6. 130-6):

Then he advanced on them like a mountain lion who sallies out, defying wind and rain in the pride of his power, with fire in his eyes, to hunt down the oxen or sheep or to pursue the wild deer. Forced by hunger, he will even attack flocks in a well-protected fold. So Odysseus, naked as he was, made a move towards these girls with their braided hair; necessity compelled him.[xxxi]

The closest parallel to this simile,[xxxii] even in wording, is the simile describing the hero Sarpedon, when urged by Zeus to attack the Achaian wall (Il. 12.299-306). Lion similes in the Iliad describe fighting warriors; the animal is chosen for all the warlike traits it stands for, ferocity, prowess, a sense of nobility which is preserved even when it retreats or is wounded; it delights in battle, in killing and the sight and taste of blood. In such gory detail is Odysseus described after the killing of the suitors: the hero is like a lion smeared with blood and gore as if he had just devoured an ox, and his face and chest is dripping with blood just as Automedon in the Iliad (17.541) is dripping with blood as if he had devoured a bull.

The interplay with the Iliadic text is continual and it is inevitable to think of the rich semantic connotations emerging from the parallel readings. Sarpedon, Achilles, Diomedes, Agamemnon, and Menelaos are heroes who fight a war; and so is Odysseus after the mne¯ste¯rophonia. But what is the connection between the hungry lion – which, compelled by pressing need, contemplates raiding a flock of young maidens – and an Iliadic hero? Is there anything heroic about this? The lion simile in book 6 has been seen by most critics as unique in the context in which it is found. An interesting deviation from the Iliadic prototype, a touch of textual irony with which the poet of the Odyssey smiles playfully at his predecessor. The reference to the needs of his belly makes the passage unheroic, and contributes to the ‘anti-charismatic’ quality of the scene;[xxxiii] even more, it is a ‘bemused’ comment of the poet on the naked appearance of Odysseus which, if not seen in this ironic mode, could have been turned into an ‘embarrassingly elegiac situation’.[xxxiv] Odysseus does not jump over a fence but the social mores of his culture. The fear of the maidens is attributed to a humorous misconception,[xxxv] which impels their flight, because what they see (i.e. a terrifying lion) is not what we see – a relic of a hero. This is not entirely false but we should not be content with this remark of misconception, which stops short of explaining what is the nature of this fear. The girls have reason to fear that is so pervasive in the narrative that the intervention of Athena is needed to get Nausikaa – despite her instinctual impulse to flee – to stand her ground; in the girls’ eyes there is nothing humorous about Odysseus’ appearance. So, as a narrative device this simile might not just be an ironic comment on the prowess of an Iliadic hero but an attempt to incorporate him into the family of Iliadic warriors to which, by any reckoning, he belongs. If he is likened to a marauding lion, the emerging textual picture of the hero is that of a marauding lion. All lion similes are attributed to warriors except for the simile which describes Penelope as a beleaguered lion (4.791-3),[xxxvi] who however deserves every praise for the prowess and nobility she shows in the absence of Odysseus. In the context of male prowess, Diomedes - just before starting a serial killing of some of the flower of the Trojan youth - is likened to a lion raging upon sheep (Il. 5.136-143) terrified in their helplessness (ta d’ ere¯ma phobeitai, 140); and while deep in his murderous rage he is again likened to a lion that kills oxen or cow (161-2). What may disturb the reader are, perhaps, the base motives of Odysseus’ action: basic needs, among which hunger is the prime motivation. But Sarpedon also, in the very similar simile, is motivated by hunger because, although he is driven by his thymos (keletai de he thymos age¯no¯r, Il. 12.300), the poet explicitly says that the mountain lion to which Sarpedon is likened has been starving for long time (epideue¯s/ de¯ron ee¯i kreio¯n, Il. 12.299-300); similarly Menelaos, when he rejoices upon seeing Paris, is likened to a hungry lion (peinao¯n) that contently feasts on the flesh of a kill (Il. 3.23-6; cf. kreio¯n eratizo¯n, Il. 11.551, 17.660). The formula that describes the compelling force that drives the lion – to which Odysseus is likened – is even more explicit and substitutes the thymos, found in the Sarpedon simile, with gaste¯r (keletai de he gaste¯r, Od. 6.133). But the gaste¯r of a lion is not the compelling human necessity for food as expressed by Odysseus in Phaiakeia, in Eumaios the swineherd, and in the episode with the beggar Irus; the hunger of the lion in similes is for blood and entrails and bones, egkata panta aima (sometimes sarka) kai osta myeloenta, which are found in corresponding similes (Il. 11.176, 17.64, Od. 9.293),[xxxvii] and which are also implied in the lion simile describing Odysseus after the mne¯ste¯rophonia, dripping with blood as though he had feasted upon the flesh of an ox. And this blood-thirsty and flesh-hungry lion is brought among an unprotected flock of young girls. The girls are in the countryside, away from the reassuring boundaries of the polis, and, more significantly, they have removed their headgear before playing. This highly symbolic removal of chastity[xxxviii] makes the girls as vulnerable to sexual violence as are the Iliadic warriors who have lost their armour in battle; both can fall prey to the thirst for blood of their adversary. Significantly enough the language used for rape very often borrows from the language of war: phtheiro¯ and diaphtheiro¯ are some of the verbs describing the act of rape; they mean destroy, ravage, despoil in a clearly martial context and the male is always the active agent when sexual intercourse is concerned.[xxxix] All girls are threatened with phthora, destruction. There is nothing passive, then, about the lion of the simile[xl] which, with determination driven by desperation, is likely to ravage (or perhaps ravish) any livestock it encounters.

What we have tried to show in the course of the present study is that the topography of the scene, the terrifying appearance of Odysseus, his likeness to a god and a lion, the chorus of the young maidens, the association of Nausikaa with Artemis and her domain, all point to scenes of rape when an older god abducts and impregnates a maiden. The threat of sexual violence that is present in the process of the transformation of a virgin into a sexually mature gyne¯ has been shown in studies that confirm the conflation of terminology and imagery related to rape (from which seduction and abduction are hardly distinguished) and marriage. In a sense, even in the institutionalized form of the acculturation of a maiden – i.e. the wedding ritual – a parthenos needs to face sexual violence, either because this conforms with the cultural behaviour expected of a male or because a maiden sees this transition as terrifying. What the Odyssean text offers in the reading of these traditional cultural assumptions is a novel and subversive approach that – although it accepts the possibility of rape in a context that seems to invite it – establishes a reality with terms of its own. In this, the male protagonist finds himself not in the traditionally dominant position – which is stressed by the many allusions to a possible rape that would normally have occurred in other cases – but in the humble position of a supplicant in which his ability to exert power is neutralised by a maiden’s intricate schemes to find a way through all the threats that surround her and lead the whole party to safety. The opening up of the text to unravel the correspondences with the contemporary cultural megatext helps us to appreciate better the many Odyssean subversions of the prevalent established cultural system that – although powerful – can nonetheless be proven fragile and prone to deconstruction.

Title Note: I would like to thank both anonymous readers for Classics Ireland who offered their useful suggestions on an earlier version of the present paper.

[i] The following works are but a selection from a rich literature concerning the familiar episode: Vallille, G. (1955), ‘The Nausikaa Episode’, Phoenix 9: 175-179; Butterworth, E. A. S. (1966), ‘Penelope’s Weaving and the Wedding of Nausicaa’ in Some Traces of the Pre-Olympian World in Greek Literature and Myth, Berlin: 98-134; Woodhouse, W. J. (1930¹, repr. 1969), ‘Nausikaa’s Romance’ in The Composition of Homer’s Odyssey, Oxford: 54-65; Lattimore, R. (1969), ‘Nausikaa’s Suitors’ in Classical Studies Presented to B. E. Perry, Urbana: 88-102; for amatory expectations addressed to Odysseus by Nausikaa see Gross, N. P. (1976), ‘Nausicaa: A Feminine Threat’, Classical World 69.5: 311-317; Forsyth, N. (1979), ‘The Allurement Scene: A Typical Pattern in Greek Oral Epic’, Californian Studies in Classical Antiquity 12: 107-120; Austin, N. (1991),  ‘The Wedding Text in Homer’s Odyssey’, Arion III 1.2: 227-243.

[ii] Girls in ritual choruses fall easy prey to the lust of a god or hero; such are the abductions of Helen by Theseus (Plutarch Theseus 31.2), Polymele by Hermes (Hom. Il. 16.180-6), Aphrodite (as a mortal girl) by Hermes (Hymn Hom. Aphr. 117-8); Poseidon’s desire was also aroused by dancing Amphitrete (Eust. on Od. 3.91); see also n. 18.   

[iii] The identity of the followers of Nausikaa is intriguing. In the text the maidens are referred to as amphipoloi and dmo¯es both translated as ‘servants’ and ‘slaves’. However, I think that an inference as to their civic status can be based upon several indications: 1. Athena urges Nausikaa to the washing expedition in which she herself – in the likening to the daughter of Dymas – will join and help (6.31-3) 2. Nausikaa among the girls is likened to Artemis and her nymphs, the status of whom can hardly be said to be merely servile; they are inferior compared to Artemis but of high status and some of these had been of aristocratic descent before being turned into nymphs 3. their headdresses (kre¯demna, 6.100) and 4. their activity after the washing, strongly reminiscent of a company of young maidens of civic status that participate in ritualistic singing and playing, as is confirmed by Calame, Brelich (see infra nn.11, 13).

[iv] The ‘unhomeric delicacy’ of the passage made F. Marx delete ls. 129, 136, 221-2. This caused a ‘lively controversy’: cf. Heubeck, A., West, S., Hainsworth, J. B. (1988), A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey, vol. 1, Oxford, ad loc.

[v] Rose, G. P. (1969), ‘The Unfriendly Phaeacians’, Transcactions of the American Philological Association 100: 387-406.

[vi] Critics [Van Nortwick, T. (1979), ‘Penelope and Nausicaa’, TAPA 109: 269-276; Shapiro, H. A. (1995), ‘Coming of Age in Phaiakia: The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausikaa’, B. Cohen (ed.), The Distaff Side; Representing the Female in Homer’s Odyssey, NY: 155-164] have noted the potential danger embodied by Odysseus and the vulnerability of the playing maidens; see also Hainsworth, (n. 4), ad loc.  

[vii] See the theory that the branch does not cover but protects his genitalia: Gutglueck, J. (1987), ‘A Detestable Encounter in Odyssey VI’ Classical Journal 83.1: 97-102; this is the way that Odysseus feels about his encounter with Kirke [Karakantza, E. D. (2001), ‘The Sexual Servitude of Odysseus; An Interpretive Approach to Kirke and Kalypso episodes in the Odyssey’, Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of the FIEC, Athens: 468-481] and Anchises with Aphrodite [Stauss Clay, J. (1989), The Politics Of Olympus; Form and Meaning in the Major Homeric Hymns, Princeton: 182-183].

[viii] S. Deacy & K. F. Pierce, Rape in Antiquity (London 1997); F. Zeitlin, ‘Configurations of Rape in Greek Myth’ in S. Tomaselli & R. Porter (eds), Rape (Oxford 1986), 122-151; A. Scafuro ‘Discourse of Sexual Violation in Mythic Accounts and Dramatic Versions of the “Girls’ Tragedy’, Differences 2.1 (1990), 126-159; M. Lefkowitz, ‘Seduction and Rape in Greek Myth’, in A. E. Laiou (ed.), Consent and Coercion to Sex and Marriage in Ancient and Medieval Societies (Washington D. C. 1993), 17-37; A. Stewart, ‘Rape?’ in E. D. Reeder (ed), Pandora. Women in Classical Greece (Princeton 1995), 74-90; A. Cohen ‘Portrayals of Abduction on Greek Art: Rape or Metaphor?’ in N. Kampen (ed), Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Italy (Cambridge 1996), 117-135; R. Omitowoju, The Language and Politics of Rape: Forensic and Dramatic Perspectives in Classical Athens, Ph. D. (Cambridge 1996); A. Heap, ‘Rape and Young Manhood in Athenian Comedy’, in L. Foxhall & J. Salmon (eds), Thinking Men: Masculinity and its Self-Representation in the Classical Tradition (London 1998), 100-114.

[ix] A. Motte, Prairies et Jardins dans la Grèce Antique; De la religion à la Philosophie (Brussels 1973), 208; J. M. Bremer, ‘The Meadow of Love and two Passages in Euripides’ Hippolytus’, Mnemosyne 28 (1975), 268-280; B. E. Goff, The Noose of Words; Readings of Desire, Violence and Language in Euripides’ Hippolytos (Cambridge 1990), 58; C. Calame, ‘Prairies et Jardins de Légende’, ‘Prairies et Jardins de Poètes’ in L’ Éros dans la Grèce Antique  (Paris 1996), 173-197.  

[x] Motte: 83; Bremer: 273 (n. 9). In Archilochus’ fragment (Pap. Col. 7511 = SLG 478 published by R. Merkelbach & M. L. West ZPE 14 (1974), 97-113), where the seduction of the youngest daughter of Lycambē is going to take place, the lines 15-16 sche¯so¯ gar es poe¯[phorous] [k]e¯pous have been taken by the editors as a metaphor for the female organ (other parallels are also given. 106). For female genitalia described as leimo¯n, ke¯pos, pedion (meadow, garden, plain) see J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse; Obscene Language in Attic Comedy (New Haven 1975), 135; J. Taillarbat, Les Images d’ Aristophane, Études de Langue et de Style (Paris, 1962), § 119, §§ 171-178.

[xi] Cf. the stories retold by Herodotus of young maidens abducted by pirates (Hist. I, 1-4) as the cause for the Persian Wars.

[xii] Calame, C. (1977), Les Choeurs de Jeunes Filles en Grèce Archaique, I Morphologie, Fonction Religieuse et Sociale. Rome: 165; Calame classifies the ‘expedition’ of Nausikaa and the other maidens under the title ‘Autres performances chorales’ (ch. 2.4.7, 162ff).

[xiii] I thank James Andrews who directed my attention to the similar activity of Nausikaa’s brothers.

[xiv] Brelich, A. (1981), Paides e Parthenoi, Rome: 122, 126, 154; Calame, 1977: 166; W. B. Stanford explains it ‘as a rhythmical ball-play controlled by a tune’ and Athenaeus talks about orche¯seis dia te¯s sphairas (both quoted by Hainsworth (n. 4), ad loc). 

[xv] Molpo¯ clearly denotes both the dancing and the singing of a chorus of young girls, cf. Calame,1977: 164; Liddell-Scott-Jones s. v. melpo¯; see however Hainsworth (n. 4), ad loc, where the ambivalence of the term is shown.

[xvi] J. Gould, J. (1980), ‘Law, Custom and Myth: Aspects of the Social Position of Women in Classical Athens’, Journal of Hellenistic Studies 100: 52.

[xvii] Sissa, G. (1990), Greek Virginity, Harvard: 87.

[xviii] Cf. Anakreon’s poem (335 P, 88 D, 75 B): Thracian filly…let me tell you, I could neatly put the bridle on you and with the reins in my hand wheel you round the turnpost of the racecourse; instead, you graze in the meadows and frisk and frolic lightly, since you have no skilled horseman to ride you. transl. D. A. Campbell, Loeb 1988.

[xix] Sourvinou-Inwood, C. (1987), ‘A Series of Erotic Pursuits: Images and Meanings’, JHS 107: 145, and ns. 93, 94; Calame, 1977: 176: ‘La plupart de ces scènes   en effet se situent dans le cadre d’ un chœur d’ adolescentes consacré à Artémis’. 

[xx] Sourvinou-Inwood, ibid.

[xxi] Ibid, 141, 145; see also Sourvinou-Inwood, C. (1985), ‘Altars with Palm-Trees, Palm-Trees and Parthenoi’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 32: 125-146, where the iconographical element ‘altar+palm tree’ is strongly and irrevocably linked with the realm of Artemis and the erotic pursuit/abduction of parthenoi from her sanctuaries.

[xxii] The substitution of Artemis’ altar by Apollo’s seems normal from the mouth of Odysseus for whom it would have sounded awkward if he had recollections from an altar dedicated to Artemis, a realm normally reserved for young females; moreover, the affinity of the two sibling deities on Delos may have encouraged their conflation in the poetic discourse. Lastly, as a narrative device it might indicate again the reversal of gender roles which is evident throughout the meeting.

[xxiii] Sourvinou-Inwood, 1985: 132.

[xxiv] A. Cohen (n. 8), 117. The scenes of erotic pursuit/abduction begun ca. 550 BCE and proliferated between 500-450 BCE. Relating to the historically documented increase in Athenian dominance, the choice for this particular subject-matter may represent ‘the projection of Athenian male desire first upon the heroic world, and then upon the divine one – or, to put it another way, they mobilize these worlds to promote the Athenian masculine self-assertion’, Stewart (n. 8), 86.

[xxv] Reeder (n. 8), Section One: Representing Women; Lefkowitz (n. 8), 22, n. 16; J. Elsner, ‘Naturalism and the Erotics of the Gaze’ in Kampen (n. 8), 247-261; F. Frontisi-Ducroux, ‘Eros, Desire and the Gaze’, in Kampen (n. 8), 81-100.

[xxvi] Kaempf-Dimitriadou, S. (1979), Die Liebe der Götter in der Attischen Kunst des 5. Jahruhunderts v. Chr., Bern; see illustrations nos 213, 233, 236, 294, 338, 342, 381, 364, 389, 393, where a respectable paternal figure complements the scene.

[xxvii] Stewart (n. 8), 76, 78; Sourvinou-Inwood, 1985: 143.

[xxviii] A. J. Podlecki, ‘Some Odyssean Similes’, Greece & Rome 18 (1971), 81-90; C. Moulton, ‘Similes in the Iliad’, Hermes 102 (1974), 381-397, and Similes in the Homeric Poems (Göttingen 1977); W. C. Scott, The Oral Nature of the Homeric Simile (Leiden 1974); R. Friedrich, ‘On the Compositional Use of Similes in the Odyssey’ American Journal of Philology 102 (1981) 120-137; W. T. Magrath, ‘Progression of the Lion Simile’, Classical Journal 77.3 (1982), 205-212; P. Pucci, ‘The Heart (Thumos) of the Iliadic Lion and the Belly (Gaste¯r) of the Odyssean Lion’, in Odysseus Polytropos; Intertextual Readings in the Odyssey and the Iliad (Ithaca 1987), 157-164; S. H. Lonsdale, Creatures of Speech: Lion, Herding, and Hunting Similes in the Iliad (Stuttgart 1990).

[xxix] Scott (n. 28), 57, 164; Moulton (n. 28), 1977, 12.

[xxx] Scott (n. 28), 60.

[xxxi] Translated by E. V. Rieu, revised by D. C. H. Rieu, Penguin 1991.

[xxxii] Other parallel similes, Diomedes (5.136), Menelaos (17.61), and a total of twenty-two lion similes in which the lion preys on cattle, see Lonsdale (n. 28), 121, n. 35.

[xxxiii] Magrath (n. 28), 208.

[xxxiv] Pucci (n. 28), 159, n.5.

[xxxv] Moulton (n. 28), 1977: 140; Podlecki (n. 28), 83.

[xxxvi] In the Odyssey the simile of the mountain lion is also attributed to Polyphemos who – with exceptional savagery – feasts on the flesh and bones of Odysseus’ companions (9.292-3).

[xxxvii] Lonsdale (n. 28), 139.

[xxxviii] Since kre¯demnon is a symbol of virtue and modesty [Hainsworth ad loc; D. L. Cairns, D. L. (1993), Aidos, Oxford, 121-3; Forsyth (n. 1), passim; Van Nortwick (n. 6), 221; Nagler, M. (1974), Spontaneity and Tradition, Berkeley, 10-1, 45-59, 62-72] its removal signals a symbolic, temporary removal of chastity. Compare how Penelope every time she appears to the company of the suitors wears her headdress to stress symbolically her chastity, and thus her inapproachability (Od. 1.334; 18.210; 21,65).

[xxxix] Scafuro (n. 8), 126; furthermore, the word proper for marriage, gameo¯, applies to men while the verb in the middle voice, gamoumai, is used only when women and parents – who give their daughter to marriage – are concerned; the order is reversed in selected contexts where the passivity of some males is ironically stressed (LSJ s. v.).

[xl] Friedrich (n. 28), 123.

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