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CLA 219.L09.18 - Women.Praise and Blame

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Regina Höschele

CLA 219 – Women in Antiquity R. Höschele 09/18/12 Women in Myth – Praise and Blame Pandora - Epitome of evil, source of female wickedness, revenge on Prometheus for helping mankind (stole fire) - “Pandora” = all-gifted/ gifted all evil o She was a gift to Epimetheus (afterthought), brother of Prometheus o Fashioned by the gods o Opened a pithos (jar) not a box - Didactic (teaching) ethos ~ Works and Days, Hesiod o Contains a passage regarding Pandora o Trouble and hardship born from Pandora’s act and obviously she’s a woman (very misogynistic) - Pithos = womb - Hope rests inside jar – women is keeper of hope, retain it for mankind? Hope for the future generations (emphasize the need to procreate with women)? Motivational tactic? o **Hope in Greek also means “expectations” – which means that keeping it in allows us to have a better life because it prevents us from knowing more (or wanting to / prevent access to it)  Expectations of evil (Hope for evil?) retained so it leaves us not knowing what’s to come – whether it’s good or bad **Clarify later with prof. Helen - Most popular woman, most beautiful – instigator of the Trojan War - Daughter of Zeus and Leda, who came to her as a swan o Leda also the wife of Tyndareus, Spartan King o Twin sister of Clytemnestra, sister of Castor and Pollux o She was conceived, along with her siblings, on the same night both men slept with their mother o She and Pollux are immortal, while Clytemnestra and Castor are mortal - Helen’s plight all started with the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Achilles’ parents o Eris, goddess of discord, was not invited to the wedding so to exact revenge, she threw a golden apple during the party, inscribed, “to the most beautiful,” into the midst of three goddess – Aphrodite, Hera and Athena o The three goddesses sought the opinion of Paris, prince of Troy (“Judgment of Paris”), and he bestowed the golden apple to Aphrodite in exchange for the most beautiful woman – Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta (and brother of the Mycenean king, Agamemnon) o So begins the Trojan War… - “For before Helen a cunt was the most terrible cause of war.” (Horace, Satires) - Helen is often blamed for causing the Trojan War in literature - Palinode – “again song” (retraction) o A tradition born from taking back the blame from Helen for fear of divine retribution (for slander) - Gorgias wrote in the style of Athenian speeches saying that Helen was not to blame o Encomium – hymn / praise to man - Gorgias’ Encomium to Helen o If divine will told Helen to go with Paris, she is not to blame o If she was forced to come along (abducted), she is not to blame o If she fell to Paris’ persuasions, she is not to blame o If Helen fell in love with Paris because of Eros’ doing, she is not to blame - Eris is to blame because she was the one who started it all with the golden apple - Euripides’ play talks of an alternate version in which Helen was cloned by the gods and brought to Egypt where she met Menelaus years after Penelope - Exemplary in her fidelity and chastity - Wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus o Waited 20 years for her husband to come home - Homer’s Odyssey reached the point when Penelope could remarry, Telemachus being all grown up - Clytemnestra is deemed the bad wife – opposite Penelope o Killed Agamemnon the moment he came home - To elude her suitors and buy time for Odysseus, Penelope wove a tapestry by day and unwove it by night - Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood – Odyssey inPenelope’s view - Ovid assumed the character of mythical women and wrote letters regarding their lives – e.g., 1 letter written by Penelope to Odysseus, in which she blamed Helen for her sufferings and for her growing old without her husband at her side Medea - Jason’s wife and a witch, helped him
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