LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for ANAHITA Archives


ANAHITA Archives

ANAHITA Archives


ANAHITA@LSV.UKY.EDU


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

ANAHITA Home

ANAHITA Home

ANAHITA  September 1997

ANAHITA September 1997

Subject:

Witches as Characters vs. Witches in Real Life

From:

Melissa Schons <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 17 Sep 1997 19:01:30 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (70 lines)

I'd like to point out that there is a distinction between the way witches
are constructed as literary characters in both Greek and Roman traditions
and the actual practice of magic in antiquity. For example, although
practitioners of magic were predominantly male, the witch in literature is
almost exclusively represented as female.

My focus is primarily on the Roman texts, and in my dissertation I explore
the dynamic of horror in the characterization of the witch, arguing that it
manifests as a reversal of the stereotypical ideal of the Roman matron. For
example, the witch demonstrates an inversion of fertility, killing instead
of giving birth and failing to reproduce in her own right.  She also
displays animalistic traits, which set her in direct opposition to
civilization and the home.  She exists outside the boundaries of
civilization and society, and stands in opposition to representations of
male power, rather than supporting the structures of the city, the home and
the family.  Tthe witch's characterization and its successful portrayal of
horror depend on the ideas of reversal and boundary violation.  For example,
in the elegists, the witches demonstrate a remarkable control over the
natural world: they draw down the moon from the sky, and reverse the
currents of rivers.  They also invade the realms of the dead, accessing the
underworld through trenches they cleave into the earth and summoning the
ghosts of Hell to the upper world, compelling them to prophesy.  The texts I
examine include Horace Satire 1.8 and Epodes 5 & 17; Propertius 4.5;
Tibullus 1.2 and 1.5; Ovid Amores 1.8, Heroides 6 and 12 and Met. 7.1-434;
Seneca's Medea and, my favorite, Lucan's Erictho in BC 6.  I also note that
the witch in Greek literature tends to derive from myth, where the Roman
authors situate their witches in environments with more immediate relevance
to the reader (In Satire 1.8, the witches raid an old graveyard for bones).
In addition, Circe in the Odyssey and Medea in Apollonius of Rhodes both
operate within the constructs of epic diction, using their magic to assist
the hero with whom they have fallen in love.  Even in Euripides, Medea
struggles to retain her role as Jason's partner, and only when that role is
lost to her forever does she resort to infanticide.  Thus the witch in Greek
literature uses her power to support her man, and the Roman witch does the
opposite - frustrating and foiling the man in question at every turn.
Although these constructions of the witch can reveal much about the ancient
male author's perception of and response to female power, and the
development of a stereotype, they do not guarantee the reader access to a
window into the actual practice of magic in Greece and Rome.  For that,
Georg Luck's introduction to his sourcebook Arcana Mundi is very useful on
Greco-Roman practices, and Obbink's Magika Hiera is also good for Greek
material. There is also a fairly recent book, whose citation I do not have
available, on curse-tablets (a very common technique for doing magic which
is never mentioned in the poetry).

On a tangential note, I shall throw out a request for bibliography help - I
cannot seem to find anything current on Heroides 6 or 12, except the
commentaries.  There also seems to be an accepted tradition that Her. 12 is
spurious, an argument that is based on the fact that Ovid does not
specifically cite Her. 12  in his catalogue of Heroides from the Amores
(Book 3, I think). I have some serious problems with the logic of this
argument, and would love to hear from anyone who has tackled this issue or
knows any current bibliography.  And finally, any suggestions on setting up
a theoretical framework for discussing characterization or the construction
of a female character as a figure of discourse.  Feel free to respond off-list.

----------------------------------------------------
ANAHITA:
** To unsubscribe send the message 'UNSUBscribe ANAHITA' to
[log in to unmask] with a blank subject line.
** To subscribe send the message
'SUBscribe ANAHITA Firstname Lastname' to
[log in to unmask] with a blank subject line.
** To post to the group, send your message to [log in to unmask]
** If you have any trouble, send a message about it to
the list owners at the generic address:

                       [log in to unmask]

Diotima's address: http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/gender.html

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LSV.UKY.EDU

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager