Feminism and the Classics: Apollo and Dionyses, 1974, page 3

Download: Transcript

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 View All

Show transcript


accents. But most of all the Greeks were male, a society of males

who endorsed the concept of the inferiority of non—Greek peoples and

the inferiority of women. The principle of Subjugation as weld as
§9phia_has found its ideal expression and interpretation in the

Classical heritage transmitted to us by generations of male phjlologists.

Most insidious is Nietzsche's division of ancient (and, by extension,

modern) cultures into Apollonian (male, rational, ordered) and Dionysian
(female, irrational, orgiastic) categories in his §irth_gf Tragedy

through the Spirit 9f_Music. This view also has become a commonplace.

what is dangerous about it is not only its justification of the subjuga-'

.tion of women but its justification of the necessary subjugation of whole


. nations, cultures and races which are classed as female—Dionysian. Yet,


this is the tacit premise underlying most accounts of the Persian wars,

the Punic wars and the evaluation of ancient literature pertaining to
I .
them. It is inherrent in the enduring portrayal of such figures as


Cleopatra, Hannibal, Jugurtha, Aspasia, etc., as aberrations, if not‘
monsters, in history. From there it is but a short walk to modern
comparisons, judgements and policies. In this light, the greatest
service the feminist perspective has rendered to date is the re—openningp
of the dialogue on these first principles, premises and concepts as they
pertain to the “Golden Age“ and standard of western Civilization.

when we look for women authors in extant ancient literature we

find that they are few and far between and, where they are found, they

too are in the aberrations category. Sappho is a case in point. The

inventor of the Mixolydian mode and Sapphic stanza and author of nine

books of verse on a variety of subjects in the Library at Alexandria,