Feminism and the Classics: Apollo and Dionyses, 1974, page 7

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          Surely, of all creatures that have life and will, we women
Are the most wretched. .when, for an extravagant sum,

We have bought a husband, we must then accept him as
Possessor of our body. This is to aggravate 3

Wrong with worse wrong. Then the great question: will the
man ~

we get be bad or good? For women, divorce is not
Respectable; to repel the man, not possible.

Still more, a foreign woman, coming among new laws,
New customs, needs the skill of magic, to find out
what her home could not teach her, how to treat the man
whose bed she shares. And if in this exacting toil
we are successful, and our husband does not struggle
Under the marriage yoke, our life is enviable.
Otherwise, death is better. If a man grows tired
Of the company at home, he can go out, and find
A cure for tediousness. we wives are forced to look
To one man only. And, they tell us,-we at home‘
Live free from danger, they go out to battle: fools!
I'd rather stand three times in the front line than bear
One child. =

But the same arguments do not apply .
To you and me. You have this city, your father's home,
The enjoyment of your life, and your friends‘ company.
I am alone; I have no city; now my husband
Insults me. I was taken as plunder from a land
At the earth's edge. I have no mother, brother, nor any
Of my own blood to turn to in this extremity.*

Medea is central to understanding the role the feminist perspective has piayed

and can play in the Classics. It is the total re—evaluation of the body
of extant Classical literature through more holistic and interdisciplinary
modes of criticism, a re-consideration of the role of women in antiquity,
and a careful Took at the archetypal significance of the dense female
imagery that is so prevalent in ancient literature. If in fact on

central stage is the quiet but dangerously insistent Apollonian/Dionysian
controversy, then only a feminist perspective can lead to a new and


humane view not only of women but of all the peoples and nations included

in the female category.

*Vellacott, P. Euripides: Medea and Other Plays. Baltimore, l964, pp. 24-25.


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