Mothers in Mourning

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Description of this Book

The author of this text (translated in this volume from the original French) elucidates how Athenian politics were gendered in the classical period. She investigates the Athenian state's interdiction of ritualized mourning by women, in a city where public mourning constituted a vital act of civic self-definition and solidarity. Loraux demonstrates that the silencing and exclusion of female - especially maternal - claims to a crucial relationship with the city's fallen war heroes served, and was reinforced by, the ideologically charged, distinctively Athenian notion of the polis as mother of its citizens. But, she points out, the voice and audience that were denied the bereaved women in the political arena were made available to them in the Athenian theatre. She focuses on the representation of mothers in mourning in the myths which are the substance of epic poetry and, principally, in Athenian drama, where the dire, menacing implications of their relentless grief are exposed and played out. Using evidence from diverse sources, including legal inscriptions, forensic oratory, ancient historiography and early religious treatises, Loraux seeks to illuminate the culture of democracy and, specifically, the institutional repression of women as a political and social force in this flourishing period of Athenian histor

By: Nicole Loraux