Women as subject and object of the gaze in tragedy.
These concerns are also of central interest to feminists who, since the time of Mary Wollstonecraft, have engaged with the problem of women as objects of the male gaze. (3) As is often pointed out, John Berger (1972, 47) made the important claim that woman in culture is "to be looked at":
Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object--and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.
Lacan (1981, 75) says something similar in his work on the gaze: "At the very level of the phenomenal experience of contemplation, this all-seeing aspect is to be found in the satisfaction of a woman who knows that she is being looked at, on condition that one does not show her that one knows that she knows. (4) Going further, Laura Mulvey argued that in mainstream cinema woman is the passive object for the active male gaze; furthermore, she claimed (esp. 1989b, 19-26) that that structure of viewing is fundamental to male power. Her work has been challenged and developed by others, in particular by those arguing that there are other spectatorial positions for women in the audience. (5) In a subsequent collection of her essays, Mulvey modified some of her early statements by putting them in the context of particular moments in feminist politics (1989a, vii; 1989c; see the excellent summary in Stewart 1997, 13-9). (6) These hypotheses about the masculinity of the filmic gaze, and its role in objectifying women, raise important questions for my consideration of the gaze in tragedy.
We clearly cannot simply apply modern theories to antiquity, especially a theory of cinema to ancient theater, where, for one thing, many points of view replace single lens of the camera. Moreover, the visual regimes of antiquity and codes of gendered behavior were different from our own. Boys and men were the objects of the gaze, and the primary sign of respectable women's relationship to the gaze in antiquity was their modesty or aidos; that in turn was related, at least in ideology, to their relegation to the private sphere, not to be looked at, and to their stereotypically downcast eyes when in public. (7) A womans failure to lower her eyes might even be taken as a sign of prostitution (Cairns 2005a, 134); hetairai and pornai were in part defined by the fact that they were available to be admired in the case of the former, and possessed in the case of the latter. In a comic fragment from Philemon's Brothers, the prostitutes "stand there naked, lest you be deceived: look everything over ... The door's open. [Price] one obol; jump right in" (fr. 3 K-A; translation by Kurke 1999, 197). Other comic writers similarly give the impression that women for sale stand about naked, or in transparent garb, and can be bought cheaply (Euboulus, Pannychis, fr. 82 K.-A. = Athenaeus 568E).
We need, however, to be cautious in adopting wholesale the traditional view of citizen-class women's seclusion (8) for several reasons. First, we lack archaeological evidence showing actual female domestic spaces; second, women are prominent in ritual; third, they dance in choruses to attract marriage partners (on gaze in ritual, see Goff 2004, esp. 78, 85, 89, 91; on choruses, see Stehle 1997 and Caiame 1997); and fourth, there is the possibility that the veil could create a mobile private sphere. (9) Nonetheless, it does seem to hold for drama: in particular, there were no female bodies on offer in tragedy (see below).
When I went back to Greek tragedy with viewing in mind, I was particularly struck by the image of Polyxena standing up to Odysseus in Euripides' Hecabe and saying "I see you" (342). And as I went further in the texts of the ancient plays, I found female characters looking wherever I turned, in ways that contradicted both Mulvey's original formulation about women as the object, not the possessor, of the gaze (1989b) and our stereotype of women in antiquity. In this essay, I will consider what power that conveys to Polyxena and the others. As we shall see, the gaze in fact does not always travel along a vector of power; indeed, gender may trump viewing. I will argue that a seeming cause for feminist celebration--the representation of women's active gaze--negates neither the relegation of women to the domestic interior nor the prescription of downcast eyes. Rather, women outside and women looking are intertwined with allusions to the norms prohibiting those very locations and actions.
The following essay falls into four parts: the relationship of tragedy to the city; women represented as to be looked at; female characters represented as looking; finally, the ways in which sacrificial heroines are represented as both to be looked at and looking. At the end I will try to address the question of the effect of this structuration of viewing on the audience.
Tragedy is obviously a privileged location for thinking about Athenian visual and performance culture. Though we generally read plays and therefore focus on the language, the etymology of the word theater makes it clear that it was a place for viewing (see Hall 2006, esp. 99-121 on relation to other visual arts). Athenian tragedy not only was a highly visual medium requiring an attentive gaze on the part of its audiences, but it also frequently concerned itself thematically with problems of vision and visibility, of revelation and knowledge (Zeitlin 1994, 141; Rehm 2002, 3-6; Thumiger, this volume). Aristotle was famously dismissive of the role of the spectacle in producing tragic emotions, but he foregrounds recognition, which is also frequently conveyed through metaphors of seeing. (10)
But what the actual, live audience sees is made complicated by two conventions of the Greek tragedies: the chorus often plays the role of an onstage viewer, and the messenger speeches describing something that took place offstage have a visual dimension as well. (11) The messenger is a character, but one with limited personal identity; he mostly exists to narrate events that the audience and characters only see with their mind's eye (Gould 2001, 328-31; Barrett 2002 and 2004, passim; de Jong 2004, 6-7; Lowe 2004; Squire, this volume). What are these reported events? Death and dismemberment (e.g., Oedipus Tyrannus, Bacchae), events that took place far away or long ago (e.g., Agamemnon) or in the domestic interior--including murder, death, and the suffering of women (e.g., Alcestis, Medea). The plays are a mixture of those old chestnuts, showing and telling (Goward 2004, 15-120). Both modes of representation coexist within theater, without sharply distinct effects; John Gould (2001, 315) even takes tragedy as a subset of narrative (also Gould 2001, 319-34, esp. 322-3 on Agamemnon). Barbara Goward (2004, 13) argues that It seems only sensible to define the chorus in general as a potential narrator or narratee just as the other characters, while looking carefully at specific narrative functions the chorus of any one play may carry out." Sight is a privileged source of knowledge to be sure, but sound too makes up an "important part of dramatic experience" (Rehm 2002, 6; cf. Squire, this volume). Thus, the narratives within the choral odes, for instance in Aeschylus's Agamemnon, may give the audience a more distanced view than a staged representation would, and the fact of narration must surely modify the effect on the audience, but they do not thus eliminate the effect. For instance, the Messenger in Euripides' Medea describes the death of the Princess in gory detail; though neither Medea nor the audience actually sees the scene, the narrated sight does have an impact on both. Indeed the narrated death of the Princess plays a complicated role in the audience's response to Medea. Moreover, such speeches contribute to our sense of the thematic significance of the looks that are reported (see below on Iphigenia). Thus, in my discussion I will consider narrated episodes of seeing as well as staged scenes where seeing is important because the narrative, as much as the spectacle, can shape the response of both the internal and the external audience. The ideological significance of looking and being looked at does not depend only on the audience's view of what is literally taking place before the skene.
The tragic festival of the Great Dionysia represented an opportunity for the city to display itself; during the festival the city awarded honors to those who served the city, received tribute from its subject allies, and celebrated the orphans of the war dead in procession. (12) Sponsoring a set of plays (the role of the choregos) was a civic duty and presented opportunities to wealthy citizens for self-promotion and display (Wilson 2000). Simon Goldhill and others argue that attendance at the festival was analogous to sitting at the Assembly; thus being a member of the audience in part defined a citizen (Goldhill 1996, 19; 1998; 1999; see 2000 for extended discussion of the connection to viewing).
If the citizens were performing a civic duty as viewers, they were also the object of the civic gaze since the festival provided a site for the viewing of one's fellow citizens. The proagon, for instance, in which the playwrights appeared with the casts of their plays, required the actors and members of the chorus (who were citizens) to reveal themselves without costume to those who would be watching (Flaumenhaft 1994, 69). And as is often mentioned, the open air theater, with daylight performances, ensured that the audience was well aware of one another as well. (In modernity, a form of the same process can be witnessed at ceremonies like the Oscars or opening night of the opera.) Ancient Greeks went to see and to be seen. The seating seems to have given visual evidence of status (Winkler 1990, 58-9; cf. Wiles 1997, esp. 212), with generals and priests occupying front row stone seats, and the ephebes and members of the Boule or Council arguably given special groups of seats.
The theater was especially important in ancient Athens, but it was part of an overall culture that also prioritized looking. In the Funeral Oration, Thucydides (2.37.2) represents Pericles as imagining a city where the citizens did not harm each other with their gaze (opsis), thus reminding us of the importance of the citizens' effect on one another and that such a jealous gaze could inflict harm (see Hunter 1994, 89 on gossip as a form of social control and the slave's gaze). As Simon Goldhill emphasizes, the public awareness of "the specialness of Athens' culture and its concomitant requirements of its citizens" (Goldhill 1999, 8 and 2000) was connected to a regime of "display and regulation"; thus, there must have been an element of performance involved. Certain behavior was required, and activities and gestures were carefully monitored. It follows, as well, that there was someone who was watching in order to monitor. It is perhaps possible to think of Athens as a city under the influence of a disciplinary regime in the sense that Foucault has described in Discipline and Punish (1977, 200-9). (13)
This structure of looking in Athens and at the theater was highly gendered. Importantly for my concerns here, women were excluded from the performance and judging of tragedy. (14) That is, in tragedy women were not the physical object of the male gaze since male actors played the roles of women, a convention that further complicates the relevance of the Mulveyan critique of male power. As I have argued elsewhere (Rabinowitz 1998 and 2008, 56), this practice should not be accepted without a second glance simply on the basis of the debatable 'fact' that women were not to be seen in public in ancient Athens. Dionysus is elsewhere strongly associated with female followers, so why not in tragedy? Richard Seaford (1994, 270-5) associates the transition from the female chorus to tragedy's male chorus with transformations connected to Dionysiac ritual, especially its use of initiatory transvestism. Others have argued that the playing of the female parts allowed men access to emotions that were useful to put on, but then to take off and return to normal life (Zeitlin 1996; Loraux 1995; on satyr drama, see Hall 1998). The practice also perhaps kept those dangerous emotions associated with women somewhat in check. Thus, the use of a male actor to play female parts leads us to question whether there was necessarily a desiring (male) gaze at work in the actual performance, and if so, whether that desire was for the same (homo) or the other (hetero).
Women were not totally absent; they did participate in the pre-festival procession, as basket bearers at least (Pickard-Cambridge 1968, 61 with note 5; Flaumenhaft 1994, 70; Csapo and Slater 1995, 113, no. 19; Scodel 1996, 112-3; Wiles 1997, 26); that role was one of display, emphasized by the gold of the baskets, and as Wiles points out, the "first fruits" in the baskets suggest their role in reproduction (see also Sourvinou-Inwood 1994, 271).
There has historically been considerable debate about whether women were in the audience that was so much a part of the Athenian community. That is, we don't know for sure what women saw. The evidence from Plato (Gorg. 502B-D and Leg. 658C-D) strongly suggests that women were present, but comedy is less clear. In Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae 390-7, the Chorus says that when men get home from the plays they give their wives suspicious looks on the basis of what they have seen. Theater leads to surveillance. But does that mean that women were not also in attendance? The ancient evidence is not conclusive, and frustratingly enough the same quotations from the sources can be used both to prove and disprove their presence. A passage from Aristophanes' Peace (962-7) is an example of this ambiguity; we are told that the women did not get any of the barley (a pun on penis) that has been thrown to the audience, but that they will get it when they get home. Were the women not there, or were they there but seated in the back and so did not get any barley? (15) Most recently, David Roselli (2011, 158-94, esp. 164) has argued for their presence based on the lack of a prohibition and on the evidence for women in ritual. Given this uncertainty about the participation of actual women, I will devote the rest of this essay to the viewing that goes on in the plays (16) where, as we know, women characters are central.
Women as Object of the Gaze
Despite the norm expressed in oratory of women's restriction to the domestic inner regions and thus unseen, they are prominently represented as objects of the gaze in Greek art and literature. (17) On the face of it, this visibility does not seem to corroborate Mulvey's notion that the gaze constitutes male power, since in antiquity the woman, as object of the gaze, was represented as powerful. This is not surprising given that, in one of the Greek conceptions of erotic, desirability emanates from the eye of the beloved. (18) The adult man, for instance, can be rendered weak and like a statue by the experience of desirous seeing (Plato, Chrm. 154C; Euripdes, Ale. 1118,1123; Homer, Od. 18.212 [desire loosening the knees]; Steiner 2001, 199-201, 205-6). It was notably dangerous for men to look at some females; Medusa is one obvious example, but the beauty of Hera also distracts Zeus and allows her to deceive and seduce him in Iliad 14.293-4. Similarly, the sight of the beautiful and seductive Pandora leads to desire and thence to evil for mortals (Steiner 2001, 126, 186-90; Vernant 1996, 383-4, 388).
Helen's visibility and beauty were destructive. Who does not know Helen of Troy? Thus, for instance, Aeschylus has his Chorus punningly point out in the Agamemnon: "Whoever named you thus completely truly? ... Helen fittingly destroyer of ships, of men, of cities" (helenaus, helandras, heleptolis, 689-90). Moreover, Helen's absence leaves longing and a spectre in her place (phasma, 415); as a result, the beautiful statues that her husband sees are painful to him. (19) The statues have no charm (charis, 417); "All Aphrodite is gone from their eyes" (418-9), either because of the statues' blank stares or because Menelaus's eyes are starved for Helen. (20) She, on the other hand, is imagined as coming to Troy in the form of a wealthy statue (agalma) shooting a soft glance from her eyes, a heart-biting blossom of eras (741-3; cf. Iphigeneia as agalma and the wealth of the house, below 206).
Toward the end of Trojan Women, when the women are about to board the ships with their captors, Hecabe begs Menelaus to kill Helen without looking at her because she fears he would not be able to resist his desire for his wife: "Avoid looking at her lest she seize you with longing" (891). Helen, she says, "seizes men's eyes, destroys cities and burns down houses. Such are her bewitching charms [kelemata]" (892-3). Helen is a magical person, and the source of her magic is her beauty. The power of her striking good looks was legendary, and this speech would probably be a reminder to the ancient audience of a reported scene from the epic cycle (Hesiod, Cat. 519) where she wins Menelaus back by showing him her breast (cf. Euripdes, Andr. 627-31; Aristophanes, Lys. 155). In Helen, Menelaus is struck dumb when he meets his wife (548-9).
But was that really a sign of Helens power? I want to emphasize, and I return to this point below, that the power of the woman as object of the male gaze is more imagined than real. Zeus soon enough sees through Hera, and Pandora is merely a construction whose name is synonymous with trouble. Her gifts (dora) are malevolent. And in truth, even Helen's power is dubious. She is a desirable object, and as such she is always at the mercy of men (raped by Theseus and Perithous when she was arguably a mere child, and later by Paris) (21) and divinities (Aphrodite) alike, so that her disastrous "to be looked-at-ness" (Mulvey) does not indicate agency or free will for her (22)--in fact, it is a burden. In Euripides' Helen, she wishes that her beauty could be erased and that she had an uglier form instead. (23) She explicitly calls her beauty evil (kaka, 264, 265, 266) and the cause of her suffering. (24) Moreover, this very "power" can be understood to lead to the cultural desire to control women and contain them within the house, a desire that is apparent in the lawsuits (and comedy). Evelyn Reeder (1995, 26, 123-6) hypothesizes that the repression of eye contact between males and females was motivated by the possibility that a man might be overwhelmed by the erotic charge set off by a woman's look. (25) The modern parallel of the veil and debates about its cultural significance cannot be overlooked.
As noted above, the norms of Athenian life, at least as articulated in prose, held that women and girls of citizen class should neither be seen nor look at men. (26) Since drama necessarily represents 'women' in the public arena, the plays bend the rules of everyday life. (27) Thus, the ancient male audience was placed in the position of looking at 'women.' If that was potentially dangerous, the men were protected by the convention of having men enact women's roles; the disruption of the dominant ideology is neither real nor long-lasting, as the convention of masking further suggests. (28)
Nonetheless, the interruption of the inside/outside and seen/unseen dichotomies is strongly marked in several plays that begin with a suffering woman offstage. As we will see, her subsequent public appearance is not thereby normalized, but is rendered problematic. Euripides' Alcestis opens with the eponymous heroine inside preparing for her appointed day of death; everyone knows that she will die because she has promised to replace her husband in the underworld. The Chorus enters questioning what has happened; they cannot be sure because they lack evidence, neither hearing nor seeing the expected signs of death (98-100). They elicit information from the servant, who describes Alcestis's ideal feminine behavior, thereby exposing the inside to public (male) scrutiny. Visual terms predominate: Alcestis wants to see the light (blepsai, 206), and when she emerges, the sun sees her (244-6). As she enters from the house, she is in a trance and sees Charon (252). She is highly irrational, as she was when inside. In this way the feminine interior space is coded as hysterical. But she soon snaps out of that visionary state; then she becomes more articulate and makes a compelling and logical speech. Alcestis is more in control of her emotions than is her husband, Admetus, in this scene; she accepts reality, urging him to see her situation as it is ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 280). When she was inside crying over her marriage bed, she feared that Admetus would remarry; but when she regains her composure, she extracts a promise from him that he will not do so. She acts like an equal and demands this not only as a favor (charis), but as a matter of right and justice (299-301, 302).
This public and arguably masculine behavior does not last because the play's resolution turns on the reversal of Admetus's promise: Heracles has brought Alcestis back from death, but before revealing that to Admetus, he convinces him to accept a new woman into his house. This deception could only work if Alcestis were veiled and looking down, not looking at her husband. (29) The ending of the play, I would argue, restores Admetus to power over his objectified wife by placing her inside and out of view once more.
Medea and Hippolytus also open with the sounds of lament emerging from within, followed by the appearance of the protagonist. Medea is, like Alcestis, completely composed and somewhat masculine when she emerges. Hearing her cries, the Chorus asks the Nurse to bring her outside and into their sight (173, 179-80). Medea's masculinity at this point is shown in the manner of her coming out, in her assertion of herself, and in the language used about her by others. When she finally appears before the women of Corinth, she says that if she did not come out, she could be blamed for being haughty or proud (serrinos, 214-7), a charge not really typical of an Athenian woman as much as of an Athenian male citizen or aristocrat. (30) Phaedra has stayed within, keeping her suffering hidden out of shame, while she tries to starve herself to death; when she comes out of the house and into the light (178, 179), she expresses masculine desires, which imitate the behavior of the hunter Hippolytus and would put her near him (e.g., 208-11, 215-22). These expressions of longing for springs and hunting lead the Nurse to wonder at her and to call her mad (223-7). And like other women, Phaedra will go inside to kill herself (Loraux 1987, 21-2). Thus, we can see that these characters' emergence onto the stage is coded as masculine but not as powerful.
Being outside is implicitly related both to being seen and to the problematic of looking; in these cases, the very act of women's looking is frequently linked to a restatement of the norm of not looking. For instance, Antigone in Euripides' Phoenissae is physically on the city's wall, asking questions about what she sees before her (we might compare her to Helen in the Iliad who is, however, answering, not asking, questions). Antigone would seem free in body and mind, but she is aware that if a citizen woman should see her, she might be blamed (88-96; cf. Medea's very different fear of blame above). In this instance, the awareness of other women's gossip controls her.
Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis stages the arrival of Iphigenia and Clytemnestra at Aulis where Iphigenia will be sacrificed so that the Greek army can sail to Troy; she has been brought there under the pretense that she will be married to Achilles. Iphigenia runs away when she sees a crowd of men approaching; she wants to hide her face within the inner chambers (melathra, 1340). At this moment of crisis, she gives the response of a proper maiden; she is ashamed to look on Achilles (idein aischunomai, 1341). The trope is highlighted since her mother argues with her, labeling her modesty as inappropriate delicacy (habrotei) or excessive holiness (semnotetos) (1343,1344). (31) The Chorus of Chalcidian women in Iphigenia in Aulis are also powerfully represented as spectators; they have come to Aulis to see the Greek army and give a long description of it in their parodos. The energy of their looking is underlined with many verbs of seeing and intensified because no motive is given other than their desire to see. Even as they look, however, they corroborate the norm of women's aidos by saying that they are embarrassed to be looking (187-8). (32)
I would like to take Cassandra as my last example of these women who are outside and strongly marked as seeing. As is traditional for her, Cassandra in Aeschylus's Agamemnon sees what goes on in the house of Atreus, but she is not understood. When she promises to speak clearly (1178-82), she uses a visual image, saying that her prophecy will no longer look out from veils like a young bride (Rehm 1994, 44-52; 2002, 81; 2005). Though she is not technically a virgin, since she has been a victim of rape, Cassandra's arrival will have reminded the audience of a wedding procession; like a bride she is with her 'mate' on the chariot, and the image she uses refers to the veiled modesty appropriate to the bride. Thus, she states the norm of chaste modesty even as she is an example of its rupture. There is a further tension of opposites: Cassandra was not only raped, but she was also not really the shy maiden she claims to have been. Her prophetic power comes from Apollo, who desired her; she rebelled against him and resisted his sexual domination. In the present she specifically throws away the clothing that marked her as his servant; to the extent that women's clothing stands for their restraint, she refuses to be tamed. (33) The gift of prophecy remains, however, and she can see what is happening in the house, as well as her own death. She not only speaks out about the shameful past of the Atreides, but she also resists Clytemnestra, refusing to go inside when ordered to do so. Ultimately, however, she is still not believed. She can see what will happen, but she cannot prevent it, and she goes inside to her death. (34)
As we can see, these scenes and representations of women on the outside and with the gaze do not simply free the women nor in any straightforward way validate deviations from the Greek code of gender norms. By drawing attention to them as disruptions as well as to the kinds of problems women could cause, the plays partially reinstate the norms at the same time that they enact temporary infractions.
The gaze is also implicated in women's dangerous desire and revenge. The Greek conception of the visual nature of Desire (personified as the god Eros) can be seen in choral songs, which typically pray away the power that is so obviously destructive in tragedy (Calame 1999, 3-8). So, for instance in Sophocles' Antigone, the Chorus, after having observed a tense scene between Creon and his son Haemon, sings of Eros as an unconquered warrior; they later connect eros to the desire (or desirability?) that shines from the eyes of the bride (Ant. 781-97; see below 211). In Euripides' Hippolytus, Phaedra has kept her illicit love for her stepson a secret; after the Nurse has convinced her to speak about her desire, but before Theseus reads her suicide note accusing Hippolytus of rape, the Chorus similarly hopes that "Eros which drips longing from the eyes will not be out of control" (525-32; arruthmos, 529). The Chorus of the Iphigenia at Aulis moves from praising the possession of Aphrodite in moderation (543-5) to women's virtue, which is chastity (569), to Paris and Helen and the look that he gave her, which stirred up her desire (584-5). In tragedy, not surprisingly, the effects of the desiring female gaze are deadly. Thus, Aphrodite arranged for Phaedra to fall in love with Hippolytus upon seeing him, as she announces in her prologue (27). (35) Medea's desire for Jason is terrible, and is implicitly dependent on sight (explicit in Argonautica 3.287-8; Calame 1999, 141; Buxton 2000, 270-1; Cairns 2005a, 132). In Trojan Women Hecabe denies that Helen was forced to go with Paris, asserting that she fell in love on seeing him because he was handsome (987-9; cf. Gorgias, Hel. 19, cf. 15).
The prominently aggressive women are also associated with a powerful look. It is an aspect of what marks them as problematic. So, for instance, Clytemnestra's deviation from appropriate feminine behavior, evident from the Watchmans description of her "man-counseling heart" (11), is enacted in part through her ability to envision and describe the path of the beacon of light that she ordered to be set up. In contrast, in Libation Bearers she tries, by baring her breast, to turn herself into the pathos-inspiring object of Orestes' filial gaze, although she fails to produce the desired response. And of course she is killed as a result of her failure to control the way in which he sees her.
Other women also exert their dangerous power through their eyes. In Euripides' Hecabe, Agamemnon expresses his disbelief that a woman could take revenge on men, but Hecabe and her fellow slaves manage to succeed. They blind Polymestor, who killed her son, and kill his sons by pretending to take a close look at (leussein, 1154) the fabrics of his robes. Feminine gaze and feminine interest in cloth are here interwoven. In the end of the play, the power of vision continues in its significance: Polymestor becomes a blind seer and predicts that Hecabe will become a bitch, a sign to sailors--turned into something to be looked at rather than someone who sees, though she will have a blazing eye (Zeitlin 1991, 64-9 on eyes).
Medea's revenge is related to the gaze as well (Benton 1999) in complicated ways. First, as we noted earlier, from the beginning of the play her eyes are a sign that she is violent and like a bull (Med. 92; Benton 1999, 189, 191). Second, the scene where she rethinks her plan is dominated by visual imagery. She shrinks from her exile because it means that she will not see her children happy or married (she will not look on their shining eyes, 1043), and their eyes almost move her to give up her plan. She asks, "Why do you look at me with your eyes, children? Why do you laugh your last laugh" (1040-1). Finally, her sadistic pleasure is related to the delight she takes in hearing the description of the death of the Princess as reported by the messenger. (36)
To sum up this section, women who are represented as coming outside and being seen often articulate the cultural norms that they are breaking; women who possess the gaze either of desire or of aggression are viewed as doing harm. Thus, the way tragedy represents women looking can be seen as oscillating between empowering and disempowering them.
Sacrificial Heroines as Objects and Subjects of the Gaze
The sacrificial heroines make an appropriate culmination for this overview of the ideology and representation of the relationship of women to the operation of the gaze in tragedy, because they exemplify the poles of visibility and invisibility while directing a significant gaze of their own. As marriageable and elite females, they both are and are not suitable to behold; each of these maidens (like Alcestis) seeks the kind of glory that is associated with masculinity and military heroism, a time or kleos that is based on being the object of an implied admiring gaze.
The sacrifice of Iphigenia is an obvious place to start. In Agamemnon, she is the object of the narration, of the gaze as well as of the knife. She is only ever represented at a distance--through the eyes of the Chorus looking back to the Greeks' setting out for Troy ten years earlier; her fate is embedded in their song (Barrett 2002, 239). The Chorus describes Agamemnon articulating his dilemma: "How can I choose between my role as leader of the ships and my role as father? How can I sacrifice my daughter, who is a treasure [agalma, 208] of the house or abandon the navy" (212)? That word, agalma, points out subtly that as the daughter of the house Iphigenia is an inappropriate offering; an agalma could mean statue, as it does in Euripides' Andromeda (fr. 125 Nauck), (37) and as such would be more suitably given to a god (Steiner 2001, 16 on gifts). The reference to her as an art work also alludes to her status as object of the gaze. (38) As Mulvey would surely note, Iphigenia's position as spectacle makes her a victim; Agamemnon is the agent--he dares to become the sacrificer of his daughter (Ag. 224).
The Chorus also describes the actual scene of the sacrifice, up to the point at which they say they did not see (eidon, 247) any more. The language here is very difficult to understand, but Iphigenia's victimization is clear. She is lifted up on the altar like an animal, and her mouth in her beautiful face has been stopped up lest she curse the house--in other words, she is kept silent by force. She is "pouring her crocus-dipped robe to the ground" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 239). Her robe is (perhaps) falling off her, or she has shed it, either accidentally or on purpose; in any case, her implied nudity makes her even more of an object of the gaze (cf. Polyxena in Euripdes, Hec. 560). (39) This nakedness, like that of Clytemnestra when she tries to gain pity, is ineffectual.
Iphigenia is not completely passive, however (Scodel 1996, 115). Aeschylus describes her throwing a missile at each of the men performing the sacrifice from her pitiable or piteous eyes, literally "pity loving" (philoiktoi, 241); that is, she seeks to attract pity with the gaze. As her father compared her to a statue, which one might offer instead of a human to a goddess, here the sacrificial victim is compared to a painting: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Ag. 242). (40) She is "like a picture": by getting the men to look at her as an image, she can perhaps motivate them to remember the way she sang at her father's table and therefore to save her (Ag. 240-7). (41) At that past time, her father was sacrificing to Zeus in a healing song and needed her clear voice. She was a performer at a men's dinner (unattested as a practice elsewhere)--they would have watched and listened to her. She was perhaps being displayed to win a husband, which is reported elsewhere, although for the most part the examples are of groups of girls and girls in choruses, not at a private dinner. (42) We have to imagine her looking at the men as she is bound and gagged on the altar, trying to arouse pity on the basis of their former relationship with her. Was it a reciprocal gaze that she seeks to recall, or only her status as lovely object of the gaze? Her glance and her voice, that is, her actions, are both evoked here, though to no avail (see Fletcher 1999). The sacrifice fetishizes her, as Mulvey would say, and makes her the silent object of the male gaze by highlighting her attempt to throw a powerful glance that hits its target (Rabinowitz 1993, 23-4, 48-9, 52-4). The contrast with Helen heightens the sense of pathos and waste about her death. The dangerous, mature woman, Helen, is also called an agalma, and when she went to Troy, she too threw a soft dart from her eyes, but Helen's gaze was not ineffectual (Ag. 741-3).
The Iphigenia in Aulis expands on the Oresteias sacrificial scene; here the issue of visuality is prominent over and over again (Zeitlin 1994, 167, 169). (43) I mentioned earlier the striking role of the Chorus as onlookers at the camp of the Aegeans, and have also discussed Iphigenia's sharp sense of modesty above. The entire plot of Euripides play turns on seeing. The play opens (in the sole surviving manuscript) with Agamemnon sending Clytemnestra a note countermanding his original order that she send Iphigenia to Aulis for the alleged marriage. When that letter is intercepted, he still argues with Menelaus, but once he knows Iphigenia has been seen arriving, he gives up. Vision is underlined in this situation. As a bride and a princess, Iphigenia is to be admired; thus, the Messenger announces that her rumored arrival has led everyone to come look at her (425-30) and the Chorus cries out "Look at her" (592; Scodel 1996, 112-4 on visibility and display of the bride).
At the same time, we repeatedly hear the ideology of women's invisibility. Agamemnon wants the women to stay away from the crowd (735, 737); when Clytemnestra accosts Achilles, he expresses an acute sense of shame (Llewellyn-Jones 2003, 202; Cairns 1993, 311-2). As I mentioned earlier, Iphigenia wants to run away from the male gaze, but her mother offers her "eye free of aidos" (994) to Achilles. He refuses the sight of her, fearing blame (997-9).
The extent of the catastrophe to come is defined in part by changes in the visual register. Initially, father and daughter share a reciprocal, nonhierarchical gaze. In the first meeting Iphigenia wants to look at her father and longs for his omma (eye or face here, 648; cf. 644); she says that she is glad to see him after such a long time, and he says she speaks for him too, literally, equally for both of them; the dual (in between singular and plural) is striking (amphoin, 641) evidence of their close relationship and intimacy. A few lines later, she tells him to put away his frown, and he says "Look [idou], I'm as cheerful as I can be looking [horon] at you" (649). Thus, loving father and daughter look at one another and are identified with one another by that look. This mutuality sharpens the piteousness of what will transpire, which will break their connection completely and lead to his death.
Before Iphigenia is ready to be sacrificed, and while she is still fighting for her life, she supplicates Agamemnon, and her plea is again based on the looks they had exchanged (1239; cf. 640-1). The loss of this bond between them is underlined by the fact that they no longer share eye contact. When Clytemnestra has found out the plan, she tells Agamemnon to look at his daughter (1120), and while he is pretending not to know that anything is wrong, he asks why Iphigenia looks down (1123; cf. 1128: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [with confusion and terror in your eyes]). Clytemnestra later threatens Agamemnon, asking not only how she will be able to look at him when he returns home, but how his children will look at him (1174, 1192). At this point, Iphigenia pleads for life; she wishes to stay in the light, not be under earth. The imagery of light and dark at the beginning and end of her speech intensifies her sense of the beauty of life (1218-9, 1250). Iphigenia is still a girl, dependent on the loving look of her father; she opposes the heroic code from the realistic perspective, saying "It is better to live badly than to die well" (1252; cf. 1281).
When, however, Iphigenia changes her mind and heart, having understood the threat to Achilles and his men, she reverses that statement (1375). Now, she will not look on the light, but will be the light for others; she is willing to die and wishes to win imperishable reputation (kleos, 1504). The maiden Iphigenia was afraid to be seen by Achilles; now that she has adopted the masculine code of values, she wants to become a spectacle for all of Greece (1378). The relationship between glory and the gaze is typical for the male hero; here Iphigenia attempts to adopt that role. The Chorus grants her wish (1510) and calls on everyone to look at her. With this command, which is essentially a stage direction, she is of course already becoming an icon for the audience. Like the statues in Athens that inculcated civic virtues, she is a sight that teaches a value; by looking at her (1411), Achilles is filled with heroic resolve. Iphigenia has greater volition assigned to her by Euripides than by Aeschylus--she is not dragged off but goes willingly--yet she is even more of an object and less in possession of the gaze than her Aeschylean forebear. (44) Iphigenia here dies for heroic causes, but that value system has been put into question by the play's opening: Agamemnon disavows the desire for glory and debunks the whole venture. Thus, it seems that being looked at, and the desire to be looked at, are problematic in the ways that Mulvey hypothesized.
This brings me back to the Hecabe, a play whose Trojan War theme is closely related to that of Iphigenia in Aulis, though written earlier. Both plays correlate vengeful mothers and sacrificial daughters, and both plays highlight the exchange of glances. Like the LA, Hecabe is set in limbo (cf. Zeitlin 1991, 53-4); the army is between Troy and home. The war is now over, and the Greek army is becalmed in Thrace, as it was at Aulis. This time it is stopped by Achilles' ghost (38) demanding the sacrifice of Polyxena on his grave before the homeward journey can take place. Polyxena's death, like that of Iphigenia, is tied into the heroic code--here the argument is that the army should honor the dead Achilles as it honored him when he looked on the light (312). The question of honor versus human life is very present in this play.
Like Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia before her change of heart, Hecabe tries everything to save her daughter, including offering herself as a substitute (386); she urges Polyxena to use every power at her disposal to convince Odysseus to release her (334-41). Polyxena refuses to beg, however, declaring her heroism. She goes further than either of the Iphigenias; like Iphigenia in Agamemnon, she claims the power of the gaze, but she is much more assertive. She begins her discourse with the statement that first caught my attention: "I see you" (342). This simple declarative and its placement at the opening of her speech, the first word in the sentence, make it equivalent to her performance of subjectivity: she is interpellating Odysseus, stopping him in his tracks. (45) She sees him hiding his right hand under his robe and turning his face away from her lest she touch his chin (342-4). Instead of looking at her openly as a gentleman of honor should, he avoids her look to escape her claim on his mercy. He is a coward, and she later literally en-courages' him, telling him to "be brave" (345).
Polyxena, like Iphigenia in her freedom and prime, was a princess who expected to marry a king; she was outstanding among girls and women, equal even to a goddess except for her mortality. In that role, she was much looked at (apobleptos, Hec. 355; see Gregory 1999, 88) and sought after as a bride. Like Iphigenia, too, she substitutes another kind of glory for the attention that would have been paid to her as a nubile woman. Now that she is a slave and has nothing to lose, she stares Odysseus down; she would rather not look on the sun than endure slavery (412). (46) Polyxena emphasizes her disdain for life and her typically male heroic concern for reputation, or how she will be seen (phanoumai, 348). The typical use of eyes and life is intensified by her addition of the word 'free'--"I leave this light with free eyes" (367); she sees nothing to encourage her to be brave (echoing her taunt to Odysseus).
But at what cost does Polyxena gain this freedom? In supposedly freely making herself over to Odysseus and ultimately Neoptolemus, she makes herself the object of the male gaze. Talthybius describes the tableau in glowing terms to the on- and offstage audience. She is represented as the director, manipulating the scene to her own ends. She not only takes over the setting, but like Iphigenia with her robes falling to the ground, she makes herself a spectacle for the army, ripping her robe and revealing her body from neck to navel (560). Polyxena offers Neoptolemus a limited range of options of where to strike, in the neck or chest (563-4), baring her breasts as she does so. (47) When she falls, however, she hides what should be hidden from men's eyes, with regard for her appearance (euschemon, 569; Scodel 1996, 122, 125).
Polyxena's earlier power to stop Odysseus in his tracks has been transformed into self-sacrifice. As Achilles fell in love with the self-sacrificing Iphigenia, so the army is smitten with this self-sacrificing Polyxena. We hear that the soldiers were moved to give her gifts and praise her courage and arete (579-80). This description of the army as an audience moved to pity (and desire: Steiner 2001, 197) by what it has seen may help to redeem them and to cut short a critique of the hypocrisy of the military leaders. The audience may presumably be moved in a similar way; if so, then the possibility of a life-loving set of values set against the heroism of the military is eliminated. As Iphigenia in her self-sacrifice became part of the corrupt male value system, so Polyxena is turned into a support of it. (48) She takes on the very heroic beliefs that require her death. She makes the best of it, but in doing so, she is very limited in her efforts to resist. The modern feminist viewer can see the irony and contradiction between the woman who stares down the hero and the one who is a portrait to be looked at; that gap may lead to a healthy skepticism about the value of war. There is even a hint of this reading in the play. Hecabe demands that the army not touch Polyxena, lest she be harmed in death (605-8); the old queen does not trust the mob and emphasizes the fact that she is burying a bride for Hades. Polyxena must remain chaste, and it seems the army would jeopardize that.
I want to end with Sophocles' Antigone, because her situation is often taken as a model for these sacrificial virgins who are, like her, called brides of Hades. (49) Visuality is prominent in the descriptions of her power. For instance, when Antigone first covered her brother, she was mysteriously invisible, leading the Chorus to wonder if some god did it (279). When she reenacts the burial, she is at first hidden by a whirlwind and dust that choke the guards, which they again take to be the sign of the gods (421); when the elements calm down, however, she is revealed. The guard says "The child was seen" (he pais horatai, 423). Between first and second burial she has become bolder--willing to be seen--and, in a seeming contradiction, more passive--willing to be caught. We are not told whether Antigone looks at the Guard or away from him. But in her first interaction with Creon, her downcast eyes are emphasized. She apparently does not look at him but looks down (441; cf. 269-70, where the guards do the same thing); he hails her rudely, saying "Hey there, you with your face bent toward the ground." Is this maidenly modesty, fear (as it was in the case of the guards earlier), or does it mark her passive resistance? Given the strong contrast between her and her sister in terms of femininity, it seems unlikely to be the former. I would say that in refusing to look at Creon, she refuses to give him the empowering mirror that he requires of all his subjects. (50)
Antigone asserts the power to interrupt the gaze, and her speech is correspondingly bold. Creon asks her emphatically not if she did it, but if she says she did it or whether she denies doing these things (442). She replies with the same kind of emphasis, "I did it and I do not deny it at all" (443). (51) Creon accuses her not only of doing it but also of boasting about it, thereby adding insult to injury (480-1). Like Polyxena with Odysseus, Antigone urges Creon on and asks him what he is waiting for (499-500). She comes even closer to her fellow sacrificial victims when she claims her glorious reputation ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 502). She will be heard of. But Creon replies by pushing both her and Ismene inside, saying that they have to be women (579); they cannot be on the loose (Seaford 1990, 80-1, 83, 89-90). Because she has courted glory in this way, she will be deprived of the light not only by death but also by the way in which she is to die--by being buried alive.
Antigone's willing death is set against her betrothal to Haemon (Neuberg 1990, 67-9). After Haemon exits, and before Antigone makes her last speech, the Chorus sings the ode on ews mentioned above. (52) Like Iphigenia and Polyxena, she will enjoy the spotlight not as a bride but through her sacrifice; therefore, she approaches her death asking her fellow citizens to look at her (806). Since she has alluded poignantly to the fact that she will not be wed in life, but will only marry Hades, the Chorus attempts to console her by referring to her fame and praise (817-8). She marches out calling on Thebes to look on her sufferings for doing what was right--to corroborate her sense of her own propriety (940). For these heroic and virtuous women, to be looked at is not a sign of their marriageability but a sign of honor, as it was for elite men (cf. Mueller 2011, 421-2, who sees it as a political gesture). As Nicole Loraux (1987, 28; cf. 47-8) points out, however, "Women's glory in tragedy was an ambiguous glory," and further "Glory always makes the blood of women flow." (53) The eroticization of the actual death may undercut her achievement of even that glory.
Unlike Iphigenia and Polyxena, Antigone seems to be in resistance to, not in complicity with, the dominant state order. But Antigone's decision is undercut by the possibility that she acted out of an incestuous desire for her brother or out of self-willed martyrdom. In her final speech she gives her reasons for her actions and says that she would not have done what she did for anyone but her brother: a brother (with both parents dead) is irreplaceable (905-15). This speech has long troubled critics; some go so far as to excise it as non-Sophoclean. (54) But it is consistent with the rest of the play (Neuberg 1990; Cropp 1997; Griffith 1999, 278): Antigone has arguably been married to her family, and to death, all along. (55) Sophocles does not leave her decision to act on the level of her earlier abstract and philosophical statement that she acts on the basis of the gods' law. Her rationalizing and self-pitying speech, like Polyxenas positioning herself as an object for admiration, compromises the glory of the woman who said "I did it and I do not deny it." Is that the genre's conservatism, as well as Sophocles'? Or has he seen something that we must accept as real?
Because of a reading of her as the spokesperson for the unwritten laws as over and against the state, Antigone has proven attractive to generations of philosophers. She has won the admiration of the psychoanalytic critic Jacques Lacan. He says that "it is Antigone herself who fascinates us, Antigone in her unbearable splendor. She has a quality that both attracts us and startles us, in the sense of intimidates us; this terrible, self-willed victim disturbs us" (1973, 247). He takes the play and its heroine in love with her brother as revealing "the line of sight that defines desire' (1973, 247); but she is also, according to him, the personification of the death wish (1973, 281). That somewhat dubious fame is countered in feminism, which sees her as a freedom fighter. Luce Irigaray (1994. 69-70) reclaims a political Antigone who as an "example is always worth reflecting upon as a historical figure and as an identity or identification for many girls and women living today." (56) But is that use of her as role model achieved merely by ignoring the problematic speech? In her penetrating study, Judith Butler goes further and interrogates both these readings; she ends by claiming Antigone not quite as a "queer heroine" but one who troubles kinship and the definition of the human (Butler 2000, 82).
As I worked on this essay, I realized that I, like many other feminist critics (e.g., Zeitlin 1996, 7), had hoped to find a way out of a view of tragedy as revealing the victimization or oppression of women; I sought to extricate myself from the old pessimism by arguing that women in tragedy are not simply objects of the gaze but also its owner. But it seems that these characters do not acquire the kind of power that Mulvey and others hypothesized for the male gaze. If women were in the ancient audience, they would have seen that women's beauty might make them powerful; but since that power is perceived as dangerous, it leads to men's desire to control them. They would have seen that if women turn a desiring or aggressive eye on the world, they are killed off. If they are respectable maidens, they are turned into statues, or made to turn themselves into statues. Wanting to be looked at is a trap for the sacrificial maidens; it leads them to support a power structure that demands their death. It seems to me that tragedy did indeed use women for the construction of male citizens.
What are the contemporary echoes of these plays? Where can we find ourselves in them? In the tragedies, these characters went as far as they could go, but we are in a much different position today. One implication here might be that women simply objectifying men in our world is not solving the problem of objectification through the gaze. Feminists need to unsettle the structure, not simply grab the dominant position to make change. Critical attention to Helen might make modern women suspicious of celebrating the power that women allegedly gain through beauty, for it is women's dangerous beauty that requires them to be cloaked and veiled today. While such covering may protect women from the oppressive gaze of men (Llewellyn-Jones 2003, 200; cf. notes 59-61), the assumption that women are a threat to male virtue ultimately leads to limitations on women's freedom, as orthodox religions make clear. In a discussion of feminist pedagogy in classics, I learned that students tout lap dancing and pole dancing as signs of women's power (cf. Cody 2005). (57) Thus, a discussion of beauty in antiquity can raise important questions about the risks and benefits of that privilege and the power to which it gives access.
What then about women's deployment of the gaze? The fate of women who take on the male power of looking has something to tell us, too. It might make us reexamine the terms: What is that power? How can one use it better? Early critiques of representation as pornography left me questioning why I should continue working on tragedy. To misuse Aeschylus: Perhaps learning can help us avoid suffering by showing us the suffering of others.
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* Special thanks to Sue Blundell, with whom I began this project and so many others, and to Douglas Cairns for their thoughtful and thorough reading of the manuscript. Of course, they are not responsible for remaining errors. The Deans of Faculty, David Paris and Joe Urgo, at Hamilton College provided invaluable support for research and writing; Michael Harwick, Andres Matlock, and Emily Delbridge were wonderful student researchers; and the library staff at Hamilton was assiduous in their assistance. Finally, I would like to thank the students in "Tragedy Then and Now" for their interest in this project as it was incubating. Line references in the Greek plays are to the Oxford Classical Texts; translations are my own except where noted.
(1.) For instance, see Heywood and Sandywell 1999, ix: "The visual field has begun to be explored with a thoroughness and global understanding unique in the history of human self-reflection"; Bryson et al. 1994, xv-xxix. There has been increased attention to the body and visuality in antiquity: e.g., Bremmer and Roodenburg 1992, 15-35 (on gesture); Goldhill and Osborne 1994; Frontisi-Ducroux 1996; Goldhill 1996; Stewart 1997; Wyke 1998a, 1-6; Cairns 2005; Christol 2005; Morales 2005.
(2.) The use of the masculine is Lacans; it reflects a certain gender ideology implicit in psychoanalysis.
(3.) Evelyn Keller and Christine Grontkowski (1983, 207) sum the concern up in this way: "The gist of this sentiment is that the logic of the visual is a male logic." See also Pollock 1994.
(4.) Silverman (1994) offers a reconsideration of the gaze and the look, via an essay on Fassbinder.
(5.) In classics, see Rabinowitz 1992; on representation of women, Richlin 1992 and Sharrock 2002; on Seneca, Benton 2002. Benton (1999, 4-5) says: "Female characters presented in the tragedies of Euripides and Seneca offered multiple spectatorial positions for the citizen and senatorial male gazes." Linguistics would suggest that we have to distinguish the power of agency offered by different words for looking (Christol 2005).
(6.) Jacques Ranciere (2010, 2-3, 4), in contrast, points out, in citing Plato, a traditional concept of a passive spectator at the theater; this notion leads the theater reformer to attempt to create a new theater that can move the viewer to action (2010, 4). Ranciere (2010, 13) does not accept the passivity of spectatorship, arguing rather that viewing is an activity requiring the work of interpretation.
(7.) In the writing of later physiognomists, "looking and eye-contact is fundamentally regulated by the display rules and social norms that form part of the ideologies" (Cairns 2005a, 130); the citizen man was marked by his straightforward look, which distinguished him from modest women and boys, madmen, and the kinaidos (Cairns 2005a, 129, 130, 146-7 notes 16-9; Bremmer and Roodenburg 1992, 23).
(8.) The references to women working, for instance in the orators (e.g., Demosthenes 57.45), make it clear that seclusion is a matter of class as well as gender; see Blok 2001.
(9.) On seclusion and veil see Llewellyn-Jones 2003,155-214 and Cairns 2002, 76. Cairns (2002, 88 note 52, with citations) points out that "the notion that veiling expresses women's cultural invisibility is complicated by the paradox that the veil, the instrument of women's concealment, is itself regularly made conspicuous and beautiful and used to attract and manipulate, rather than to repel, the male gaze." Judith Sebesta (2002, 136; cf. Stewart 1997, esp. 42) adopts this binary with respect to nudity and clothing: "Pandora therefore incorporates the metaphors and images that conceptualize woman in Greek imagination. She is feminine sexuality that must be bounded by clothing lest, unrestrained, it endanger men."
(10.) Shaw 1975 on interior spaces viewed. Seale (1982, 21) relates the conventions of Sophocles' stage and the language of viewing: "The perceptions on-stage now coincide with those of the spectator"; Sophocles' use of "visual language ... covers the whole range of words connected with the operation of sight."
(11.) Rehm (2002, 20-5) expands this simple binarism into theatrical space, scenic space, extrascenic space, distanced space, metatheatrical space, and reflexive space.
(12.) The political function of tragedy within Athens has been well studied: Winkler and Zeitlin 1990, Goldhill 1990 and 1999, Rabinowitz 2004, among others. See Hall 2006 on the dialectic between the social and the aesthetic elements (her "underlying contention is that the complicated dialectic between the infrastructure underlying theatrical fictions and the impact they had on society can only be fully understood by approaching them from 'both sides of the curtain simultaneously" ).
(13.) Cartledge 1998, 5-6; cf. Frederick 2002, 1-18. Winkler (1990, 46) says that the gaze was only put into effect against a tiny elite; therefore, Athens was not a true panopticon. Bell discusses the need that the elite felt to manipulate their status and prestige in order to gain power; politicians had to maintain a certain appearance in "'the forest of eyes'" (2004, 54; see 79-81 on theater). Lanni (1997) discusses the similarity of theater and the lawcourt, with a reference to Bentham (183). Robertson's (2000) study of the dokimasia notes the physical scrutiny of that institution.
(14.) On the male actor and cross-dressing, see among others Rabinowitz 1998 and Llewellyn-Jones 2005.
(15.) Csapo and Slater collect the sources (1995, nos. 128,129, 130, 144A); on women attending the theater, see Goldhill 1994 and Podlecki 1990. See also Rabinowitz 2008 for an earlier summary of this material.
(16.) For an interesting experiment, see Marsh 1992.
(17.) On this debate see Shaw 1975; Foley 1982; Easterling 1987.
(18.) For the reciprocity of the gaze in vase painting, especially, and the importance of the eye in desire, see Frontisi-Ducroux 1996 and Calame 1999, 21; Pato, Crat. 420B on the physiology of love and the eye--eros comes from "ersei" flowing in from the beloved to the eye of the beholder; on Plato, Phdr. 251B-C, deriving the term from rheo, see Cairns 2011, 43, with thanks to him for the reference.
(19.) On phasmata see Thumiger, this volume.
(20.) Fraenkel 1962 ad loc.; Steiner 1995,177, esp. on Ag. 416-9; MacLachlan (1993, 66-7) interprets this as the loss of the "love-flash" from Flelen's eyes leading Menelaus to stare emptily; as Steiner (2001, 50) points out, it is not clear that the viewers are not "party (even as they sit and watch the representational dramas unfolding before them) to the same confusions and disappointments"; see also Fletcher 1999.
(21.) Scodel (1996, 114) recognizes that there is some danger to the maiden from this "aesthetic and erotic male gaze." Shapiro says that "one of Helens original aspects" was "to be an object of desire and a pawn in the power struggles of heroes" (1992, 232, 235 on the significance of her beauty). On her age, see Diodorus 4.63.2; Apollodoros, Epit. 1.23; Plutarch, Vies. 31.
(22.) She talks about the power of Aphrodite in Euripides, Tro. 924-32; Lloyd (1984, 307) dismisses the argument of forceful abduction. Sutton (1997/1998, 8) discusses the nuptial Helen and relates the changes in depictions of touch and glance, in the end involving male and female nudity (28).
(23.) Zeitlin (1994, 142-3); cf. Steiner 2001, 55-6. The word aischion here implies the relationship between inner and outer beauty since it also means shameful (cf. Horace, Carm. 1.19 and Sutherland 2003). Goldhill (1998, 114) says that "Theodote is not naked but is dressed to attract; even, like the spider, dressed to kill." He also mentions Candaules and Pandora, in conjunction with the Gorgonic dangers of looking at the female form. Cairns (2005a, 135) points out that the "prostitute is distinctive because she is open to the gaze of men."
(24.) Cf. Il. 3.172-6 where Helen is ashamed before the Trojan leaders; 411-2 where she fears the judgment of the Trojan women; 418-20 where Aphrodite makes her return to Paris, hiding her from view. Moreover, the heroine is used as proof of the deceptiveness of physical evidence since Zeus sent an imitation to Troy in her place. On Helen and Plato's notion of imitation and forms, see Gumpert 2001, 14-9.
(25.) See Stewart 1997, Fig. 47, for a scene of the warrior departure with woman's downcast eyes, and 81-2 for his work on male shyness.
(26.) On the limitations of this rule and the supposed silence of women, see Blok 2001.
(27.) Let us remember that this prominence is a result of the choices that the tragedians made as to which scraps from Homer they would dramatize.
(28.) Zeitlin (1996) argues forcefully for the connection between femininity and tragedy; I owe much to Zeitlin's work, but I tend to make more of the fact that, as she says, "women are never an end in themselves" (Zeitlin 1996, 347).
(29.) The whole scene unrolls through his vision and his imagination of the marital bed chamber with this new woman in it. It is reminiscent of his earlier declaration of fidelity (and of the Agamemnon scene [1046-69] where Menelaus's grief is exacerbated when he looks at statues; see above on Menelaus).
(30.) See Blondell 1998, 163-4 on masculinity here; Foley 1989. The description of Medea's eyes reaffirms the notion that downcast eyes may signify more than a woman's lack of status vis-a-vis men. At first, the nurse takes the fact that her mistress does not lift her eyes from the earth as a sign of her distress (27), and for contrast she notes that her eyes light on her children like those of a bull or a lion with a gaze like a bull's (92, 187-8). Her downcast eyes are taken as a sign of her distress by Aegeus as well (689).
(31.) Cairns (1993, 313) works on habrosune as misplaced sensitivity--a way of describing unhelpful aidos (associated with semnotes); for the general development of its semantics, see Kurke 1992.
(32.) Zeitlin (1994, 157) mentions the trope of feminine modesty, but emphasizes the overall connection to the work of memorization (157-62). Cf. Heraclidae, where Macaria, interestingly known as Parthenos in the text, apologizes for coming out; aidos and sophorosune are linked at 474-7; Alcmene taunts Eurystheus with not looking at her (942).
(33.) Dalby (2002), however, argues that fine clothing is particularly the mark of the hetaira; cf. the clothing or nudity of sacrificial heroines below, as well as Phaedra's uncovering and covering herself (243, 245, 250).
(34.) Rehm (2005) points out that she is the exception to the rule that prophetic figures know without seeing. She sees, exclaiming, "idou,idou." Rehm calls her "a sensually present seer" (349); cf. Rehm 1994 and Seaford 1987, 128. On the nudity in performance, see Rehm 2005, 351-3.
(35.) Stewart 1997; Benton 1999, 85, 98-103 on the failed male epistemological gaze and Theseus's gaze, 102 esp. on the audience's apparent better access to truth.
(36.) See above on narrated scenes of viewing; Rabinowitz 1992; Benton 1999, 176-80; cf. Clytemnestra's sexual pleasure in the murder of her rival, Cassandra: Ag. 1447.
(37.) The passage mentions the likeness of a maiden and a statue (agalma). Hall (2006, 123) addresses this fragment and other images as erotic, further pointing out that they make the audience conscious of their own viewing.
(38.) Scodel (1996, 115) argues that this usage implies display; Steiner (2001, 198) discusses the desire implied; Hall 2006, 122-33 on sex and death. Holoka (1985, 229) observes that "She is like a figure in a painting not only because she is central and mute, but also because she does not break the gaze" On the significance of frontality, see Frontisi-Ducroux 1996, 80-9.
(39.) For a discussion of the relationship of this picture to the "saffron tunics worn by the girls who acted the bear in the cult of Artemis Brauronia," see Scodel 1996, 115 with references. That ritual prepared girls for the end of their childhood and marriage. In Cretan wall paintings the crocus (source of saffron dye) was associated with the onset of menstruation (Rehak 2002).
(40.) As Cassandra imagines she will be wiped out like a picture (Aeschylus, Ag. 1329), and Hecabe asks Odysseus to look at her as a painter would (Euripides, Hec. 807). Thalmann (1993, 151) also notes this stereotypical femininity.
(41.) Cf. Fletcher 1999, 18 who thinks that she is a real picture staring at her sacrificers, but also victimized; Scodel 1996, 117, cf. Wohl 1998, 67-82. Thalmann (1993, 145) connects these to Polyxena as well.
(42.) Plutarch, De mul. vir. 249 and Lyc. 14.2; Plato on groups of girls and boys (Leg. 6.772); Calame 1997 on homoeroticism in choruses; Stehle 1997, 32.
(43.) I differ from Zeitlin 1994 in my concern with the way in which the desire for kleos leads to Iphigenia's doom.
(44.) Macaria is much less important in Heraclidae, but she participates to some extent in the same problematic of visibility. She is marked as the non-bride, whereas Iphigenia is the false bride-to-be and Antigone the bride-to-be.
(45.) This address may be interpreted as a form of interpellation, reminiscent of Louis Althusser's formulation (1971, 127-88). There, the individual gains subjectivity by responding to the address, but is also subjected, since Althusser refers to the police officers shout. Polyxena, however, lacks the authority to subject Odysseus.
(46.) Scodel 1996, 112-4 on how virgins invited the male gaze; the bridal procession offered a safe way to put her on display; cf. Benton 1999, 31.
(47.) This action would recall Helen, at least for the audience (Scodel 1996, 123 and Thalmann 1993, 142-3).
(48.) Thalmann 1993, 147: "If Polyxena is not to be a passive Iphigeneia, there is only one pattern of heroism available to her. So she both is feminine victim of male power and takes on the male attributes valued by the power structure that demands her death; and that is why the watching soldiers are so filled by admiration for her."
(49.) Though she is not exactly a sacrificial heroine--it is her choice to bury Polynices, and no one demands her death in advance--it is still possible to see her as sacrificing herself since it was clear that burying her brother would be punishable by death (though originally by stoning, not by being buried alive). Loraux (1987, 31-2) argues that she actually kills herself like a wife because she hangs herself. I do not think that makes her a wife, however, but a marriage-resister.
(50.) Griffith 1998, 65, 71 on the fathers demand; Boegehold (1999,60-2) thinks that she is nodding yes. Douglas Cairns (personal communication) points out that "Creon clearly thinks he has the upper hand at this point; it's possible, then, that he thinks Antigone is hanging her head because she's been caught out; but in fact her silence and head-hanging are followed by a defiant outburst, at which point the audience must surely interpret her refusal to engage in visual contact as deliberate disrespect--a gesture that often accompanies anger"; see also Cairns 2001. More recently, Mueller (2011, 412-6) argues that the gesture is dual, addressing two audiences--the external audience and her interlocutor, Creon; she compares Antigone to Hecuba performing aidos (2011, 416). For a challenge to the psychological readings, see Chanter 2011.
(51.) On the significance of the repetition as speech act, see Butler 2000. The philosophical tradition from Hegel is powerful in Butler; see now Wilmer and Zukauskaite 2010.
(52.) There is a textual problem, and given the first stanzas, it is not really logical to think of desire as lawful. Griffith (1999, 260 ad 787-9) suggests emending; he also points out the multiple possible interpretations of 795.
(53.) She also argues that women in tragedy "are wives in their deaths" (1987, 28).
(54.) See Mader 2010 on the various reasons why readers have been troubled by this passage.
(55.) See Seaford 1990, 80 on the burial of these women and incest; Lacan (1973, 218-23) points out that the imagery of the kommos emphasizes the relationship to the divine; cf. Miller 2007, 1. Griffith (2005) explores the psychoanalytic reading of Antigone at length.
(56.) On Lacan and Irigaray, and the importance of psychoanalysis for understanding the play, see Leonard 2003.
(57.) Diablo Cody (2005, 196), a student turned stripper, puts it this way: "I'd always believed in the potency of women. I'd supported and participated in the sex industry even as it was buffeted with criticism from people who felt it objectified us. I'd felt like such a libertine.... There was a reason men paid ridiculous sums of money for the company of an exaggeratedly feminine creature. Because strippers are spectacular. They rule." But she goes on to say: "It was the whole girls-in-bulk thing that repulsed me ... It's like a girl buffet ... I hated the girl buffet. I deserve better presentation, I thought. We all did."
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|Title Annotation:||III. Performance|
|Author:||Rabinowitz, Nancy Sorkin|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2013|
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