Women of Substance in Homeric Epic: Objects, Gender, Agency

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Women in Greek epic are treated as objects, as commodities to be exchanged in marriage or as the spoils of warfare. However, women also use objects to negotiate their own agency, subverting the male viewpoint by using the very form they themselves are thought by men to embody. Female objects in Homer can be symbolically significant and powerfully characterizing. They can be tools of recognition and identification. They can pause narrative and be used agonistically. They can send messages and be vessels for memory.

This book brings together Gender Theory and the burgeoning field of New Materialisms, combining an approach predicated on the idea of the woman as object with one which questions the very distinction between subject and object. This productive tension leads us to decentre the male subject – and to put centre stage not only the woman as object but also the agency of women and objects. Homeric women are shown to be not only objectified but also well-versed users of objects. This is something that Homer portrays clearly, that Odysseus understands – but that has often escaped many other men, from Odysseus’ alter-ego Aethon in Odyssey 19 to modern experts on Homeric epic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages332
ISBN (Print)9780198826309
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Homeric Epic
  • new materialism
  • gender theory
  • object
  • agency
  • memory


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