In classical myth Phaedra plays a particular role: main figure in ancient literature (Euripides, Ovid, Seneca write extensively about her vicissitudes), she occupies a very limited space in the artistic repertoire of the classical world. In effect the imagines of the daughter of Minos and Pasiphae are unusual and almost all attributable to sarcophagi of the roman period. This fact shows excellently the good adaptability of a myth about a woman/wife that kills herself to expiate her guilt to funerary sphere. This dichotomy between literary and iconographical data seems clearer in Greek world. Here the figure of Phaedra is practically unknown to the Hellenic artistic repertoires. We know however a chief exception. In tenth book of his Perieghesis, Pausanias describes the pictures painted by Polygnotos for the Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphoi; and it is here that the ancient writer recalls us «Phaedra, who is on a swing grasping in either hand the rope on each side. The attitude, though quite gracefully drawn, makes us infer the manner of Phaedra’s death». The last annotation of Pausania is not secondary: it is common knowledge, as can show us the myths of Erigon or Charila, that there is a very close symbolic connection between the swing and the hanging, which is also the way that Phaedra chooses to kill herself. But the binomial swing/hanging, mainly related by ancient sources to sexual relations, also represents symbolically one the way of death used in female puberty rituals (so, for example, during the festival of Anthesteria and consequently in many images of Attic red-figured pottery). The focus of this contribution will be to investigate, through an interdisciplinary approach, the functional and symbolical links that connect the figure of Phaedra with the world of female puberty in Greek classical age.

The Swinging Woman. Phaedra and Swing in Classical Greece

GIUMAN M.;DORIA F.
2016-01-01

Abstract

In classical myth Phaedra plays a particular role: main figure in ancient literature (Euripides, Ovid, Seneca write extensively about her vicissitudes), she occupies a very limited space in the artistic repertoire of the classical world. In effect the imagines of the daughter of Minos and Pasiphae are unusual and almost all attributable to sarcophagi of the roman period. This fact shows excellently the good adaptability of a myth about a woman/wife that kills herself to expiate her guilt to funerary sphere. This dichotomy between literary and iconographical data seems clearer in Greek world. Here the figure of Phaedra is practically unknown to the Hellenic artistic repertoires. We know however a chief exception. In tenth book of his Perieghesis, Pausanias describes the pictures painted by Polygnotos for the Lesche of the Cnidians at Delphoi; and it is here that the ancient writer recalls us «Phaedra, who is on a swing grasping in either hand the rope on each side. The attitude, though quite gracefully drawn, makes us infer the manner of Phaedra’s death». The last annotation of Pausania is not secondary: it is common knowledge, as can show us the myths of Erigon or Charila, that there is a very close symbolic connection between the swing and the hanging, which is also the way that Phaedra chooses to kill herself. But the binomial swing/hanging, mainly related by ancient sources to sexual relations, also represents symbolically one the way of death used in female puberty rituals (so, for example, during the festival of Anthesteria and consequently in many images of Attic red-figured pottery). The focus of this contribution will be to investigate, through an interdisciplinary approach, the functional and symbolical links that connect the figure of Phaedra with the world of female puberty in Greek classical age.
2016
9788833120027
Phaedra; myth; archaeology; iconology; Greek pottery; Athenian festival; Anthesteria
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/242420
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