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Representations of Women in Theocritus’s Idylls

Authenticity of the Female Voice in the Erotic and Non-Erotic Portrayals

Marilyn Likosky

Hellenistic poet Theocritus showcased a wide variety of women and their relationships to men in his work. Representations of Women in Theocritus’s Idylls: Authenticity of the Female Voice in the Erotic and Non-Erotic Portrayals is the first comprehensive analysis of these women. This book uses a unique and widely inclusive set of tools derived from gender studies, literary criticism, and Hellenistic history to extract the voices of females, as most are silent themselves and spoken for by others. This analysis questions the validity of the female voice and determines authenticity through a method derived from Lacanian psychoanalysis. Author Marilyn Likosky identifies a female erotic voice that according to criteria is not attributed to a woman but rather to the imagination of the male responding to perceived risks in engaging with a female at a time in which she received greater liberties. Theocritus explores a number of candidate strategies for males to lessen disruptions from erotic encounters. Likosky identifies an ambiguity in the presentation of voice, finding it likely an intentional means for Theocritus to engage his audience in troublesome issues. This book supports academic seminars in gender studies, Hellenistic poetry, and literary criticism.

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Here I acknowledge those who have been instrumental in the production of this book. My engagement with Hellenistic poetry with its timeless challenges of love began in Pamela Vaughn’s class at San Francisco State University. She helped make the lovelorn herdsmen, silent women, and Alexandrian housewives come to life. I was propelled into the study of the mute woman by David Leitao who supervised my Master’s thesis. I examined the trope Aspasia, mistress of Pericles, a woman who was spoken for and politically used by men. I am grateful to San Francisco State University whose academic atmosphere promoted interdisciplinary studies. I was able to explore the relationships of contemporary French philosophy and psychoanalysis to Classics which proved useful as I proceeded to better understand Theocritus’s work.

During my PhD program at the University of Washington with James J. Clauss I chose to pursue my interest in Theocritus with a focus on the depictions of women. Jim helped me read the idylls in a manner akin to approaching a mystery such as lingering on the clues and developing tools to bring out the voices of silent women. I found that approach required immersion in multiple disciplines. I shall always be thankful for his mentorship. I acknowledge Antony Raubitschek who helped make my advanced Classics education happen. ← ix | x →

My journey has had its high and low points, during which I have needed and benefitted from remarkable friendships. My son Donald and his wife Kim provided...

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