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Figures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece

Figures of Speech: Men and Maidens in Ancient Greece

Hardback

By (author) Gloria Ferrari

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  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Format: Hardback | 408 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 235mm x 30mm | 753g
  • Publication date: 14 February 2003
  • Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
  • ISBN 10: 0226244369
  • ISBN 13: 9780226244365
  • Edition: 2
  • Edition statement: 2nd
  • Sales rank: 1,258,329

Product description

Over the past two hundred years, thousands of ancient Greek vases have been unearthed. Yet debate continues about what the images depicted on these vases actually meant to ancient Greek viewers. In "Figures of Speech", Gloria Ferrari uses Athenian vases and other works of art from the Archaic and Classical periods (520 to 400BC) together with literary evidence to investigate what these monuments can tell us about Greek understandings of gender. She begins by developing a theory of visual representation, arguing that artistic images give us access to how their subjects were "imagined", not necesarily to how they really were. For instance, Ferrari examines the myriad representations of women working wool and demonstrates that these images serve as powerful metaphors that both reflect "and" help construct Greek conceptions of the ideal woman and her ideal behaviour. Ferrari then uses a number of icons representing blameless femininity and ideal masculinity to reevaluate rites of passage by which girls are made ready for marriage and boys become men. Representations of the nude male body in Archaic statues known as "kouroi", for example, serve as metaphors for manhood and shed new light in the much-discussed institution of "paiderastia". And imagery equating maidens with arable land and weddings with buried treasure provide a fresh perspective on Greek marriage. Innovative and thought provoking, "Figures of Speech" demonstrates how the study of visual images as well as texts will enrich our understanding of ancient Greek culture. Classicists, art historians and anyone interested in gender in the ancient world should benefit from its insights.

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Author information

Gloria Ferrari is professor of classical archaeology and art at Harvard University. She is the author, most recently, of Materiali del Museo Archeologico di Tarquinia XI: I vasi attici a figure rosse del periodo arcaico and of numerous articles on Greek and Roman art and culture.

Review quote

"Gloria Ferrari has made a career of questioning old assumptions about Athenian pottery, and her voice has for years been among the most exciting in the field of classics. Her long-awaited Figures of Speech is important, thought-provoking, and fiercely intelligent. There is much that is new, striking, and even brilliant in this book." - Richard T. Neer, author of Style and Politics in Athenian Vase-Painting

Flap copy

Over the past two hundred years, thousands of ancient Greek vases have been unearthed. Yet these artifacts remain a challenge: what did the images depicted on these vases actually mean to ancient Greek viewers? In this long-awaited book, Gloria Ferrari uses Athenian vases, literary evidence, and other works of art from the Archaic and Classical periods (520-400 B.C.) to investigate what these items can tell us about the ancient Greeks--specifically, their notions of gender. Ferrari begins by developing a theoretical perspective on visual representation, arguing that artistic images give us access to how their subjects were "imagined" rather than to the way they really were. For instance, Ferrari's examinations of the many representations of women working wool reveal that these images constitute powerful metaphors--metaphors, she argues, which both reflect "and" construct Greek conceptions of the ideal woman and her ideal behavior. From this perspective, Ferrari studies a number of icons representing blameless femininity and ideal masculinity to reevaluate the rites of passage by which girls are made ready for marriage and boys become men. Representations of the nude male body in Archaic statues known as "kouroi," for example, symbolize manhood itself and shed new light on the much-discussed institution of "paiderastia." And, in Ferrari's hands, imagery equating maidens with arable land and buried treasure provides a fresh view of Greek ideas of matrimony. Innovative, thought-provoking, and insightful throughout, "Figures of Speech" is a powerful demonstration of how the study of visual images as well as texts can reshape our understanding of ancient Greek culture.