One of the world's most renowned classicists here offers a fascinating look at myths of origins and their role in ancient Greek civic ideology. Through a series of critical interpretations of Athenian myths, Nicole Loraux explores the meaning of democracy in its first form, which excluded from its benefits women, slaves, and foreigners. Arguing that these stories have much to tell us about the present and the human condition, her book makes important claims about the role of the past in our understanding of the present.
Loraux begins by discussing the Greek fascination with being born from the earth. Myths of autochthony, she asserts, shed important light on attitudes toward both foreigners and women in democratic states. She considers the role demarcated for women by the Pandora myth, according to which women are artificially created out of earth and therefore belong to a race apart. Her analysis also extends to contemporary issues, concluding with the place of the foreigner in democratic societies, ancient and modern.
Originally published in France in 1996, Born of the Earth has been superbly translated into English by Selina Stewart.
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