Added: February 4, 2017 – Last updated: January 6, 2018


Author: Beth Cohen

Title: Divesting the Female Breast of Clothes in Classical Sculpture


In: Naked Truths: Women, sexuality, and gender in classical art and archaeology

Edited by: Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow and Claire L. Lyons

Place: London and New York

Publisher: Routledge

Year: 1997 (hbk.), 2000 (pbk.)

Pages: 66-92

ISBN-10: 0415159954 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 0415217520 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 020318274X (ebk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Ancient Greece | Cases: Offenders / Ajax; Cases: Victims / Cassandra; Representations: Art / Ancient Greek Art; Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / Trojan War



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Author: Wikipedia

Abstract: »In “Divesting the Female Breast of Clothes in Classical Sculpture,” Beth Cohen further analyzes the disruptive and violent contexts in which one or both naked breasts are exposed in Greek art and proposes a new reading of the motif on a statue of a reclining female known as the “Barberini Suppliant.” Beside the practical, intentional, or accidental exposure of the breast, as in the case of female athletes and Amazons, divine lovemaking or rape, prostitution, and frenzied Bacchic dancing (all extra-ordinary events, outside of the norm), the primary locus of the divested breast is in scenes presenting female victims of violence, such as the Lapith women attacked by Centaurs at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodameia, the slaughter of Niobe’s daughters and sons, and many other episodes. The dazed figure of the “Barberini Suppliant,” missing one sandal and unsuccessful in her pathetic attempt to hitch up her chiton and cover her naked bosom, is here interpreted as an image of the defenseless and wounded Cassandra in the moments following her rape by Ajax near the Temple of Athena in the citadel of Troy. Cassandra is a tragic figure who is disbelieved, violated, taken as a spoil of war, and eventually murdered. Her character is a topos for female victimization, yet the sentimental pathos of the Barberini sculpture masks her true situation and invites the spectator to participate vicariously in her humiliation, which appears to be an unfortunate but not unusual fate for a woman who is both foreign and of lower status.« (Source: Claire L. Lyons and Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow. »Naked Truths about Classical Art: An introduction.« Naked Truths: Women, sexuality, and gender in classical art and archaeology. Edited by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow et al. London 1997: 6-7)

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Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome | Art: Roman art | Mythology: Greek mythology / Ajax the Lesser | Mythology: Mythological rape victims / Cassandra | Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence | War: Trojan War