The Pregnant Male as Myth and Metaphor in Classical Greek Literature

The Pregnant Male as Myth and Metaphor in Classical Greek Literature

By: David D. Leitao (author)Hardback

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This book traces the image of the pregnant male in Greek literature as it evolved over the course of the classical period. The image - as deployed in myth and in metaphor - originated as a representation of paternity and, by extension, 'authorship' of ideas, works of art, legislation, and the like. Only later, with its reception in philosophy in the early fourth century, did it also become a way to figure and negotiate the boundary between the sexes. The book considers a number of important moments in the evolution of the image: the masculinist embryological theory of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae and other fifth century pre-Socratics; literary representations of the birth of Dionysus; the origin and functions of pregnancy as a metaphor in tragedy, comedy and works of some Sophists; and finally the redeployment of some of these myths and metaphors in Aristophanes' Assemblywomen and in Plato's Symposium and Theaetetus.

About Author

David D. Leitao is Professor of Classics at San Francisco State University and Chair of the Departments of Classics and Comparative and World Literature. He has published articles in Classical Antiquity, Mnemosyne and Materiali e Discussioni, as well as in numerous edited volumes.


1. Introduction; 2. The new father of Anaxagoras: the one-seed theory of reproduction and its reception in Athenian tragedy; 3. The thigh birth of Dionysus: exploring legitimacy in the classical city-state; 4. From myth to metaphor: intellectual and poetic generation in the age of the Sophists; 5. Blepyrus' turd-child and the birth of Athena; 6. The pregnant philosopher: masculine and feminine procreative styles in Plato's Symposium; 7. Reading Plato's midwife: Socrates and intellectual paternity in the Theaetetus; Appendix 1. Did any thinker before Democritus argue for the existence of female 'seed'?; Appendix 2. Women and men as grammatical subjects of ? ????? ? .

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107017283
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 328
  • ID: 9781107017283
  • weight: 590
  • ISBN10: 1107017289

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