Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
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Sexual Ambivalence by Luc Brisson
Book DescriptionThis fascinating book collects and translates most of the extant written Graeco-Roman material on human beings, divinities, animals, and other creatures who were said to have been both female and male. Luc Brisson provides a commentary that situates this rich source material within its historical and intellectual contexts. These selections--from mythological, philosophical, historical, and anecdotal sources--describe cases of either simultaneous dual sexuality, as in androgyny and in hermaphroditism, or successive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias (the blind Theban prophet), which are found through the whole span of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Sexual Ambivalence is an invaluable sourcebook that gathers this suggestive, yet hard to find, material in one convenient place. This book presents some very obscure but wonderfully strange material. There is the ghost story about a father who returns from the dead to devour his dual-sexed son in the public square, leaving behind only the head, which proceeds to deliver a prophecy from its position on the ground. In addition to including such familiar sources as the myths of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as told in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Aristophanes' myth of the origins of the sexes and sexuality in Plato's Symposium, Brisson also discusses cosmogonic mythology in Hesiodic poetry, the Orphic Rhapsodies, Gnosticism, the Hermetic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles. He presents the manifold variants of the myth of Tiresias, as well as many other sources. Brisson quotes this material at length and discusses its significance in Graeco-Roman myth and philosophy. These ancient stories open a window onto a world without the sexual oppositions of male and female, a paradise of unity and self-containment, as well as onto the peculiar world of go-betweens like the prophet Tiresias. They deepen our awareness of the extent to which the polarity of sexuality colors our entire perception of the world, as it did in antiquity, and as it does for us now. This provocative material is profoundly relevant to our thinking today.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780520223912
(216mm x 140mm x 12mm)
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 28-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Luc Brisson
How Philosophers Saved Myths, Paperback (June 2008)
Describes how the myths of Greece and Rome were transmitted from antiquity to the Renaissance. This study reveals how philosophers employed allegory and how it enabled myth to take on a number of different interpretive systems throughout the centuries: moral, physical, psychological, political, and even metaphysical.
Plato's Universe, Paperback (January 2005)
Discusses the impact of the Greek discovery of the "cosmos" on man's perception of his place in the universe, and describes the problems this posed. In an analysis of the astronomical and physical theories of the Timaeus, this work demonstrates Plato's role in the reception and transmission of the discovery of the new conception of the universe.
Plato the Myth Maker, Paperback (January 2001)View all books by Luc Brisson
In this text, Luc Brisson reconstructs Plato's multifaceted and not uncritical description of "muthos" in light of the latter's famous Atlantis story. He also contrasts this sense of myth, as Plato does, with another form of speech which he believed was far superior: the "logos" of philosophy.
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Author Biography - Luc Brisson
Luc Brisson is Researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research and is the author of many books on Greek philosophy and religion, including Plato the Myth Maker, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Gerard Naddaf (1999).
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