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Description - Sexual Ambivalence by Luc Brisson

This work 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 male and female. Luc Brisson provides a commentary that situates this 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 succesive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias (the blind Theban prophet), which are found through the whole span of Graeco-Roman antiquity. This sourcebook presents some 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 Hermatic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles. Brisson quotes this material at length and discusses its significance in Graeco-Roman myth and philosophy. These ancient stories open a window onto our 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 aim to deepen our awareness of the extent to which the polarity of our sexuality colours 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 Details

ISBN: 9780520223912
ISBN-10: 0520223918
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x mm)
Pages: 209
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 28-Mar-2002
Country of Publication: United States

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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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