Erotic Geographies in Ancient Greek Literature and Culture addresses the following question: how does a place "get a reputation?" The Athenians associated sexual behaviors with particular places and their inhabitants, and this book decodes the meaning of the sexualization of place and traces the repercussions of these projections. Focusing on Corinth, Sparta, and Lesbos, each section starts from the fact that there were comic joke words that made a verb out of a place name to communicate a sexual slur. Corinth was thought of as a hotbed of prostitution; Sparta was perceived as a hyper-masculine culture that made femininity a problem; Lesbos had varying historically determined connotations, but was always associated with uninhibited and adventurous sexuality. The cultural beliefs encoded in these sexualized stereotypes are unpacked.
These findings are then applied to close readings, ultimately demonstrating how sensitivity to the erotics of place enables new interpretations of well-known texts. In the process of moving from individual word to culture to text, Erotic Geographies recovers a complex mode of identity construction illuminating the workings of the Athenian imaginary as well as the role of discourse in shaping subjectivity. Gilhuly brings together a deep engagement with the robust scholarly literature on sex and gender in Classics with the growing interest in cultural geography in a way that has never been done before.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Erotics of Place
Chapter 1: Corinth, Courtesans and the Politics of Place
Chapter 2: Medea in Corinth
Chapter 3: Laconic Sex
Chapter 4: Lyric Poetry, Rape and Spartan Song on the Comic Stage
Chapter 5: Lesbians are Not from Lesbos
Chapter 6: Lesbos and the Invention of Heterosexuality in Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe
Kate Gilhuly is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Wellesley College, USA. She is author of The Feminine Matrix of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece (2009) and the co-editor of Space, Place, and Landscape in Ancient Greek Literature and Culture (2014). She began her research on cultural geography while at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.