Virgin Sacrifice in Classical Art : Women, Agency, and the Trojan War book cover
1st Edition

Virgin Sacrifice in Classical Art
Women, Agency, and the Trojan War

ISBN 9780415301350
Published October 3, 2017 by Routledge
238 Pages 8 Color & 66 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Trojan War begins and ends with the sacrifice of a virgin princess. The gruesome killing of a woman must have captivated ancient people because the myth of the sacrificial virgin resonates powerfully in the arts of ancient Greece and Rome. Most scholars agree that the Greeks and Romans did not practice human sacrifice, so why then do the myths of virgin sacrifice appear persistently in art and literature for over a millennium? Virgin Sacrifice in Classical Art: Women, Agency, and the Trojan War seeks to answer this question.
This book tells the stories of the sacrificial maidens in order to help the reader discover the meanings bound up in these myths for historical people. In exploring the representations of Iphigeneia and Polyxena in Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art, this book offers a broader cultural history that reveals what people in the ancient world were seeking in these stories. The result is an interdisciplinary study that offers new interpretations on the meaning of the sacrificial virgin as a cultural and ideological construction. This is the first book-length study of virgin sacrifice in ancient art and the first to provide an interpretive framework within which to understand its imagery.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1: Introduction: Virgin Sacrifice in Classical Art and Society

Just a Man’s World? The Patriarchal, Monolithic Male Gaze

The Public and Private ‘Lives’ of Iphigeneia and Polyxena

Organization of the Study

Chapter 2: What Makes a Virgin Sacrifice?

Towards a Definition of Virgin Sacrifice

Killing a Woman: Terminology and Relation to Animal Sacrifice

Traditions of Human Sacrifice in the Near East

Jephthah’s Daughter: Virgin Sacrifice in the Bible

Chapter 3: The Sacrifice of Iphigeneia

Iphigeneia in Greek Art

Iphigeneia in Etruscan Art

Iphigeneia in Roman Art

Chapter 4: The Sacrifice of Polyxena

Polyxena in Greek Art

Polyxena in Etruscan Art

Polyxena in Roman Art

Chapter 5: War and Womanhood: Virgin Sacrifice and the Trojan War

The Sacrificial Virgins and Helen of Troy

The Brygos Painter’s Louvre Iliupersis Cup

Iconographic Ambiguity: Who is Represented?

Between Sisters: Kassandra and Polyxena

The Sacrificial Virgin in Iliupersis Tableaux

Polyxena and Troilos

The Heroines Pyxis in London: The Art of Pairing Women

The Trojan War on Italian Soil: Resonances in the Roman World

Virgin Bodies: Framing The Trojan War

Beyond the Trojan War: The Defiant Antigone

Mythological Women, Representation, and Womanhood

Chapter 6: The Sacrificial Virgins and Female Agency

Consent, Resistance, and the Measure of a Maiden

Agency and Context in Etruscan and Roman Art

Polyxena the Aristocrat: Agency, War, and Tripods

Victims and Rebels: Recovering Ancient Women’s Resistance

Chapter 7: Conclusion: The Princess and the Knife

The "Afterlives" of Iphigeneia and Polyxena: Their Legacy

After the Sacrifice and Further Questions



Catalogue of Representations of Iphigeneia and Polyxena in Greek, Etruscan, and

Roman Art

General Index

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Anthony F. Mangieri is Associate Professor of Art History and Coordinator of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. He holds a Ph.D. in Greek and Roman art from Emory University. Mangieri has lectured widely and published articles on Greek art.