This paper challenges the simple dichotomy that sees women either as degraded sex objects (on everyday symposium cups) or as powerful threats to males (in mythological scenes) on Athenian vases of the classical period. A continuity of female desire connects these two categories of vase paintings when attention is drawn to the eye-to-eye contact between men and women. Structural as well as thematic aspects of Attic pots are emphasized to show how triangular spaces move the figures away from a simple polarity to a dynamic interplay among desire's subjects and objects. Erotic paintings on symposium vases demonstrate that Athenian males took pleasure in the gaze and touch of women, while depictions of the goddesses Eos and Aphrodite pursuing their love for mortal men highlight the way these stories acted as cultural signifiers for the larger philosophical concerns of the ancient Greeks.


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pp. 1-40
Launched on MUSE
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