The goddess on parade

Aaron Beck-Schachter
2018
This dissertation investigates mobile cult statues and their reflection in Euripides' Iphigeneia among the Taurians and the Helen. Chapter One deals with the physical evidence for small, mobile cult images: their traditional settings, contexts, and histories of exchange and movement. Chapter Two is a survey of the literary terms used to refer to cult images. The first part of chapter Three treats the evidence for "arriving" cult images in ritual festivals and processions. Using the Athenian
more » ... ng the Athenian tradition of the theft of the Palladion as a case study, the second part of the chapter analyzes the different ways a community could characterize this "original arrival." Chapter Four presents an analysis of the different modalities of exchange which characterized the movement of cult statues. These images were objects manipulated by humans, and thus all possible activities associated with possessions (theft, exchange, permanent loss, or freely given gift) were capable of influencing their use. Chapter Five analyzes how these human situations influenced Euripides' IT and the Helen. I argue that in the IT, Iphigenia, just like the "Bears" of the Arkteia, is dedication herself. As priestess of Artemis, she is a gift given to the goddess, and her movement reflects the traditional sequence of a dedicatory journey: travel, gift, and return. When Orestes steals her back from the Taurians his action reflects the traditional concerns surrounding a stolen cult object: the rights and comportment of marginalized strata of society. On the other hand, in the Helen, the existence of the ghostly eidôlon removes all authority and "truth" from the representation and locates it in Helen herself. The effect of this relocation results in a focus not on the dramatization of the exchange of cult images as in the IT (that is, dedication or theft), but on the "truth" of representation itself. This critique culminates in the escape of Menelaus and Helen from Egypt under cover of a false burial ceremony where the active participants are not dead but [...]
doi:10.7282/t3w66q6w fatcat:s3tilva3erawxkllzqlrptmj2a