Abstract detail

Title The Inverted World of the Amazons: Aspects of a Persistent Myth in Early Modern Greek Literature

The myth of the Amazons has been described as the most potent of all Greek myths. The Amazons as autonomous and ferocious women warriors, who were reputed to have founded a society where men were either absent or subservient, presented a paradox from inception: their manly valour could hardly suit their sexual identity. A feminine warrior was an elusive and ambiguous figure that could hardly be accommodated in the realm of history were men were the agents of culture and politics. Yet throughout antiquity learned authors repeatedly tried to solve this paradox, and readily provided narratives and exegeses which in some cases have proved to be central in the creation of Greek identities (see e.g. the role of the Amazonomachy for democratic Athens in 5th c. BC). More importantly, the Amazons outlived the scholars of ancient Greece and over medieval and early modern times were found practically everywhere: whenever the bold ventured into terra incognita, it was the Amazons who lurked in shadows and were rumoured to be living in the next-but-one village. In my paper, I will investigate this persistent myth in two important early modern Greek texts: the prose chapbook of Alexander (Fyllada toy Megalexandrou, which is the most popular text of the Turcocratia, with over 50 editions from 17th-19th c.) and the 12th-c. epic of Digenis Akritis (by many considered the first early modern Greek text to date). I will focus on the inverted world of the Amazons in Fyllada and the duel of Digenis and Maximou and I will provide new readings of the texts with the use of Bakhtinian theory (heteroglossia, carnival, parody).

Primary author
Tassos A. Kaplanis