I'm pleased, now, to present the next abstract for the conference on 3 June - this time from two scholars: Alessandra Abbattista of the University of Roehampton, London and Fabio Lo Piparo of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
The two folds of Athena’s garment: military and maternal aegis in Euripides’ Ion
The paper aims to investigate the gendered meaning of the aegis of Athena in and around Euripides’ Ion. With particular attention to the passages related to the aegis, the analysis will focus on the contradictory treatment of this garment, between danger and protection, in the text. The Euripidean version of the origin of the aegis from the Gorgon, the monster that was killed by Athena during the Battle of the Giants, portrays the figure of the goddess as promachos, the androgynous mistress of war. This aspect is embodied by Creusa in her failed attempt to kill her son with the poisonous blood scattered from the Gorgon’s body, beheaded and deprived of its skin. Furthermore, the snaky border and the gorgoneion in Ion’s swaddling cloth woven by Creusa suggest an accurate reproduction of its model, the real aegis. The use of the woven aegis in the exposition of Ion merges the motifs of the birth and the delivery of Erichthonius to the daughters of Cecrops by his foster mother Athena, a moment carefully replicated and ritualised by Creusa. This adds nurturing and child-caring features to the aegis and therefore to the two figures who bear it. Just as Athena, the tragic heroine appears both male/promachos and female/kourotrophos. References from Homer to lexicographers, as well as iconographic depictions on Attic vases, will demonstrate the gender conflation beyond the aegis in the Euripidean tragedy.