Monday, 23 May 2016

Bartłomiej Bednarek - Bringing stools to Athena?

Now for the next of the abstracts for the Athena event on 3 June - from Bartłomiej Bednarek of Jagiellonian University, Krakow
Bringing stools to Athena?

A handful of passages from old comedy, along with scholia and lexica, mention a category of ritual acolytes called diphrophoroi. As the etymology suggests, the word must have referred to someone whose role involved (but was not necessarily was limited to) carrying stools (diphroi). Some nineteenth century scholars associated diphrophoroi with some of the figures represented on the east side of the Parthenon frieze, on which, among others, two girls with stools on their heads are approaching a bearded man. Since the publication of Ziehen's Panathenaea entry to RE, however, this identification has been rejected by most scholars on the basis, as I would like to argue, of some false assumptions. In most of the modern works in which the subject matter is addressed (e.g. in commentaries on the Aristophanic comedies), diphrophoroi are said to have been metic girls who accompanied the kanephoroi during the Panathenaea in order to serve them, not the goddess. Most scholars, therefore, claim that their ritual role was marginal and social status was low. Thus they maintain that the girls shown on the frieze must not be identified as diphrophoroi. In my paper I would like to address this problem, trying to explain why there seems to have been a very good reason for bringing stools to Athena. Seeing that the phenomenon lies at the intersection between the religion and public manifestations of ethnic and gender identity, I would like to touch upon also these matters, while arguing that there is no reason to believe that the status of diphrophoroi was necessarily lower than that of kanephoroi.

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