Breaking the Mould:Hermaphrodites in Fourth Century and Hellenistic Sculpture

Vanessa Di Francesco

Much has been said of the ancient Greek sculptural preference for the male nude body. Relatively recent scholarship reads this preference as a manifestation of classical-era Athenian hegemony; it is suggested that the long revered and oft-imitated large-scale sculptures of the heroic and godlike male nude originally functioned, at least in part, as reaffirmations of fifth century Athens’ persistently phallocratic and defeminizing politics.[1] Amidst such a masculinist atmosphere, the early fourth century appearance in Greek sculpture of the hermaphrodite, who so seamlessly joins the masculine form with the supposedly inferior feminine form, inevitably confounds us. From Athens itself hails the earliest extant example of the hermaphrodite figure in ancient Greek art: a securely dated early fourth century clay mould that “preserves a critical portion of hermaphrodite anatomy, and probably would have produced figures of the […] anasyromenos […] type.”[2] Accordingly, hermaphrodites anasyromenoi are, as far as is known, the first type of hermaphrodite represented in Greek sculpture.[3] These figures remained common in the Hellenistic period when the cult of the god-goddess Hermaphroditus, who they perhaps represent, gained national significance.[4] They are so called because of their revealing or “anasyromenos” gesture;[5] these largely small-scale hermaphrodites, unquestionably female in face, form, and costume, lift their drapery at the waist to reveal their small and sometimes erect phallus [Fig 1]. Visually and functionally distinct from the more popular late Hellenistic sleeping hermaphrodite type [Fig 2],[6] these earlier hermaphrodites, I will argue, functioned chiefly as apotropaic fertility figures. Accordingly, their emergence in early fourth century Athens, which will be read within the context of a wider shift from cultural and sculptural defeminization to feminization, signals a softening Athenian phallocracy in which the female’s previously denigrated reproductive role, protective ability, and physical form are newly considered and even worshipped. In other words, hermaphrodites anasyromenoi, from their very first appearance in a fourth century Athenian clay mould onward, can appropriately be said to break the mould, suggesting in both function and form that femininity be celebrated in conjunction with masculinity.

In order to best understand the hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ revolutionary potential in the context of post-classical Athens, an understanding of fifth century Athens’ defeminizing politics and correlated sculpture is necessary. It is necessary, in other words, to recognize the culture against which these fourth century hermaphrodites react.[7] Eva Keuls suggests that one of the crucial strategies of the Athenian phallocracy’s “defeminization process” is the denigration in myth, ritual, and art of the female’s reproductive role vs. the glorification of the male’s.[8] The female is, in other words, stripped of her one biologically secured, exclusive authority: childbearing and motherhood. In Attic myth, this strategy is made manifest in the recurring theme of barren females and/or childbearing males. Athena, the patron deity and, in some sense, embodiment of Athens, is technically motherless and born directly of her father,[9] springing fully grown from Zeus’s head –“that is, out of patriarchal fantasy.”[10] The myth of the birth of Athens’ patron deity justifies, therefore, at the highest level of divinity, the Athenian state’s defeminized and masculine persona as well as the wider cultural process of defeminization as largely buttressed by the trivialization of the female’s reproductive role as opposed to the exaggerated glorification of the male’s.

In ritual, this defeminizing strategy manifests itself in Athenian fertility practices, which promoted the worship of the phallus, not the vulva (or, for that matter, any other part of the female’s biology), as “the most sacred fertility symbol.”[11] At the well-documented Thesomophoria festival, for example, the Athenian women in attendance are said to have thrown “phallus-shaped pine cones and wheat cakes” to the ground “to aid vegetal, as well as animal and human, fertility.”[12] Accordingly, even in exclusively female ritual environments, the male role in reproduction was often worshipped over, rather than in conjunction with, the female role. In fact, in proposing a key distinction between phallocratic Athens and other ancient patriarchal cultures, Keuls writes that while many ancient patriarchies, like fifth century Athens, worshiped the erect male reproductive organ, “much of their art and rituals present[ed] the phallus as a symbol of generativity and of union with, rather than dominance over, the female.”[13]

The Athenian denigration and even denial of female fertility in myth and ritual was equaled in visual art where the female’s biology or physical form was again far less considered than the male’s, let alone worshipped. Accordingly, Classical sculpture lacks any notable examples of female apotropaic fertility figures. Herms were the most popular and publicly visible apotropaic fertility sculptures in classical Athens, ubiquitously placed both at domestic entranceways and public crossways to ward off the ‘evil eye’ (i.e. to act as apotropaic objects) with their weapon-like phallus.[14] Their association with Hermes, who was, in part, a fertility god, meant that they also served as fertility guardians, a not uncommon additional function for apotropaic objects –the logic being that that which protects and turns away evil simultaneously attracts luck and prosperity. They were overtly and strictly phallic in form, bearing no mark of the feminine whatsoever.[15] Accordingly, herms, in their phallic appearance and correlated function as apotropaic fertility figures, indicate a wider correlation between Athens’ primary glorification of male generative and protective ability and its primary visual idealization of the male form or, alternately, between Athens’ denigration of female generative and protective ability and its visual depreciation of the female’s presumably “second-class bod[y].”[16] In fact, the fifth century sculptural depreciation of the female form vs. its sculptural idealization of the male form can be read as a second crucial strategy of the Athenian phallocracy’s defeminization process.

Classical sculpture’s defeminizing effect, then, is not simply a consequence of the fact that youthful male bodies were more frequently sculpted than female bodies; it is, I repeat, the respective idealization and depreciation of the masculine and the feminine which is most important. Crucially, while female bodies were often defeminized or masculinized,[17] male bodies were always strictly, even excessively masculine or, alternately, never feminized.[18] Sarah Pomeroy best articulates this phenomenon: “in the classical period the male was clearly the superior being, and to taint him with the characteristics of ‘the inferior’ would have been a lessening of perfection.”[19] On the other hand, a female, when required, could be made “perfect” or ideal by assuming a characteristically male form. In Athena’s case, such perfecting via masculinization was necessarily required: the phallocracy’s patron deity could not be represented as the second-class sex. Accordingly, “by the mid-fifth century, the image of Athena was stripped of any vestige of femininity.”[20] The monumental gold and ivory sculpture of Athena Parthenos [Fig 3][21] was created for the Parthenon (c. 447-432BCE) and, therefore, exemplifies her popularly defeminized representation at the height of the Athenian empire. She was originally said to hold a spear in one hand and her shield in the other.[22] Her heavy frame conforms to her masculine, war-like persona and looks like little more than a feminine head on a draped, masculine body. She is broad and square, evoking the canonical high classical male nudes of Polykleitos [Fig 4]. Her weighty and layered drapery furthers her masculinization, concealing her feminine curvature beneath. In the absence of a sculptural tendency to reveal female genitalia, breasts presumably functioned as key feminizing features in figural sculpture; they too are concealed, weighed down by her traditional aegis. In fact, the only part of Athena’s body that surfaces from beneath her drapery is her left knee, an asexual feature whose appearance is more likely a consequence of the sculptor’s desire to represent her in the canonical contrapposto stance than of his desire to reveal her feminine contours.

As mentioned, classical sculpture’s defeminized female body was complemented by the overwhelmingly non-feminized or strictly masculine male body. The exclusive glorification of the masculine or denial of the feminine in the male nude is evident in Polykleitos’ work, which has long been considered the epitome of classical-era sculptural achievement. The virile Doryphoros [Fig 4] betrays the characteristically heavy, broad, and emphatically musculatured Polykleitan frame. The ubiquitous phallus joins torso and lower limbs. Feminine characteristics (e.g. a less muscled abdomen, a more slender, languid, or sensualized frame etc.) are nowhere allowed. Accordingly, the Doryphoros and Athena Parthenos exemplify classical sculpture’s double standard: the masculine was often allowed onto the feminine but could itself never be infected with feminine.

In hermaphrodites anasyromenoi, on the other hand, it is the feminine which is finally allowed onto the masculine; the female’s reproductive role, apotropaic ability, and physical form enter into the previously male-dominated sphere of apotropaic fertility sculptures, echoing a wider cultural and sculptural shift from defeminization to feminization in the post-classical era. I wish, at this point, to make it clear that, because of a lack of sufficient contemporary literary evidence, there is no certain scholarly consensus on the function of these hermaphrodite anasyromenos sculptures in the Greek world, nor is it certain that they figured in the worship of the god-goddess Hermaphroditus.[23] Graeco-Roman attitudes towards real hermaphrodites are well known: children bearing biological signs of both sexes were considered monstrous aberrations and, at least until the Roman Republic period, were exposed at birth.[24] However, this neglect of human hermaphrodites cannot have had too significant a bearing on the hermaphrodite figure’s function in post-classical art where it obviously figured prominently or in post-classical religion where the god-goddess Hermaphroditus was increasingly worshipped. In fact, though literary evidence is lacking, there is strong archaeological evidence to support the claim that Hermaphroditus, the deity perhaps represented by these hermaphrodite anasyromenos figures, was worshipped as an apotropaic fertility god-goddess who combined male and female to form a third, more fertile gender.[25] And if this were true, the god-goddess’ worship, by suggesting that the male’s reproductive and apotropaic abilities be worshipped in union with, rather than over, the female’s abilities, would inevitably point to the development of anti-classical values.The iconographical etiology of the anasyromenos gesture is central to understanding how these hermaphrodite figures might have functioned as apotropaic fertility figures. As Aileen Ajootian writes, “the anasyromenos pose…was not invented in the fourth century BCE. Hermaphrodite figures of this type draw on a much earlier iconographic tradition employed for female divinities.”[26] Images of eastern fertility goddesses on engraved gems or in the form of small-scale terracottas, some of which date as far back as the second millennium BCE, illustrate this pose. Importantly, this long-lasting eastern tradition seems to have entered the Greek world sometime in the 8thor 7th century BCE during the age of colonization; several similar images have been found at various Greek cities and colonies dating from the late Geometric period onwards. Of these, the late fifth century small-scale terracotta found at Gela in Sicily [Fig 5] is particularly noteworthy. This figure lifts her drapery at the waist, revealing her swollen genitals and belly. Her small but emphatic breasts protrude from beneath her drapery. The three crucial sources of the female’s generative and nourishing power–breasts, womb, and vulva –are deliberately called attention to. It is, therefore, fairly reasonable to interpret this figure as a fertility object. Furthermore, Gela was founded by Cretan colonists and Crete, in turn, had long been “a channel for eastern imagery and iconography” to Greece,[27] making this figure’s adoption of the originally eastern anasyromenos pose for fertility purposes all the more plausible.More importantly, the figure’s late fifth century date suggests the possibility that the early fourth century Athenians who first worshipped Hermaphroditus and sculpted hermaphrodites anasyromenoi were aware of the archaic eastern significance of the anasyromenos gesture, having perhaps encountered such fifth-century figures in Sicily or elsewhere in the Greek world, and adapted it to their own fertility practices.[28] The visual congruency between the Gela female and a fourth century hermaphrodite anasyromenos [Fig 1] supports this possibility. Both wear fairly fitted, near-translucent drapery that almost seamlessly merges into flesh at the shoulders and chest, exposing emphatic female breasts; the female form is, therefore, intentionally considered and drawn attention to in both figures. Both deliberately fold up their drapery to reveal genitalia; in both figures, in other words, “costume and pose are [deliberately] linked, depicting a specific moment and, [therefore], a precise message.”[29] The medium is also identical. Both are small-scale, mould-made terracottas; their relative size and material suggests cult-inspired domestic or votive use. The only crucial difference, of course, is that the hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ gesture reveals a phallus, and not a vulva. It would seem, therefore, that the post-classical Greeks adapted this ancient eastern tradition of female iconography to revise their previously male-dominated fertility practices. In other words, the hermaphrodite anasyromenos, by imposing a signifier of female generative power (i.e. the female anasyromenos gesture) on to the eternal signifier of male generative power (i.e. the phallus), develops feminizing or anti-classical values, rejecting the classical-era worship of the male’s reproductive role over, rather than in union with, the female role. In fact, the hermaphrodite anasyromenos literally or physically unites the male and female role. The fact that the native Greek god Priapus, who was doubtless a fertility figure, is increasingly shown performing the anasyromenos gesture in Hellenistic representations equally suggests the Greeks’ knowing adaptation of this female generative gesture onto male generative authority.[30]

The hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ function as a fertility figure and correlated feminizing effect is, therefore, fairly reasonably deduced. But what of its apotropaic potential? Plutarch wrote that apotropaic objects succeeded in warding off evil in part because of their strange or surprising appearance; that which is odd attracts the envious and destructive “Gaze of the Eye….deflecting it from potential victims.”[31] What could be more strange or surprising than the hermaphrodite’s sexual incongruity, made immediately evident via the anasyromenos gesture? The fourth century hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ [Fig 1] specific temporality seems to emphasize this need to surprise the onlooker; she (or he) is caught (or sculpted) mid-reveal, her hands and arms still clearly engaged in the action of pulling up her drapery, which has just now been lifted passed her genitals to expose her surprise. She herself looks down to catch a glimpse of the surprise, thereby further inviting the viewer to behold it. If this viewer happened to be the so-called “evil eye,” it would no doubt be surprised by the hermaphrodite. Therefore, it is not unlikely that hermaphrodites anasyromenoi served as apotropaic objects, allowing the feminine onto this second formerly near-exclusive masculine ability (the first, of course, being generative ability). In fact, hermaphrodites anasyromenoi may have also derived their apotropaic ability from one of their exclusively female aspects, such as their frequently emphatic and sometimes bare or partially bare breasts. Ajootian suggests that female breasts, largely because of their innately nourishing and protective nature, were long thought to possess apotropaic powers.[32] However, these powers were not exploited in classical-era apotropaic sculptures since, as evidenced by the popular herms, only the male’s protective ability, as exemplified by the weapon-like phallus, was considered. Accordingly, hermaphrodites anasyromenoi, by calling attention to and/or revealing female breasts in conjunction with a revealed phallus suggest the worship of the female’s apotropaic abilities in conjunction with the male’s, thereby collapsing the masculine monopoly over protective ability and further developing feminizing and anti-classical values. Further archaeological evidence supports these sculptures’ apotropaic function; an unearthed late Hellenistic-era altar on the Greek island of Kos near modern-day Turkey bears a votive inscription which names the god Hermaphroditus alongside gods who doubtless served fertility and/or apotropaic purposes (e.g. Priapus, the Dioskouri etc), suggesting the god’s role as an apotropaic fertility figure.[33] Furthermore, find spots of hermaphrodite sculptures, especially hermaphrodites anasyromenoi, suggest that, like herms, these figures often “placed in a vulnerable domestic spot”(e.g. the entranceway), as well as in public baths and gymnasia, presumably in order to, again like herms, provide much needed protection.[34] The relationship between hermaphrodites anasyromenoi and herms deserves additional attention, as it further highlights the hermaphrodite’s feminizing and, accordingly, anti-classical effect. Keuls writes that the infamous “Mutilation (actually Castration) of the Herms” in 415BCE “marked the beginning of an overt anti-phallic movement” which permeated the last years of Athens’ classical age.[35] Such growing anti-phallicism conceivably provided a socio-cultural atmosphere ripe for feminization. In fact, though herms survived their mutilation, maintaining an important, though occasionally satirized, public status as apotropaic fertility figures in the post-classical, later Hellenistic and Roman world, they were themselves thereafter subject to feminization, sometimes represented in association with or even as hermaphrodites, especially hermaphrodites anasyromenoi.According to Marie Delcourt Decorum, it is has been commonly suggested that the first ever visual representation of a hermaphrodite figure may have been “a herm bearing the bearded image and erect organ of the [eastern] god Aphroditos” who possessed a woman’s body but a man’s beard and genitals.[36] Although no such statue survives today, some surviving examples of Hellenistic herm statues point to a post-classical tradition of sculpting herms as hermaphrodites or vice versa -that is, of imposing female features onto the previously strictly phallic herm via the figure of a hermaphrodite. A roman marble copy of an originally Hellenistic hermaphrodite anasyromenos as a herm [Fig 6] confirms this Hellenistic combination of herm and hermaphrodite. A mature female bust with emphatic breasts delineated beneath drapery springs from the gradually widening, phallus-equipped pillar of a herm. In this statue, the previously strictly phallic herm has literally given way to the female form, simultaneously giving way to the worship of the female’s apotropaic fertility[37] powers in conjunction with male’s. Accordingly, whereas classical sculpture defeminized, often imposing the masculine onto the feminine, post-classical hermaphrodite sculptures feminized, imposing the feminine onto the masculine. A late Hellenistic sculptural group [Fig 7] further confirms the imposition of femininity onto the previously herm-dominated realm of apotropaic fertility sculptures via the hermaphrodite. Here, a purely round and feminine figure pulls her drapery down and to the side –a kind of revised anasyromenos pose[38]–to reveal a flaccid and especially small phallus. She rests one hand on a young Pan and one on a herm, announcing her matronly authority over both these symbols of masculine fertility. Accordingly, in this sculptural group, the feminine has clearly been considered in conjunction with previously strictly masculine figures and functions and can, perhaps, even be said to have taken precedence over the masculine. One might still ask why the hermaphrodite in post-classical art necessarily represents a shift from defeminization to feminization and not continuing defeminization. Why, in other words, is the hermaphrodite figure more aptly read as a feminized male (in which the female form has been imposed on the male form) and not simply a masculinized female (in which the phallus has been imposed on the female form)? I have already shown how hermaphrodites anasyromenoi, because they function in the previously male-dominated realm of apotropaic fertility sculptures, necessarily represent the allowance of the feminine onto the masculine and not vice versa; in other words, it is not the masculine which has been imposed onto the feminine because the masculine was dominant in the first place. Secondly, Ovid’s first century AD account of Hermaphroditus characterizes the god first and foremost as a feminized male, not a masculinized female[39] and, although Ovid’s myth is contemporary to ancient Rome and has no literary corollary in ancient Greece,[40] it is not unlikely that he is here citing an ancient Greek tradition about Hermaphroditus. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the hermaphrodite figure in art emerges in the context of a wider sculptural movement towards feminization and anti-classicism.As we have already seen, classical-era sculpture defeminized both females and males, often glorifying the male form as the ideal for both sexes and altogether denying the female form. Fourth-century sculpture deviated from this classical paradigm; in c. 350BCE, Praxiteles created the first monumental female nude, Aphrodite of Knidos, a thoroughly non-masculine or feminine figure with soft, wavy hair, prominent round breasts, a softly modeled stomach and wide, emphatically curved hips. Importantly, this new appreciation for the female form affected the sculptural realization of the male form. When considering fourth century sculpture, Margaret Walters writes: “if hitherto the female body had been patterned after the male, so now this new “feminine” feeling for the flesh affects the male nude.”[41] Interestingly, this thoroughly anti-classical feminization of the male body seems to most commonly affect gods associated with fertility and apotropaic abilities: Hermes, Priapus, Dionysus etc. Priapus, already feminized in his adoption of the traditionally female anasyromenos gesture, increasingly adopts a feminine form so that by the second century BCE, “he has the breast of a girl [and] he no longer wears the pointed bonnet…but the mitra, [with] his long hair…drawn into a scarf.”[42] Accordingly, safe from his perpetually erect phallus, he is almost fully female in form. In fact, the second century geographer, Mnaeseas of Patara, confused a representation of Priapus for that of the god Hermaphroditus.[43] Hellenistic sculptural representations of the god Dionysus [Fig 8] commonly invoke the same confusion;[44] his slender, sensual, S-curved, softly (if barely) muscled form stands worlds apart from the classical Polykleitan standard. His hair is long and his pectorals, rounded as they are, look almost like breasts. Feminine features are everywhere allowed. Ultimately, hermaphrodites anasyromenoi may simply be read as carrying the wider feminization of the male’s form and his apotropaic and generative abilities to its final stage. In other words, the post-classical consideration and worship of the female’s form and apotropaic fertility in conjunction with the male’s form and apotropaic fertility is not restricted to sculptural representations of the hermaphrodite, but the hermaphrodite, because it is literally both male and female, inevitably provides the most radical platform for its manifestation. Importantly, the hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ allowance and even imposition of the feminine into previously male-dominated realms had a very real corollary in Hellenistic society where, as Walters notes, “women were given more freedom, and, conversely, men seem to have turned inward to family life…to that whole area of private experience which was associated with the feminine.”[45] Of course, the patriarchy by no means collapsed and the phallus retained its significance in the Hellenistic world as monuments continued to be erected in its worship. However, as the hermaphrodite anasyromenos’ emergence inevitably suggests, the phallus’ dominance was considerably checked by the feminine, its reign considerably softened.

Ajootian, Aileen. “The Only Happy Couple: Hermaphrodites and Gender.” In Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology, ed. Olga Koloski-Ostrow and Claire L. Lyons, 220-242. London; New York: Routledge, 1999.
Berger, Pamela C. The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint. Boston: Beacon Press, 1985.
Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece. London: British Museum Press, 1995.
Brisson, Luc. Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Translated by Janet Lyod. London; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002.
Delcourt, Marie. Hermaphrodite: Myths and Rites of the Bisexual Figure in Classical Antiquity. Translated by Jennifer Nicholson. London: Longacre Press Ltd., 1961.
Keuls, Eva C. The Reign of the Phallus. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1985.
Morford, Mark P.O., and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. 8th ed. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, And Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. New York: Schocken Books, 1975.
Walters, Margaret. The Nude Male: A New Perspective. New York: Paddington Press, 1978.

1 Margaret Walters and Sarah Pomeroy, writing in the mid-late 1970s, both suggest this. Specifically, see: Sarah B. Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, And Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (New York: Schocken Books, 1975), 142-146, and Margaret Walters, “The Classic Nude,” in The Nude Male: A New Perspective (New York: Paddington Press, 1978), 34-58.
2 Aileen Ajootian, “The Only Happy Couple: Hermaphrodites and Gender,” in Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology, ed. Olga Koloski-Ostrow and Claire L. Lyons, 220-242 (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 221.
3 Marie Delcourt, Hermaphrodite: Myths and Rites of the Bisexual Figure in Classical Antiquity, trans. Jennifer Nicholson (London: Longacre Press Ltd., 1961), 63-64.
4 On the archaeological evidence for the gradual diffusion of the originally Athenian Hermaphroditus cult across the Greek world see: Ajootian, 227-229.
5 This is a modern term, deriving from the ancient Greek verb meaning “to pull up one’s clothes.” Ajootian, 224.
6 These later hermaphrodites are known to us exclusively through Roman marble copies and much debate surrounds the factuality of Greek bronze originals which may have been examples of late Hellenistic “genre-sculpture.” See: Delcourt, 55-56. Accordingly, I have restricted my focus to the earlier and (for the most part) securely dated and located Greek hermaphrodites, or anasyromenos-type hermaphrodites of the fourth century and later Hellenistic period.
7 To be sure, I do not mean the appearance of hermaphrodites in sculpture to be understood as a deliberate or intended reaction against Classical values; such an intent would be impossible to prove. The idea is simply to show how these hermaphrodites can be read as developing anti-Classical and, therefore, potentially revolutionary values.
8 Eva C. Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1985), 42. For more on this topic, specifically see Keuls’ chapter, “Attic Mythology: Barren Goddesses, Male Wombs, and the Cult of the Rape,” 33-64.
9 Sue Blundell, Women in Ancient Greece (London: British Museum Press, 1995), 28.
10 Ibid, 40-41.
11 Walters, 57.
12 Pamela C. Berger, The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), 17.
13 Keuls, 2.
14 See: Mark P.O. Morford and Robert J. Lenardon, Classical Mythology, 8th ed. (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 283-284.
15 Herms consisted only of a tall, wide pillar topped with a male (usually, Hermes’) head (making the pillar in and of itself phallus-shaped) and equipped, at the base, with an often erect phallus. Ibid, 284.
16 Walters, 42.
17 I say often (and not always) because, as Walters concedes, “some fifth-century sculptors are obviously attracted to the female body, and use drapery to reveal the contours of the body beneath.” 39.
18 Some scholars have gone so far as to argue that classical sculptors “studied only male anatomy,” putting female heads on clothed male bodies. See: Delcourt, 57.
19 Pomeroy, 146.
20 Keuls, 38.
21 Although this is a Roman marble copy, ancient descriptions of the original Athena 22 Parthenos confirm its relative accuracy. Ibid.
22 Ibid, 39.
23 There are only two extant instances of fourth century textual reference to the cult of Hermaphroditus: a very early fourth century inscription to Hermaphroditus found in an Athenian suburb, and a very late fourth century mention of a votive offering to Hermaphroditus in Theophrastus’ Characters (c. 300BCE). See: Luc Brisson, Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, trans. Janet Lyod (Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2002), 50-56.
24 Brisson suggests that hermaphrodites were exposed because they threatened “all social organization;” their dual sexuality made reproduction unlikely and, therefore, undermined the central institution of family, 7.
25 Aileen Ajootian and Marie Delcourt both present thorough arguments for this statement. I will be following their example.
26 Ajootian, 223.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid, 223-224.
29 Ibid, 224.
30 Delcourt, 63-65.
31 Ajootian, 230; Ajootian draws from Plutarch’s Quaestiones Convivalis (“Table Talk”) 5.7.681.e.
32 Ibid.
33 Ibid, 229.
34 Ajootian, 233. Also, see page 230.
35 Keuls, 13. The night before Athens was to launch an expedition against Sicily, many of the city’s herms were defaced and castrated.
36 Ibid.
37 On her head, the hermaphrodite anasyromenos carries a kalathos or fruit basket, further associating her with fertility. Delcourt, 64.
38 Ibid.
39 Brisson, 57-60.
40 For example, Ovid’s explanation of Hermaphroditus as the child of Hermes and Aphrodite is, as far as we know, his own invention – an effort, perhaps, to explain the name. Delcourt, 46.
41 Walters, 53.
42 Delcourt, 51.
43 Ibid.
44 Ibid, 24.
45 Walters, 52.