Steve Fineberg, Szold Distinguished Professor of Classics
“Theseus and the Krommyon Sow”
Friday, Sept. 28 – 4:15 p.m.
Round Room (refreshments beginning at 4 p.m.)
About the talk, Fineberg says: “This talk examines a striking moment in the mythological biography of the Athenian hero Theseus. As Plutarch tell us, the heroic deeds of Theseus, who appeared in Athens in the late 6th century B.C.E., were modeled on the famous labors of Herakles, the Pan-Hellenic hero of Archaic Greece (7th-6th centuries B.C.E). Among his labors, Herakles engaged in mortal combat with a wild boar that was ravaging the countryside; Theseus, however, battles not a male boar but a sow (female), and this innovation is especially striking in the vase paintings of fifth century Athens. To explain this surprising innovation, I draw upon both literary and visual evidence (sculpture and painted vases), and – be warned – my interpretive strategies are psychoanalytic. Finally I test my results against historical events in the city itself, because myth, as I understand it, is an expression of psychic conflict, not simply of an individual, but of the culture within which it takes form.”