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  5. Feminine homoerotism: amphora and figure of Artemis

Feminine homoerotism: amphora and figure of Artemis

Floor 2, Room 36, Showcase 36.28. Artemis. The Pan Painter Amphora and Artemis the Huntress
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Pulse para ampliar Detalle de la Copa de las heteras. Vitrina 36.11. El simposio de las heteras

We end the Greek leg of our journey in front of two representations of the goddess Artemis, one on a red-figured amphora and the other in the form of a terracotta figure. Artemis, protector of childhood, and goddess of the moon and hunting, had chosen not to have any sexual relations with men, yet she had a retinue of young women with whom she was erotically linked.

The divine biography of Artemis is one of the few mythical voices that give us a glimpse into female homoeroticism. Female sexuality, like almost everything related to women in Greek culture, was subordinated to male sexuality, and occupied a minimal place in the sources. The social norm was that the unmarried free female citizen should be chaste, the married woman should only have sexual relations with her husband, and the female slave should put her body at the disposal of her masters. Nevertheless, lyric poetry has left us some testimonies of eroticism between women. The most famous examples are found in the work of Sappho, where the poet expresses intense erotic feelings towards other women. Also the poet Alcman, in his Parthenias, presents a chorus of adolescent women who express powerful feelings of attraction and desire towards the young Astumeloisa. Even the aforementioned Anacreon describes in one of his poems how a young woman rejected him while standing "open-mouthed" in front of another female. All these poems, moreover, were not private compositions, but rather intended to be sung publicly.

Aside from the already mentioned examples, it is true that there are very few mentions of female homoerotic desire, both in written sources and in iconography, where the images of hetaerae sometimes convey eroticism between women (see the Symposium of the Hetaerae vessel, showcase 11, in front of the cross-dressing symposiasts).

Next Qr. Floor 1, Room 19, Showcase 19.3 >