Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Classics

Advisor

Danielle Kellogg

Committee Members

Jennifer Roberts

David Schur

Barbara Kowalzig

Subject Categories

Classical Literature and Philology | Near Eastern Languages and Societies

Keywords

cannibalism, mythology, ancient greece, ancient near east

Abstract

For several decades, scholars have read cannibalism in ancient texts as an ethnographic and rhetorical strategy to marginalize, minimize, demonize, or otherwise denigrate ‘the Other.’ It is seen as a characteristic of the wild, the savage, the uncivilized, and the bestial, something one attributes only to other people. This project challenges that assertion. In situating the many varied references to eating people in ancient Greek, Near Eastern, and Roman literature within their historical and generic contexts, I provide an alternative reading of the purpose of these accusations and stories. I argue that consumption of another is a statement of power, and those who can consume freely or dictate the strictures of another’s diet hold the most immense power. This underlying quality forms the core of the various established topoi in antiquity, which are employed in different ways according to their function in a text, the genre of the text, and even the language and culture in which that text is written.

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