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Durham e-Theses
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The secret life of statues; ancient agalmatophilia narratives

Weddle, Polly (2006) The secret life of statues; ancient agalmatophilia narratives. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Images in antiquity had a complex and yet crucial role both within the social nexus, and also the literary imagination. The response of agalmatophilia, that is, a physically sexual response, is described in a variety of types of narrative, and is found in a wide range of (almost entirely fictional) literary sources throughout antiquity. This thesis considers the ways in which agalmatophilia was dealt with in these narratives, and why stories of agalmatophilia were told at all. Tales of agalmatophilia highlight the way in which the image could take on numerous roles in antiquity, and the importance of the existence of images for occupying a cultural space that could not be filled by anything else. In addition, the narratives combined create a picture of ancient discourses on the role and function of the relationships between images and society, as well as individuals. The thesis covers the cultural conditions that allowed images to be perceived as potential sexual partners, the ways an individual performing agalmatophilia could be described and understood, and the responsibility of those creating and responding to images. It argues that agalmatophilia narratives set up the image as existing on the boundaries of the ancient world, and as objects almost impossible to categorise, because of their unlimited potential in conceptual terms. These ideas are all considered with the aim of understanding why agalmatophilia narratives existed, what cultural space they filled, and how the stories can illuminate the multifarious role of the image in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:29

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