- ジェンダー史学 (ISSN:18804357)
- vol.3, pp.57-64, 2007 (Released:2011-11-01)
This paper discusses the negative images of women that served to maintain the status quo of masculinity in ancient Greece through the usage of the term Φαρμακον (medicinal herb). The Greek term Φαρμακον, which refers to a medicinal herb, also implies a toxic drug (poison), a curse and a spell. Examples of such herbs include μωλν (fabulous herb), μανδραγορας (belladonna) and πανακεια (universal remedy). In ancient Greece, when men used the term Φαρμακον, it simply meant "medicinal herb" of the sort used to cure injuries sustained during war. The men who could treat injuries with medicinal herbs possessed intelligence as well as medical knowledge and skill; thus Φαρμακον in this context implied the pure meaning of medicinal herb. Conversely, in ancient Greece women who used medicinal herbs to seduce men were described as witches. Therefore, when women used the term Φαρμακον, it implied herbs such as φαρμακαλνγρα (noxious medicine) that contain toxins and consequently, Φαρμακον was used to describe a spell or curse. In other words, the term implied a way of deceiving men or a special device used to fulfill some women's greed. Dialogue of Circe in Homer's Odyssey and Medea in Euripides' Medea contain such witch-like images of women who manipulated toxic herbs. This paper considers an episode involving Circe in which Φα ρμακον is used as a toxic herb by women and explores various portrayals of Circe ranging from sexual goddess to prostitute. By comparing the usage and implications of the term Φα ρμακον, the paper illustrates the two distinctively polarized images: men, who act rationally, and women, who act irrationally. The paper concludes that these opposing images of men and women, which were disseminated by appealing to theater and court audiences, as well as through rumor, seem to have served the function of maintaining the status quo of masculinity in ancient Greek society.