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Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVI, 1982: Heracles: The Supermasculine and the Feminine. Nicole Loraux. Pp. 697-729.. Psychoanal Q., 56:592-593.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVI, 1982: Heracles: The Supermasculine and the Feminine. Nicole Loraux. Pp. 697-729.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:592-593

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVI, 1982: Heracles: The Supermasculine and the Feminine. Nicole Loraux. Pp. 697-729.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Loraux focuses on what the myth would have meant to a Greek audience. She explores everything in the myth of the virile Greek hero, Heracles, that suggests femininity. Her approach discounts critics from Aristotle onward who have seen the myth as a composite, unified solely by the name of the hero. Loraux believes instead that there is a unity to Heracles. She proposes to define the heroic temperament as unitary through all its contradictions. She reviews the various Heracles legends, emphasizing the obvious ambivalences which characterize the hero: his misogyny and his appetite for women; his heroic exploits and his predilections for soft beds and hot baths; his invincibility as against his sufferings and insoluble quandaries. Loraux's

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focus is on the compulsive masculinity and its relationship to femininity. There are also themes of Heracles' subservience to women, for from his birth to his death women presided over his fate (Omphale, Deianira, and Hera). In some aspects of the myth Heracles is "femininized"; for example, the theme of Heracles as a glutton opens up the rich associative chains which link the Greek words used to refer to his gluttony with femininity. Loraux finds links between Heracles' lion cloak and the feminine garment called the peplos. the feminine aspect of the hero can be seen throughout the myth, including his donning of Deianira's fatal gift which brought about his death. Loraux examines the name "Heracles" for its associations for a Greek audience, including its relationship to Hera and to Hera's breasts. This approach suggests some answers to the classical question of Heracles' submission to Hera's aggression. They were adversaries too well matched to do without each other. Loraux acknowledges that in examining this vast amount of material, including epic texts, tragedy and comedy, Hellenistic poetry, vase figures, and information about cults, one runs the risk of losing sight of the myth itself. It is necessary to preserve the historicity of each document employed. She therefore tries to ask the questions that a historian of the Greek imagination might ask. In interpreting a myth, one often presupposes a similarity between our modern position and the Greek discourse; Loraux rejects this assumption of similarity and tries to follow the Greek paths of associations, refusing to reconstruct Heracles on a psychological foundation supposedly shared by all.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLVI, 1982. Psychoanal. Q., 56:592-593

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