Acting Other: Atossa And Instability In Herodotus

Classical Quarterly 57 (2):432-444 (2007)

Authors
Yancy Dominick
Seattle University
Abstract
In an attempt to examine the notion of unstable difference in Herodotus as part of the presentation of an unstable world, this article focuses on the stories involving Atossa, Darius’ wife. In the stories of Atossa, obvious markers of difference appear, only to come into question, especially in Herodotus’ stories. Never in these stories, though, does Herodotus completely subvert the audience’s expectations of sexual or cultural difference—the differences between men and women become unstable in the stories,yet those differences do persist. In presenting stories like those of Atossa, Herodotus confronts his reader with a complex and unstable world. By refusing to add artificial stability to his narrative, Herodotus allows his reader the experience of that world in all of its complexity.
Keywords Herodotus  Atossa  women  gender
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DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0009838807000481
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