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Athena and Herakles a Divine Couple? The Use Of Ancient Sexual Artistic Conventions In Context


This paper seeks to contextualize the representations of the relationship of Athena and Herakles in art within the established cultural and artistic practices and the artistic conventions employed to convey meaning. Artistic representations of Athena and Herakles repeatedly make use of sexually charged types in extant art, with Athena frequently reversing gender norms and seemingly establishing herself as a sexually dominant partner of Herakles. Such artistic representations appear at odds with extant literary sources, and may represent unknown narratives, or interpretations of extant myths. Possible readings of these sexualized representations of Athena and Herakles’ relationship are potentially numerous, but they show that their relationship was considered to exceed that of the patron-hero relationship – if only in popular representation.

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