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Women at the Mercy of Men

Simon Goldhill: Greek Gynaecology, 4 March 1999

Hippocrates’ Women: Reading the Female Body in Ancient Greece 
by Helen King.
Routledge, 322 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 415 13895 7
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... There is a disease which affects young girls, particularly around the onset of menstruation. It is known colloquially as ‘the horrors’, and its symptoms are evident. The disease makes adolescent girls violently aggressive, and commands them ‘to leap around, to fall down into wells and to hang themselves’ – to ‘take on a desire for death, as if it were a good thing ...

Take old urine and slag iron

Simon Goldhill: Magic in the ancient world, 3 September 1998

Magic in the Ancient World 
by Fritz Graf.
Harvard, 318 pp., £23.50, February 1998, 0 674 54151 0
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... Greece has its canonical witches. There is Medea, barbarian and jilted lover, with her flaming poisons. Homer’s Circe, often allegorised as a figure of lust, who turns Odysseus’ men into pigs and takes him to bed for a year. In the Alexandrian poet, Theocritus, the deserted Simaetha, a petit-bourgeois woman, is desperate to enchant her lover back to her bed ...

Cures for Impotence

James Davidson, 19 October 1995

Foucault’s Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality 
by Simon Goldhill.
Cambridge, 194 pp., £30, January 1995, 0 521 47372 1
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... challenge universalising notions of sexuality depends on universalising interpretations of sex. As Simon Goldhill shows in his subtle and complex new book, Foucault’s Virginity, antiquity was not immune to the argument from nature, although there it turns up in strange and unexpected guises that might not be familiar to modern sociobiologists. In a ...

Oh, you clever people!

Tom Crewe: The Unrelenting Bensons, 20 April 2017

A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion and the Bensons in Victorian Britain 
by Simon Goldhill.
Chicago, 337 pp., £24.50, October 2016, 978 0 226 39378 0
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... should be left at his side.) Or perhaps it is both simpler and more complicated. ‘Writing,’ Simon Goldhill declares in his slippery new book about the Bensons, ‘is a pathological response to being in a family.’ There are​ other questions worth asking. Why do we care? What exactly is the point of the Bensons? ‘A very odd brotherhood,’ the ...

An Easy Lay

James Davidson: Greek tragedy, 30 September 1999

Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy 
edited by Simon Goldhill and Robin Osborne.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £45, June 1997, 0 521 64247 7
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The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy 
edited by P.E. Easterling.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £14.95, October 1997, 0 521 42351 1
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Tragedy in Athens: Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning 
by David Wiles.
Cambridge, 130 pp., £13.95, August 1999, 0 521 66615 5
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... Renaissance London or Sixties Indonesia or an Internet discussion-group, in its performativity? Simon Goldhill, editor of an extremely diverse collection, conscientiously emphasises the ‘different levels and sites’ of Athenian performance, its ‘complexity and range’, ‘so much more dynamic than many of the cases that have been used in ...


James Davidson: Apollonios Rhodios, 5 March 1998

Apollonios Rhodios: The Argonautika 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 480 pp., £45, November 1997, 0 520 07686 9
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... rode up in the Eighties. Chief among the leaders of this mission are the Cambridge classicists Simon Goldhill and Richard Hunter, who has written a book on Apollonius (The ‘Argonautica’ of Apollonius: Literary Studies, 1993) as well as producing a scholarly edition of Book Three and a translation of the whole thing (which is ...


Marina Warner: Medea, 3 December 2015

... held but a flap of skin, the head swung loose to the side as Lycon slumped down to the ground. Simon Goldhill, who advised the creators of the event, told us at the start that what was being done ‘was remarkably Greek’, that at the Great Panathenaia, Homer was recited in the theatre on the Acropolis. The sound of these works matters; the harmony ...

Speaking up for Latin and Greek

Mary Beard, 9 May 1991

Changes in the Roman Empire: Essays in the Ordinary 
by Ramsay MacMullen.
Princeton, 399 pp., $35, December 1990, 0 691 03601 2
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... cannot be seen as the enemy of history; if anything, they are part and parcel of the same subject. Simon Goldhill’s Reading Greek Tragedy, for example, published in 1986, is a book born out of the tradition of the ‘new’ Classical philology. It does not claim to be a work of history, but by showing how Athenian drama acted as a privileged arena for ...

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