The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece (Corporealities: Discourses Of Disability)

The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece (Corporealities: Discourses Of Disability)

Martha L. Rose

Language: English

Pages: 168

ISBN: 0472035738

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Ancient Greek images of disability permeate the Western consciousness: Homer, Teiresias, and Oedipus immediately come to mind. But The Staff of Oedipus looks at disability in the ancient world through the lens of disability studies, and reveals that our interpretations of disability in the ancient world are often skewed. These false assumptions in turn lend weight to modern-day discriminatory attitudes toward disability.
Martha L. Rose considers a range of disabilities and the narratives surrounding them. She examines not only ancient literature, but also papyrus, skeletal material, inscriptions, sculpture, and painting, and draws upon modern work, including autobiographies of people with disabilities, medical research, and theoretical work in disability studies. Her study uncovers the realities of daily life for people with disabilities in ancient Greece and challenges the translation of the term adunatos (unable) as "disabled," with all its modern associations.
















verbal commu­ nication that accompanies it. A review of the Greek medical under­ standing of deafness, as well as medical and nonmedical treatments for deafness, will illuminate Greek attitudes toward deaf people . One deaf boy, who was not even Greek, is hardly representative of the portion of the ancient Greek population that was hearing impaired, as the following etiological survey suggests . Environmental and hered­ itary causes of deafness in the modern world also existed in the ancient

meanings. As embodied in the words of !socrates, language was the hallmark of human achievement: And Athens it is that has honored eloquence, which men all crave and envy in its possessors; for she realized that this is the one endowment of our nature which singles us out from all living creatures, and that by using this advantage we have risen above them in all other respects as well; she saw that in other activities the fortunes of life are so capricious that in them often the wise fail and the

"Women and Men in Classical Greece, " in Pandora: Women in Classical Greece, ed. Ellen D . Reeder (Baltimore : Trustees of the Wal­ ters Art Gallery and Princeton University Press, 1995 ), 26, points out. 4 3 · As discussed by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, "Female Speech and Female Sexuality: Euripides' Hippolytus as Model," Helios 1 3 , no . 2 ( r986) : 127-40. 44· As narrated by Robert Bogdan, Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press,

Clearly through Fuzzy Speech," Sign Language Studies 82 (spring 1994 ) : 90. 46. Robert E . Johnson and Carol Erring, "Ethnicity and Socialization in a Classroom for Deaf Children," in The Sociolinguistics of the Deaf Community, ed. C . Lucas (New York: Academic Press, r989 ) , 43, 49 · 122 NOTES T O PAGES 7 3 -7 4 � 47· M. C. Da Cunha Pereira and C. De Lemos, " Gesture in Hearing Mother-Deaf Child Interaction," in From Gesture to Language in Hearing and Deaf Children, ed. V. Volterra and

that the speech was intended to be read before the B oule . 3 · Plutarch Solon 3 r probably refers t o the origins o f this dole when reporting the Athenian law-that anyone maimed in war should be maintained by the state-as one that the sixth-century tyrant Peisistratus devised. Plutarch tells us that the fourth-century B . C . writer Heracleides of Pontus offers a conflicting report in which Peisistratus's law was not original but based on Solon's support of one such man maimed in war,

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