Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths

Bold Type: Hachette. Apr. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781568589350. $26. SOC SCI
Those who pick up classicist Morales’s (Argyropoulos Chair in Hellenic Studies, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction) book on the strength of its evocative title might find themselves both enlivened and slightly disappointed. Morales’s knowledge of myths is apparent, as is her passion for the power of ancient stories combined with modern issues—chapters on Beyoncé’s deliberate use of goddess imagery in contrast to earlier racist examples of “black Venuses” and on myths that speak to LGBTQ people are standouts. Three of the eight chapters center not on myths at all but on the Greek play Lysistrata, the treatises of Hippocrates, and the gynaeconomi or “women controllers” of ancient Greece. Nearly as much attention is given to how myths help establish and enforce harmful modern behaviors (diets, dress codes, physical and sexual violence against women) as to the potentially subversive aspects of myths and their reclamation by women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals. The result is an entertaining, thoughtful read that also requires some adjustment of expectations.
VERDICT Most appropriate for readers seeking a spirited, concise look at intersections of Greek and Roman myths and current social concerns.

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