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Title: The female voice in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica
Author: Finkmann, Simone
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis adopts a mixed-method approach of quantitative and qualitative analysis to discuss the role of women, especially female speakers and addressees, in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica. In addition to the traditional individual mortal and divine speech roles, discourse categories such as the influence of the Muses, the presentation of female personifications, female collectives, frame and inserted speakers, and goddesses in disguise are also taken into consideration. The study shows that, despite the shared subject matter and greatly overlapping ensemble of speakers, Valerius makes significant changes in nearly all categories of female speech representation. Valerius entirely omits some of Apollonius’ female speech acts, reduces speeches from oratio recta to mere speech summaries, replaces Greek goddesses with similar, but not equivalent Roman speakers, assigns new speech roles to previously silent female characters, adds important new episodes with female speakers that do not occur in Apollonius’ epic, changes the speech contexts, the conversational behaviour and the overall characterization of speakers – in isolated individual instances as well as in more complex character portrayals. Valerius even modifies or transfers entire discourse patterns such as conversational deceit in speech and silence, or divine disguise, from one speaker group to another, usually of the opposite sex. Valerius transforms the Apollonian arrangement of a male-dominated, 'epic' first half following the invocation of Apollo and a second female, 'elegiac' half with many female speech acts and epiphanies, after a revision of the narrator’s relationship with the Muses, into a more traditional portrayal of the Muses and a much more balanced occurrence and continued influence of female speakers. The different female voices of the Argonautica, especially Juno, can continuously be heard in the Flavian epic and provide the reader with an alternative perspective on the events. Even the less prominent female speakers are part of a well-balanced and refined structural arrangement and show influences of several pre-texts, which they sometimes self-consciously address and use to their advantage. There can be no doubt that, like Apollonius, Valerius does not merely use female speech acts to characterise the male protagonists, but follows a clear structuring principle. Whereas Apollonius in accordance with his revised invocation of the Muses concentrates the female speech acts in the second half of his epic, especially the final book, Valerius links episodes and individual characterizations through same-sex and opposite-sex speaker doublets and triplets that can be ascribed to and explained by Jupiter’s declaration of the Fata. From Juno’s unofficial opening monologue to Medea’s emotional closing argument, the female voice accompanies and guides the reader through the epic. The female perspective is not the dominant view, but rather one of many perspectives (divine, mortal, female, male, old, young, servant, ruler, et al.) that complement the primary viewpoint of the poet and the male, mortal protagonists and offer an alternative interpretation.
Supervisor: Leigh, Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Latin ; Classical Greek ; Valerius Flaccus ; Apollonius Rhodius ; Flavian Epic ; Greco-Roman Epic ; Speech ; Silence ; Quantitative Analysis ; Narratology ; Gender Studies