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In this paper, I will examine the changing gender roles of women as the Athenian government changes from a tyranny in the Archaic period to a democracy in the Classical period by comparing a Black-Figure Amphora, which depicts an image of Achilles Killing Penthesilea, by Exekias and a Red-Figure Column Krater, which depicts an image of an Amazon on Side A and an unidentified figure on Side B, by Eupolis. The creation of democracy was not the universal celebration that it is often praised to be in modern times. I will demonstrate this through a visual analysis of how the iconography of the Amazon shifts from being represented in the likeness of the goddesses, Artemis and Athena, to a portrayal of the Amazons as the Persian enemy. This shift in iconography mirrors the shift that occurred for the respect and to some extent power that was afforded to Athenian women, especially those of an upper-class background. My comparative analysis utilizes the works of gender and feminist scholars such as Beth Cohen, Larissa Bonfante,Laura Mulvey and Judith Butler. Both Cohen and Bonfante argue that the Amazons are representations of the weakness and struggle of women; however, using their methodology I construct an argument that counters this point of view. At first the Amazons were shown with power, power that they gained from the goddesses, Artemis and Athena; however, through the manipulation of their iconography the Amazons as Persians began to represent women as barbarians and as others. Lastly, utilizing the work of Mulvey and Butler, I will examine how the gaze and mindset of the viewer changes the perception of Amazon iconography.

Document Type



Gender, Iconography, Greek Vase Painting


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Archaeology and Art History | History | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


29 pages


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