Ariadne: Resources for Athenaze


Viewing the Other through the Eyes of Women


Both Aeschylus in the Persians and Herodotus in the Histories use women to articulate differences between the Greeks and Persians. In the Persians, Atossa has two dreams about the Battle of Salamis and then hears a lengthy description of the Battle of Salamis reported by a messenger.

What two dreams does Atossa, Xerxes' mother, have that portend the fate of the Persians? How are the Persians depicted? the Greeks?

What language does the messenger use to characterize the winning Greeks versus the defeated Persians at the Battle of Salamis (Athenaze, pp. 296-97)?

In Herodotus 8.68 (Chapter 15 Reading), Artemisia enjoins the King not to fight at Salamis. In arguing that the Greeks will submit if he just keeps driving on to the Peloponnese, Artemisia compares the Persians to women and the Greeks to men and then later speaks of Xerxes' army as so many bad slaves and the Great King as a good master. What effect do these comparisons have on the reader's perceptions of the Persians? Why are these images put into the mouth of a woman?

Finally, Attic vase painting (Chapter 14 Images) depicting Greeks and Persians shows differences between the two armies. Compare how the Persians and Greeks are clothed and armed.

In short, how do these Athenian sources define Greeks in contrast to Persians? What imagery and specific language do these sources use to define Persia as “the Other?” How close to reality are these descriptions, based on what we know of Persian culture? To what extent do U.S. media depict people from the Middle East today in similar ways?



Classical Studies
Cornell College

Last Update: February 18, 2016 8:09 pm
John Gruber-Miller