College of LAS Events

Back to Listing

If you will need disability-related accommodations in order to participate, please email the contact person for the event.
Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time to meet your access needs.

"Philoctetes the Lemnian: Myth, Landscape, Gender, & Pharmacology"

Event Type
Classics // Professor Clara Bosak-Schroeder
Nov 5, 2021   2:00 pm  
Professor Ella Haselswerdt (UCLA)
Clara Bosak-Schroeder
Originating Calendar
Department of the Classics

This talk examines Sophocles’ Philoctetes from an ecofeminist perspective, arguing that the setting of the island of Lemnos is crucial to the play’s depiction of its central figure. Philoctetes is deeply entangled with not only the material ecology of the island, but also its mythic ecology, in particular the stories of the murderous (and in some versions, odiferous) Lemnian Women, the god Hephaestus and his malodorous forge, and of the indigenous Pelasgians. All of these elements coalesce to present Philoctetes as a repulsive, smelly menstruating woman, one whose porous body transgresses boundaries and therefore must be isolated and purified.

The talk concludes with a discussion of what Prof. Haselswerdt terms the play’s “pharmacological reception,” the emergence of “Lemnian Earth” as a popular remedy in the Greco-Roman medical tradition, one that is employed to manage porous, dripping, and unruly bodies – that is, feminized bodies – in particular those afflicted by excessive menstruation and snakebites. The commodification of Lemnian Earth as a pharmakon will correlate with a profound shift in the way Roman authors construct narratives around the hero Philoctetes.

Email or for Zoom link and password

link for robots only