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Of men and gods : a study of masculinities represented by select characters in attic black-figure ceramics.

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Is a question that has troubled scholars working in the Classics since the formalisation of masculinity as a field of study, this question has a central place in the current study. What troubles scholars is that the very nature of our understanding of masculinity is subjective, premised upon the way in which it operates in the modern societies. It is an understanding that is typically explored through the written word, with a stronger emphasis on social and cultural determinates. The problem then arises as to how we interpret sources from the ancient world, without subjecting them to modern bias, and in the case of the topic of this dissertation, how we treat a period where there is a paucity of literature. This dissertation argues for an alternate theory for the conceptualisation of masculinities for Late Archaic Athens, centring its focus on the rich corpus of Athenian Black-figure ceramics, by testing this theory with two of its popular characters, namely Herakles and Dionysos. At the core of this theory is a reorientation of sources, by focusing on the images rendered on the ceramics as a central resource. To forward this argument, I first suggest a model for the interpretation of general meaning, based on theories borrowed from the study of modern media, and secondly suggest a practical model for the interpretation of masculine meaning reflected in these ceramics by examining masculine markers and ranges of masculinity depicted on them. Both models seek to create a more inclusive understanding of masculinity, supported by investigation and comparison of other visual media of the period, as well as influential literature on the subject.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2014.


Masculinity -- Religious aspects., Masculinity in art., Vases, Black-figured., Theses -- Classics.