"Predatory" Goddesses

by Mary R. Lefkowitz

Hesperia, Volume 71, Issue 4
Page(s): 325-344
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3182040
Year: 2002


It is often assumed that depictions on Attic vases of the goddess Eos carrying off young mortals were meant to convey a strong negative message about the dangers of female sexuality. But can we be sure that the myths about Eos and her lovers, like those of abductions of mortals by other gods, were intended as commentaries on human sexual conduct? Goddesses (unlike women) are immortal, ageless, and powerful. Evidence from the ancient sources suggests instead that depictions of abductions by Eos were meant to represent both the romance and anguish of divine interventions into mortal life, and to remind their users of the inexorable power of the gods.