n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Gender and religion in Theocritus, 15 : prattling tourists at the

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Modern scholars such as Davies, Griffiths and Burton, influenced by feminist literary criticism, have argued that Theocritus' 15 is an exploration of the experience and attitudes of two Syracusan women at an Alexandrian version of the . In this paper, I argue that Theocritus, as a male poet inheriting, from comedy and mime, a tradition of representing women at religious festivals, does not give us the women's perspective, but constructs a parody of women's perspectives of a religious festival, which extends to the hymn performed at the as well, perhaps for the entertainment of his cultured audience. In short, Theocritus sends up the women's superficial religiosity, rather than uses the poem as a means to express genuine female religious experience. It is also suggested that Theocritus, acutely aware of the cultural tensions generated by the Ptolemies' flirtation with Egyptian cultural practices, does not offend Arsinoe with his parody, but attempts to be as subtle and diplomatic as possible.


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