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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: November 2020

Chapter 6 - Agency, Narrative, and the Dancing Girl

Summary

Chapter Six focuses on the figure of the orchēstris (sympotic female dancer) in the Greek cultural and literary imagination. Since these women have received little attention as a distinct category of performer, I begin by surveying both visual and textual evidence to build up an understanding of how orchēstrides were eroticized, objectified, and largely silenced by extant Greek sources. I then argue that both Xenophon’s Symposium and Theopompus’ On the Funds Plundered from Delphi use the figure of the orchēstris to address questions about gender, social order, agency, and authority. I show that these two strikingly different texts (philosophical and historical) both hint at the unsettling power of the attractive yet unruly female dancer.