Women in Myth

By Bettina L. Knapp

Subjects: Women's Studies
Paperback : 9780791431641, 270 pages, December 1996
Hardcover : 9780791431634, 270 pages, December 1996

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Table of contents



1. Isis: Harmony of Flesh/Spirit/Logos

2. Enuma Elish: The Feminine Maligned

3. Deborah:Judge/Prophet/Poet/Military Leader

4. Euripides' Iphigenia: Marriage or Sacrificial Altar?

5. Herodias/Salome: Mother/Daughter Identification

6. Virgil's Aeneid: Let Us Sing of Arms and Women—Dido and Camilla

7. Japan's Sun Goddess: The Divine Amaterasu

8. China's Fragmented Goddess Images

9. The Ramayana: Sita Sanctified





Explores the role played by women in ancient societies through the analysis of specific myths from nine different lands.


In Women in Myth, Bettina L. Knapp explores the role played by women in ancient societies through analysis of specific myths from nine different lands. The author probes issues as to how figures such as Isis, Tiamat, Dido, Camilla, Deborah, Iphigenia, Salome, Sita, Amaterasu, Nü-Kwa, and others—some of whom were goddesses—fared. She discusses their abilities and their outlooks, whether their views were gender oriented or androgynous, whether they were deprived of the most basic human rights or excluded from the highest functions of religious worship. Knapp explores whether or not these women had done battle, led armies, founded states, ruled lands, or experienced identity crises. She allows the reader to establish parallels as well as dichotomies between the lives of ancient and contemporary women. The reliving of specific episodes from thousands of years ago as reported in the great myths brings insights into certain relationships and sheds light on events and their ramifications in today's home and workplace.

Bettina L. Knapp is Professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her past work includes numerous books, among them, That Was Yvette: A Biography of Yvette Guilbert (coauthored); Jean Racine, Mythos and Renewal in Modern Theatre; Gertrude Stein; Images of Chinese Women: A Westerner's View; Images of Japanese Women: A Westerner's View; The Brontës, Emily Dickinson; Liliane Atlan; and Women in Twentieth-Century Literature: A Jungian View.


"The eclectic choice of myths is fascinating and so is the author's readings of these myths. The author's broad knowledge and complete mastery of her subject make this an enlightening and engaging book." — Susan Dunn, Williams College

"The book reflects an encyclopedic knowledge of world mythology and a richly intuitive grasp of its significance and of the hidden messages it contains. It then takes all this ancient material and uses it to shed light on a contemporary issue of the utmost interest and relevance, namely the status of women in our society, and in preceding societies as reflected in myth." — Patrick Brady, University of Tennessee, Knoxville