Mapping Ancient Women: An Analysis of the Catalogue of Heroines Through the Digital Humanities
Date of Thesis
The Catalogue of Heroines (Odyssey 11.225-330) presents a thorough corpus of prominent mythological women as Odysseus recounts the stories of each woman he encounters in the Underworld. In this thesis I apply digital humanities tools and methods to the Catalogue of Heroines in order to center ancient women in a discussion of the Odyssey and to determine how the relationships between the heroines contribute to the Catalogue’s overall purpose. First, I examine the history of the digital humanities with particular attention to contributions to the field made by classicists; I identify the need for further digital humanities projects centered around women; and then select the digital humanities methods most applicable to my investigation of the Catalogue: close reading through text encoding and social network analysis. I next develop my own detailed feminist translation of the Catalogue. I then demonstrate how my close reading of the text using Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) standards, and the prosopography I developed through that reading, reveals complex connections, both explicit and implied, among characters and places of the Catalogue. Using my TEI close reading and prosopography, I analyze the genealogies laid out in the Catalogue, revealing how every heroine in the Catalogue is linked to the others. Through the TEI close reading I also demonstrate how the four man-made objects of the Catalogue, ζώνη (girdle), βρόχοs (noose), ἕδνα (bride-price), and χρυσὸs (gold), reveal the ancient Greek stigma surrounding women, sexuality, and fidelity. Finally, I use social network analysis to create a network graph through which I demonstrate that the genealogy of the Catalogue of Heroines isolates and excludes Thebes, demonstrating an anti-Theban bias and favoring the Theban enemy cities of Orchomenos and Athens. Ultimately, by applying these digital humanities methods, I conclude that the Catalogue of Heroines has three distinct purposes: to warn its audience about the infidelity and corruptibility of women; to isolate and condemn Thebes in contrast with other ancient Greek cities; and to elevate Odysseus’ status by tying him to prominent mythological lineages. In these ways, I am presenting new pathways that can assist other classicists to center women in ancient texts.
Odyssey, women, TEI, network, catalogue
Bachelor of Arts
Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Milio, Rachel, "Mapping Ancient Women: An Analysis of the Catalogue of Heroines Through the Digital Humanities" (2022). Honors Theses. 635.