Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Classics

First Advisor

Prof. Diane Conlin

Abstract

Images of the Judgment of Paris and images of Helen became popular in Etruscan art from the Archaic Period through the Classical Period, especially as depicted on female possessions for personal adornment and marriage, namely Etruscan bronze hand-mirrors. Images of the Judgment of Paris and of Helen were assimilated into Etruscan iconography, and perhaps Etruscan mythology, with meanings unique to elite Etruscan women, who seemed to have chosen specific imagery relevant for personal display on their possessions. This thesis demonstrates that Paris Alexandros and Helen were highly revered and idolized by elite Etruscan women. In Etruscan art, images of Paris lexandros and Helen were recontextualized to symbolize and complement culturally-important ideals and values prominent in aristocratic society: love, family, marriage and fertility. I argue that Etruscan representations of the Judgment of Paris were popularized by Etruscan women as a symbol of love and marriage. I argue that Helen became an icon to elite women, who desired to emulate her beauty and opulent lifestyle, as it is recounted by Homer, Hesiod, the poets of the Cypria and attested by her imagery on painted Greek vases. Furthermore, based on the iconography of Paris Alexandros, Helen and their elationship depicted on women’s adornment-mirrors, I argue that their marriage was celebrated by Etruscan women as a model example of an ideal Etruscan marriage based on love, happiness, prosperity and unity, which has no parallel with the Greek perception of their “immoral” love affair.

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