Preparations for a Structuralist Study of Cannibalism in Greek Myth

Abstract

This essay argues that the Ancient Greek's tales of cannibalism were not really about cannibalism at all, but about more typically Greek issues (such as the transfer of political power, the guest-host relationship, the initiation of youths into adulthood, and so on). Cannibalism is rather the image used to designate the negative extremes of human behavior as conceived by the Hellenic world: social breakdown, barbarism, reversion to animality, and ultimately, the inability to live under the institution of the polis.

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