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Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,181 ratings  ·  183 reviews
A reckoning with the misogyny that the myths and stories of antiquity have bequeathed to us, and a celebration of subversive, feminist efforts to combat it.

The idealized picture of classical antiquity most of us learned in school conveniently glosses over the most brutal parts of the history -- and omits surprising stories of feminist resistance. For each story of miso
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Wildfire
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The past subverts the present,’ writes Dr. Helen Morales in her book book Antigone Rising, ‘and whether it is used to uphold or subvert brutality depends on us.’ Morales work is a really insightful and engaging look at the ways ‘Greek and Roman myths have become embedded in, and an influential part of, our culture’ and the ways that shapes social norms that can be used to oppress--particularly against women--or be a touchstone inspiring resistance and activism. Broken into eight chapters that c ...more
Roman Clodia
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was going to be a scholarly classical reception volume: it's not. Instead it's like a series of popular articles that might have a link (sometimes tenuous) or spring from a classical phenomenon (not always a myth) which Morales uses as a foundation for writing about our own cultural flashpoints, principally around feminist resistance to patriarchy but which also attend to other inclusive issues around race, gender and sexuality.

The writing is frequently fierce (and rightly so) wi
Heidi The Reader
Helen Morales highlights troubling aspects of Greek and Roman mythology in a call-to-action to analyze and reimagine those myths for modern times.

As a classicist, I was familiar with most of the myths Morales examined. However, I was unaware of some of the toxic sub-context contained within them.

"My hope is that by tracing patterns and connections between ancient and modern beliefs and practices it will become easier to understand how misogyny operates and the ways in which classical antiquity p
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

This was my surprise find of my Greek Mythology Challenge. It wasn't on my original list but I spotted it on Netgalley shortly after reaching my personal pain threshold in terms of reading about misogynistic violence. It's not that I was unaware that this was an element in Greek myths. It was more that it had danced below my eyeline as I usually focused more on the twisting family trees and tales of heroism. But even the supposed 'heroe
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The power of myth is in its fluidity, its adaptability, the inherent possibility of being read in wildly different ways. This isn't new. The history of myth is one of selectivity and of reimagining. Every artist chooses what to highlight and what to hide, what aspect will suit their purpose, precisely what the myth needs to do for it to say what they want it to say.

Subversive mythmaking is a process-one that involves the past and the present and all the versions in between

What Helen Morales does
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
In Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths, Helen Morales, a classics professor, interrogates classical myths through a feminist lens.

Using a variety of Greek and Roman myths, Morales contests traditional interpretations of myths to glean their current relevance and to show their continuing influence on our culture. She argues some myths reinforce a patriarchal agenda, while others can be reclaimed to challenge the dominant ideology by unveiling their subversive power. Her in
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very engagingly written exploration of Greek myths, as seen through a contemporary lens. Antigone, the girl who speaks truth to power, is only the first of a series of ancient Greek narratives which are analyzed and deconstructed so as to reveal their political influences on current events. Especially worthwhile is the chapter which focuses on Beyonce’s artful appropriations and witty commentary upon these old tropes, through the medium of choreography and what I think of as her distinctive mu ...more
Read for school.

I don’t rate the books I read for research purposes, but I have to say that this one was absolutely brilliant and infinitely enlightening. Exactly what I was looking for.
Nathan Bartos
I have't read a ton of what would probably be called literary criticism since I completed my undergrad a few years back, but this was such a great dive back into that world. Yes, it's a look at ancient Greek and Roman myths, but it's an examination of these myths through modern pop culture, like Beyonce's video in the Louvre or shootings on campus. I feel like I learned a lot, but I also never felt like I was doing academic readings for an assignment or something. I highly recommend this if you' ...more
Well, I'm always incredibly wary of texts proclaiming to connect ancient mythology to present-day events, because—to steal from L.P. Hartley—the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. But in terms of pop classicism, this was one of the best-written collection of essays I've read. Short, too; clocking in at only a little over 200 pages, with each essay accompanied by a legion of footnotes, the book was bite-sized. The focus on anecdotal experiences rather than comprehensivel ...more
Stephanie (Bookfever)
I bought this book simply because of the title and cover alone but when I picked it up and started reading I got so much more than that. Classicist Helen Morales goes into issues we have today in our modern world and connects those with ancient history and myths. I absolutely loved this and could not put the book down.

At 203 pages (including the index) it isn't a very long book so I only picked it up twice before finishing it but still that's pretty fast for me to finished any book so that only
Jun 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
greek and roman myths applied to today's world??? say no more i'm intrigued. i LOVED this book. as someone who has an interest in ancient myths + gender/sexuality this was the perfect book for me. it was interesting, compelling and it brilliantly explored exactly how we can connect these ancient myths with the many contemporary social issues we face today. (the chapters which focused on the amazons, me too and diana were my favourites!) ...more
Shona Edwards
This was pop-Classics with a strong Feminist lead - and that's not to say that's a bad thing. I think it's a really important role to offer accessible entries into the discipline for undergrads, the public, and interested nerds outside of university. It wasn't as in-depth as I was expecting but Morales made some great connections across pop culture that I hadn't considered before. ...more
Cara (Wilde Book Garden)
This book is a great example of why I try not to rate nonfiction based on how groundbreaking its basic ideas are unless that's specifically sold to me in the summary: this book's basic ideas about feminism are not new, nor are they intended to be. I think this would be a great introductory book on feminism, maybe particularly for people who haven't read a ton about the importance (or the existence) of intersectional feminism. But I think even if you are familiar with these ideas, the ways Morale ...more
Feb 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, library
Antigone Rising is a radical collection of essays. Springing from one thing to the next, then coalescing to show us how the modern world connects with antiquity, how little we've changed, and that we can use the power of myth to process our world.

Written in a snappy style, this isn't a deep dive into any one topic rather skimming through lots of things, but with a serious dose of references and notes if you do want to dive deeper into a topic. The essay topics cover the range of resistance movem
Marianna Defendini Torres
I want to be an academic like Helen Morales when I grow up.

She raises ancient myths and intertwines them with contemporary issues. Her chapters are rich in explaining how these myths are not things "from the past" but carry a subversive power in our reality (as the title suggests). But, the most beautiful thing for me is how she narrates so eloquently while not distancing herself as a body identified as a woman. You can feel how she is writing as a feminist, mother, daughter, scholar, and the m
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So little has changed in 2,500 years, how?

Anyway, reviewed this for Shelf Awareness, will try to remember to share the link when it goes up.

Recommended for people who want an inclusive feminist examination of Greek mythology and their lasting impact on (primarily Western) humanity
May 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A short book: going into it was looking forward for a walk through some Greek mythology (a bit rusty on it at this point) and there’s a bit of a switcheroo as it’s light on Greek myth and heavy on topical hot button issues. OK, that’s fine. But as a reader very open to these ideas they’re delivered in a way that’s just a bit too on the nose.
Faith Jones
Occasionally I feel the need to yell into these abysses, so the long version of this essay is on (search Faith Jones).

Antigone and her story of moral intransigence continue to be iconic to feminism. Academics appropriate culture too, so you can hypothesize someone championing and putting Antigone on a plinth even when siding with a source of oppression, if it awards research grants. I think I detected here a glint of contempt for Antigone, a single pro-Creon (authoritarian rule) comme
Aug 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and wide ranging look at a number of myths and social/political structures they can influence, particularly focusing on those dealing with women (and violence against them), racism and white supremacy, and queer identities. While Morales chose to discuss a number of different modern events in which the people involved have aligned themselves with particular classical myths, I think I would have preferred there to be a few more modern examples to further show the point of the deep ...more
Keylee 🍓
Excellent book for Art History and Comparative Literature students, like myself, who want to learn about the importance of the retelling of myths in modern society. Solidarity, empowerment, catharsis and feminism are very prevalent in this book in order to challenge the status quo and the patriarchal society that we currently live on.
Jul 01, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf, f-myths, nf-history
I docked a star only because she uses the Roman names for the gods and I absolutely do not vibe with that.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Greek myths are undergoing a real renaissance right now, with the huge popularity of books such as Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes, and Madeleine Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Circe. Much as I’ve enjoyed the retellings that have come out over the past few years, though, Helen Morales’ Antigone Rising is the first book I’ve come across that engages critically with the representation of women, LGBT+ characters and ethnic minorities in the surviving versions of the myths.

This is no collection o
Naomi Kessler
Minus a few stars because this felt less like a book and more like magazine articles or term papers mashed together. It was all commentary on current events viewed through a classicist's lens and just wasn't what I had hoped to read. I would have liked it more if it had narrowed its focus. That being said, the chapters on race, rape culture, and LGBTQ+ experiences were very strong. I loved the overarching idea brought forth that when we read the classics, these myths are retellings. We have this ...more
Aug 23, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing premise and I did learn some new things, but it was a bit less scholarly and a bit more personal than I was expecting. I wish the author had left out the many side comments and personal tangents (ie a celebrity that took her class once…) and had fleshed out some of her ideas further. Ideally for me, she would have provided more examples for each point as well as drawn on more examples outside of very recent events - some of her details and writing style made the book feel dated alread ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, eye-opening and powerful.

Antigone Rising is everything I never knew I needed in a book. It has effortlessly described the many, compelling links between ancient myths and historical and modern-day gender politics. A fantastic read - I would recommend it to anyone!
Jun 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light look at how myths can relate to modern society. Would have rated it higher but it didn’t go deep enough into them for me. More of a summary than an in depth look
Saimi Korhonen
"By turning to the past, we can imagine our futures afresh. And that recognising the subversive power of ancient myths - through reading the original stories closely and through enjoying their modern re-creations and using them to inspire and support political activism - can be both transformative and redemptive."

In Antigone Rising Helen Morales explores the connections between ancient Greek myths and today's modern world. She writes about how many harmful practices, such as school dress codes,
Anna Jaskiewicz
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who doesn’t read much non-fiction or many books regarding gender studies topics, I found this work to be exceptionally enlightening. I love Greek/Roman mythology and I was elated that Morales intended to use this book to showcase the important and positive impact these myths can have on our society, if one takes the time to consider them.

Helen Morales’ dedication and passion for writing this book was apparent from the first page to the last. She expertly highlights many Greek/Roman m
Terri White
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morales takes a look at myth through a feminist lens in ‘Antigone Rising.’ There is explanation of past practice when interpreting myth; there is exploration of new ways to examine myth; and there is revelation in how subverting and rewriting myth can support inclusivity among multiple genders. Beyoncé is discussed as a pioneer promoting the ‘Sable Antigone,’ trouncing the need for a man. Later chapters talk about transmythology: the idea that some mythological characters have changed gender, so ...more
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