Maternal Breast, Power of the Milk and Family Ties. The Atypical Examples of Hera and Aphrodite in Magna Grecia


  • Florence Gherchanoc University of Paris (Paris Diderot)


Maternal Breast , Suckling , Mothering, Nursing Mother, Family Ties, Herakles, Aphrodite, Eros


Many works has been done in recent years to study ancient Greek medical discourses concerning the physiology of milk, its properties and its effects on the baby. In this way, but modifying the perspective, my article focuses, firstly, on the analysis of some extraordinary and divine nourishment, based on the examination of their depiction on Apulian vases of the 4th century BC. The aim is to explore the function of breastfeeding in the Greek imaginary. He shows that the gesture of giving the breast constitutes a form of discourse on the recognition of the hero as god (in the case of Heracles) and on filiation and the sharing of skills (Aphrodite and Eros). Secondly, transposed into the human world, the study of this gesture makes it possible to grasp how and in what way the act of breastfeeding contributes in the construction of the memory of family ties and expresses membership.