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Women & WeaselsMythologies of Birth in Ancient Greece and Rome$
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Maurizio Bettini and Emlyn Eisenach

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226044743

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226039961.001.0001

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Godmother Weasel

Godmother Weasel

(p.198) [13] Godmother Weasel
Women & Weasels

Maurizio Bettini

University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows that the weasel is regarded as a woman not only in the Roman world but also in many other cultures across Europe. The story of Alcmene emerges as only one tale within a more general narrative complex about the weasel-woman, a complex that includes a group of Greek legends. It explains why the weasel is called “godmother” in so many European languages and dialects—in Spain, Bulgaria, Germany, Sardinia, and elsewhere. It also considers the resemblance of the ancient Greek word for weasel to the word for husband's sister, another story which casts the weasel in the role of a female relative.

Keywords:   woman, weasel, mythology, European culture, Alcmene

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