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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

The Knots

The Knots

(p.69) [5] The Knots
Women & Weasels

Maurizio Bettini

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the Knots in Alcmene's story. Knots can be harmful at the moment of birth because a whole series of metaphors and cultural representations characterize the womb as a place of binding and loosening. The gesture of entwining the hands or crossing the legs was considered especially dangerous for a woman in labor. The Enemies outside Alcmene's house assumed precisely this position, performing a veneficium, a magic spell that was well known in the ancient Greek and Roman world.

Keywords:   Alcmene, childbirth, woman in labor, crossing legs, entwining hands, veneficium

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