PHOTO: © Aphrodite, Athena und Hera stellen sich dem Urteil des Paris, Detail, Attisch rotfigurige Trinkschale, 440–430 v. Chr. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung / Johannes Laurentius

Göttinnen und Gattinnen. Frauen im antiken Mythos

In the organizer's words:

Monstrous like Medusa, beautiful like Aphrodite, faithful like Penelope - many women of ancient mythology are primarily known through stereotypes of female role models. Inspired by a boom in current readings of the myths, the Collection of Classical Antiquities takes a new look at the goddesses and heroines.

Ancient mythology continues to fascinate today: Medusa, Kirke, Medea and Persephone - retellings of the stories of mythological women are currently popular in novels for young people and adults. The predominantly female authors give the mythical female figures their own voice. The result is a change of perspective on stories that have so far mainly been handed down by authors from male-dominated ancient society.

Focus on twelve goddesses and heroines

Myths can be adapted to the social environment: The interpretation of ancient objects is thus always dependent on our own perspective. The special exhibition therefore deliberately approaches its female protagonists from two perspectives: the ancient and the modern. The focus is on twelve female figures, from the most famous goddesses such as Aphrodite to lesser-known heroines such as Atalante. Life-size statues, detailed vase paintings and small pieces of jewelry show how these women were portrayed in antiquity and what stories their images tell.

Role models and counter-images?

The images and myths are viewed against the background of the ancient world. They were created in a fundamentally binary and male-dominated society with corresponding role models. For women, this often meant subordination. However, the mythological female figures only partially adhere to these norms.

The exhibition explores the classification of famous female figures in antiquity in three thematic areas. Which were perceived as 'role models' and why? Some behave 'as they should' and embody fidelity, modesty and fertility. But three of the most revered goddesses - Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis - each in their own way transgress certain normative boundaries and are apparently not subject to them. What does it mean when the naked 'goddess of love' Aphrodite carries a sword? However, if women act too far beyond female role norms, they become negative counter-images of social behavior. Medusa is a well-known example. But was she really just the 'monster'?

Modern perspectives

In addition to the ancient objects, the exhibition also shows historical and contemporary perspectives. From the 1980s, for example, Medusa was transformed from a man-killing monster into a feminist role model. "Goddesses and Wives" provides a contemporary look at a number of women in myth. The ancient images are multi-layered and are still highly topical today.


A publication accompanying the exhibition will be published by Kadmos Verlag.

A special exhibition of the Antikensammlung - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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Price information:

Altes Museum: EUR 12.00 reduced admission EUR 6.00; free admission for children and young people up to and including the age of 18


Altes Museum Am Lustgarten 10178 Berlin

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