Divine Love: The Reception of Leda and the Swan Myth in Works by Jewish and Arab Israeli Artists - Contexts and Meanings


  • Nava Sevilla Sadeh "Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts", Tel Aviv "Tel Aviv University", Department of Art History




Gender, feminism, black feminism, post-colonialism, phantasmagoria


The motif of the abduction of a woman is one of the most frequent in Ancient Greek and Roman art. Abductions in mythology are generally portrayed as carried out by a god disguised as a human or an animal, such as Zeus who, in the form of a bull, golden rain or a swan, seduces a beautiful young maiden. These myths have been interpreted from different viewpoints, such as gender, social, political and philosophical. One of the most frequent myths of abduction is that of Leda and the Swan, which appears in both Greek and Roman painting and sculpture. This theme has found many echoes in contemporary Israeli art, and constitutes the case study for this discussion, which belongs to the field of Classical Reception studies. The interpretations of this myth are diverse, ranging from a socio-gender context, to post-colonialism and its relevance to the local situation; to subversives, concerning tradition versus contemporary culture; to emotionality and romantic suffering; and to love as phantasmagoria. These varied interpretations will be examined in the following analysis in light of both ancient concepts and contemporary outlooks, based on literary and philosophical sources.

Author Biography

  • Nava Sevilla Sadeh, "Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts", Tel Aviv "Tel Aviv University", Department of Art History

    Lecturer at Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv.

    Teaching fellow and art researcher at Tel-Aviv University.

    Title of PhD dissertation (2005): "Mythological Scenes in Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaics in Eretz Israel – Context and Meaning".

    Research interests: Reception studies – the Classical presence and influence in contemporary art and culture; analysis of Greek and Roman art through a philosophical orientation; mythological mosaics from a neo-Platonic perspective; gender and art.

    Topics of publication: Classical influence upon contemporary Israeli art; an analysis of the mosaics from Sepphoris, Shechem and Scytopolis; Interpretations of Greek and Roman sculpture.

    Courses taught: Style and visual analysis of art; Classical concepts, gender and interpretation of mythology in Ancient art; Roman mosaic art and wall painting.

    Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts, Tel Aviv, Phone: 972-3-6901200

    Tel Aviv University, Department of Art History, Phone: 972-3-6408482, 972-3-6409481, Fax: 972-3-6407781.





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The British Museum: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=406238&partId=1

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