This discussion presents a survey of scenes involving breastfeeding and wet-nursing from Homer to Menander. It demonstrates that male authors and their audiences understood the physiology of breastfeeding and used that knowledge to create nuanced, complicated situations in (especially) Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers, Euripides’ Hypsipyle, and Menander’s Samia. This added verisimilitude such as that seen in Plutarch’s consolation to his wife on the death of their child. As such, the realities associated with maternal and non-maternal breastfeeding shaped the reception of the plays in their own right, and it is possible to isolate crucial moments in several literary works where this impacts interpretation.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.