“In ancient Greece and Rome, small female figures made of clay, ivory, and even bone had articulated hands and legs fastened using pins or wire so that they could look animated when shaken or moved. In Greece, the figures were often too fragile to be toys; instead, they were used as votives or offerings to the gods placed in household shrines, temples, burial sites, and graves where they could also be protective devices or prized possessions of the deceased. Young girls offered the doll figures to Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite before their marriages to ensure that they would attain a healthy, functioning female body that produced and nourished children, the ideal of ancient Greek femininity.
The Idea of automatons – self-moving female and male figures – had been around since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians produced animated, hot air-driven statues used for religious and political purposes, and in Greece some of the oldest female figures were described in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad where Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods (later called Vulcan by the Romans) is helped by two maidservants as he goes about making a shield for Achilles. In Homer’s ancient Greece, women (apart from the great goddesses like Aphrodite and Athena) were largely consigned to loom and family, but Homer’s description of these metallic ladies as accomplished, smart, and strong has surprisingly modern ring: they are
all cast in was gold but a match for living breathing girls / Intelligence fills their hearts, voice, and strength their frames, / From the deathless gods they’ve learned their works of hand. “
From My Fair Ladies by Julie Wosk.
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]