Homeric μαῖα: Historical Proiections of a Literary Context

Gourova N. К.

The article deals with the analysis of the context of the word цага in the «Odyssey», which is mostly used for Eurycleia. Her image and her role in the epos make her appear as a person close to the royal family. Her main functions begin with the role of the midwife when Odysseus is born and include the rearing and bringing of the male members of the royal family, which reflects the possible purpose of her appearance in the house of Laertes as «purchased mother» and her position as paredros of Odysseus' mother Anticleia. If Eurycleia is the «male» maia, her «female» equivalent in the «Odyssey» is Penelope's maia Eurynome. Some of the secondary functions of both maiai show the cult genesis of their images. Nausicaa's nurse Eurymedusa and the anonymous Sicilian amphipolos of Laertes are treated as secondary maiai. The Homeric maia is a person in charge of specific duties, but the Homeric word does not yet denote a profession. It is just an address to the bearer of the ideal epic characteristics of a dependant worker, whose functions after the collapse of the Homeric oikos will disintegrate to form a number of female professions.