Female Acts in Greek Tragedy

Princeton University Press
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Although Classical Athenian ideology did not permit women to exercise legal, economic, and social autonomy, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides often represent them as influential social and moral forces in their own right. Scholars have struggled to explain this seeming contradiction. Helene Foley shows how Greek tragedy uses gender relations to explore specific issues in the development of the social, political, and intellectual life in the polis. She investigates three central and problematic areas in which tragic heroines act independently of men: death ritual and lamentation, marriage, and the making of significant ethical choices. Her anthropological approach, together with her literary analysis, allows for an unusually rich context in which to understand gender relations in ancient Greece.

This book examines, for example, the tragic response to legislation regulating family life that may have begun as early as the sixth century. It also draws upon contemporary studies of virtue ethics and upon feminist reconsiderations of the Western ethical tradition. Foley maintains that by viewing public issues through the lens of the family, tragedy asks whether public and private morality can operate on the same terms. Moreover, the plays use women to represent significant moral alternatives. Tragedy thus exploits, reinforces, and questions cultural clichés about women and gender in a fashion that resonates with contemporary Athenian social and political issues.

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About the author

Helene P. Foley is Professor of Classics at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is the author of Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides, coauthor of Women in the Classical World: Image and Text, and editor of Reflections of Women in Antiquity and of The Homeric Hymn to Demeter (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
424
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ISBN
9781400824731
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Language
English
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Genres
Drama / Ancient & Classical
Literary Criticism / Ancient & Classical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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