Lecture 13 - The Seven Against Thebes II: Fifty+ Years...

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The Seven Against Thebes II: Fifty+ Years Later Euripides, Phoenician Women 10/14/08
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Fluidity of Myths Examples of myths with alternate versions: 1. The birth of Aphrodite 2. The birth of Dionysus 3. The origin of the lyre 4. The origin of fire 5. The origin of the name of Athens 6. The mysterious wound of Patroclus on a vase painting 7. Helen’s location during the Trojan War
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Achilles and Patroclus
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Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes Composed in 467 BC Main war in living memory – Persian Wars Play presumes the same myth as its background as the one told later in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos Jocasta is dead, Oedipus is in exile Main characters: Eteocles, Spy, Chorus of Theban women Focus on the 7 enemy champions and their hybris (excessive arrogance, challenging the gods) Absence of gods; the Seven’s loss still seen as punishment for their hybris
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Euripides , Phoenician Women Historical Context Composed ca. 411 or 409 BC Peloponnesian War: 431-404 BC The Oligarchic Revolution (411 BC): brief overthrow of Athenian democracy and its replacement by a Council of the 400 Also known as “Tyranny of the Four- Hundred” At that time, Athens appears to be losing the war 410 BC – Athens wins Battle of Cyzicus, and wipes out Spartan fleet
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Significance of Historical Context Euripides’ references to current events are the most transparent of the three Athenian tragedians Discussions of tyranny/tyrannical power Politicians’ desire for power as main reason for wars Effect of war on human character
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Characters Chorus of Phoenician women Jocasta Oedipus Eteocles Polynices Antigone Slave (Antigone’s tutor) Creon Tiresias Menoeceus (son of Creon)
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Euripides, Phoenician Women : Plot Jocasta sums up plot of the story so far, and announces that she has arranged for a meeting with both Eteocles and Polynices Antigone’s tutor takes her to roof of palace, and describes each enemy champion to her ( teichoskopia ) Introduction of chorus: Phoenician women on their way to Delphi to serve Apollo Polynices arrives in palace to meet with Jocasta. She interrogates him about his life as exile Eteocles enters, and the two brothers present each his own side
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Plot II Polynices argues that his cause is just, so Eteocles should allow him to take power as was agreed Eteocles refuses just because he likes power Jocasta asks him whether he values his power or his city more – one of the central questions of the play! The two brothers agree to fight each other and Polynices departs Chorus reminisces about founding of Thebes; prays to gods to protect the city
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Plot III Dialogue of Kreon and Eteocles about strategy: Kreon tells Eteocles to appoint 7 champions, one for each gate, to lead a contingent protecting that gate Tiresias arrives (sent for by Eteocles), and tells Kreon and Menoeceus about the curse on Thebes by Ares To expiate curse, Menoeceus must sacrifice his life
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Lecture 13 - The Seven Against Thebes II: Fifty+ Years...

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