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Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature$
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George Alexander Gazis and Anthony Hooper

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621495

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621495.001.0001

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Death as Dehumanisation in Sophocles’ Philoctetes

Death as Dehumanisation in Sophocles’ Philoctetes

(p.105) 6 Death as Dehumanisation in Sophocles’ Philoctetes1
Aspects of Death and the Afterlife in Greek Literature

Chiara Blanco

Liverpool University Press

Chapter six develops the discussion on Greek drama by looking at the ways in which Sophocles presents death in the Philoctetes as a process of gradual dehumanization, starting from social exclusion and leading towards absolute isolation not only from the world of the living, but also from the very nature of man itself. Taking her cue from the agria nosos which Philoctetes endures in Sophocles’ tragedy, Blanco explores how the long-rotting wound inflicted by the bite of the serpent affects Philoctetes’ human nature on its most basic level. Blanco further investigates how the serpent bite triggers a process of dehumanization which eventually leads Philoctetes to a state of apparent death. Philoctetes, Blanco argues, is not part of human community, and his relation with the landscape evokes a hunting-based self-sustained beast of prey, rather than a human being.

Keywords:   Philoctetes, death, serpent, Sophocles, dehumanization

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