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Lost Dramas of Classical AthensGreek Tragic Fragments$
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Fiona McHardy, James Robson, and David Harvey

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780859897525

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780859897525.001.0001

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From Treacherous Wives To Murderous Mothers

From Treacherous Wives To Murderous Mothers

Filicide in Tragic Fragmentst

(p.129) 7 From Treacherous Wives To Murderous Mothers
Lost Dramas of Classical Athens

Fiona Mchardy

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the significance of the murder of sons by their mothers in Greek tragedy and classical Athenian society as a whole. It draws on a wide range of material derived not only from fragments of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, but also from the minor tragic poets and Roman tragedy. The prominence of metaphors of madness in the fragments which survive from plays dealing with this theme suggests a way of understanding how the Athenian audience of the time interpreted the actions of these women. It is argued that whereas the motif of filicide is absent from earlier versions of the same stories, it seems to have been understood as particularly suitable to tragedy.

Keywords:   Greek tragedy, fragmentary text, murder, sons, mothers, classical Athenian society, madness, filicide

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