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Title: Conflicted fatherhood in Greek tragedy
Author: Brindley, Guy
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 5606
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the depiction of fathers in Greek tragedy in terms of the conflict between the expectations and responsibilities of fatherhood and other areas of male activity and identity Chapter 1 provides historical, literary and scholarly context. Chapters 2 and 3 examine the often difficult relationship between paternal responsibility and political concerns. Chapter 2 explores Agamemnon's decision to permit the expedition against Troy by sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia, as recounted in Aeschylus' Agamemnon and depicted in Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis. Chapter 3 focuses upon the interplay of politics and paternity in plays on Theban myths; it examines the depictions of Creon in Sophocles' Antigone and Euripides' Phoenician Women as deliberately contrasting responses to the challenge of establishing priority between political and paternal responsibilities, before moving on to a comparison of tragic accounts of Oedipus' curse upon his sons as an instance of a father's behaviour exerting considerable, damaging influence upon public life. Chapters 4 and 5 explore tragedy's depiction of various superhuman fathers. Chapter 4 demonstrates that tragedy sets the complex and extensive mythical, literary and religious traditions concerning Heracles at odds with the demands of conventional fatherhood. Chapter 5 considers the portrayal of divine fathers in tragedy; after outlining various trends in extant and fragmentary plays, it focuses upon Euripides' Ion as a case-study for the disruptive and distanced nature of divine paternity in the genre. Having explored these various conflicts between fatherhood and other areas of activity and responsibility, the thesis culminates in an examination of the conflict over fatherhood itself. Chapter 6 explores the competing representations of a specific father in Sophocles' Ajax, and the impassioned conflict over the duties of fatherhood more generally in Euripides' Alcestis, before culminating in an extensive examination of contested fatherhood in Euripides' Orestes. The thesis demonstrates that fatherhood in Greek tragedy is pervasively and significantly conflicted. This conflict is not only an important factor in our understanding of the plot, themes and characterisation of many of these works, but also a crucial point of contact and engagement between the plays themselves and the discourse of contemporary Athenian society.
Supervisor: Rutherford, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Family ; Greek drama (Tragedy)