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Envy and jealousy in Classical Athens

Sanders, E.M.; (2010) Envy and jealousy in Classical Athens. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Emotions differ between cultures, especially in their eliciting conditions, social acceptability, forms of expression, and co-extent of terminology. This thesis examines the psychological sensation and social expression of envy and jealousy in Classical Athens. Previous scholarship on envy and jealousy (Walcot 1978, Konstan and Rutter 2003) has primarily taken a lexical approach, focusing on usage of the Greek words phthonos (envy, begrudging spite, possessive jealousy) and zêlos (emulative rivalry). This lexical approach has value, especially in dealing with texts and civilizations from the past, but also limitations. These are particularly apparent with envy and jealousy in ancient Greece as: a) overt expression of phthonos is taboo; b) there is no Classical Greek label for sexual jealousy. Accordingly a different, complementary approach is required, which reads the expressed values and actions of entire situations. Building on recent developments in the reading of emotion episodes in classical texts, this thesis applies to Athenian culture and literature insights on the contexts, conscious and subconscious motivations, subjective manifestations, and indicative behaviours of envy and jealousy, derived from modern (post-1950) philosophical, psychological, psychoanalytical, sociological and anthropological scholarship. This enables the exploration of both the explicit theorisation and evaluation of envy and jealousy, and also more oblique ways in which they find expression across different genres. Topics examined include: 1. Aristotle’s analysis of the nature of phthonos and its relationship to other emotions; 2. the persuasion or manipulation of audiences using phthonos, both overt and masked, in Attic oratory; 3. the arousal of envy and moral indignation (as a ‘safe’ form of transmuted envy) by ‘Old’ Comedy; 4. phthonos scenarios and their destructive outcome in tragedy; 5. the nature of Greek sexual jealousy, especially as a gendered emotion in tragedy, and the use of tragic themes in other genres to manipulate audiences’ expectations.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Envy and jealousy in Classical Athens
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Greek and Latin

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