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A literary study of Euripides’ Phoinissai

Hilton, I.; (2011) A literary study of Euripides’ Phoinissai. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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My thesis aims to unite and elucidate the main themes of Euripides' Phoinissai, a late and highly sophisticated example of Athenian drama. After an introduction which establishes the main themes of the play and my general position on its substantial textual difficulties, the first chapter examines Phoinissai's rich intertextual background: Homer, fifth-century lyric, Sophocles, and in particular Aeschylus' Seven against Thebes. The second chapter focuses on Phoinissai's prominent political element, and how -and to what extent -the play reflects contemporary Athenian events. I analyse the play's relation to late fifth-century political and intellectual cultures, the nature and implications of power, the connections between the works of Euripides and Thucydides, and the extent to which the politics of the play can be considered allegorical or didactic. The third chapter is devoted to the city of Thebes, its functions and portrayals in tragedy, and especially to the scholarly contention that the city functions as an 'anti-Athens'. I see Thebes as functioning as any example of the 'other', and focus on the manner in which this examination of 'self' against 'other' reveals similarities as well as differences. , examine the presentation of Thebes specifically in Phoinissai as well as elsewhere in tragedy, such as Euripides' Supplices and Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus. In the final chapter, on gender, I examine the unusually authoritative role of women in Phoinissai, which I see as being a good deal more complex than a simple inversion of male/female roles or stereotypes. I aim to show how the play's fractured gender dynamic is closely aligned with the theme of political upheaval and the conflict between private and public interests. Each chapter seeks to reach beyond the specific themes of the play and explore broader issues of the genre. Textual problems of the play are analysed in three appendices.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A literary study of Euripides’ Phoinissai
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1322701
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