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Although Classical Athenian ideology did not permit women to exercise legal, economic, and social autonomy, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides often represent them as influential social and moral forces in their own right. Scholars have struggled to explain this seeming contradiction. Helene Foley shows how Greek tragedy uses gender relations to explore specific issues in the development of the social, political, and intellectual life in the polis. She investigates three central and problematic areas in which tragic heroines act independently of men: death ritual and lamentation, marriage, and the making of significant ethical choices. Her anthropological approach, together with her literary analysis, allows for an unusually rich context in which to understand gender relations in ancient Greece. This book examines, for example, the tragic response to legislation regulating family life that may have begun as early as the sixth century. It also draws upon contemporary studies of virtue ethics and upon feminist reconsiderations of the Western ethical tradition. Foley maintains that by viewing public issues through the lens of the family, tragedy asks whether public and private morality can operate on the same terms. Moreover, the plays use women to represent significant moral alternatives. Tragedy thus exploits, reinforces, and questions cultural clichés about women and gender in a fashion that resonates with contemporary Athenian social and political issues.
The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, composed in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E., is a key to understanding the psychological and religious world of ancient Greek women. The poem tells how Hades, lord of the underworld, abducted the goddess Persephone and how her grieving mother, Demeter, the goddess of grain, forced the gods to allow Persephone to return to her for part of each year. Helene Foley presents the Greek text and an annotated translation of this poem, together with selected essays that give the reader a rich understanding of the Hymn's structure and artistry, its role in the religious life of the ancient world, and its meaning for the modern world.
This book explores the emergence of Greek tragedy on the American stage from the nineteenth century to the present. Despite the gap separating the world of classical Greece from our own, Greek tragedy has provided a fertile source for some of the most innovative American theater. Helene P. Foley shows how plays like Oedipus Rex and Medea have resonated deeply with contemporary concerns and controversies--over war, slavery, race, the status of women, religion, identity, and immigration. Although Greek tragedy was often initially embraced for its melodramatic possibilities, by the twentieth century it became a vehicle not only for major developments in the history of American theater and dance, but also for exploring critical tensions in American cultural and political life. Drawing on a wide range of sources--archival, video, interviews, and reviews--Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage provides the most comprehensive treatment of the subject available.
The purpose; to gather the most important primary sources for the lives of ancient women, and to present them within their historical and cultural context.
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