Women on the Edge, a collection of Alcestis, Medea, Helen, and Iphegenia at Aulis, provides a broad sample of Euripides' plays focusing on women, and spans the chronology of his surviving works, from the earliest, to his last, incomplete, and posthumously produced masterpiece. Each play shows women in various rolesslave, unmarried girl, devoted wife, alienated wife, mother, daughterproviding a range of evidence about the kinds of meaning and effects the category woman conveyed in ancient Athens. The female protagonists in these plays test the boundariesliteral and conceptualof their lives.
Although women are often represented in tragedy as powerful and free in their thoughts, speech and actions, real Athenian women were apparently expected to live unseen and silent, under control of fathers and husbands, with little political or economic power. Women in tragedy often disrupt "normal" life by their words and actions: they speak out boldly, tell lies, cause public unrest, violate custom, defy orders, even kill. Female characters in tragedy take actions, and raise issues central to the plays in which they appear, sometimes in strong opposition to male characters. The four plays in this collection offer examples of women who support the status quo and women who oppose and disrupt it; sometimes these are the same characters.
About the Author
Ruby Blondell is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Washington. Mary-Kay Gamel is Associate Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa-Cruz. Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz is Professor of Comparative Literature at Hamilton College. Bella Vivante is Senior Lecturer in Humanities at the University of Arizona.
Table of ContentsPreface
I. Athens and Greek Culture
Political History, Religion, Fate and Responsibility, Self and Other
II.Athenian Tragedy: A Civic Institution
Tragedy and Athenian Democracy, Audience, The Festival, Production and Performance, The Chorus, Formal Elements, Use of Myth
III.Women in Athens
Athenian Women and the Ideology of Gender, Women and Marriage: From Parthenos to Gune, Women and Athenian Tragedy
Life and Works, Ancient Reactions to Euripides, Euripides as a Playwright, Women in Euripides
V.The "Afterlife" of Euripides
Survival and Canonization, Textual Criticism, The Artistic Legacy
FOUR PLAYS BY EURIPIDES
Alcestis: Translated by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz
Medea: Translated by Ruby Blondell
Helen: Translated by Bella Zweig
Iphigenia at Aulis: Translated by Mary-Kay Gamel
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