Aeschylus’s Suppliant Women
The Tragedy of Immigration
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Questions of where, to what, and to whom we belong are central to our lives. Yet they are not new. The inhabitants of classical Athens found them equally compelling, and explored them in numerous ways. Two of their most important vehicles for such reflection were the tragic stage and the democratic assembly. This book works the seam between these...
Aeschylus’s tragedy Suppliant Women is above all a drama about the limits to and perils of civic incorporation. It must be understood in light of an important phenomenon in the years surrounding its production: large- scale immigration to Athens in the fifth century BCE. Under the Peisistratids in the sixth century, the city experienced...
1. Charter Myth for Metoikia
Suppliant Women depicts the arrival of barbarian newcomers in Greece. Although the play is set in Argos, critics have long noted that its themes, characters, and language point toward democratic Athens.1 In the aftermath of the Persian Wars, this city struggled to cope with an influx of thousands of new residents hailing from elsewhere in...
2. Spoken Like a Metic
The Argive decision to accept the Danaids is one of the focal points of Suppliant Women. The welcome the newcomers receive is only partial, however: they are offered metoikia rather than citizenship. The play gives no explicit rationale for the motion adopted by the Argive assemblymen. Their meeting occurs off- stage, and the audience...
3. The Cypriote Stamp
The preceding chapter addressed the political difficulties involved in the incorporation of metics. But as Grethlein notes, in Suppliant Women “the problem of the integration of strangers is made yet more difficult by the position of women whose place in the polis is not fixed by marriage.”1 The Danaids’ rootlessness is not an incidental matter...
4. Sons of Earth
Suppliant Women appropriates the complex web of relationships obtaining among natives, newcomers, and the land in historical Athens. Pelasgus’s claim to be sprung from Palaichthon (“Ancient Earth”) should be read in light of a fifth- century ideological staple, the notion of citizen autochthony.1 For Athenians, Attica was more than...
Suppliant Women offers a poetic portrait of a specific time and place. But its treatment of the Danaids’ flight from Egypt and the sanctuary they find in Greece is noteworthy not for what it reveals about Bronze Age Argos, but for the light it shines on classical Athens. In staging the myth, Aeschylus drew upon his own community’s experiences with immigration. The play’s stagecraft emphasizes the newcomers’...
Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2013
OCLC Number: 867740384
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Aeschylus’s Suppliant Women