Suffering and Sympathy in Ancient Athens
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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It is impossible to acknowledge everyone who sustained and enriched a work so many years in the making, so I will be brief. Bryn Mawr dissertation advisors T. Corey Brennan and Richard Hamilton supplied the encouragement and criticism that launched two of the chapters here. The other three chapters could not have been written without a ...
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One night, several passersby see a group of thugs attacking someone in the center of the city. On a nearby island, another man’s childhood friend lies mortally ill, unable to rise from his bed. Athenian citizens, this time soldiers, are wounded and unable to walk as the rest of the army retreats after a disastrous battle. A man kidnapped by the marauding ...
One. Home Nursing
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Phaedra, young wife of Theseus, has fallen ill with suppressed love for her stepson Hippolytus. She suffers, she frets, she cannot stay still. In this scene from Euripides’ Hippolytus, the loyal and garrulous servant who is tending Phaedra expresses weary exasperation at the task. Her comment that nursing entails “vexation of the mind, and hard work ...
Two. The Ransom of Captives
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Aeschylus wrote a tragedy, now lost, on the ransom of Hector; it stood third in a trilogy based on Books 16–24 of the Iliad.1 Unfortunately, we cannot know how the playwright dramatized the scene in which Priam, king of Troy, offers the Greek warrior Achilles an enormously rich ransom for the body of his slain son. In Homer, great attention is paid to ...
Three. Bystander Intervention
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In the Agamemnon, the old men of the chorus hear the terrible cries of their king as he is being stabbed to death by Clytemnestra. Speaking one after another, expressing contradictory views, they form the very picture of indecision and confusion. Should they rally the citizens, or should they rush inside the palace and catch the murderer with “fresh-flowing sword”? ...
Four. The Transport of Sick and Wounded Soldiers
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In the tragedy by Sophocles, the warrior Philoctetes has been abandoned on an island by his fellow Greeks because of an incurable and painful snakebite; his anguished cries hamper the performance of religious rites (9–11). For ten years he languishes in terrible isolation until the Greeks revisit the island; he then begs to be taken aboard their ship. Despite the mythi-...
Five. The Judicial Torture of Slaves
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The immortal Prometheus stands shackled to towering rocks in desolate Scythia, exposed to the bright blaze of the sun. An adamantine wedge pierces his chest and pins him to the spot. He is there because Zeus is punishing him for giving to mankind the gift of fire. For the duration of Prometheus Bound, every character that enters the stage must respond ...
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The social historian attempts to find out, among other things, what life was like for ordinary people and how society worked: its cultural ideals and its everyday realities. The task is difficult in the case of ancient Greece, since modern scholars must rely upon a limited corpus of literary works that are skewed toward the upper classes, the educated few whose wealth and leisure ...
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Index of Ancient Passages
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Page Count: 250
Illustrations: 5 tables
Publication Year: 2006