Aeschylus’s Suppliant Women
The Tragedy of Immigration
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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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 refl ection were the tragic stage and the democratic assembly. This book works the seam between these ...
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Aeschylus’s tragedy Suppliant Women is above all a drama about the limits to and perils of civic incorporation. It must be under-stood in light of an important phenomenon in the years sur-rounding its production: large- scale immigration to Athens in the fi fth century BCE. Under the Peisistratids in the sixth century, the city expe-rienced an increased fl ow of foreigners from the Mediterranean and be-yond. Following liberation from the tyrants, the reforms of Cleisthenes, ...
1. Charter Myth for Metoikia
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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 infl ux of thousands of new residents hailing from elsewhere in Greece and the Mediterranean world. It did so in substantial part by creating the formal juridical status known as metoikia. Shortly thereaf-...
2. Spoken Like a Metic
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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 citizen-ship. The play gives no explicit rationale for the motion adopted by the Argive assemblymen. Their meeting occurs off- stage, and the audience hears only a summary account of the proceedings from an interested party. Yet the Argives may act as they do because of their fears about ...
3. The Cypriote Stamp
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The preceding chapter addressed the political diffi culties involved in the incorporation of metics. But as Grethlein notes, in Suppliant Women “the problem of the integration of strangers is made yet more diffi cult by the position of women whose place in the polis is not fi xed by marriage.”1 The Danaids’ rootlessness is not an incidental mat-ter: the attempt to avoid their cousins’ suit is what brings them to Ar-gos. Despite the importance of the question, the reason for their refusal ...
4. Sons of Earth
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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 fi fth- century ideological staple, the notion of citizen autochthony.1 For Athenians, Attica was more than their country: it was also their parent.2 In the play, Pelasgus’s accounts of his ancestry and his land are intertwined.3 The king also joins to-...
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Suppliant Women offers a poetic portrait of a specifi c time and place. But its treatment of the Danaids’ fl ight from Egypt and the sanctu-ary they fi nd in Greece is noteworthy not for what it reveals about Bronze Age Argos, but for the light it shines on classical Athens. In stag-ing the myth, Aeschylus drew upon his own community’s experiences with immigration. The play’s stagecraft emphasizes the newcomers’ liminal status. The decree of its citizen assembly (ἡμᾶς μετοικεῖν τῆσδε ...
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Histoire de l’Education dans l’Antiquité, translated by George LambRoman Cities: Les villes romaines by Pierre Grimal, translated and edited The Archaeology of the Olympics: The Olympics and Other Festivals in Wit and the Writing of History: The Rhetoric of Historiography in Imperial Kallimachos: The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography...
Page Count: 226
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth