A Portmanteau Theseus in Euripides’ Supplices?

Michael Vickers

Abstract


The title of the conference to which this paper formed a contribution was Topical Issues of Ancient Culture and Its Heritage. The issues raised here have, however, been side-lined by most modern scholars, and thus might be said to be no longer as topical as they once were. It is with a view to reviving the once widely held view that writers for the Athenian stage might choose plots that shed light on current events, rather than engaging in escapist drama, that this paper has been written. The dramatic stage was very much part of Athenian political life, and once we recall with Simon Goldhill (Goldhill 1987) that a dramatic festival was the occasion for the pouring of libations by the generals, for the display of the annual tribute, for the praise of civic benefactors, and the parade in armour of war orphans, then we can understand how plays might have a political resonance, and how the stage — whether tragic or comic — might be the place where things could be said that were impossible to say in other contexts.

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