Where is Io Rushing to? Why and for What? On the Function of οἶστρος in Prometheus Bound
The article analyses the semantic field, the etymology and the function of οἶστρος in depth, including the psychic condition it causes, manifested by a sudden mind alteration, the abrupt urge to travel, jerking movements and rushing aimlessly about. Although οἶστρος does not act on its own, but instead as an executor, it nevertheless determines Io’s state in her adventure. Its touch is perceived to be a god’s punishment, but in fact, οἶστρος appears to be a tool enabling the fulfilment of a god’s intent. Through the intervention of οἶστρος Io becomes an unconscious seeker in quest of a place to “meet” Zeus. Being attuned to a god’s intent, understanding the impulse behind the action, and constantly moving forward are steps proposed by the tragedian towards restoring balance in one’s inner world when a person is permanently anxious, restless, and totally obsessed with seeking something. The psychic condition caused by οἶστρος is compared to the psychic epidemic, dromomania, that occurred in France at the end of the 19th century.