Suffering in silence: victims of rape on the tragic stage

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This chapter focuses on women who have themselves been the object of violence and who are linked by the theme of silence. The episode in Trachiniae in which Deianira is struck by the appearance of Iole has long been compared to the scene between Clytemnestra and Cassandra in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon: in both cases, a silent woman, a target of male sexual lust, arrives at the home of her new master and is met by his wife. The chapter highlights the relevance of a third play for this pattern: Sophocles’ Tereus, in which the mutilated Philomela, her tongue cut out, will have arrived at the palace of Tereus and his wife, her sister Procne. The chapter draws out the structural and thematic parallels between these three tragedies, showing how each offers a related but distinct configuration of the connection between female voice and voicelessness, suffering, and power.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFemale Characters in Fragmentary Greek Tragedy
EditorsP. J. Finglass, Lyndsay Coo
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic) 9781108861199
ISBN (Print)9781108495141
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


  • Greek literature
  • Greek tragedy
  • fragments
  • papyri
  • female characters
  • Aeschylus
  • Sophocles
  • Euripides
  • rape
  • silence


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