Guilt by Descent: Moral Inheritance and Decision Making in by N. J. Sewell-Rutter

By N. J. Sewell-Rutter

Blighted and accursed households are an inescapable characteristic of Greek tragedy, and lots of students have handled questions of inherited guilt, curses, and divine causation. N.J. Sewell-Rutter provides those frequent concerns a clean appraisal, arguing that tragedy is a medium that fuses the conceptual with the scary and fascinating of emotion, neither of which are neglected if the texts are to be absolutely understood. He can pay specific recognition to Aeschylus' Seven opposed to Thebes and the Phoenician Women of Euripides, either one of which dramatize the sorrows of the later generations of the home of Oedipus, yet in very varied, and maybe complementary, methods. All Greek quotations are translated, making his examine completely obtainable to the non-specialist reader.

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A ðåæd ˇNäßðïıí ŒÆd ôcí ÓöߪªÆ äØçªåEôÆØ ôa ðﺺ܌Øò åNæçìÝíÆðÓ third stasimon: ‘These things are to no purpose. . The material about Oedipus and the Sphinx relates things that have been said many times’). 62 Three relevant diVerences are immediately visible between Aeschylus’ and Euripides’ treatments: (i) The only Labdacid present on stage in Aeschylus is Eteocles. In the Phoenissae, Oedipus, Jocasta, Antigone, and Polyneices are introduced as characters, not to mention other related Wgures.

Other passages are given by Parker (1983), 201 n. 65. Parker correctly concedes that the destruction of an oVender together with his family is distinct from the destruction of his descendants only, while he himself goes unpunished (201). 16 The notion that beneWts should be conferred on the progeny of state benefactors—as on the descendants of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton— was available to the Athenians, at least in a civic context: cf. Parker (1983), 206. , discusses sanctions actually applied to the children of some classes of oVender, and observes that the extirpation of families might sometimes be undertaken for reasons more ‘prudential and punitive’ than ‘cathartic’ (204).

The last sentence of the Aristophanic hypothesis to the Orestes as transmitted comments censoriously that in the play ðºcí . . —ıºÜäïı ðÜíôåò öÆFºïØ qóÆí (‘except Pylades, all were vicious’). 32 Hence the controversy over the persistence of äߌç-problems and Furies at the end of that play. Cf. ’ Surely it is in part the inXuence of Aeschylus that prompts critics to entertain such feelings. See further below, Ch. 4. 33 On the cyclic Thebais, see also West (2003), 6–9, and 44–7, printing Ribbeck’s emendation of fr.

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