Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Arlene W. Saxonhouse.
The Phoenician Women, Euripides’ peculiar retelling and refashioning of the Theban myth, offers a portrait of Antigone before she becomes the actor we mostly know today from Sophocles’ play. In this under-studied Greek tragedy, Euripides portrays the political and epistemological dissolution that allows for Antigone’s appearance in public. Whereas Sophocles’ Antigone appears on stage ready to confront Creon with her appeal to the universal unwritten laws of the gods and later dissolves into the female lamenting a lost womanhood, Euripides’ Antigone experiences the opposite journey, thereby offering insights into the conditions that allow for her exposure in the political arena. A speech by Eteocles at the center of the play questions the existence of absolutes, calls injustice beautiful, and opens the door for Antigone’s entrance into the public sphere. With this speech Eteocles challenges us to consider the conditions of political openness in the modern age.