• Odysseus and the Concept of Nobility in Sophocles' Ajax and Philoctetes

    Author(s):
    Elodie Paillard (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Group(s):
    Ancient Greece & Rome
    Subject(s):
    Ancient Greece, Ancient history, Dramatic literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Greek drama, Odysseus
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/4ymw-1e62
    Abstract:
    The article shows that the character of Odysseus in Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes constitutes a crucial element for the redefinition of the concept of ‘nobility’. This figure has already been seen to promote a new definition of the concept, but previous analyses have tended to focus only on one or the other of the two plays, as Odysseus appeared too dissimilar to be considered from one and the same viewpoint. However, a closer analysis reveals that he in fact defends the same values and is endowed with the same non-élite features in both plays. Among those values is the idea that nobility has nothing to do with descent, but rather with the ability at proving helpful to the social group to which one belongs. The perception other characters have of Odysseus, however, changes between the earlier and the later play. The paper shows that this change can be linked to the evolution of fifth-century Athenian society. With the development of democracy, non-élite citizens redefined concepts such as eugeneia to make them their own. The variation in the staging of Odysseus was not only caused by this evolution, but also used to promote it and at the same time to show its dangers.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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