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GIS 17/11 – The roles of women in the Trojan war and of the chorus in the Oresteia

andrMarc Bonaventura opened last week’s GIS with an analysis of the role of women in “De Excidio Troiae Historia”. This account of the Trojan War is presented in the form of a historiographical prose composition attributed to Dares Phrygius which is thought to be a 5th century AD Latin adaptation of a Greek original written in the 1st or 2nd centuries AD. The women involved in the narrative of the war seem to have more active roles than in the Homeric poems. Some of them show clearly more initiative, like Helen who flees to Cythera to meet Paris and decides to go with him to Troy rather than being abducted, or Andromache, who tries to restrain Hector from fighting instead of indulgently accepting his fate. Marc showed how in this work, women not only speak for themselves with “womanly words” (muliebria verba), but also plan their own plots (consilium muliebre). In the end, all the female characters included in this account, either with their actions or their influence over men, affect the events of a men’s world such as war.

oresteia-chorusKonstantinos Lygouris presented a study on the performance and role of the chorus in a specific passage of Aeschylus’ Oresteia (Choephoroe 306-478). Konstantinos went beyond the long held discussion concerning the passive vs. active role of the chorus, described by previous scholarship as spectators of the actions of the characters or as actors engaging in the action respectively. Through the analysis of the vocalization of the chorus and the thematic content of the verses in this passage, he explained the interaction of the chorus of slaves with the main characters, who belong to the royal family, together with the political, social and emotional implications in this communication. From their role as chorus, the slaves raise important issues such as the tension between words and deeds and show how authority and power relations between chorus and actors are constructed and contested. Konstantinos argues, however, that the chorus is in constant flux and adapts to the narrative of each play. This means that this kind of analysis should be carried out in different plays to see the changes in this interaction between chorus and actors.

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