Finality for Antigone and Iphigenia: The Masculine Suicide and Feminine Sacrifice in Greek Tragedy

Lawler, Janet, Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Klosko, George, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

The paper uses the case of Antigone and Iphigenia in Greek tragedy to illuminate how differing modes of finality within a political moment can be construed along gender lines. For feminine characters whose political life never experiences a birth while ensconced in the Athenian apparatus of male political oppression, understanding how Antigone and Iphigenia both become politically born through their chosen mode of finality or death aids in pinpointing one of the very few agentic methods available to women in ancient Athens. Through a careful understanding of Greek tragedy, the place of women in Ancient Athens, and a discussion of views of gender during the time, the paper offers a comprehensive view, understanding the text for what it is within a contemporary reading of gender. What does Antigone’s suicide imply about power inside a political situation and what does sacrifice takes away? Antigone’s suicide effectively makes her a masculine actor in the eyes of an Ancient Athenian spectator while Iphigenia’s sacrifice is uniquely feminine. This paper also represents preliminary work into the importance and significance of persons whose political finality has been decided but have open to them a choice in mode.

MA (Master of Arts)
Antigone, Iphigenia, agency in Ancient Greece Athens, suicide and sacrifice in antiquity, gender and finality, death, gender, and tragedy
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