A gendered analysis of social and religious values in 5th century BCE illuminates the Athenian

decline from democracy to bully empire, through pursuit of a faux virility. Using a feminist

hermeneutics of suspicion, the study contrasts two playwrights bookending the empire:

Aeschylus, who elevated the sky pantheon Olympians and demoted both actual Athenian

women and the Furies—deities linked to maternal ties and nature, and Sophocles, who granted

Oedipus, his maternal incest purified, an apotheosis in the Furies’ grove. The latter work,

presented at the Athenian tragic festival some 50 years after the first, advocated restoration

of respect for female flesh and deity. This redemptive narrative placed the life of Athens—

democracy and empire—in the wider context of Nature. Present-day parallels are drawn.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.