The Open UniversitySkip to content

Sexual and familial distortion in Euripides' Phoenissae

Swift, L. A. (2009). Sexual and familial distortion in Euripides' Phoenissae. Transactions of the American Philological Association, 139(1) pp. 53–87.

Full text available as:
Full text not publicly available (Accepted Manuscript)
Due to publisher licensing restrictions, this file is not available for public download
Click here to request a copy from the OU Author.
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This article offers a new interpretation of Euripides' Phoenissae, and argues for a new source of unity in the play, by focusing on the theme of mismanaged sexuality. The curse on the Labdacid house is caused by, and takes the form of, abnormalities in sexual and familial roles, and it is these abnormalities which lie behind Antigone's behavior and Menoeceus's suicide: these episodes should therefore be understood not as disjointed but as connected to central concerns. The play also engages with this theme on an imagistic level, and explores it through the imagery of civilization in the choral odes and through the figure of the Sphinx. Finally, it is argued that the Chorus of Phoenician maidens offers a corrective to the destructive cycle in Thebes, and hints at the positive role that well-governed sexuality can play in human societies.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2009 American Philological Association
ISSN: 1533-0699
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > Classical Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 33489
Depositing User: Laura Swift
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2012 15:39
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2020 06:45
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU