Incest, polygamy, murder, sacrilege, impalement, castration, female power, and despotism: these are some of the images by which the Greek tragedians defined the non-Greek, `barbarian' world. This book explains for the first time the reasons behind their singular fascination with barbarians. It sets the plays against the historical background of the Panhellenic wars against Persia and the establishment of an Athenian empire based on democracy and slavery.
Contemporary anthropology and political philosophy is discussed, revealing how the poets conceptualized the barbarian as the negative embodiment of Athenian civic ideals. By comparing the treatment of foreigners in Homer and tragedy, it shows that the new dimension which the idea of the barbarian had brought
to the tragic theatre radically affected the past, and enriched the tragedians' repertoire of aural and visual effects. The invented barbarian of the tragic stage was a powerful cultural expression of Greek xenophobia and chauvinism, but, paradoxically, produced an outburst of creative energy and literary innovation. The D.Phil. dissertation out of which this book developed won the Hellenic Foundation's prize for the best doctoral thesis in ancient Greek studies in the UK
and Republic of Ireland (1988).
`she sets out the important considerations with great clarity ... this is a thorough, well-researched and broadly convincing book ... an impressive piece of work.'
`Dr Hall offers a careful survey of the archaic background, enlivened by much shrewd observation. It is no criticism of this learned and lively book to observe that it suggests more questions than it answers.'
Times Literary Supplement
`a most impressive analysis of ancient Greek ethnocentrism'
Greece & Rome
'H. presents her case with great skill and learning. Her scholarship is meticulous but not stodgy, and the argument is constantly enriched with references to comparative material on ethnicity drawn from a wide range of historical and social contexts'.
R.G.A. Buxton, Journal of Hellinic Studies'.
'a beautiful book which developed out of the author's PhD-thesis. It is elegantly produced, provided with an elaborate bibliography, an index of passages cited and a general index ... well-argued and carefully referenced text ... an important contribution to both Athenian history and Persian history.'
Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg, Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, De Novis Libris Judicia
Acknowldgements; Preface; Editions and abbreviations; Setting the stage; Inventing Persia; The barbarian enters myth; An Athenian rhetoric; The polarity deconstructed; Bibliography; Index
Series: Oxford Classical Monographs (Paperback)
Number Of Pages: 296
Published: 11th July 1991
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.6 x 13.9
Weight (kg): 0.4