Death Becomes Her

  • Maja Sunčič
Keywords: antiquity, theatre, Greece, Euripides, Alcestis, carneval, laugh, ritual, utopia

Abstract

The representation of women as quintessential villains in the Greek imagery makes the analysis of good or even ideal female characters a delicate task. The only foils to a gamut of women villains are but two good characters, Penelope and Alcestis. Of the two, only Alcestis can be examined in the carnivalesque context of comedy. Alcestis is excessively praised throughout the play, which at the time of carnival translates into swearing and slander. However, since each offense is nullified by the one that follows, the play can be resolved in a cheerful mood and with a great banquet. Heracles plays the role of a joker who appears to be a privileged character, allowed to say certain things in a way which confers immunity. In the funeral rites he restrains excessive grief and invites the mourning Admetus to enjoy life, love, food and drink. Untouched by pollution or sanctions despite a string of ritual offenses, the ideal woman Alcestis is portrayed as a comic female character who represents an ideal only in the carnivalesque time of laughter and rebirth. Outside the carnivalesque laughter it is immobility, silence and death that define the ideal woman.

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Published
2002-12-06
How to Cite
Sunčič, Maja. 2002. “Death Becomes Her”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 4 (2), 95-116. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.4.2.95-116.
Section
Scholarly Articles