Dolos and Dike in Sophokles' Elektra (Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca by Leona MacLeod

By Leona MacLeod

The most challenge dealing with critics of Sophokles' Elektra has consistently been figuring out the presentation of the vengeance and the character of justice it represents. This quantity addresses the moral problems with this play via an research of the language and argumentation which the characters use to provide an explanation for and justify their behaviour. the focal point is at the exam of the subjects of aidos and dolos, and how during which each one contributes to our total figuring out of the vengeance as an act which, for all its justice, continues to be shameful. through exploring the union among those contradictory parts, this examine exposes the moral complexity of Sophokles' remedy of the vengeance subject. Dolos & Dike features a worthy critique of contemporary interpretative techniques to the play, a whole bibliography, and a whole index of passages mentioned.

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Additional resources for Dolos and Dike in Sophokles' Elektra (Mnemosyne, Bibliotheca Classica Batava Supplementum)

Example text

44 The very point on which all interpretations more or less agree, that the dramatic action focuses solely on the domestic sphere to the exclusion of the polis, is one of the weaknesses of scholarship. Once we overcome this limitation, it will be possible to incorporate and reconcile into a balanced synthesis the insights and rival truths of each side in order to illuminate this most difficult play of Sophokles. As we shall see, throughout the play, there are unmistakable signs that we are to understand the action in more broadly political terms.

Stanford seems relieved to discover that Odysseus' lies all fall into the first two types. ORESTES AND ELEKTRA 35 between duty to vengeance and his feelings for his sister. Let us consider these in some detail. We see the first hint of conflict in Orestes when he shows some hesitancy over the use of dolos: (59-66) Why does this pain me, when after a reported death, I shall be saved in deeds and win fame? I suppose that nothing said is bad which brings profit. For I have often seen that even clever men are falsely reported dead; then when they come home again they are honoured more.

3 Neither expresses any doubt or hesitation, but there is little reason for them to do so, as Orestes is duty-bound to restore his oikos and the oracle of Apollo has sanctioned his cause; the justice and legitimacy of the vengeance is taken for granted. For these critics, there is nothing in the opening of the play to suggest the slightest hint of conflict, moral or otherwise. 4 Thus the single-mindedness of the paidagogos is a sign of his sinister and corrupt nature; Orestes' lack of scruples signals his 'moral bankruptcy'; and the oracle's association with dolos points to the dubious nature of their enterprise.

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