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Euripides’s Revolution under CoverAn Essay$
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Pietro Pucci

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501700613

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501700613.001.0001

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Democracy and Monarchy

Democracy and Monarchy

18. Democracy and Monarchy
Euripides’s Revolution under Cover

Pietro Pucci

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on Theseus's political debate with the Theban Herald on monarchy and democracy. In Suppliant Women, Theseus exploits the possible negative connotation of tyrannos to attack the Herald and to extol Athens's democratic constitution. For a politician who should try or seriously intends to persuade his adversary, this approach is far from advisable, even in the face of the Herald's poor diplomacy. The spectators realize that the text requires their complicity as spectators and democrats in order to enjoy Theseus's quip: and this complicity intensifies the theatricality of the whole scene. This chapter examines Theseus's difficulty in using the divine law of burial as an argument in defense of his decision to wage war against Thebes, instead resorting to a philosophical or popular argument: we do not possess our bodies; they belong to the earth.

Keywords:   monarchy, democracy, Theseus, tyrannos, Athens, divine law, burial, Suppliant Women, war, Thebes

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