Manipulation of the Rhetoric of Peace and the Deconstruction of Pacifism in Euripides’ Suppliant Women

In: Mnemosyne

Abstract

Many scholars in the past thought that in the Suppliant Women Euripides rejected war in principle; they supported their views with reference to the spatial and visual prominence of the suffering mothers of the war dead on the stage and to three passages in which peace or an inactive life are celebrated and argued for. In this paper I focus on the rhetoric of peace and quietism in those three passages, which were recited and spoken by the Theban Herald and Adrastus, respectively. I will try to demonstrate that Euripides subverted their protestations of peace either by exposure of the manipulation of the rhetoric of peace or by putting them into an apparently unfitting frame. If this is proved then what is known as the pacifist’s interpretation remains unsupported.

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