Shattered Mothers (and Relatives): Representing maternal Grief and Responsibility in Greek Tragedy Fragments
AbstractShattered Mothers (and Relatives): Representing maternal Grief and Responsibility in Greek Tragedy Fragments.
This study examines three fragmentary tragedies, Sophocles’ Eurypylus,Aeschylus’ Niobe, and Euripides’ Ino, focusing on the characterisationof the female protagonists. They are mothers who lose their offspring,either because of circumstances not linked to them, or becausethey happen to kill (with varying levels of actual responsibility) theirown children. Within the plot, they are closely intertwined with anothermember of their family: a male relative (brother, husband, father, etc.),who partially shares in the action taking place, and in the attention ofthe audience. At different levels, these characters share with the motherher feelings, grief, and sometimes even guilt for the death of the child orchildren. By showing their actions and inner connection with their femalerelative, the dramatists aim to enhance the portrayal of the motivations,grief and, in some cases, the justifications of the protagonist of theseplays: the mother. The aim of this study is to show how these malecharacters play the role of sounding boards for the female protagonists’guilt and sorrow: they magnify the characterisations of the mothers,and, above all, their grieving solitude.