Euripides' Andromache and the dynamics of Philia

Author: Pártay, Kata
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2019, vol. 24, iss. 1, pp. 145-158
Extent
145-158
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
Abstract(s)
In the present paper, through the analysis of the different meanings of philia in Andromache, I wish to show how Euripides makes use of the polysemy of the term in his play. There is no consensus among scholars of Ancient Greek about the exact meaning of the word philos or other related expressions such as philein and philia. It seems apparent, however, that the use of these terms went through significant changes from the time of Homer to the fifth century. In classical Athens, the term could take on different meanings depending on the situation it was used in, sometimes denoting emotional relationships based on personal feelings and attitudes, sometimes referring to socially regulated, politically influenced ones. Through a close reading of those passages of Andromache which deal with the situation of Andromache in the oikos of Neoptolemus, I would like to demonstrate that the interpretation of the terms signifying family relationships and friendships are especially prone to change depending on the speaker's current situation and aims. The main conflict of the play revolves around the status of Andromache and most of the cases in which the term philos is used are connected to Andromache, therefore it seems justified to concentrate on the question of who is or might be regarded as her philos. The characters manipulate and distort the meaning of the word to serve their own purposes. My suggestion is that Euripides uses conflicting concepts of philia which belong to different codes of behaviour and sets of values and by doing so reveals the inherent tensions in some of the terms and concepts which were prevalent in fifth-century Athens.
Document
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