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Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature$
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Lesel Dawson and Fiona McHardy

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414098

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414098.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

The Vengeful Lioness in Greek Tragedy: A Posthumanist Perspective1

The Vengeful Lioness in Greek Tragedy: A Posthumanist Perspective1

Chapter:
(p.203) Chapter 10 The Vengeful Lioness in Greek Tragedy: A Posthumanist Perspective1
Source:
Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Author(s):

Alessandra Abbattista

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414098.003.0011

This chapter reinterprets the animal metaphors used in ancient Greek tragedy to describe revenging women from a posthumanist perspective. Whereas critics have commonly regarded such metaphors as indicating the female revenger’s inhuman savagery and otherness (whereby a woman’s attempt to assume a male heroic role transforms her instead into a monstrous beast), posthumanism challenges conventional distinctions between animal and human, male and female. Drawing on the work of Rosi Braidotti, it argues that female revengers similarly challenge these distinctions. The metaphorical metamorphosis of Aeschylus’ Clytemnestra and Euripides’ Medea into lionesses reveals their complex figuration as male-female hybrid beings, recalling the tragic suffering and protective violence of the Homeric lion within a new context of interfamilial conflicts. These transformations engender terror but also compassion, evoking new ways of conceptualising humans-as-animals that invite recognition of our own unstable and hybrid nature.

Keywords:   Posthumanism, revenge, Greek tragedy, Rosi Braidotti, female revengers, Aeschylus, Clytemnestra, Euripides, Medea, lionesses

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