Father, Womb, Blood: Apollo’s embryological theory, the ethics of revenge, and the supposed exclusion of women in Aischylos’ Eumenides
Articles
Johan Tralau
Uppsala University, Sweden
Published 2019-12-20
https://doi.org/10.15388/Litera.2019.3.1
PDF
HTML

Keywords

Aischylos
ἀδελφός
αὐτάδελφος
womb
mother
father

How to Cite

Tralau, J. (2019) “Father, Womb, Blood: Apollo’s embryological theory, the ethics of revenge, and the supposed exclusion of women in Aischylos’ Eumenides”, Literatūra, 61(3), pp. 8-21. doi: 10.15388/Litera.2019.3.1.

Abstract

In Aischylos’ Eumenides, Apollo intimates a theory according to which the father is the sole genetic parent of the child. The status of this conception, and whether it is depicted as an outlandish idea, has been much and inconclusively discussed. This paper considers a neglected piece of evidence: Apollo’s use of the very unusual word αὐτάδελφον when addressing Hermes. In light of the Greeks’ awareness of this etymology as well as the other instances of this rare word in tragedy, the author argues that Aischylos’ text highlights the etymological connection to δελφύς, the womb, thus evoking the role of the mother. This suggests that Aischylos subtly lets his, and Apollo’s, language rebel against the notion of merely paternal kinship, and the concomitant ideas about revenge, retaliation and children’s obligations to their parent.

PDF
HTML
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Please read the Copyright Notice in Journal Policy