The 'Tragic' Father of Gods and Men: A Study and Comparison of Euripides' Zeus and Seneca's Jupiter
Sleeth, Constance Lorraine
This dissertation is a study and comparison of the gods Zeus and Jupiter within various tragedies of Euripides and Seneca. It is concerned above all with the tragic representation of the two gods and the various levels of meaning that can be ascribed to individual references to each of them in a given play. The study furthermore discusses similarities and differences that exist between Euripides’ representation of Zeus and Seneca’s of Jupiter and how those changes affect the interpretation of the god and of each drama.The study is comprised of three “Parts” each subdivided into chapters. Part I (“The Cosmos”) is concerned with broad notions of fate, justice and nature, with a chapter devoted to each concept. Part II (“Family”) analyzes Zeus and Jupiter’s familial relationships with other deities and mortals in four chapters: two devoted to Zeus and Jupiter as “Father of Gods” and two to “Father of Men.” Finally, Part III (“Challengers”) discusses the potential for threats to Zeus and Jupiter’s supreme position, by looking first at the early cosmogonic enemies of the gods (the Titans, Giants and Typhoeus) and two figures molded in their image (Capaneus and Ajax). The final chapter is a study of Seneca’s Medea and Atreus as two opponents of Jupiter who are successful theomachists; Medea as a threat to Jupiter’s world-order and Atreus as Jupiter’s successor.I demonstrate that while Zeus and Jupiter share many similar qualities and are represented as being concerned with the same issues in a general way, the two gods differ substantially in each playwright’s corpus in specific situations. Moreover, Euripides’ Zeus is shown to be far more secure in his position as Lord of Olympus than his Senecan counterpart. Jupiter, although he remains a sovereign deity, is plagued by threats to his imperium; indeed by the end of Seneca’s Thyestes Jupiter is forced to leave the play-world and his own position in the heavens.
Advisor: Allan, Arlene L.; Dominik, William J.
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Classics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Euripides; Seneca; Zeus; Jupiter; Tragedy; Greek mythology; Roman mythology
Research Type: Thesis