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dc.contributor.advisorAllan, Arlene
dc.contributor.advisorBoyd, Brian
dc.contributor.authorMackay, Maria Anne
dc.date.available2019-04-01T21:08:18Z
dc.date.copyright2019
dc.identifier.citationMackay, M. A. (2019). Klytaimestra: Genetic and Gender Conflict in Greek Tragedy (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9194en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/9194
dc.description.abstractKlytaimestra is depicted as the accomplisher of great evil, in Archaic and Classical epic, lyric, and tragedy in ancient Greece. In the view of many, her characterization in ancient literature stands at the beginning of an enduring Western literary tradition of misogyny. In Homer’s Odyssey (11.433-434) she is referred to as the woman who has permanently ruined the reputation of every woman in the world, including ἐσσομένῃσιν ὀπίσσω/ θηλυτέρῃσι γυναιξί, καὶ ἥ κ᾽ ἐυεργὸς ἔῃσιν, “those of women-kind coming hereafter, and even... she who might be virtuous”. The negative characterization of this husband-murdering queen has been passed down, relatively unchanged, to the modern era, but more recent analysis questions this construction and reception. This thesis explores the characterization of Klytaimestra, primarily in the fifth-century BCE tragic Oresteia of Aiskhylos and the subsequent plays of Sophokles and Euripides, which present and explore Klytaimestra’ character, and proposes that her fictional life-history be interpreted through a biopoetic analysis which acknowledges gendered behaviours and conflict in a context of evolutionary principles. The analysis of the literary Klytaimestra through the lens of evolutionary psychology contributes to the critique of the patriarchal tradition of literary misogyny, which describes (and often defends) reproductive inequities across a wide range of human cultures. This thesis argues that the characterization of Klytaimestra in Greek literature, including tragedy, embodies the dynamics of genetic and gender conflict found universally across the human species (and across all doubly-sexed species). Klytaimestra’s life-story reflects the struggle of a fictional but realistically situated woman for personal and reproductive success in the context of coevolutionary antagonism between male and female animals; in Greek literary works her dehumanization and matricide are predictable outcomes in the context of ancient Greek culture, which unashamedly idealizes and enshrines male mating strategies and priorities. Greek tragedy is an especially overt illustration of the gene-gender struggle, perhaps because it was created, performed, and enjoyed by men, in a patriarchal society which embraced gender difference and inequity.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
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dc.subjectKlytaimestra
dc.subjectwomen in Greek tragedy
dc.subjectbiopoetics
dc.subjectevolutionary literary theory
dc.subjectgender conflict in tragedy
dc.subjectantagonistic coevolution in literature
dc.subjectnew critical approaches to the Oresteia
dc.titleKlytaimestra: Genetic and Gender Conflict in Greek Tragedy
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2019-04-01T05:43:18Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineClassics
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelDoctoral
otago.openaccessOpen
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