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Silence II: Solidarity And Complicity

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Chapter Summary

Euripides invents two characters who perform silences-Hippolytus and Theonoe-who, interestingly enough, are both self-professed virgins. Euripides, however, goes beyond the mere physical and enables his female choruses to share in the development of an intrigue by endowing them with a communal personality that is constantly en- gaged morally and ethically with a heroine. One of the crucial elements in this is the creation of female friendships. The female solidarity that so often operates in Euripides' tragedies is based on the mutual dependence and propinquity of Athenian women in real life. A crucial determinant in whether a female chorus keeps silent about a particular intrigue is female solidarity; in Medea, Hippolytus, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Helen, the choruses agree to keep secrets because they are convinced that the heroine's interests coincide with their own. The oaths to silence made by Euripidean female choruses differ from male silences in two important respects.

Keywords: complicity; Helen; Hippolytus; Iphigenia in Tauris; Medea; silence; solidarity



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