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Bigamy And Bastardy, Wives And Concubines: Civic Identity In Andromache

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Chapter Summary

When the plays of Euripides were first produced, the foremost purpose of marriage was production of children. Andromache portrays two women, each partially entitled to recognition as Neoptolemus' wife: a mother, the Trojan spear-won concubine, and the legally married but childless Greek spouse. Fantham observes that "only Euripides gave Andromache a son by Neoptolemus at the time of his marriage to Hermione, thus creating the sexual triangle which leaves barren bride and fertile concubine confronting each other in his absence." This dramatic situation evokes the historical issue of bigamy, formally acknowledged in the 413 bce relaxation of Pericles' citizenship law that allowed Athenian men to beget legitimate children from two citizen women. Its portrayal of a troubled bigamous household directs attention to the matter of civic identity. In the contest between the Greek spouse and foreign slave concubine mother, the latter emerges victorious; Andromache makes the transition to full wife.

Keywords: Andromache; bastardy; bigamy; civic identity; concubine; Euripides; foreign slave; Hermione; Neoptolemus' wife



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