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The Tutor’s Beard

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Gender-Specific Communication and Speaker-Line Attribution in Greek Tragedy

image of Mnemosyne

In this paper I discuss several cases of controversial speaker-line attribution in Greek tragedy, with the overall goal of showing that greater attention needs to be paid to gender-specific language in the business of textual criticism. Differences between male and female speech in Greek drama may offer crucial indications for the attribution of contested lines. I argue that the distribution of E. El.959-966 in the manuscripts should be maintained, primarily for two gender-related reasons: women in tragedy do not give commands to servants if free men are present, and the discussion of clothing at 966 is typical of Electra’s female concerns. For the first half of the ‘recognition duet’ between Helen and Menelaus at E. Hel.625-659, I argue, on the basis of recent work on male and female lyric, that 638-640 should be assigned to Helen, and that there is no need to avoid giving 636 or 654-655 to Menelaus because they are ‘too emotional’ for a man. In discussing these passages I seek to contribute to the growing understanding of the distinct characteristics of tragic male and female language, and to argue for the role that the study of those characteristics can play in textual criticism.

Affiliations: 1: Magdalen College Oxford, OX1 4AU United Kingdom evert.vanemdeboas@magd.ox.ac.uk

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568525x-12301528
2015-07-02
2017-12-11

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