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Hospitality & Homicide

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Violation of xenia in Euripides’ Electra

image of Mnemosyne

This paper analyzes the various functions of the theme of xenia in Euripides’ Electra. While it has been duly recognized that this motif plays an important role in other adaptations of the Orestes-story, most notably in Aeschylus’ Oresteia, it has gone relatively unnoticed that the theme is no less fundamental to the design of Euripides’ play. An appreciation of the complex patterns of hospitality underlying the Electra is crucial to a proper interpretation of this tragedy, and provides an important new way of approaching its much-discussed relationship with its literary predecessors. It will be argued that Euripides has employed this familiar motif in a unique and inventive way, entering into an intertextual dialogue with the examples set by Aeschylus and Homer’s Odyssey. Through a detailed analysis of several of the play’s most problematic features, including the introduction of the Farmer and the presentation of the two murder scenes, the intricate structure of this dialogue can be brought to light.

Affiliations: 1: Leiden University, Dept. of Classics mjo.verheij@yahoo.com

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/content/journals/10.1163/1568525x-12341582
2016-09-16
2017-11-22

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