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θεοί νύ μοι αἴτιοί εἰσιν

Helen’s Agency and the Gods in Homer and Euripides

Alexandre Johnston    University of Oxford, UK    

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abstract

This article explores Homeric and tragic perspectives on the origins of the Trojan War, and specifically on the respective roles of Helen and the gods. Focusing on key passages from the Iliad and Euripides’ Trojan Women, it investigates how these works depict the relationship between Helen’s and the gods’ agency and responsibility in bringing about the war. In doing so, it offers new perspectives on the broader issue of the interaction of divine and human agency in early Greek thought, arguing that this question remained a topic of instability and uncertainty rather than being resolved (as modern scholars often assume) into a single, widely applicable principle. In a related sense, the article also foregrounds divine agency, taking it seriously as something which, for the ancient Greeks, was very real and mattered profoundly – in contrast to the (often implicit) tendency of modern scholarship to dismiss appeals to divine intervention in ancient Greek sources as a matter of rhetoric rather than belief. Using the example of Helen, I argue that they can be both at the same time.

Pubblicato
21 Dicembre 2023
Accettato
12 Agosto 2023
Presentato
04 Luglio 2023
Lingua
EN
ISBN (PRINT)
978-88-6969-759-3
ISBN (EBOOK)
978-88-6969-738-8

Keywords: GodsHomerEuripidesHelenAgency

Copyright: © 2023 Alexandre Johnston. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.