Literary Medieval Criticism

Aeschylus’s Suppliant Women: The Tragedy of Immigration by Geoffrey W. Bakewell

By Geoffrey W. Bakewell

This publication bargains a provocative interpretation of a comparatively overlooked tragedy, Aeschylus's Suppliant Women. even if the play's topic is a venerable fable, it frames the flight of the daughters of Danaus from Egypt to Greece in starkly modern phrases, emphasizing the stumble upon among newbies and natives. a few students learn Suppliant Women as modeling profitable social integration, yet Geoffrey W. Bakewell argues that the play demonstrates, principally, the problems and hazards noncitizens delivered to the polis.

            Bakewell's method is conscientiously ancient, situating Suppliant Women within the context of the exceptional immigration that Athens skilled within the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. The circulation of foreigners to Attika elevated lower than the Pisistratids yet grew to become a flood following liberation, Cleisthenes, and the Persian Wars. As Athenians of the classical period grew to become more and more conscious of their very own collective identification, they sought to outline themselves and exclude others. They created a proper criminal prestige to designate the unfastened noncitizens residing between them, calling them metics and calling their prestige metoikia. while Aeschylus dramatized the legendary flight of the Danaids from Egypt in his play Suppliant Women, he did so in mild of his personal time and position. in the course of the play, at once and not directly, he casts the newbies as metics and their remain in Greece as metoikia.

            Bakewell maps the manifold anxieties that metics created in classical Athens, displaying that even though voters benefited from the various immigrants of their midst, additionally they feared the results of immigration in political, sexual, and financial nation-states. Bakewell unearths metoikia was once a deeply unsuitable approach to the matter of large-scale immigration. Aeschylus's Argives accredited the Danaids as metics simply lower than duress and as a short lived reaction to a difficulty. just like the ancient Athenians, they opted for metoikia simply because they lacked higher alternatives.

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