Power for Women in Alcestis and Hippolytus

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Is it feasible that through the loss of one’s life and being, one would be able to gain influence and power? Does this fatal gain of power show a previous lack of it? Does forgoing one’s life for an honorable cause improve a woman’s reputation in turn giving her more power? Through our studies, we have discovered that typically women exhibit a limited amount of agency in ancient Greece. Women occasionally assert dominance in the household; although, even within the home they posses limited influence over their husbands. An interesting theme runs though Euripides theatrical tragedies Alcestis and Hippolytus. In each play the lead female character forgoes her life for the sake of love. In Alcestis, Alcestis willingly gives her life to prevent her husband Admentus' death. In Hipplytus, Phaedra chooses to commits suicide as a result of falling in love with her husband’s son and refusing to be deceitful to her husband. Consequently, is self-professed death a venue for the women to assert authority and gain status and agency? How do their reputations and the reputations of their households affect this increase of power? In ancient Greece, women, through sacrifice of their lives, uphold and improve their reputation through which they increase their influence and power in society, yet although they are praised by society because of these valiant deeds, they are unable to actively reap the benefits of this powerful reputation. Numerous sources including Euripides’ tragedies show that reputations are held with the highest regard in ancient Greece. It is through people's perceptions that one is judged; therefore, reputation should be upheld at the greatest of costs. Laws of Greek society allow for a ma... ... middle of paper ... ... Phaedra preserves her reputation and altered her husband’s behavior through her suicide. Yet, there was a trade off: each woman acquired a greater amount of power, yet lost her life in the process. However, because Greek society praised honorable death, this was an appropriate societal action and a proper way for the women to acquire power. Women did assert power in choosing to take their own lives and improve their reputations. Small summary: Greek tragedies show that women, through sacrifice of their lives, uphold and improve their reputation through which they increase their influence and power in society. Yet, there was a trade off: each woman acquired a greater amount of power, yet lost her life in the process. However, because Greek society praised honorable death, this was an appropriate societal action and a proper way that women acquired power.

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