Throughout many ancient Greek texts, there are aspects of nature playing important roles in the main plot. Sometimes they assist the thesis through a metaphor or simile which better visualizes the author's true meaning. Lions have many different personality traits which make them extremely diverse creatures. This also promotes various applications to characters in literary works. In two works, the Oresteia by Aeschylus and Euripides' Bacchae, we see a continuing line of examples of lion imagery. Alongside this literary aspect, the analysis of characters' gender roles is possible. When observing these two concepts both individually and in conjunction with each other, the reader is better able to grasp the true meaning of the authors' intended point.
The lion can be seen as a powerful animal, as well as be noted for its slyness and deceitful tendencies. This "king of beasts" is regarded as blood-thirsty creatures who is ruthless and threatening. In the Oresteia, Aeschylus makes known the similarities between many of the main characters and this beast through their common lion-like qualities. In Peter Meineck's translation of the Oresteia, a description of the "true nature" of the lion is explained. In this example, an orphan lion cub is taken in by a caring family, and, in turn, grows up to be the predator of the family's livestock and therefore, an enemy (lines 717-735). "The lion reared in a home, at first gentle and tame, but finally betraying its inherent cruel nature is used allegorically for the career of Helen"(Keith 124). Helen, the wife of Paris, and former wife of Menelaus, is the initial cause for the Trojan War into which the brother...
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...hrough gender role reversal and the meaning of various characteristics of animals.
Esposito, Stephen. Euripides: Bacchae. Newburyport: Focus Publishing, 1998.
Kalke, Christine M. "The Making of a Thyrsus: the Transformation of Pentheus in Euripides' Bacchae." American Journal of Philology. (106), 409-26.
Keith, Arthur Leslie. Simile and Metaphor in Greek Poetry from Homer to Aeschylus. Pub Menasha: George Banta Publishing, 1994.
Martin, Thomas. Overview of Archaic and Classical Greek History. Accessed on 19 December, 1999. URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi- bin/text?lookup=trm+ov+4.8&vers=english
Meineck, Peter. Aeschylus: Oresteia. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 1998.
Seaford, R. Euripides' Bacchae with an Introduction, Translation, Commentary, 1996.
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