Supplication and empire in Athenian tragedy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the character of the Athenian panegyric in suppliant drama against the background of the development of Athens' empire. Suppliant plays predominantly depicted Athens as a haven for suppliants and outsiders. Further probed, this fixed representation allowed the playwrights to represent Athens as a hegemonic city and to explore the character of her power. The ramifications of this reading are discussed in relation to Euripides' Children of Heracles; the depiction of Athens as a free city in this play varies the coordinates of the shared pattern in response to the contingencies facing Athens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. In the course of the play, the negotiation of the suppliants' reception demonstrates the effort expended in justifying the benefits Athens reaps from her ventures on behalf of mythical suppliants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWhy Athens?
Subtitle of host publicationA Reappraisal of Tragic Politics
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780191724978
ISBN (Print)9780199562329
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • Audience
  • Children of Heracles
  • Euripides
  • Ideology
  • Politics
  • Tragedy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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  • Cite this

    Tzanetou, A. (2011). Supplication and empire in Athenian tragedy. In Why Athens?: A Reappraisal of Tragic Politics (pp. 305-324). Oxford University Press.