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by Archaeology Newsroom

Suicides in antiquity

Although it is unknown as a term in ancient Greek, suicide is nevertheless present in Graecoroman antiquity. Ajax, an emblematic suicide, turned his deed into an act of bravery. However, suicide is approved of, when it protects male honour. What if, though, the hero’s suicide is due to a narcissistic trauma? From among the real or mythical women suicides, Sappho stands out for her “drowning”. What, however , is its symbolism? The five “Romantic” novels of late antiquity are haunted by despair in love, but intended suicide acts as an affirmative gesture to life. For the Romans, the suicide’s methods conceal all sorts of symbolisms. The stoic philosophers Seneca and Epictetus were in favour of a voluntary exit from the game of life.