David Carter (Head of the International Study and Language Institute, University of Reading) will address the topic “Tragic Freedoms”.
In this lecture I explore two ways in which personal freedoms are presented and negotiated in Greek tragedy.
-Freedom of speech. Several characters in tragedy, especially in Euripides, appear to make claims for parrhēsia (free, unrestrained speech). But, on closer examination, tragic parrhēsia turns out to be something that has to be negotiated carefully. It is not an automatic right.
-Freedom of movement. I will discuss several examples where female characters, especially unmarried women and girls, do not have complete freedom of movement. I shall attempt to find patterns of behaviour across the tragic corpus, which might in turn reveal underlying social rules.
In both cases it is clear that personal freedoms are not taken for granted in Greek tragedy but, rather, are problematized and often contested. Frequently these ancient Greek personal freedoms emerge as the product of social status rather than as rights guaranteed by law.