Ein Opfer für Ares

Zur Paradoxie des Gründungsmythos in Euripides’ Phoinissen

in Poetica
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  • 1 Berlin


This paper analyses the human sacrifice of Menoeceus in Euripides’ Phoenissae. In the third epeisodion, Teiresias draws on the history of Thebes and its royal family to justify the sacrifice and the choice of Menoeceus as its victim. But what are the ritual or cultural models outside the dramatic fiction that inform this sacrifice and made it under­standable for the contemporary ancient Athenian audience? To answer this question, I discuss possible similarities to pre-battle sacrifice, the pharmakos-ritual, and the mythical pattern of a hero who sacrifices himself for the community. The relation of this sacrifice to the foundation of Thebes, which itself plays a prominent role in the play’s choral odes, is then examined in a concluding section. Here, the crucial question is whether the sacrifice restates the act of foundation and its violence or instead negates and invalidates it.


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