Journals Higher Education



Published: 05 September 1991

296 Pages

ISBN: 9780198147800

Bookseller Code (06)

Inventing the Barbarian

Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy

Edith Hall

A Clarendon Press Publication

Oxford Classical Monographs

Incest, polygamy, murder, sacrilege, impalement, castration, female power, and despotism are some of the images used by Athenian tragedians to define the non-Greek, "barbarian" world. This book explains for the first time the reasons behind their singular fascination with barbarians. Edith Hall sets the Greek plays against the historical background of the Panhellenic wars, and the establishment of an Athenian empire based on democracy and slavery. Analyzed within the context of contemporary anthropology and political philosophy, Hall reveals how the poets conceptualized the barbarian as the negative embodiment of Athenian civic ideals.