The Labours of Heracles as Labours of Love

Date created: 
2016-10-27
Identifier: 
etd9847
Keywords: 
Autochthones
Polarization
The God of victims and the God of persecutors
Foundational anthropology
Repression
Sparagmos
Abstract: 

In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche describes Euripides’s unique place in the history of Greek thought. This thesis considers the implications of Nietzsche’s case by analyzing Euripides’s fifth-century tragedy Herakles. It argues that, for Euripides, the Heracles figure characterizes the shift from a mythic to a tragic worldview. As Heracles’s role in myth suggests the struggle of an individual repressed by society, Euripides’s use of allegory, which he sharply contrasts with tragic realism, reveals the consequences of an increase in self-consciousness. This shift from myth to tragedy suggests the importance of René Girard’s theory of mimetic rivalry and a scapegoat mechanism, the efficacy of which is shown by comparing Heracles and Job. Because an elevated figure is disgraced in both literary works, the comparison is illustrative of foundational anthropology. Job and Heracles, in their respective traditions, represent the central position of a virtual scapegoat onto whom communal violence is directed, displaced, and even transcended.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Mirhady
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts
Statistics: