The Questioning of Ideology in Euripides’ Trojan Women
Paul van Uum
Greek tragedy has always been regarded as a source of timeless values and lessons for human life. However, at its first performance in Athens tragedy was firmly embedded in its social and political context and was in constant dialogue with contemporary Athenian ideology. This article analyses the ideological function of Greek tragedy, using Foucault’s concept of heterotopia as a framework . First, the article explores the heterotopical elements of the theatre of Dionysus, the performance space of drama. Next, it focuses on the heterotopical aspects of the mythical space of the tragic plot. The last part of the article studies Euripides’ Trojan Women as an example of the ideological function of tragedy, by placing the play in its cultural and historical context and analysing its relation to the contemporary Athenian ideology.
All dates in this article are before Christ, except for the date 1998, the year of the movie Saving Private Ryan. I wish to express my gratitude to professor Irene de Jong, Niels Koopman, and the editors of this volume for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. Needless to say, I take responsibility for any flaw in the argument.
Performance Space: the Theatre of Dionysus
Tragedy offered a visual representation of traditional Greek stories, such as the Trojan War or the vicissitudes of Oedipus. It was performed in the theatre of Dionysus, which was built in the city centre of Athens on the southern slope of the acropolis. The original fifth-century theatre has completely disappeared nowadays, but archaeologists have demonstrated that it belonged to a large sanctuary of Dionysus including a temple and an altar. The theatre and sanctuary were used during the City Dionysia, the annual festival of Dionysus held at the end of March.
The Dionysia were organised by and conducted on behalf of the Athenian polis – the state and community of the Athenians. This follows for example from the fact that the archon eponymous, the supervisor of the public cults and sanctuaries, selected three tragedians for the dramatic contest of the festival. He also appointed rich Athenian citizens who had to pay the choregia – a special tax – to support the production of the plays. During the festival itself, the Athenian polis likewise occupied a prominent position. For example, the Athenian political leaders, the strategoi, made libations to the gods on behalf of the community, which was normally done by an official and publicly-appointed priests. The Athenian citizens who attended the assembly and had a direct influence on the politics of the city were also present in the theatre. The 500 members of the Athenian Council even had special seats .
Despite its firm connection with Athenian politics, the Dionysia at the same time had a carnival atmosphere and provided relief from political life. During the festival conventional values and structures were suspended, questioned and – occasionally – criticised. The theatre, the location of the festival and the performance space of tragedy, can thus be considered a heterotopia. Foucault distinguishes several features of a heterotopia which all apply to the theatre of Dionysus:
- According to Foucault, a heteropia is part of society but allows transgressions and deviations from norms. The fact that the polis of Athens occupied a prominent position in the festival, shows that the theatre of Dionysus was ‘part of the society’. Deviation from norms is shown by the fact that the festival and theatre were open to non-citizens, who were normally excluded from civic discourse. The state generally made a strict distinction between male citizens and other groups, such as metics – foreigners residing in the city – and women. The adult, male citizen was socially and politically active and participated in the council, the assembly and the courts of the city. Women and metics were essentially excluded from political discourse. During the City Dionysia, however, distinctions between citizens and others were suspended. Non-citizens were permitted to attend the festival and were allowed to play an active part in the celebrations . Deviation from norms and the questioning of conventional values are prominent in the dramatic performances of the festival. In addition to tragedy, the theatre also hosted the performance of comedy. Tragedy and comedy are both ‘genres of transgression’ and dramatise problems of the democratic state. In comedy, characters overtly ridicule contemporary politicians and try to solve problems of the state in a fantastic way. For example, in Aristophanes’ Wasps, the Athenian Anticleon, whose name means ‘Against-Cleon’, openly accuses the political leader Cleon of corruption and fraud. Similarly, in the Lysistrata, the women of Greece exhort their men to settle the Peloponnesian War by denying them sexual gratification. Tragedy more indirectly stages contemporary problems of the state . The third part of this article will present Euripides’ play Trojan Women as an example.
- Heterotopias are often of a temporary nature: after a short period of license, the social and political order is restored again . This corresponds to the situation in Athens, where the questioning of ideology was restricted to the time of the festival, which lasted only six days.
- Heterotopias often have a system of opening and closing, which usually consists of (purifying) rituals. The opening ritual signifies the transition of the community to ‘another world’, where deviation from norms and the questioning of ideology is permitted. The ritual of closing indicates the return of the community to the normal world. In the case of Athens, the Athenian community held a procession to the sanctuary of Dionysus on the festival’s first day, whereupon a priest of Dionysus sacrificed several bulls to the god on behalf of the community. Moreover, before the dramatic performances a bleeding piglet was carried round the orchestra, the performance space, to ritually purify the theatre .
After the Dionysia, the theatre was taken over by the Athenian assembly for one day. This meeting of the assembly emphasised the authority of the male citizens over the other sections of the Athenian population. During the festival, the theatre had been open for all members of the community but, in the end, the social and political order was restored again. We might thus say that the ‘heterotopical’ space changed into a ‘normal’ space again .
The heterotopical nature of the festival can be explained by the transgressive nature of Dionysus, the patron god of the festival. In his myth and cult, the god is often presented as transgressing boundaries and defying definition. The god, for example, has a fluid identity and adopts features of both sexes: in Euripides’ Bacchants, Dionysus is presented as a youth ‘with golden curls’, but also as a ‘female in shape’ (236, 354); on Greek vases, he is often depicted as wearing the mitra, the headband of the maenads, his raging female followers. Similarly, Dionysus transgresses boundaries between man and animal: in the Bacchants, the maenads invoke the god in his manifestations of a bull, a serpent and a lion (1017-9); on vases, he is often depicted with a leopard skin; the satyrs, Dionysus’ male attendants, are likewise a combination between man and goat. The fluid identities of the god are also related to his manifestation as the patron god of the theatre and the actor. Dionysus oversees the actor’s transition to a new identity when he puts on the mask of a dramatic character. On vases, Dionysus is often represented with a mask in his hand or, symbolically, as a mask on a pole wrapped in a garment .
In addition to the performance space, the mythical space of the tragic plot is a heterotopia too. The questioning of ideology is not only confined to the space of the theatre but is also projected into ‘another world’.
At the start of the fifth century, historical events sometimes provided subject matter for tragedy. For example, in 493 the playwright Phrynichus staged a play about the Persian capture of the city of Miletus in Ionia. In the 490s, the inhabitants of that city had revolted against the Persian king Darius, who had increased his influence in the region. The Athenians, who were allies of the Milesians, had supported the revolution by sending ships and soldiers. The Persian king nevertheless struck back and in 494 he captured the city and deported the inhabitants to Susa. Herodotus says that during the performance of Phrynichus’ play the whole of the Athenian audience burst into tears, as they were reminded of ‘their own troubles’ (6.21). They fined Phrynichus a thousand drachmas and did not allow the play to be performed again.
Spectators can be emotionally affected by the events brought on stage. In his Poetics (1449b25-30), Aristotle states that the suffering of the protagonists and the horrible events onstage make the audience feel pity (eleos) and fear (phobos). As Phrynichus’ play shows, these emotions can become very fierce. This happens when the spectators recognise the events onstage as their own. We can compare this with the vehement reactions of World War II veterans, who were asked to watch the movie Saving Private Ryan in 1998.
A quarter of the men left the room ten minutes after the start of the movie. They were emotionally shocked by the events on the screen, which offered a rather too realistic representation of the Normandy Landings.
Vehement emotions of the spectators can be mitigated when the distance is created between the world of the drama and the audience or, in other words, when the spectators are not reminded of ‘their own troubles’. As for tragedy, this distance is provided by myth, since the mythical world is not identical to the world of the audience. From the start of tragedy, mythical stories were by far more popular as subject matter than historical events. In the course of the fifth century, moreover, the staging of historical events even came to a complete halt. The possibility of a too vehement reaction of the audience might have contributed to this change.
Tragedy often showed problems of the state and transgressive deeds that were not allowed in everyday life. By presenting these in a world different from that of the audience, the spectators would not be too strongly affected by the events of the play. In this sense the mythical world of tragedy can be regarded as a heterotopia, as it provides the setting for transgressions and deviation .
The distance between the mythical world and the audience is chronotopical: that is, temporal (1) and spatial (2).
- The mythical world belongs to the distant past of the Greeks, the so-called heroic age. Tragedy sometimes explicitly refers to the temporal distance between the heroes and the audience. For example, in Euripides’ Trojan Women, the Trojan queen Hecuba laments the fall of Troy. She attempts to console herself with the thought that her misery will inspire poets ‘of later generations’ (1246). The plot of the play is distanced from the present, as these poets live in the time of the audience and have not yet been born in the age of Hecuba.
- The plot of a tragedy is usually set outside Athens (the space of the audience), for example in Troy, Thebes or Argos . Troy is the other place par excellence, as this city was largely a ruin in the time of the audience. In this case, the world of drama optimally differs from the world of the audience .
Even though dramatic places are temporally and spatially detached from fifth-century Athens, in their physical aspects they resemble cities from the world of the audience. For example, the city of Troy in Trojan Women resembles a fifth-century Greek city. Troy contains temples of stone, dedicated to Zeus, Artemis and Athena (539-40, 552, 1061), a gymnasium, provided with a race-track and washing places (833-4), golden statues (1074) and monumental altars, placed on a platform and flanked by steps (16-7). Apart from these fifth-century elements, Troy also has typical ‘Trojan’ features, known from epic poetry, such as the river Scamander or Mount Ida in the plain . The same tendency is visible in Euripides’ Iphigenia among the Taurians, which takes place in front of a temple for Artemis in Tauris. Although Tauris lies in the Black Sea region, the temple resembles an ordinary Doric-Greek temple, present in Athens and other Greek cities. It consists of columns, high walls, a gold-decked frieze, and doors that can be closed by large, bronze bolts (96-7, 99, 128-9, 405-6). The only couleur locale that is reminiscent of Tauris is the Symplegades, the clashing rocks at the entrance of the Black Sea (241) .
I summarise the first two parts of this article. On the level of the tragic plot, the questioning of contemporary ideology is projected into the world of myth. On the level of the performance, this process is confined to the space of the theatre during a civic festival. Thus, the mythical world and the performance space form a double heterotopia. With this double safeguard, transgressions can safely be presented. The next part of the article presents a clear example of questioning ideology in tragedy. It focuses on Euripides’ Trojan Women, a play performed during the City Dionysia of 415. What aspects of Athenian ideology does this play discuss?
The Trojan Women and Ideology
Trojan Women takes place on the day after the fall of Troy. The Greeks have captured the city and killed the Trojan men (511-67). The Trojan women and children are divided among the Greek soldiers and led away to Greece as slaves and concubines. The protagonist of the tragedy is Hecuba, the former queen of Troy who repeatedly witnesses how her female relatives are led away from the Trojan land. Hecuba is accompanied by a chorus of Trojan women, who share in the same reversal of fortune.
The Trojan women voice their view on the Trojan War. They primarily react to the sorrows that the Greeks have caused them. For example, Hecuba laments the death of her husband Priam and grieves at the prospect of slavery in Greece (192-6). She also reminds the audience of her former royal status and her happy life in Troy. She says that she was of royal descent, had married into a royal house, and gave birth to children who surpassed the other Trojans in excellence (474-8). The singing of her former happiness emphasises the reversal of her fortune and makes her present suffering more poignant . According to Athenian ideology, women had to be silent and remain in the background (Thucydides 2.45). In Trojan Women, by contrast, women enter the public domain and speak with much more extremity than was actually allowed in society .
The misery of war is particularly highlighted by the presentation of the destruction of Troy. The Trojan women lament the spaces in the city which have been destroyed by the Greeks, such as the gymnasium, the golden statues, and the sanctuaries of the gods (15-6, 833-5, 1074). They also deplore their loss of the beautiful environment of Troy. They state for example that they will never see the Ida again, the mountain near Troy, with its lovely streams of meltwater and ivy-clad vales (1066-70). The fact that they have lost a very beautiful country, enhances their misery. This misery is even more emphasised, when the women present the shores of Troy as crying for them (828-30). This is an instance of pathetic fallacy, as space is given human emotions: the fate of the Trojan women is so unfortunate that even nature pities them.
The theme of the misery of war is not only evoked by the presentation of the destruction of Troy but it is also emphasised by the creation of a negative image of the Greeks, who are presented as behaving very rudely during the fall of Troy. Euripides uses techniques of characterisation to put the Greeks in a bad light. I will first show how he creates this negative characterisation, after which I will explain how the theme of the misery of war and the negative portrayal of the aggressors relates to Athenian ideology.
In representations of the Trojan War, the capture of the Troy is often accompanied by outrages and sacrileges of the Greeks, which can be stressed to a greater or lesser degree . Trojan Women highlights these acts in order to enhance the wickedness of the Greeks and to augment the misery caused by war. The following examples make this clear:
- The goddess Athena is angry since Ajax has dragged Cassandra ‘by force’ from her temple (70). This act implies sacrilege, since the prophetess enjoyed the protection of the goddess in her sanctuary. In the Sack of Ilion, an epic poem about the fall of Troy, the Greeks take Ajax to court and decide to stone him for his act. Ajax then takes refuge at an altar of Athena – the goddess whom he himself has dishonoured. The Greeks decided to leave him there, as they are anxious to commit sacrilege themselves . In Trojan Women, by contrast, this episode is suppressed. Athena says that Ajax has not been punished or censured by the Greeks (71). Euripides thus implicates the whole army of the Greeks in the sacrilege of Ajax, as they have not tried to punish him.
- Neoptolemus, too, has committed sacrilege. He has killed Priam at the altar of Zeus, where the Trojan king had taken refuge as a suppliant (16-7). Greek epic told several stories about the death of Priam. In the Little Iliad, Neoptolemus drags Priam from the altar and kills him at the gates of the palace. This version of the murder mitigates the sacrilege of Neoptolemus, as he does not kill Priam at a sacred place. Trojan Women, by contrast, follows the version of the Sack of Ilion, where Priam is murdered at the altar . Thus, Euripides does not mitigate the sacrilege but shows it in full force.
- Agamemnon, the general of the Greeks, has insulted the god Apollo by choosing the virgin Cassandra as his concubine. He has committed sacrilege (43-4), since the virginity of Cassandra is dedicated to the god (253-4). This presentation of Cassandra’s virginity is probably an innovation by Euripides . As a consequence, the play expands the outrages of the Greeks and emphasises their impiety.
- Andromache informs Hecuba that her daughter Polyxena has been sacrificed at the tomb of Achilles. Andromache has seen Polyxena’s body lying near the grave and has mourned it and covered it with clothes by way of a burial (626-7). In Euripides’ Hecuba, performed in the 420s, the sacrifice of Polyxena is also presented. In this play, the ghost of Achilles appears to ask for the sacrifice as a gift for his tomb (115-6). He says that the sacrifice of Polyxena will bring the Greeks a favourable breeze and will allow them to sail home. The Greeks obey Achilles, but they pity the Trojan princess (567). For example, during the sacrifice, Neoptolemus is said to raise his sword ‘reluctantly’ (566). Similarly, after the sacrifice the Greek soldiers erect a pyre to pay Polyxena the last honours (574- 6). In Trojan Women, by contrast, the order of Achilles is absent, the Greeks show no pity, and the soldiers do not arrange a burial. The corpse of Polyxena is buried by Andromache, who happens to pass the tomb where the corpse has been left. This is probably an innovation in the myth of the fall of Troy , in order to present the Greeks as more cruel and ruthless.
The list of Greek outrages during the fall of Troy could be even more expanded, for example by the execution of the infant Astyanax (725) and the murders of the Trojans at the altars and statues of the gods (562, 599). On the whole, the cruelties conjure up a negative characterisation of the Greeks and emphasise the misery caused by war.
The negative image of the Greeks is created in still another way. After the announcement of the execution of Astyanax, Andromache reproaches the Greeks for their malice and calls them the ‘inventors of barbarian deeds’ (764). This remark is striking since it was generally the Greeks who called all non-Greek peoples ‘barbarians’. This designation usually had a negative connotation, as Greeks considered themselves to be superior to non-Greeks. This feeling of superiority had been enhanced by their successful war against the Persians at the start of the fifth century. The Greeks attributed all kinds of negative, stereotypical features to non-Greek peoples. They generally regarded Easterners as slavish, effeminate and decadent, and Northerners as violent and ferocious. This negative appraisal of barbarians is to a certain degree also projected into the mythological world. For example, in Trojan Women, the Trojans are given stereotypical eastern features. Troy is ruled by a tyrant (1169), the city is laden with gold (994-5), and the inhabitants have a preference for refined clothes (991-2). However, the polarisation between Greeks and barbarians is inverted as well. Andromache, a ‘barbarian’ woman from a Greek point of view, has always shown herself to be a virtuous wife and has lived according to Athenian standards: she always stayed inside her house (650), was averse to ‘female gossip’ and obedient to her husband (651-4). The Greeks, by contrast, are presented as cruel and excessive and are given stereotypical barbarian traits. The Greek woman Helen for example embodies several kinds of (negative) eastern features: she has a preference for gold (1107) and demands prostration from the Trojans like an Oriental empress (1021). Andromache, moreover, unambiguously calls the whole army of the Greeks ‘barbarians’. Thus, Trojan Women shows that barbarians can be noble and that Greeks can behave reprehensibly. We might say then that the play examines the Greek-barbarian polarisation of the fifth century and questions the superiority of Greeks to non-Greeks .
The Greeks are not only given a stereotypical Trojan (barbarian) characterisation but they are even set on equal terms with the Trojans, who are the losers of the war. The prophetess Cassandra states that the war has not only caused misery for the Trojans, but for the Greeks as well. She says that the Greek men were deprived of their women and children during the war (371-2, 377), that they died one after another on the battlefield (369), and that their graves will not be tended by their relatives (380-1). She predicts moreover that the surviving Greeks will not return home triumphantly: Agamemnon will be murdered by his wife upon arrival (357-66) and Odysseus will roam the sea for ten years (433-43). Likewise, the gods Athena and Poseidon, who feature in the prologue, predict that they will cause the Greeks sorrow on their way home as punishment for their outrages after the fall of Troy. The gods state that they will stir up the Aegean Sea, strike the Greek ships with thunderbolts, and fill the shores of the Greek islands with corpses (78-81). Thus, after their victory in war, the Greeks will nevertheless perish themselves .
How does this all relate to fifth-century Athenian ideology? According to this ideology, success in war was glorious. The Athenians praised their military achievements orally – in public (funeral) orations (Thucydides 2.36) – as well as visually – on public monuments, such as the sculptures on the sanctuaries of the acropolis. They compared contemporary military successes with wars from epic to elevate the dignity of recent victories. Epic was of paramount importance in Athenian education and generally presented victory in war as glorious . The presentation of war in the Trojan Women contrasts with Athenian ideology since the Greeks are not given praise but are set on equal footing with the losers.
The presentation of war in Trojan Women questions the Athenian war ideology of the late fifth century when Athens conducted an aggressive and imperialistic policy in Greece. On the initiative of Athens, several Greek cities formed an alliance called the Delian League, which dealt with the defense of Greece after the Persian Wars. The members of the League paid taxes (in the form of money or ships) to the treasury on Delos. In 454, however, Athens appropriated the treasury whereupon the League gradually became an empire of the leader. The Athenians imposed their laws on the allies and used their funds for prestigious building projects in Athens, such as the sanctuaries on the acropolis, to show the glory of the Athenian community. Athens also forced independent cities to join the League and to contribute to the treasury. This policy stirred up ill-feelings among the members of the alliance who sometimes rose in rebellion to cast off the yoke of Athens (for example Mytilene in 427 and Scione in 421). These rebellions were harshly suppressed by Athens. The Athenians besieged the rebellious cities, killed their male population, and enslaved women and children.
Due to their imperialistic policy, the Athenians came into conflict with the Spartans, who formed a power block against their empire. Sparta was the leader of the Peloponnesian League, which was an alliance of cities on the Peloponnese and acted as a counterpart to the Delian League. During their conflict, which went down in history as the Peloponnesian War, Athens and Sparta did not shun violence in order to curtail each other’s power. For example, in 422the Athenians attacked the city of Torone, a member of the Peloponnesian League, where they killed all Spartans who defended the city. This aggressive form of warfare was new in Greece: before the Peloponnesian War losing parties (or their prominent representatives) were not killed but exiled from their cities (anastasis). The Peloponnesian War thus witnessed a rise of excessive violence and aggression in Greece .
The Athenians justified their imperialistic policy by presenting themselves as the educators of Greece (Thucydides 2.41). They claimed to have offered the Greeks law, democracy, and freedom from the Persians. They composed elaborate public speeches to praise their empire and military achievements as well as the warriors who had died for their city. Trojan Women shows the other side of war. Euripides does not present military successes as providing glory, but only misery – for victors and losers alike. The aggressors moreover are put in a bad light by the emphasis on their outrages after the fall of the city. The negative presentation of war questions the dominant ideology of Athens. Trojan Women invites the audience to reflect on the aggressive policies of the state and on the outrages of the Peloponnesian War, for which the Trojan War is used as an equivalent. The aggressive behaviour of the mythical Greeks at Troy can be compared with the violent actions of the Athenians (and Spartans) in fifth-century Greece: as the Trojan War caused grief in the mythical age, so the Peloponnesian War produces misery in the fifth century . We might thus conclude that in the heterotopia of tragedy, war is not glorious but only miserable.
Heterotopias are often utopias, ideal places where the problems of the community are absent, or dystopias, places where the problems of the society reign supreme . Both places show the transgressions of norms and deviations from the dominant ideology of the community. In Trojan Women, Troy becomes a dystopia, as the positive status of war in Athenian ideology is completely suppressed. The performance of Trojan Women, however, did not change the dominant ideology of the society or bring a halt to the aggressive, imperialistic policy of Athens. On the contrary, in 415 the Athenians sailed to Sicily to expand their territory and to increase their influence in the West. This renewed the hostilities between Athens and Sparta since the Spartans came to the support of their allies on the island. The questioning of ideology, then, remained restricted to the festival of Dionysus and the space of the theatre. After the Dionysia, the social and political order was restored again and the dominant ideology was reaffirmed. Success in war became glorious once more and the imperialistic ambitions of the Athenians could revive.
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3. Rehm (2002: 55-6). The Athenian society was male dominated in the sense that only men were involved in politics. Women, however, could contribute to the well-being of the Athenian community, for example by performing agricultural duties or by participating in the religious life of the polis.
8. Seaford (2006: 23-4); Guettel Cole (2007: 327-35). On vases the personification of tragedy (tragoidia) is sometimes depicted as a female follower of Dionysus. Yet tragedy was also performed at festivals of other gods. For example, in Delphi tragedy was staged at a festival of Apollo, the patron god of the oracle (Scullion 2005: 34-5).
9. Croally (1994: 40; 2005: 67-8). Foucault only regards real spaces as heterotopias. The use of the concept is here broadened so as to include fictional spaces too. Greek tragedy not only confines transgression to the real space of the theatre but also the fictional space of myth.
10. For the distance of the mythical world see: Croally (2005: 67); Mastronarde (2010: 20). In tragedies that use Athens as a setting, questioning of ideology and deviation from norms is normally reduced. For example, in Euripides’ Suppliants, the Athenians are praised for their democratic constitution, freedom of speech and equality among citizens (427-63). The questioning of ideology in a setting that is (more or less) identical with the world of the audience, would damage their self-image. In that case, the spatial distance is lacking and the spectators would recognise the dramatic world as their own.
11. Zeitlin ( 1992) claims that only Thebes serves as ‘other place’ in tragedy. In Thebes, problems and transgressions are pushed to the extreme, as a consequence of which the city always ends in chaos and destruction. By projecting problems and transgressions onto Thebes, the self-image of the Athenians is not damaged. Croally (1994: 38-40), by contrast, argues that every city can function as ‘other place’. In his view, all mythical cities have ‘fictional’ status and therefore differ from the world of the audience. It seems, moreover, that Troy was more often used as setting than Thebes, when one surveys the surviving tragedies.
12. Likewise, in the Iliad, the city of Troy resembles a city from the time of the poet – that is, the early seventh century. For example, Troy has temples that resemble those of the seventh century, as they have a stone foundation (Iliad 9.404) and a roof of thatch (1.39). The story of the Trojan War goes back to earlier traditions, but has changed in the course of time. Cf. Crielaard (1995: 253).
14. Luschnig (1971: 11). In a metapoetical remark, Hecuba herself explains the rhetoric of her lament: ‘First, it is my desire to sing of my happiness, for in this way I shall raise more pity for my woes (472-3).’
15. Croally (1994: 85-6). Questioning of ideology is mitigated not only by projecting it into ‘another world’, but also on ‘other characters’. Tragedy is populated by characters who are ‘other’ from the point of view of the Athenian citizen, such as women, slaves, and barbarians. In Trojan Women, questioning of ideology is put into the mouths of women. If a (politically active) Athenian citizen would question ideology, the self-image of the Athenian men could be damaged and vehement reactions could be provoked (Croally 2005: 66-8). According to Mendelsohn (2002: 224-33), Euripidean tragedy presents two kinds of women: the suffering woman and the transgressive woman. In tragedy, women repeatedly suffer by the decisions of men. Tragedy, however, enables them to express their grief or to rebel against men. According to Mendelsohn, Euripides opts for a society where women are incorporated in the public discourse. His tragedies show that marginalisation of women-only causes them misery and grief, as a result of which they can rise in rebellion.
16. The sacrileges can also be wholly suppressed. For example, in an ode of the sixth-century poet Ibycus (fragment 1a Page  1967), the Greeks are praised for having captured Troy. The heroes are compared to Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos, to whom the ode is dedicated. In this case, a negative characterisation of the Greeks would diminish the praise of the addressee of the ode.
17. The date of composition of the Sack of Ilion is discussed – either early seventh century (simultaneously with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey) or sixth century. For an overview of this discussion see: Burgess (2001: 7-46). The Sack of Ilion has not been passed down to us, but a summary of the poem is preserved in the Chrestomathy of the philosopher Proclus (second or fifth century AD). For the sacrilege of Ajax see: Chrestomathy 261-5. For more details see: Anderson 1997, 50-1.
18. The Little Iliad has not been passed down to us, but a reference to the episode of the murder (as treated in this epic) is made by the geographer Pausanias (second century AD) in his Description of Greece (10.27.2). For the story of the murder in the Sack of Ilion see: Proclus, Chrestomathy 257-8.
25. In the past, several scholars argued that Trojan Women reacted to the aggressive Athenian invasion of the island Melos in the winter of 416/5 (e.g. Lee 1976: ix-x). Van Erp Taalman Kip (1987: 414-9), however, has shown that the time span between the Melian invasion and the City Dionysia in March was too short for Euripides to produce the play and train the chorus and actors. He must, therefore, have started the production of the play before the Melian invasion. It is more likely, then, that Trojan Women reacts to the general violence of the Peloponnesian War (Kuch 1998: 149-50). 26. Keith Booker ( 2008: 624-5).