Professor Judith Fletcher will give a public lecture: “The Curse as a Garment in Greek Tragedy”
In three famous Athenian tragedies, textiles and clothing are associated with death and disfigurement: the robe that Clytemnestra uses to bind and kill her husband — pictured on the famous Boston krater — in Aeschylus' Agamemnon; the anointed peplos that Deianeira gives to her husband Heracles in Sophocles' Trachiniae in the belief that she is using a love charm; and the magical flesh eating garment that Euripides' Medea sends to Jason's new wife.
This paper argues that the tragedians inherited the ritual metaphor of the deadly robe from an ancient Near Eastern tradition developed in the third millennium BCE, thousands of years before tragedy was produced in Athens.
Fletcher is a professor in the department of history at Wilfrid Laurier University and an expert on Greek literature. Among her many books and articles, she is the author of Performing Oaths in Classical Greek Drama (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and most recently The Backward Gaze: Myths of the Underworld in Contemporary Film and Fiction (Oxford University Press 2015).