The Bacchae

Women as drivers of violence in If Not, Winter by Sappho, The Bacchae by Euripides V, and Symposium by Plato College

The Iliad by Homer, the text which is often referred to as the beginning the Greek literary tradition, begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over a woman. This fight takes place within a war which started because of Helen, who was stolen from the Achaeans by the Trojans on account of her overwhelming beauty. This is a theme which persists throughout the Greek literary tradition at large. While it is usually the men in these kinds of books who carry out acts of violence as warriors and combatants, it is often the action of or reaction to a woman that triggers an unfortunate series of events. Women very often are construed as drivers of violence in Greek literature, as exemplified by three key works: "If Not, Winter" by Sappho, The Bacchae by Euripides, and The Symposium by Plato.

As a lesbian, Sappho provides a unique perspective on the role of women in Greek society. She is somebody who is unable to procreate with the people to whom she is sexually attracted. From these factors, it can be inferred that Sappho does not love for the purpose of investing in her lineage or family line. Rather, her love with women is purely romantic in nature. In the first fragment of "If Not, Winter," she describes the goddess of...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1937 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10919 literature essays, 2722 sample college application essays, 756 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in