The concept of Ananke in Greek Literature before 400 BCE
Green, Alison Clare
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study seeks to explore the concept of ἀνάγκη (and the related terms ἀναγκαίος and ἀναγκαίως) in Greek literature written before 400 BCE. All passages containing these words from the time period were located, translated and analysed according to specific criteria concerning the usage and interpretation of the term. The resulting exploration was then split into five main sections: physical compulsion, moral compulsion, cosmology, circumstantial compulsion and the personification of compulsion. These sections were then examined according to both context and subtle differences in the meaning of ἀνάγκη terms within these contexts. The vast majority concerned some form of violence, physical force or fear of violent repercussions. Although the focus was on the interpretation of texts dating to before 400 BCE, owing to their fragmentary nature but considerable importance, the cosmological texts had to be examined in conjunction with later texts in order to shed more light on the meaning of ἀνάγκη in this context. Statistical analysis was performed on the 466 texts located and they were further analysed to track variations across time and genre-specific usages. Several types of usage were seen to develop only towards the end of the fifth century after 450 BCE including the notion of relative compulsions; the necessity for revenge and compelled alliances were seen to develop at this time. Recommendations were made with regards to the best and most appropriate translations; the majority of passages would require either the translation of coercion, constraint or compulsion for ἀνάγκη with the exception of the adjectival ἀναγκαίος which can mean blood relatives or similarly obligated individuals. The translation of necessity, although generally the given interpretation of ἀνάγκη was seldom appropriate since it did not grasp the entire meaning of the term in context.
PhD in Classics