Euripides: Old Gods and New Philosophies: Presocratic thought in the Plays of Euripides
Date: 3 August 2020
University of Exeter
PhD in Classics and Ancient History
This thesis will analyse the influence of the Presocratic philosophers on the tragedies of Euripides. My concern will not be so much with the Sophistic Movement immediately contemporary to Euripides (on which much work has been done since the 19th century), but rather the earlier schools of philosophers concerned with physical phenomena ...
This thesis will analyse the influence of the Presocratic philosophers on the tragedies of Euripides. My concern will not be so much with the Sophistic Movement immediately contemporary to Euripides (on which much work has been done since the 19th century), but rather the earlier schools of philosophers concerned with physical phenomena and their relationship to the divine. In this regard, my primary interest is in those philosophers who manifested ideas of Material Monism, particularly the Milesians, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and later in the fifth century Diogenes of Apollonia and the Derveni Papyrus. I take the position that this group of philosophers, although different in a number of ways, preserve a common notion that there is a unity underlying all things which may also be regarded as divine, and that the manifestation of this in the mortal sphere is though unity in opposites, or else a unity in a multiplicity of different instantiations. The hypothesis of my research is that Euripides’ portrayal of the gods embodies this intellectual current of monistic Presocratic thought. Euripides’ gods are in the old anthropomorphic form, but coherently display every characteristic of what this current of monistic Presocratic thought considers to be divine through a manifestation of unity in opposites or multiplicities. I also contend that a number of the apparent inconsistencies and contradictions in Euripides’ surviving work, for example questions of plot and morality, may be explained by reference to this intellectual principle. This thesis will make a contribution to the study of Euripides by taking a different approach to the only recent works on the field by Assaël and Egli. By looking for the manifestations of this Presocratic monism in Euripides, it will offer a new perspective on his approach to contemporary philosophy and ideas of the gods.
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