Exchange and the Maiden

[ Classics and Ancient World ]

Exchange and the Maiden

Marriage in Sophoclean Tragedy

By Kirk Ormand

Insights into how Athenians thought about the institution of marriage, gleaned from the plays of Sophocles.



33% website discount price

This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.


6 x 9 | 231 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-76052-3

Marriage is a central concern in five of the seven extant plays of the Greek tragedian Sophocles. In this pathfinding study, Kirk Ormand delves into the ways in which these plays represent and problematize marriage, thus offering insights into how Athenians thought about the institution of marriage.

Ormand takes a two-fold approach. He first explores the legal and economic underpinnings of Athenian marriage, an institution designed to guarantee the legitimate continuation of patrilineal households. He then shows how Sophocles' plays Trachiniae, Electra, Antigone, Ajax, and Oedipus Tyrannus both reinforce and critique this ideology by representing marriage as a homosocial exchange between men, in which women are objects who may attempt—but always fail—to become self-acting subjects.

These fresh readings provide the first systematic study of marriage in Sophocles. They draw important connections between drama and marriage as rituals concerned with controlling potentially disruptive female subjectivities.

Journals and Their Abbreviations
Introduction. Marriage and Tragedy
Chapter 1. The Semantics of Greek Marriage
Chapter 2. Male Homosocial Desire in the Trachiniae
Chapter 3. Electra, Never a Bride
Chapter 4. Family Matters in the Antigone
Chapter 5. The Ajax, or Marriage by Default
Chapter 6. Nature and Its Discontents in the Oedipus Tyrannus
Epilogue. Exit to Silence
General Index
Index of Passages Cited

Kirk Ormand is currently a Solmsen Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University.