Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs


Scott Barnard

Publication Date



My objective in this project is to explore the ways in which the Homeric figures of Odysseus and Ajax are reinterpreted for the tragic stage by Sophocles and Euripides, with particular emphasis on the presence of marked sophistic modes and values of speech. My thesis begins with an overview of the sophistic movement and a discussion of the philosophical and stylistic tenets of sophism. Based on these, I theorize that during fifth century Be a civic anxiety over the power of sophistic rhetoric develops in Athens and finds unique expression in tragic poetry. Next, I define the particular rhetorical styles and traditions for depicting Odysseus and Ajax in the Homeric epics; I then explore the ways the playwrights redeploy these tropes to render tragic characters that reflect contemporary concerns and questions about the power and responsible use of civic speech. In doing so, I identify strategies employed by both figurers in Homer to persuade a variety of audiences and the specific manners in which these strategies are engendered in the tragic re-imaginings of both characters.


Homer, Odysseus, Ajax, Sophocles, Rhetoric

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Cyrino, Monica

Second Committee Member

Cyrino, Monica

Third Committee Member

Garcia Jr., Lorenzo

Fourth Committee Member

Nocentelli, Carmen