Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date



Modern scholars have often noted the harsh depictions of women in Greek literature and account for them as simply part of the tradition of Greek misogyny' that exists throughout ancient Greek texts from the archaic period to classical times. This project argues that these sentiments, which have so often been described as 'Greek misogyny' in literature, in fact embody a more complicated and nuanced concept. My objective in this project is to explore the ways in which select 'misogynistic' Greek texts express what I call 'gyno-anxiety': the fear that arises from male vulnerability to and dependence upon women, who represent both a threat and an undeniable attraction for men. My thesis begins with an examination of the work of the archaic poets, Hesiod and Semonides, and analyzes how these authors depict the potential dangers that the average female represents to men in the form of monetary injury as well as reproductive dependence. Next, I turn to the female protagonists of fifth-century Athenian drama and examine how the classical tragedians employ four of their most notorious female characters — Clytemnestra, Medea, Deianeira, and Phaedra — to represent a hyperbolic, three-dimensional incarnation of the violent and adulterous threats posed by women through the stories of these murderous and overly-sexual tragic wives. To conclude, I emphasize how the concept of 'gyno-anxiety' is a more useful interpretive tool to understand the representation of women in these ancient Greek texts.


gender, Semonides, Hesiod, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, feminist criticism, misogyny, Greek tragedy

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Garcia, Lorenzo F. Jr.

Second Committee Member

Umurhan, Osman