Women who Scheme: The Female as Villain in Greek Tragedies and Beyond: Background information when reading House of Names

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House of Names

by Colm Toibin

House of Names by Colm Toibin
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  • Published:
    May 2017, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag

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Beyond the Book:
Women who Scheme: The Female as Villain in Greek Tragedies and Beyond

ElectraThe story of Clytemnestra is told in bits and pieces across several play cycles from the Classical period, and before. At the end of the House of Names, the author Colm Tóibín notes that, while the majority of the novel's events are not related to any source material, the overall shape of the narrative and the main characters are taken from The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Electra by Sophocles, Euripides' Electra, Orestes, and Iphigenia at Aulis. Clytemnestra, as well as Electra, make appearances in other plays and art forms throughout history, but are rarely humanized in the way that we see in Tóibín's book. In fact, the way in which House of Names is perhaps most subversive is how Tóibín humanizes these characters who have largely been understood to be villains in ancient Greek society.

Helen of TroyAs in many other cultures at many points of history, women in ancient Greece, especially ancient Athens, were meant to be decorative, demur, and silent in society ...

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