Models of Motherhood? Alcestis and Medea as Hero Figures

Master's Thesis


In this thesis, I will investigate the qualities of Euripides’ early portrayals of tragic mothers. Euripides’ early extant plays present their modern readers with two remarkable, yet apparently starkly contrasting, wives and mothers. Alcestis portrays an ideal wife and mother, revered by her slaves, children, in-laws, and husband, who dies for that husband in order to ensure his life and the security of her children. In contrast, Medea contains the now infamous infanticidal mother, who kills her children to wreak revenge upon her husband. And yet, these two plays share a number of themes and allusions. In these early plays, Euripides writes about the demands of motherhood on women who also fulfill many elements and traits of the Greek hero — Alcestis and Medea. Alcestis and Medea, dominated by the actions of women, embrace the prominence of their eponymous central characters by allowing those women the status of hero.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04152015-232124

Author Florencia Foxley
Advisor Christopher Baron
Contributor W. Martin Bloomer, Committee Member
Contributor Christopher Baron, Committee Chair
Contributor Catherine Schlegel, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Classics
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2015-01-29

Submission Date 2015-04-15
  • United States of America

  • Children

  • Women

  • Euripides

  • Hero

  • Homer

  • Epic

  • Greek Tragedy

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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