26 Jan. W/S & Wasps 1


I’m as troubled as you all are by Apollo’s argument at the end of The Eumenides, especially given the contemporary social context in which we are reading The Oresteia.

While the father (sovereign) replaces the mother as the source of life (value) when courts replace kin, the father/sovereign is still vulnerable to the same sorts of problems his instantiation was supposed to solve. I argue that putting pressure on weak spots, at the level of language/performance, i.e.  “reading” is itself a form of activism.

Consider some of the following questions as a way to not only “unfix” the father/sovereign from his new central position, but also method to show how he was always unfixed.

  • 1. What exactly do the Furies, and later the Eumenides, look like? Why might it matter that the characters cannot decide? Why might it matter that in a performance they look one way, and that Apollo deliberately misreads them?
  • 2. What sorts of metaphors does Apollo have to rely on to express the “truth” of conception? How do his metaphors undermine his truth claims? (What/Who comes before and What/Who comes afterwards?
  • 3. How does the very fact of the drama itself, people pretending to be other people, challenge the truth claims that Apollo and Athena make?

Draft Workshop

Look over the Blog Post/Draft you wrote for today and respond to the following:
  • 1.What essay question do you plan to answer?
  • 2. What is your claim?
  • 3. Will this close analysis fit into the larger draft? If yes, how?

Aristophanes’s speech from Plato’s Symposium.


Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Wasps (Scene 1, 3-36)

  • 1. Point out your favorite stage direction. What do the stage directions tell us about how ancient comedy was staged? How does the comedy staging differ from the staging of the tragedy? 
  • 2. What are some connections between The Oresteia and Wasps? How/why does Wasps talk back to The Oresteia?  
  • 3. Why does Bdelycleon lock his father up? What’s so terrible about being a “trialophile”(90)?
  • 4. To what sorts of animals does Philocleon get compared? Why?
  • 5. How does Philocleon’s description of the life of a juror differ from what the Chorus-Leader explains life as a juror is like?
  • 6. Is a juror a slave? Why/why not? What difference does it make?