S Characterisation Of Hesiod's Oppression In The Theogony

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Though only a brief episode in the Theogony, Hesiod’s characterisation of Gaia’s oppression under and plot against Ouranos provocatively ingrains the future gender relations in classical Greece into the very birth of the world, and provides a framework by which to understand the cosmos through the mind of an ancient Greek.
The easiest analysis of this episode of the Theogony casts Gaia and Ouranos respectively into the maternal and paternal roles. Gaia, as the mother, is “strained and stretched” (Hesiod, Theogony, 161) by the children that she bears, that Ouranos hides within her. Hesiod draws the parallel between Gaia’s suffering and pregnancy, and codifies the pain that women endure because of it. He writes the suffering and violation of
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In her suffering, Gaia formulates a “clever, evil plan” (Hesiod, Theogony, 162). In the world of Greek verbs, she makes the transition from the passive to the middle voice. Not quite active; Gaia outsources the violence and revenge that she wishes to enact upon Ouranos to her sons – to men (Hesiod, Theogony, 167). Women might scheme, and give birth, but the physical deeds are left to the sons and husbands. This speaks to future generations of Greek tragic heroines; the Electra of Sophocles, for example, waits decades in anguish for her mother’s crimes – violent action is taken only with the arrival of Orestes (Sophocles, Electra, XX). Though Gaia’s plan is “evil” (Hesiod, Theogony, 162), Hesiod’s descriptions of her “sorrow” (Hesiod, Theogony, 165) and of her suffering (Hesiod, Theogony, 161) evoke sympathy for her. Gaia’s scheming is a tool for …show more content…
Ouranos’ scheme of hiding is children (Hesiod, Theogony, 158) is self-centred, and he goes so far as to enjoy his “wickedness” (Hesiod, Theogony, 160). This enjoyment is cruel and obscene, setting Ouranos firmly in the stead of antagonist. The Sky is violent, oppressive, he hates his children (Hesiod, Theogony, 156), he shows no remorse, he is “a reckless fool” (Hesiod, Theogony, 166), “wicked” (Hesiod, Theogony, 168), and “shameful” (Hesiod, Theogony, 169). These terms come both from the narrative voice of Hesiod, and from Gaia herself; the composer and the martyr concur. The retribution later to be enacted upon Ouranos (Hesiod, Theogony, 178-182) is justified and endorsed by Hesiod’s portrayal of him, starkly contrasted against the pained Gaia. The audience sympathises far more with the suffering, pained mother, even in her plotting, than with the hateful, overbearing, oppressive

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