The Significance Of Animal Symbolism And Its

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The Significance Of Animal Symbolism And Its Effect On Gender Role Essay, Research Paper Throughout many ancient Greek texts, there are aspects of nature playing important roles in the main plot. Sometimes they assist the thesis through a metaphor or simile which better visualizes the author’s true meaning. Lions have many different personality traits which make them extremely diverse creatures. This also promotes various applications to characters in literary works. In two works, the Oresteia by Aeschylus and Euripides’ Bacchae, we see a continuing line of examples of lion imagery. Alongside this literary aspect, the analysis of characters’ gender roles is possible. When observing these two concepts both individually and in conjunction with each other, the reader is

better able to grasp the true meaning of the authors’ intended point. The lion can be seen as a powerful animal, as well as be noted for its slyness and deceitful tendencies. This “king of beasts” is regarded as blood-thirsty creatures who is ruthless and threatening. In the Oresteia, Aeschylus makes known the similarities between many of the main characters and this beast through their common lion-like qualities. In Peter Meineck’s translation of the Oresteia, a description of the “true nature” of the lion is explained. In this example, an orphan lion cub is taken in by a caring family, and, in turn, grows up to be the predator of the family’s livestock and therefore, an enemy (lines 717-735). “The lion reared in a home, at first gentle and tame, but finally

betraying its inherent cruel nature is used allegorically for the career of Helen”(Keith 124). Helen, the wife of Paris, and former wife of Menelaus, is the initial cause for the Trojan War into which the brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus led the Greek army. This depicts the initially personality of Helen as warm and caring, and, after her seizure by Paris, developed into a catalyst for the bloody and lengthy war. She is correctly associated with death. Arthur Keith correctly states that: The coming of gentle Helen to Troy and her change to Erinys, wreaking ruin upon the city, are represented by a long allegory of the young lion reared in a shepherd’s home which in time shows its innate savage nature (Keith 108). Helen also carries meaning in her name when observing the

‘nomen/omen’ aspect of Greek literature. Her name is associated with the death of ships; she brings on destruction. Not only is Helen portrayed by this illustration of oncoming deceit, but also Agamemnon. He describes himself as the “blood-thirsty lion” who “leapt over the walls and feasted on the blood of kings” when speaking about the wooden horse in the Trojan War (lines 828-829). The soldiers hid within the horse and until it was inside Troy’s city walls, then they ransacked the numerous homes of their enemies. “The images of Argive beast and ravening lion represent the soldiery concealed within the wooden horse” (Keith 124). The mentioned act of cannibalism, or feeding on the blood of one’s own people, is a common theme in association with Agamemnon’s

family. His uncle, Thyestes, is known for eating his own children, and therefore bringing the unbreakable curse upon him and his family. Here, the meaning of Agamemnon’s words involves eating the flesh of his enemies. Clytemnestra is compared to a lioness through the work of Aeschylus as well. “Clytemnestra is likened to many of the most cruel animals. She is a lioness” (Keith 109). She is described as a cunning, treacherous she-lion, planning the death of the man she supposedly loves. When he arrives, she presents herself as the happy wife, overjoyed by her husband’s long-awaited return. Cassandra spoke of Clytemnestra as being two-faced, and warns others of her approaching plans. She is described as a cringing lion, lounging on the man’s marriage bed, roaming his