The Politics and Law of Philoctetes
University of Cincinnati - College of Law
University of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 06-22
Law and Literature, Vol. 17, p. 155, 2005
In "Philoctetes," Sophocles portrays the political conflict that divided Athens at the time of the play. Philoctetes, representing the traditional aristocratic values, must be rejuvenated and reintegrated into the new, commercial Athens, represented by Odysseus, while the new Athenian polity must be transformed in order to accommodate Philoctetes. Neoptolemus has the task of bringing about the necessary reconciliation, forcing him to search for a concept of justice that can incorporate the two factions. His failure makes necessary the appearance of Heracles, whose divinity succeeds where humans failed. The play thus brings into question the ability of a legal system, based on implicit conceptions of justice, to generate and sustain the social reconciliations necessary to community.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: Jurisprudence, Justice
JEL Classification: K49Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 21, 2006
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