Abstract – Societal Attitudes Toward Metics through the Lens of Aeschylus’ Suppliants and Euripides’ Children of Heracles

Victoria Roeck, University of Notre Dame
Faculty mentor: Christopher Baron

In this paper, I investigate societal attitudes toward metics (non-citizen resident aliens) in fifth-century B.C.E. Athens through the lens of Aeschylus’s Suppliants and Euripides’ Children of Heracles. The former, written around 461 B.C.E., illustrates that Athenians were suspicious of foreigners in their city and considered themselves superior, even though most metics then shared the same ethnic background as their citizen counterparts. I argue that the latter, written around the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, shows a slight positive shift in Athenian attitudes toward metics, most likely as a result of Athenians’ reliance on their metics to protect the city, thus setting aside their xenophobic beliefs for their own safety. To make this conclusion, I examine the poets’ use of terms related to foreigners and metics to elucidate the connotations these terms would have had for their audience and the societal attitudes reflected in them.

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