A1 Journal article (refereed)
Metamorphoses of Shamed Bodies : Sexual Violence in Euripides’s Helen (2021)

Päällysaho, P. (2021). Metamorphoses of Shamed Bodies : Sexual Violence in Euripides’s Helen. Epoche: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, 25(2), 269-279. https://doi.org/10.5840/epoche202162185

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Päällysaho, Pieta

Journal or series: Epoche: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

ISSN: 1085-1968

eISSN: 2153-8603

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 25

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 269-279

Publisher: Philosophy Documentation Center

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5840/epoche202162185

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/78492


In this paper I explore the connections between shame and embodiment in Euripides’s play Helen. The paper focuses on the play’s underlying theme of sexual violence and rape, and on the descriptions of metamorphoses that the mythological female victims often undergo in the face of rape. In my analysis on shame and embodiment I apply two insights from Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of the phenomenon of victim shame in The Remnants of Auschwitz. These are, first, the definition according to which shame is “to be consigned to what cannot be assumed”—that is, to be consigned to one’s self, being and physical body—and second, the claim that in shame one is affected by one’s own (bodily) passivity. Building on these definitions, I explore the intimate connection between shame and embodiment at work in Helen. As a result we can see how the female metamorphoses before or after sexual violence—in Euripides’s play and in Greek mythology in general—can be read in terms of victim shame. Furthermore, I suggest that this shame of the victims of sexual violence originates from the very nature of the crime itself: from being forced to experience the body’s abject passivity.

Keywords: philosophy; history of literature; classical mythology; drama (literature); tragedies; themes (narration); sexual abuse; rape; victims; shame; bodiliness; metamorphosis (change)

Free keywords: Agamben, Giorgio; embodiment; Euripides; Helen; metamorphosis; victim shame

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Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-17-06 at 11:23