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The Ancient Emotion of Disgust$
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Donald Lateiner and Dimos Spatharas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190604110

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190604110.001.0001

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Moral Disgust in Sophocles’ Philoctetes

Moral Disgust in Sophocles’ Philoctetes

(p.69) 2 Moral Disgust in Sophocles’ Philoctetes
The Ancient Emotion of Disgust

Emily Allen-Hornblower

Oxford University Press

In Sophocles’ Philoctetes, the young Neoptolemus befriends the ailing eponymous hero, gaining his trust under false pretenses. As he successfully deceives Philoctetes, the youth increasingly shows signs of inner turmoil. This chapter focuses on one psychophysical emotion in particular: δυσχέρεια‎, which is often translated as “disgust.” The present study seeks to elucidate the meaning and significance of the term δυσχέρεια‎ in the passage under scrutiny, and brings to light how its ambivalence bears on the significance of its antonym εὐχέρεια‎ in an earlier scene of the drama. The chapter demonstrates how Sophocles’ use of δυσχέρεια‎ and related terms, which can be understood both in a physical and in a moral sense, bring to the fore some of the tragedy’s essential themes and paradoxes, and shows how its ambivalence points up some of the broader ironies that are central to the play and to understanding of the drama as a whole.

Keywords:   community, deceit, disgust, disease, emotion, physical pain, moral pain, pity, philia, shame

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