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Restricted Access Thesis

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First Advisor

Barbara Weiden Boyd

Second Advisor

Allison Cooper


This thesis investigates how the stories of 2 Classical Greek heroines, Penelope and Medea, are adapted over time and media, given each adaptation's respective temporal and cultural context. First, for each heroine, her character-model and its major themes are established from her Greek source(s). For Penelope, the Greek source used is Homer's Odyssey, and for Medea, both Euripides' Medea and Apollonius' Argonautica are used. Next, an early adaptation of each heroine in Ovid's Heroides is explored—both in terms of how it compares to her Greek version, and how Ovid’s adaptation serves a new purpose within the Roman context. Finally, for each heroine, one film adaptation is discussed, in order to highlight how her character is re-imagined through this new medium, and for a new context of production. The films considered are the Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) for Penelope, and Pier Paolo Pasolini's Medea (1969) for Medea. The conclusion compares the two heroines' character-models and adaptations, noting that both Penelope and Medea demonstrate embedded dualities in their character traits. Moreover, the theme of 'fidelity' becomes an important way to understand Penelope and Medea, both intertextually within their respective adaptations, and also metatextually, within the very process of adaptation itself.


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