Dodona versus Delphi in Greek Tragedy: The Wanderings of the Hero between Expiation and Ties οf γένος


This study deals with the relations between the oracles of Delphi and Dodona as depicted in 5th-century Greek tragedy. In the first part we consider the wanderings of Io in Prome­theus Bound, those of Heracles in Sophocles’ Trachiniae, as well as the wanderings of Odysseus in the fragments of Sophocles’ Odysseus Thorn-Struck. These tragedies are characterized by a harmonious complementarity between the two oracles: Dodona, the an­cient oracle guaranteeing the sacred ties of the family, is placed at the end of the hero’s travels, while the Delphic oracle provides the initial motive and aim of the journey, namely expiation. In the second part our focus is on the (failed) wanderings of Orestes and Menoeceus in Euripides’ Andromache and Phoenissae respectively, where the harmonious consonance between the two oracles slides into a dissonant alterity: the goal of the journey is never reached, leading to the dissolution of family ties.