Classical Quarterly 31 (2):92-93 (1937)

Most critics agree with varying emphasis that this is one of the most significant lines in the Watchman's speech, because of its emphasis on Clytaemnestra's unique masculinity. But the same interpreters widely disagree in deciding what exactly was her most masculine trait. In other words the meaning of the –βουλον part of the compound is in dispute. Here are some English renderings: ‘whose will is as a man's’ ; ‘manly’ ; ‘with man's resolve’ ; ‘into the council of men’ ; ‘man-passionéd’ ; ‘man's mind’ and ‘man-like spirit’ ; ‘manly-counselling’ ; ‘shrewd-purposed as a man's’ . Thus, as my italics show, we have will, resolve, passion, mind, spirit, counsel, and purpose, a pretty array of would-be synonyms, for the Greek βουλον, an area whose semantic termini are βουλεύομα = I wish and βουλεύομα = I deliberate, plan. The purpose of this article is to show that every ounce of interpretative weight must be put into insistence on the second meaning, and that unless this be done appreciation of two important motifs in the play will be impaired. The scholiast saw that βουλεύομα was the operative element in νδρόβουλον, and wrote τò μείζονα κατ γυναȋκα βουλευόμενον κατ νδρòς βουλευομένης.1 His second alternative is otiose but scarcely culpable in the light of Aeschylus' amazing exploitation of verbal ambiguity throughout this play.2
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838800017638
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