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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 February 2019

Daniel Libatique*
College of the Holy Cross


This note offers two related arguments. First, I supplement the existing scholarly consensus that the speaker of Sophocles’ Tereus fr. 588 Radt is Procne by suggesting that her addressee is a shepherd (henceforth ‘Shepherd’), whose existence was recently discovered and confirmed by a new papyrus for fr. 583. Second, I attempt to contextualize P.J. Finglass's placement of fr. 583 in the first episode of the play and to respond to the ‘internment’ problem posited by David Fitzpatrick by suggesting that the play takes place on an anniversary or some sort of commemoration of Philomela's supposed death. This proposal justifies the doleful tenor of the fragment and its generalizing subject-matter, the lonely plight of married women torn from their natal families, and resolves the question of Procne's state of knowledge about her sister's fate; and it allows for the internment of Philomela to figure into the play's plot by making Philomela's ‘death’ an established event before the play begins, as Gregory Dobrov suggests.

Shorter Notes
Copyright © The Classical Association 2019 

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I am very grateful to Jeff Henderson, James Uden, Ben Leonard, as well as to CQ’s editor Andrew Morrison and the anonymous CQ reviewer for their insightful comments and suggestions on various versions of this note.


1 All fragment-numbers from this point on refer to those of Sophocles’ Tereus in S. Radt (ed.), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta (= TrGF), vol. 4: Sophocles (Göttingen, 19771, 19992).

2 P.Oxy. 5292 (S. Slattery [ed.]). Finglass, P.J. (‘A new fragment of Sophocles’ Tereus’, ZPE 200 [2016], 6185)Google Scholar builds on Slattery's analysis of the papyrus.

3 Finglass (n. 2), 66.

4 Fitzpatrick, D., ‘SophoclesTereus’, CQ 51 (2001), 90101CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 96–7. See also Sommerstein, A., Fitzpatrick, D. and Talboy, T. (edd.), Sophocles: Selected Fragmentary Plays. Vol. 1 (Oxford, 2006), 150–1Google Scholar. In short, Philomela's year-long imprisonment that Ovid includes in his account (Met. 6.571) irreconcilably and mutually excludes the normal Greek tragic setting of the dramatic action in a single day, if the play begins at the point when Tereus returns from Athens with Philomela.

5 Dobrov, G., Figures of Play: Greek Drama and Metafictional Poetics (Oxford, 2001), 111Google Scholar. (This chapter is an updated version of Dobrov, G., ‘The tragic and the comic Tereus’, AJPh 114 [1993], 189234Google Scholar.)

6 Finglass (n. 2), 63 and 62–3 n. 12.

7 Translation mine.

8 See, for example, Finglass (n. 2), 76–80; Seaford, R., ‘Wedding ritual and textual criticism in Sophocles’ “Women of Trachis”’, Hermes 114 (1986), 50–9Google Scholar, at 51; Milo, D., Il Tereo di Sofocle (Naples, 2008), 3940Google Scholar; Monella, P., Procne e Filomela: dal mito al simbolo letterario (Bologna, 2005), 8991Google Scholar; Coo, L., ‘A tale of two sisters: studies in SophoclesTereus’, TAPhA 143 (2013), 349–84Google Scholar, at 360.

9 Finglass (n. 2), 68–70.

10 Translation by Sommerstein et al. (n. 4), 167.

11 Sommerstein et al. (n. 4), 184–5; Hourmouziades, N.C., ‘Sophocles’ Tereus’, in Betts, J.H., Hooker, J.T. and Green, J.R. (edd.), Studies in Honor of T.B.L. Webster (Bristol, 1986), 1.134–42Google Scholar, at 139; Kiso, A., The Lost Sophocles (New York, 1984), 67Google Scholar; Welcker, F.G., Die grieschische Tragödien mit Rücksicht auf den epischen Cyclus geordnet (Bonn, 1839), 1.380Google Scholar.

12 As Finglass (n. 2), 70 notes, it is difficult to imagine what else the Shepherd would report within the context of the known details of the myth; a report of, for example, Tereus’ return from Athens would not require an oath.

13 Kiso's assertion ([n. 11], 143–4 n. 60) that the participle is an ‘indefinite expression, masculine, referring to both sexes’ is convincingly dismantled by Sommerstein et al. (n. 4), 185: ‘the speaker is not making a universal statement but is reassuring a particular individual in a particular situation—the participle is closely linked with the two second-person verbs.’

14 Finglass (n. 2), 66: ‘We now know that Procne delivers her speech in front of the chorus; and she could not have uttered the intimate sentiments that she does before a group of males.’ See Finglass (n. 2), 66 n. 32 on scholarship for a female chorus vs a male chorus.

15 For the exclusion of Dryas from the Sophoclean play, see Welcker (n. 11), 387; Pearson, A.C., The Fragments of Sophocles (Amsterdam, 1963 2), 222–3Google Scholar; contra, Hourmouziades (n. 11), 138–9, but Hourmouziades's inclusion of Dryas in his reconstruction relies on a unique unreliable source (Hyginus) that postdates Sophocles’ Tereus by centuries: ‘In light of the fact, however, that no source except Hyginus (not even Ovid!) mentions Dryas, it is highly unlikely that this striking episode was represented by Sophokles only to be subsequently forgotten or suppressed’ (Dobrov [n. 5], 197–8 n. 37). While Dobrov's point is made perhaps too forcefully, given the fragmentary or lacunary state of most of the Greek tragic corpus, the fact remains that only Hyginus among our extant sources includes the figures of Dryas and Lynceus in the context of this myth, and Hyginus’ sources for those characters remain obscure or lost.

16 See Bers, V., Speech in Speech: Studies in Incorporated Oratio Recta in Attic Drama and Oratory (Lanham, MD, 1997), 4564Google Scholar.

17 See Sommerstein et al. (n. 4), 184–5; Hourmouziades (n. 11), 139; Kiso (n. 11), 67; Welcker (n. 11), 380.

18 ‘The papyrus rules out the possibility that Procne is aware of any crime committed by Tereus against her sister, or that she has encountered her sister in her mutilated state or is aware of that state via some other means, or that she has been (falsely) informed of her sister's death. If she did know or believe that any of these fates had afflicted her sister, it would be extraordinary for her to spend the last sixteen lines of her speech on the general situation of married women; extraordinary too for the chorus to respond to a speech referencing such an appalling event (since she must have mentioned it in the course of describing her wretchedness, whether her knowledge was recent or of long standing) with a bare two lines referring to an incoming messenger’ (Finglass [n. 2], 66).

19 Finglass (n. 2), 67–8; Coo (n. 8), 371; contra, Curley, D., ‘Ovid's Tereus: theater and metatheater’, in Sommerstein, A.H. (ed.), Shards from Kolonos: Studies in Sophoclean Fragments (Bari, 2003), 163–97Google Scholar, at 171; Sommerstein et al. (n. 4), 181.

20 I hedge this suggestion by noting how dangerous it is to retroject Ovidian details into a Sophoclean reconstruction, as seen in Calder, W., ‘Sophocles, Tereus: a Thracian tragedy’, Thracia 2 (1974), 8791Google Scholar and Kiso (n. 11), 51–86; see Finglass (n. 2), 80 n. 105 on cautious scholarship regarding this point.

21 Dobrov (n. 5), 111.

22 Fitzpatrick (n. 4), 101.

23 Kiso (n. 11), 63–5; Hourmouziades (n. 11), 136; Coo (n. 8), 371–2.

24 Fitzpatrick (n. 4), 96.

25 ‘If Tereus spoke the first line of the play, then one must presume either that Tereus has already returned from Athens or that the play begins at the moment of his return. The latter is preferable, but it would be unusual for a tragedy in which a hero will unwittingly return to disaster, such as Agamemnon in Agamemnon and Herakles in Trachiniae, to begin with the hero's entrance’ (Fitzpatrick [n. 4], 94).

26 See Finglass (n. 2), 68.