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Antigone, the political and the ethics of psychoanalysis*

  • Miriam Leonard (a1)


The Freudian engagement with the classical world represents one of the most important and intriguing episodes in the ongoing dialogue between antiquity and modernity. That Freud returned to antiquity to formulate his revolutionary theories of the human mind should strike classicists and psychoanalysts alike as a fascinating enigma. And yet classicists have to a large extent given short shrift to this issue. They have not only shown themselves indifferent to the question of why Freud takes the ancient world as the starting-point for his examination of modern man, they have also, by and large, rejected psychoanalysis as a methodological tool for providing insights into the classical world. Even those classicists who are most open to the benefits of contemporary theory have largely isolated psychoanalysis as a uniquely inappropriate methodology for understanding antiquity.

So, for instance, those classicists who display an interest in the complex series of discourses and practices which surround the construction of the ancient self have explicitly distanced their analyses from the insights of psychoanalysis. Thus in Christopher Gill's 500-page work on ‘Personality’ in Greek culture, Freud gets a mere three perfunctory citations.

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Antigone, the political and the ethics of psychoanalysis*

  • Miriam Leonard (a1)


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