In this article, I analyze the role of Heracles' famous body in the representation of madness and its aftermath in Euripides' Heracles. Unlike studies of Trachiniae, interpretations of Heracles have neglected the hero's body in Euripides. This reading examines the eruption of that body midway through the tragedy as a part of Heracles that is daemonic and strange, but also integral to his identity. Central to my reading is the figure of the symptom, through which madness materializes onstage. Symptoms were contested sites of interpretation in the late fifth century, supporting both conventional narratives about human suffering and new stories advanced by contemporary medicine and ethics. In exploring the imaginative possibilities of these new stories, I do not privilege a ““secular”” over a ““divine”” reading. Rather I aim to offer a model of interaction between medicine and tragedy that sees the cross-breeding of worldviews as productive of innovative drama.
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