Fiona McHardy

How gossip proved to be a powerful tool for the powerless in Ancient Greece

At the heart of the greatest works of Ancient Greek literature are mighty acts of revenge. Revengers overcome their enemies through superior physical prowess, as when Achilles kills Hector in a single combat to avenge the death of his comrade Patroclus; or through their employment of trickery and deceit, as when Medea slays Creon and his daughter by using poisoned clothing in revenge against Jason, her unfaithful husband. But how could a person lacking in physical strength, magical abilities or supportive friends take revenge? Low-status women without strong family connections were among the weakest in Ancient society but they wielded a powerful weapon in ensuring the demise of a hated enemy: gossip.

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