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Philosophy in the Bookshop with Edith Hall and Nigel Warburton

1 June @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

We’re pleased to be welcoming Edith Hall back to Blackwell’s to discuss her latest book for our Philosophy in the Bookshop series.

Philosophy in the Bookshop is our free series of Philosophy talks, hosted by Nigel Warburton

Facing Down the Furies: Suicide, The Ancient Greeks and Me

In Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus the Tyrant, a messenger arrives to report that Jocasta, queen of Thebes, has killed herself. To prepare listeners for this terrible news, he announces, “The tragedies that hurt the most are those that sufferers have chosen for themselves.” Edith Hall, whose own life and psyche have been shaped by such loss-her mother’s grandfather, mother, and first cousin all took their own lives-traces the philosophical arguments on suicide, from Plato and Aristotle to David Hume and Albert Camus.

In this deeply personal story, Hall explores the psychological damage that suicide inflicts across generations, relating it to the ancient Greek idea of a family curse. She draws parallels between characters from Greek tragedy and her own relatives, including her great-grandfather, whose life and death bore similar motivations to Sophocles’ Ajax: both men were overwhelmed by shame and humiliation.

Hall, haunted by her own periodic suicidal urges, shows how plays by Sophocles and other Greek dramatists helped her work through the loss of her grandmother and namesake Edith and understand her relationship with her own mother. The wisdom and solace found in the ancient tragedies, she argues, can help one choose survival over painful adversity and offer comfort to those who are tragically bereaved.

Edith Hall

In January 2022 Edith was appointed to a Professorship in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham University in the North-East of England, but travels across Britain and the world to speak about the ancient world to schools, universities, theatre companies, public events and the media.

Her specialism is ancient Greek literature, but she enjoys putting the pleasure as well as the rigour into all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman history, society, and thought.

Nigel Warburton

Nigel Warburton is our regular host for the Philosophy in the Bookshop series. He is the author of numerous works on Philosophy and Art including the bestselling ‘A Little History of Philosophy’. He is the co-host of the ‘Philosophy Bites’ podcast alongside David Edmonds.

Venue

Blackwell’s Bookshop
48-51 Broad Street
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3BQ United Kingdom

Organiser

Blackwell’s, Broad Street Oxford
View Organiser Website

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