Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Argos. Ancient Greek town in the eastern Peloponnese, three miles inland from the sea. Historically hostile to Sparta, Argos is allied with the great Greek city of Athens at the time this play is set. In Homeric times, Argos was the home of Diomedes and the center of Agamemnon’s kingdom. In this play, it is ruled by King Pelasgus, whose name has maritime connections. The action takes place in the central business area, the agora, or in front of the royal palace, the traditional stage settings in Greek tragedies.

Argos functions in The Suppliants as a place of asylum, and, as such, represents Athens, where the concept of asylum was a cherished value of the radical democracy. Like all dramas by Athenian poets, this play transposes subjects of topical concern to suitable locations in mythical sources.


*Egypt. Although a distant land across the Mediterranean, Egypt had long featured in Greek trade and history. Here, it is the strange “other” realm, where the bizarre story of the daughters of Danaus begins. The fifty suitors whom they are fleeing are the sons of Aegyptus, the hero after whom Egypt is named. In the play, Egypt embodies non-Greek customs and behavior, especially in the matter of marriage between sets of cousins.