Peter Olive

Greek ideas about the incest taboo have served as the keystone for all sorts of theoretical models: Freud’s Oedipus Complex is well-known; Lévi-Strauss found an idea in Plutarch that seems to anticipate structuralist alliance theory; more recently, Judith Butler has tried to undermine these and other theorists with a subversive reading of Antigone. To date however, no monograph has been written on the incest taboo's ancient intellectual history. My thesis will return to antiquity to reveal a history of thought only excerpted by the theorists, enabling scholars from multiple disciplines to question the validation theorists have sought in the texts of antiquity. By ordering the ancient discourse into different and opposed schools of thought, replacing the essentialist notion of ‘Greek thought’ on this subject with an organised map of its true disunity, my thesis will present a challenge to the use and abuse of Greek ideas as ‘cultural capital’.

I read Classics (Lit. hum.) at Wadham before going into teaching. I later returned to study, writing an MPhil thesis at Royal Holloway which won the George Grote Prize. In 2020 I returned to Oxford for my DPhil, this time at St Catherine’s, where I have been awarded a senior scholarship. I have published in journals including Arethusa, Classical Receptions Journal, and Didaskalia