Reading Greek Tragedy

Reading Greek Tragedy

Simon Goldhill

Language: English

Pages: 316

ISBN: 0521315794

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This book is an advanced critical introduction to Greek tragedy. It is written specifically for the reader who does not know Greek and who may be unfamiliar with the context of the Athenian drama festival but who nevertheless wants to appreciate the plays in all their complexity. Simon Goldhill aims to combine the best contemporary scholarly criticism in classics with a wide knowledge of modern literary studies in other fields. He discusses the masterpieces of Athenian drama in the light of contemporary critical controversies in such a way as to enable the student or scholar not only to understand and appreciate the texts of the most commonly read plays, but also to evaluate and utilize the range of approaches to the problems of ancient drama.





















that for the reader or audience there is a double movement involved in the dynamics of dike in this trilogy. On the one hand, different characters at different times appeal to dike as a criterion, support, or reason for action. Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, Electra, Orestes, the Erinyes, Apollo, Athene and the various choruses, as we have seen, each claims dike to be on his, her or their side. Each character appropriates dike to his or her rhetoric. It is this sort of one-sided laying claim to

logos arrives. The first scene is an extended discussion between the queen and the chorus of what this light means and how it comes to have such meaning. The chorus remains not completely convinced by the queen's explanation of the mechanics and code of her signal system. Can this light really work as Clytemnestra described? The scene of message-sending and interpreting is followed by the arrival of a human messenger. The two scenes are explicitly linked (as well as juxtaposed) in the text.

which will lead him to wish back his curse in vain. In these terms, it is interesting that the most famous line of this play, which reputedly caused a scandal for the Athenian audience, asserts the possibility of a complete disjunction between words and thoughts, moral choices, intellectual decisions - and so the impossibility of sure reading: 'my tongue has sworn but my mind (phreri) is unsworn'. That Hippolytus does not speak out but obeys his oath to his own death, does not totally repress the

was expected here to pick up his recitation from where the previous singer had finished - presumably to know the whole of Homer off by heart.22 There are indeed stories of young men being required to memorize all of Homer in order to develop 'character',23 although it is pointed out in Xenophon's story that the rhapsodes who learn all of Homer remain the stupidest bunch! A more developed view of the rhapsode and his art is seen in 16 19 20 21 22 23 17 18 Calame 1977, 399. Calame 1977, 399.

is only incidental to a scene's primary dramatic purpose'.11 Against this new orthodoxy, however, some scholars have recently attempted to reclaim the 'intelligibility' in 'human terms' of the characters of Greek drama, which is not just a restatement of a Bradleian position. P. E. Easterling has suggested that we can still 'believe in' the people of these plays. She agrees that it is necessary for us to be 'wary of our natural preoccupation with idiosyncrasy and to distrust the modern view of

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