Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

Let me begin by explaining my title. First, Euripides. This is not really a book about Euripides. It doesn’t treat all his plays or offer a synthetic analysis of their characteristic features; nor does it provide exhaustive readings of the plays it does treat. I do aim to shed light on Euripidean drama, to better understand what it is doing and how...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

Given that it deals with a performative genre, it seems appropriate that this project evolved in performance. It originated in four Martin Classical Lectures delivered in February 2011. I am grateful to my hosts and audiences at Oberlin College, and especially Thomas Van Nortwick and Kirk Ormand, for the opportunity to present my ideas at an early stage...

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Introduction. The Politics of Form

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pp. 1-18

This book sets out to prove a very simple proposition: that in Euripidean tragedy, dramatic form is a kind of political content. The project is motivated by two separate but intersecting problems. The first is the problem of Euripidean tragedy. There are eighteen extant tragedies confidently attributed to Euripides and many of them are, for lack of a better word...

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Chapter 1. Dramatic Means and Ideological Ends

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pp. 19-38

We begin at the end. Endings are vital to the way we experience a play: how we interpret it as it goes along is determined in part by where we think it will end up, and our perception of its structure is shaped by our “anticipation of retrospection” from a fixed point of closure.1 This is true of all drama, but especially of ancient drama, where the audience...

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Chapter 2. Beautiful Tears

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pp. 39-62

This chapter starts from a simple observation and a simple question. The observation is that the essence of Greek tragedy is the staging of beautiful suffering. Tragedy shows its protagonists in situations of extreme duress: grief, destitution, madness. But they express their misery in meter and ornament their despair with poetic imagery...

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Chapter 3. Recognition and Realism

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pp. 63-88

In a provocative essay on the sociology of tragedy, Edith Hall proposes that Athenian tragedy is “a supreme instantiation of what Marxists call art’s ‘utopian tendency.’” This expression, she writes,

Denotes art’s potential for and inclination towards transcending in fictive unreality the social limitations and historical conditions...

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Chapter 4. The Politics of Political Allegory

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pp. 89-109

Euripides’ Suppliants poses a particular challenge for a politics of form because its political content is so explicit. The play is often labeled a “political tragedy,” and with good reason, since it is overtly, insistently political. Set in Attica, its plot celebrates Athens as the benevolent protector of divine principle and Panhellenic law. In extended passages...

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Chapter 5. Broken Plays for a Broken World

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pp. 110-131

Suppliants suggests that tragedy, through its psychagogic effect on its audience, can have a real and material impact on the polis. If this is true, then we need to rethink the relationship between the dramatic text and its historical context. The assumption of historicist approaches to tragedy, as we saw in the last chapter, is that the plays reflect...

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Conclusion. Content of the Form

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pp. 132-142

We end at the end. Five Euripidean tragedies end with the same generic closing tag:1

πολλαὶ μορφαὶ τῶν δαιμονίων,
πολλὰ δ’ ἀέλπτως κραίνουσι θεοί·...

Notes

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pp. 143-170

Bibliography

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pp. 171-192

Index

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pp. 193-200