Cover

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Half Title, Grant Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Above all, I wish to thank Victoria Wohl for generous and steadfast support of every kind over the full lifespan of this project. This book also owes much to the advice, encouragement, keen eyes, insightful suggestions, and expertise of many other people over the period during which I was working on it: Ben Akrigg, Andreas Bendlin, Jonathan Burgess, ...

Note on Translations and Sources

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Ritual Poetics in the Plays of Sophocles

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pp. 3-20

Rituals tell stories. They have characters, plot lines, climaxes, and dénouements. It is no wonder, then, that ritual is integral to the plots of so many great stories. In this book I elucidate the essential role that ritual plays in the stories of Sophocles. I argue that ritual in Sophocles functions as a poetic device, directing the audience’s experience of the plot ...

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1. Normative Rituals and Ritual Mistakes in the Antigone, Trachiniae, and Oedipus Tyrannus

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pp. 21-49

In the introduction I discuss the close affinity between ritual and dramatic narrative. Both progress according to predictable principles, and both implicate those involved in them (as either ritual participants or tragic characters) in a change of status that is typically expressed through membership in a community. According to a theory of ritual poetics, ...

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2. Ritual Conflation in the Ajax

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pp. 50-74

The poetic effects of the rituals in the Ajax are most easily observed if we consider the play in three parts, each principally concerned with one conflated ritual. Other tripartite divisions of the play are certainly possible,1 and the logic of the play also allows for a two-part division in which Ajax’s suicide is the fulcrum on which the halves are balanced. ...

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3. Ritual Repetition in the Electra

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pp. 75-104

In my discussion of ritual conflation in the Ajax, I stress the linear and, to some extent, teleological nature of ritual. One way of theorizing rituals, as van Gennep has shown, is to map them onto a tripartite progression moving predictably from beginning to middle to end. By manipulating this predictable progression, ...

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4. Ritual Status in the Philoctetes

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pp. 105-140

Rituals performed by characters who lack the necessary status for ritual participation, a phenomenon that can manifest in many ways (see chapter 1), generate tension between the ritual effect of the characters’ actions and their dramatic effect. The rituals themselves are invalid because their participants lack legitimacy in some way; ...

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5. Supplication in the Oedipus at Colonus

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pp. 141-169

In the preceding chapters I consider problems of ritual conflation, ritual repetition, and ritual status individually, demonstrating the full range of poetic effects that Sophocles achieves through each kind of mistake. In this chapter I take a more holistic approach, examining the occurrence of all three kinds of ritual errors over the course of a single play, the Oedipus at Colonus. ...

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Conclusion: Ritual and Closure

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pp. 170-180

In the preceding chapters we have seen that ritual and drama are governed by the same three broadly conceived principles. Both entail a predictable progression, both implicate their participants or characters in a change of status, and in both that change of status is typically reflected in community membership. ...

Notes

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pp. 181-210

Bibliography

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pp. 211-230

Index

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pp. 231-237

Further Series Titles

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