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Euripides and the Tragic Tradition

Ann Norris Michelini

Publication Year: 1988

“The most extensive scholarship to appear on this Greek dramatist in many years, Michelini’s work will be important to specialists and students of classical literature, literary theory, and both English and comparative literature.”—Modern Greek Studies

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xv

This book is written for two audiences-classical scholars and nonspecialists interested in Euripides; and each group will bring very different sets of baggage to the reading. The former come first, since it is most important to me that what I have to say...

A Note About References

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pp. xvi

Part I: Toward Interpretation

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pp. 1-128

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1. A History of Euripidean Interpretation

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pp. 3-51

Many contradictory views on Euripides have been expressed in the past. It seems to me necessary to treat these previous views in some greater detail, if only to avoid adding another to an endless series of antinomical positions. An understanding...

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2. Euripides and His Tradition

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pp. 52-69

Once scholars began to concentrate on the Athenian fifth century as a unique and isolable peak in the tradition of the West, the existence of Sophokles' work, which seemed to embody the essence of the period, posed problems for the reception of Euripides. Because of the process of change, historical periods...

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3. Euripides and His Audience: The Tactics of Shock

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pp. 70-94

In order to oppose the norm of tragic drama, Euripides had to oppose his audience and affront their strongly expressed preferences. The result was an inevitable alienation of the artist from his public. Estrangement between artist and audience has become the most typical...

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4. Fonnalism in the Style of Euripidean Drama

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pp. 95-116

Euripides has been at various times labeled realist, romantic, or ideologue.1 The descriptions are as notable for their variety as for their mutual contradictoriness, and any effective general treatment of Euripides' work will have to provide an explanation...

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5. Some Critical Principles

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pp. 117-128

What earlier critics saw as gratuitous irrelevancies in Euripides' work, moments that were to be ignored in an appreciation of the whole, now appear as significant elements in the paradoxical aesthetic of a drama that sets the pattern of heroic myth against...

Part II: Four Plays

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pp. 129-320

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6. Hekabe: The Aesthetic of the Aischron

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pp. 131-180

We know of no other parallels between Hekabe and the lost Sophoclean Polyxene; but the prologue, at any rate, seems to present a variation on the Sophoclean one. Both use a ghost as speaker,' and the fact that the Euripidean ghost is not essential...

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7. Elektra: The "Low" Style

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pp. 181-230

This first part of this chapter will concentrate upon the problems of genre raised by Elektra's personality and her sham marriage. The second will concern aspects of the play that fit better in the mainstream of its tradition, the relation between Elektra...

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8. Herakles: Tragedy in Paradox

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pp. 231-276

Herakles of all the extant plays raises with greatest urgency the perennial Euripidean questions about the nature of dramatic unity, the role of the gods, and the uses of cult and legend; and it has been impossible for interpreters to proceed, while leaving...

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9. Hippolytos: An Exceptional Play

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pp. 277-320

The negative critical response to Euripides' work has produced the alternating postures of defense, apology, and attack that ran in a repetitive pattern through the first chapter of this book. But most critics have been willing to exempt a select minority of plays that seemed...

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Appendix A: Melodrama

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pp. 321-323

The use of the critical term "melodrama" is a long-standing one. An early association with Euripidean drama was made by A. W. Verrall (1905, x), who remarks that Helene, an unserious play (47ff.), is commonly regarded as...

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Appendix B: Albin Lesky and Alkestis

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pp. 324-329

Alkestis has been a touchstone of Euripidean criticism for many years. The work of one of the most prominent figures in German scholarship on tragedy, Albin Lesky, was almost wholly dominated by this play. While Lesky produced valuable...

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Appendix C: Lyrics in Hekabe

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pp. 330-333

The lyrics in Hekabe are not closely related to the events on stage. After the emotional scene in which Polyxene is led off to her death, Hekabe collapses in despair and lays a curse on Helene for the misery she brought Troy; but the chorus has no direct comment on what they have witnessed...

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Appendix D: Dating, Influence, and Literary Analysis

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pp. 334-337

The attempt to derive methods of literary analysis from what often appears to be the only "fact" attachable to the maddeningly oblique literary work, namely its date of production, has resulted in many scholarly sand castles. And, when stylistic criteria...

Reference List

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pp. 338-373


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pp. 374-384

E-ISBN-13: 9780299107635
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299107642

Publication Year: 1988