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Tragically Speaking

On the Use and Abuse of Theory for Life

Kalliopi Nikolopoulou

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dediccation, Quotes

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiv

I would like to thank the Humanities Institute, University at Buffalo, and the Stanley Seeger Fellowship at Princeton’s Hellenic Studies, for offering me time and a rich intellectual environment to pursue my research. At Princeton I profited a great deal from access to modern Greek materials and from my stimulating encounters...

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pp. xv-xlii

Cassandra told them what would happen, but they did not listen. The Trojans perished forever, and so did she. But from the cave of her madness, amid the ravage of her city and a handful of helpless women — in a state of complete obliteration that we moderns...

Part 1: Old Quarrels

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1. Orient/Occident, Ancients/Moderns: The Tyranny of Theory over Greece

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pp. 3-51

A specter is haunting Europe: the specter of Greece — the ancient Greece of European desire and the modern Greece of philosophical scorn, the Greece we have yet to complete and the Greece we have always already surpassed. No other topos, geographical or cultural, has been as contested in modern European thought as this one...

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2. An Old Quarrel: Poetry and Philosophy

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pp. 52-90

Having sketched the general historical and philosophical context of the quarrel of ancients and moderns, which hinges on the significance of art and nature for the Greeks as opposed to for us, I will now turn to the more specific quarrel between art and philosophy...

Part 2: For the Love of Truth

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3. Habeas Corpus: Foucault’s Fearless Speech

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pp. 93-118

Michel Foucault understood that tragedy and philosophy are the undisputed protagonists (even as they are antagonists) of the scene of truth. This is why in his effort to write a history of truth through the modes of its attestation, that is, through various practices of truth-telling (parrhesia), he turned to Euripides and Socrates. Toward the end...

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4. Plato’s Courts: Phaedrus and Apology

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pp. 119-156

Love and law have been long-standing adversaries in the history of literature — their most tragic battle marvelously staged in Sophocles’s Antigone, which will concern us in part 3 of the book. But if literature is quick to see the rift, philosophy seeks...

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5. Euripides’s Verdict: The Bacchae

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pp. 157-168

This, Aristotle knew better than Nietzsche: Euripides may still be the most tragic of all tragedians, not least because he gave tragedy its last blow, as Nietzsche later concluded. Excessive dialectics, deus ex machina, whatever else smacks of rationalization in many of Euripides’s tragedies — it is hard not to concede to Nietzsche his...

Part 3: Passions

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6. Ῥίζα Αἱματόεσσα:On Antigone

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pp. 171-208

Despite the startling in medias res with which Antigone pulls us into her act, she is hardly an immediately approachable figure. To approach her from our present moment proves multiply difficult: it requires not only our attunement to a way of thinking and of being that manifests itself only obliquely to us but also our engagement...

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7. Antigone’s Children

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pp. 209-246

At the turn of the eighteenth century, Hölderlin composed an alcaic ode entitled “Stimme des Volks”1 (“Voice of the People”), invoking the famous Latin phrase vox populi, which describes the shared, spontaneous opinions of the general public. Although Hölderlin’s...


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pp. 247-256


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pp. 257-304

Works Cited

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pp. 305-316


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pp. 317-331

Further Reading

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pp. 332

E-ISBN-13: 9780803244870
E-ISBN-10: 0803244878
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803240919

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2013