Euripides and the Poetics of Sorrow: Art, Gender, and Commemoration in <i>Alcestis, Hippolytus</i>, and <i>Hecuba</i>
Where is the pleasure in tragedy? This question, how suffering and sorrow become the stuff of aesthetic delight, is at the center of Charles Segal's new book, which collects and expands his recent explorations of Euripides' art.
Alcestis, Hippolytus, and Hecuba, the three early plays interpreted here, are linked by common themes of violence, death, lamentation and mourning, and by their implicit definitions of male and female roles. Segal shows how these plays draw on ancient traditions of poetic and ritual commemoration, particularly epic song, and at the same time refashion these traditions into new forms. In place of the epic muse of martial glory, Euripides, Segal argues, evokes a muse of sorrows who transforms the suffering of individuals into a "common grief for all the citizens," a community of shared feeling in the theater.
Like his predecessors in tragedy, Euripides believes death, more than any other event, exposes the deepest truth of human nature. Segal examines the revealing final moments in Alcestis, Hippolytus, and Hecuba, and discusses the playwright's use of these deaths--especially those of women--to question traditional values and the familiar definitions of male heroism. Focusing on gender, the affective dimension of tragedy, and ritual mourning and commemoration, Segal develops and extends his earlier work on Greek drama. The result deepens our understanding of Euripides' art and of tragedy itself.
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Achilles Admetus Aeschylus Agamemnon Alcestis ambiguous Antigone Aphrodite Apollo Artemis Athenian Athens audience Bacchae barbarian body burial Cassandra chapter chorus chorus's civic Clytaemnestra commemoration concealment contrast death divine dramatic emotional epic eros erotic especially Euripides father female frag funeral gender goddess gods grief Hades Hecuba Helen Heracles heroic heroism hidden Hippolytus Homeric honor human id the Poetics Iliad Iphigeneia Iphigeneia in Tauris ironies justice lament language lines Loraux magic male marriage masculine Medea moral motif mourning murderous Muse myth Neoptolemus nomos Odysseus Oedipus paradoxical passage passim passion Phaedra pity play play's Poetics of Sorrow polis Polydorus Polymestor Polyxena prologue protagonists realm revenge rites ritual role sacrifice scene Segal sexual shame slave song Sophocles space speech statue suffering Suppliants tears theater Theseus Thracian Thucydides tion tomb Trachiniae traditional tragedy's tragic Trojan Women violence warrior weeping woman words Zeitlin