Tragic Rites: Narrative and Ritual in Sophoclean Drama
Presenting an innovative new reading of Sophocles' plays, Tragic Rites analyzes the poetic and narrative function of ritual in the seven extant plays of Sophocles. Adriana Brook closely examines four of them—Ajax, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus—in the context of her wide-ranging consideration of the entire Sophoclean corpus. Exploring the playwright's dramatic technique, she shows how he used elements of ritual to guide the perceptions and expectations of his fifth-century audience about plot and character.
Employing both modern ritual theory and Aristotle's Poetics, Brook exposes the deep structural analogies between ritual and narrative, the parallels between mistakes in ritual and deviations from the expected in the plot, and the relationship between ritual content and dramatic closure.
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Ritual Poetics in the Plays of Sophocles
1 Normative Rituals and Ritual Mistakes in the Antigone Trachiniae and Oedipus Tyrannus
2 Ritual Conflation in the Ajax
3 Ritual Repetition in the Electra
4 Ritual Status in the Philoctetes
5 Supplication in the Oedipus at Colonus
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act of supplication Aegisthus Aeschylus Ajax Ajax’s ambiguous ancient anticipate Antigone Antigone’s Apollo Athenian Athens audience audience’s perception burial characters Chorus Chrysothemis closure Clytemnestra communitas corpse corrupt Creon cult curse death ritual Deianeira describes dramatic expectations earlier ritual Electra emphasizes ephebeia ephebic oath Eumenides exodos fifth-century final scene Finglass funeral funerary ritual Gennep’s goddesses gods Greek army Greek society grove Henrichs Heracles implications initial Iphigenia’s isolation Krummen lament Lemnos liminal motif Mount Oeta murder mythical narrative Neoptolemus and Philoctetes Odysseus Oedipus at Colonus offers onstage oracle Orestes participation phase phratry play’s plot Polyneices postliminal predictable problematic ritual prophecy purification reinforces relationship request rite of passage ritual actions ritual and dramatic ritual conflation ritual content ritual elements ritual mistakes ritual poetics ritual repetition ritual scene ritual status role sacrifice Seaford Segal Sophoclean Sophocles suggests suicide suppliant sword Tecmessa Teucer Theban Thebes Theseus tion Trachiniae tragedy Troy Turner’s youth Zeitlin