By Charles Segal
A lot has been written concerning the heroic figures of Sophocles' strong dramas. Now Charles Segal focuses our awareness now not on person heroes and heroines, yet at the international that encouraged and stimulated their actions--a universe of family members, urban, nature, and the supernatural. He indicates how those old masterpieces provide perception into the abiding query of tragedy: how you can make experience of a global that includes quite a bit it appears meaningless violence and suffering.
In a sequence of engagingly written interconnected essays, Segal reviews 5 of Sophocles' seven extant performs: Ajax, Oedipus Tyrannus, Philoctetes, Antigone, and the usually overlooked Trachinian girls. He examines the language and constitution of the performs from numerous interpretive views, drawing either on conventional philological research and on present literary and cultural thought. He will pay specific awareness to the mythic and formality backgrounds of the performs, noting Sophocles' reinterpretation of the traditional myths. His delineation of the heroes and their tragedies encompasses their kin with urban and family members, conflicts among women and men, defiance of social associations, and the interplay of society, nature, and the gods. Segal's research sheds new mild on Sophocles' plays--among the main broadly learn works of classical literature--and on their implications for Greek perspectives at the gods, ethical existence, and sexuality.
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Extra resources for Sophocles' Tragic World: Divinity, Nature, Society
34), the banks of N essus' river are "full of roses," rhodoeis. Sophocles' "deep-flowing" is perhaps an intentional criticism of the choral poet's gentler conception of the setting. 32 The center of the play is occupied by three long, narrative speeches: Deianeira's presentation of her plight to the chorus, followed by her description of Nessus' attempted rape (531-554 and 555-581); her dismay at the disintegration of the tuft of wool and recognition of what she has done (672-722); and Hyllus' account of Heracles' agonies at Cenaeum (749-806).
Drama and Perspective in Ajax Although Ajax's claim to heroic nobility in the play is finally vindicated (cf. 1415 and 423-424), he does not have the "noble death" prized by the epic warrior. 13 The physical ugliness of his bloody corpse is not only a visual representation of Ajax's problematic relation to the heroic code; it is also a representation of the gap between the tragic spectacle and the radiant epic visualization of the noble warrior. The epic warrior is "a marvel to behold," thauma idesthai.
But it also harks back to the elemental violence of the Centaur, destructive blood and fire, the Hydra, dark- Heroic Values in the Trachinian Women 33 ness. \Vhen Deianeira exposes to the sun the wool with which she anoints the robe, the "seething" of the "clotted foam" (702) recalls the Centaur and his "clotted blood" (572) in the scene by the Euenus. The "seething" suggests the inward, emotional turbulence of passion, but it also expresses the unruly energies of the primitive world to which the Centaur belongs.