The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context

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In this book, Professor Mastronarde draws on the seventeen surviving tragedies of Euripides, as well as the fragmentary remains of his lost plays, to explore key topics in the interpretation of the plays. It investigates their relation to the Greek poetic tradition and to the social and political structures of their original setting, aiming both to be attentive to the great variety of the corpus and to identify commonalities across it. In examining such topics as genre, structural strategies, the chorus, the gods, rhetoric, and the portrayal of women and men, this study highlights the ways in which audience responses are manipulated through the use of plot structures and the multiplicity of viewpoints expressed. It argues that the dramas of Euripides, through their dramatic technique, pose a strong challenge to simple formulations of norms, to the reading of a consistent human character, and to the quest for certainty and closure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'… for a scholar of ancient drama, this is a valuable study. It aggregates different strands of research tradition and handles them as a whole, but the main attention remains focussed on Euripides' dramatic texts.' De novis libris iudicia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521768399
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2010
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Donald J. Mastronarde is Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published extensively on Greek tragedy and Euripides in particular, including Euripides: Medea (Cambridge, 2002) and Euripides: Phoenissae (Cambridge, 1994).
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Abbreviations and reference system xi

1 Approaching Euripides 1

Pre-modern reception 1

From the Renaissance to German Classicism 9

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries 12

Current debates: tragedy, democracy, and teaching 15

The approaches and scope of this book 25

Appendix: a brief guide to Euripides' plays 28

2 Problems of genre 44

Genre: expectations, variety, and change 44

Tragedy, satyr-play, and the comic 54

Generic labels and their problems 58

3 Dramatic structures: variety and unity 63

Open form and structural strategies 64

Double structures 68

Strategies of juxtaposition 77

A final example: Orestes 83

Open structures and the challenge of tragedy 85

4 The chorus 88

The chorus and the audience 89

Limits on identification and authority 98

The chorus and knowledge 106

The chorus and moral and interpretive authority 114

Myth in the choral odes 122

Connection and relevance 126

1 Connection and relevance of the parodos 127

2 Connection and relevance in the stasima 130

"Not as in Euripides but as in Sophocles" 145

5 The gods 153

Preliminary considerations on Greek religion and the divine 154

The drama of human belief 161

Criticism and speculation 169

Seen gods: prologue gods 174

Seen gods: epilogue gods 181

Unseen gods: inference and uncertainty 195

Conclusion 205

6 Rhetoric and character 207

Rhetoric and its context 208

Ambivalence about rhetoric and the modern 211

Rhetoric, agon, and character 222

1 Hippolytus and Medea: expressing world-views 222

2 Alcestis and Hecuba: shaping the self 227

3 Iphigenia in Aulis and Orestes: instability and self-delusion 234

7 Women 246

Indoors and outdoors 248

Family and city and gendered motivations 254

Women, fame, and courage 261

Misogynistic speech 271

8 Euripidean males and the limits of autonomy 280

Unmarried young males 285

Old men 292

Mature males 297

The deficient hero 304

Conclusion 307

Bibliography 313

Index of names and topics 334

Index of passages cited 346

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