Marriage to Death: The Conflation of Wedding and Funeral Rituals in Greek Tragedy

Marriage to Death: The Conflation of Wedding and Funeral Rituals in Greek Tragedy

by Rush Rehm
     
 

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The link between weddings and death - as found in dramas ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Lorca's Blood Wedding - plays a central role in the action of many Greek tragedies. Female characters such as Kassandra, Antigone, and Helen enact and refer to significant parts of wedding and funeral rites, but often in a twisted fashion. Over time the pressure of dramatic… See more details below

Overview

The link between weddings and death - as found in dramas ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Lorca's Blood Wedding - plays a central role in the action of many Greek tragedies. Female characters such as Kassandra, Antigone, and Helen enact and refer to significant parts of wedding and funeral rites, but often in a twisted fashion. Over time the pressure of dramatic events causes the distinctions between weddings and funerals to disappear. In this book Rush Rehm considers how and why the conflation of the two ceremonies comes to theatrical life in the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophokles, and Euripides. By focusing on the dramatization of important rituals conducted by women in ancient Athenian society, Rehm offers a new perspective on Greek tragedy and the challenges it posed for its audience. The conflation of weddings and funerals, the author argues, unleashes a kind of dramatic alchemy whereby female characters become the bearers of new possibilities. Such a formulation enables the tragedians to explore the limitations of traditional thinking and acting in fifth-century Athens. Rehm finds that when tragic weddings and funerals become confused and perverted, the aftershocks disturb the political and ideological givens of Athenian society, challenging the audience to consider new, and often radically different, directions for their city.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Makes a persuasive case for the importance of recognizing this topos in the interpretation and production of the plays."--Nanci DeBloois, Classical Journal

"Rehm wishes . . . to demonstrate how the 'cultural paradigms' provided by the ceremonies at weddings and funerals are important bubbles in the cauldron where the tragedians simmered their plots and images. He achieves this in close readings of eight tragedies. . . . As a freelance director, he writes accessibly enough for performers of ancient tragedy on the modern stage."--Edith Hall, The Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691033693
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/05/1994
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.57(h) x 0.87(d)

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