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

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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 events causes the distinctions between weddings and funerals to disappear. In this book Rush Rehm considers how and why the conflation of the two ...
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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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691033693
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 7/5/1994
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Note to the Reader
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 3
Ch. 1 Fifth-Century Marriage and Funeral Rites 11
Ch. 2 Weddings and Funerals: The Visual Record 30
Ch. 3 The Bride Unveiled: Marriage to Death in Aeschylus' Agamemnon 43
Ch. 4 The Bride and Groom of Death: Sophokles' Antigone 59
Ch. 5 From Death Bed to Marriage Bed: Sophokles' Trachiniae 72
Ch. 6 The Bride from the Grave: Euripides' Alkestis 84
Ch. 7 Torching the Marriage: Euripides' Medea 97
Ch. 8 Following Persephone: Euripides' Supplices and Helen 110
Ch. 9 War Brides and War Dead: Euripides' Troades 128
Conclusion 136
Appendix A. The Anakalupteria 141
Appendix B. Medea 1056-80 143
Appendix C. Helping Friends and Harming Enemies in Medea 146
Notes 151
Glossary 217
Bibliography 221
Index 239
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