Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy
By (author) James Barrett
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Staged Narrative by James Barrett
Book DescriptionThe messenger who reports important action that has occurred offstage is a familiar inhabitant of Greek tragedy. A messenger informs us about the death of Jocasta and the blinding of Oedipus, the madness of Heracles, the slaughter of Aigisthos, and the death of Hippolytus, among other important events. Despite its prevalence, this conventional figure remains only little understood. Combining several critical approaches--narrative theory, genre study, and rhetorical analysis--this lucid study develops a synthetic view of the messenger of Greek tragedy, showing how this role illuminates some of the genre's most persistent concerns, especially those relating to language, knowledge, and the workings of tragic theater itself. James Barrett gives close readings of several plays including Aeschylus's Persians, Sophocles' Electra and Oedipus Tyrannus, and Euripides' Bacchae and Rhesos. He traces the literary ancestry of the tragic messenger, showing that the messenger's narrative constitutes an unexplored site of engagement with Homeric epic, and that the role illuminates fifth-century b.c. experimentation with modes of speech. Breaking new ground in the study of Athenian tragedy, Barrett deepens our understanding of many central texts and of a form of theater that highlights the fragility and limits of human knowledge, a theme explored by its use of the messenger.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780520231801
(229mm x 152mm x 22mm)
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 24-Jul-2002
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author James Barrett
Memorial Address on the Life and Character of the Hon. Charles Marsh, LL. D., Paperback / softback (December 2010)
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Author Biography - James Barrett
James Barrett is Research Associate and Faculty Fellow in Classics at Colby College.
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