Κατεύθυνση Αρχαία Ελληνική ΦιλολογίαLibrary of the School of Philosophy
Μαίρη Ι. Γιόση, Καθηγήτρια Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας, τμήμα Φιλολογίας, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Ιωάννης Κωνσταντάκος, Καθηγητής Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας, τμήμα Φιλολογίας, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Βασίλειος Βερτουδάκης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας, τμήμα Φιλολογίας, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή, ΕΚΠΑ
Λέξις και Τελετουργία στον Ὀρέστη και στην Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Ταύροις του Ευριπίδη
'Λέξις' and Ritual in Euripides' "Orestes'' and ''Iphigenia in Tauris"
The present study examines the motif of “ritual corruption” in two Euripides' tragedies, ‘Orestes’ and ‘Iphigenia in Tauris’. The distortion of ritual acts is a dramatic device that first appears in Aeschylus and is further developed by Euripides. This kind of perversion essentially denotes the semantic alteration deliberately carried out in the ritual vocabulary of tragedies - which occurs in tragedy without morphological deviations from the field of religion - with the aim of formulating ἐλεεινά and φοβερά πράγματα, which compose the tragic μῦθος and constitute a fundamental tenet of tragic poetry. Specifically, it is examined how the distortion of the literal meaning of words relating to ritual acts clearly contributes to the "τέλος" of a tragedy. Exploiting rituals in tragedy - in its distorted version - is a form of dramatic innovation and is achieved by attaching ritual vocabulary with contextualized homicide acts in tragic verses, thus heralding unexpectedly the death of a tragic hero and thereby severely and unholy breaking the framework of “friendship” that sets the environment of action in a tragedy. The two specific dramas are chosen to be examined in accordance with this motif mainly because, strictly judged by the dominant ideological precepts of tragic poetry, they tend to deviate from the established ethical-aesthetic rules that define the tragic identity and predispose a tragic hero to act in a specific tragic way. This is due to the fact that both dramas end up to an εὐτυχῆ λύσιν, without integrating the death or injury of a person who is unjustly suffering or is being delivered into the frenzy of an unrelenting emotion that guides him to his destruction. Thus, this thesis focuses on the fact that a tragedy is characterized as such primarily by satisfactorily being framed by φοβερές and ἐλεεινές πράξεις between heroes, that are of such quality, that intensely affect the spectator’s sentiment and judgment, ensuring his emotional and logical involvement in a tragic πάθος. Tragic πάθη should not be considered as the outcome of an actual act of killing a hero, but their characterization as such derives from their being a formation of plausible contexts that herald a murder, thereby coloring the episodes with the aesthetically tragic 'appearance' of έλεεινά and φοβερά. Ritual in tragedy, as dramaturgically exploited by Euripides, deeply shakes the bonds of “friendship” that regulate the action of tragic heroes, since the shaking of this “friendly” frame is carried out in terms of ritual perversion. Thus, it is examined how the employment of corrupted ritual words is appropriate to describe an imminent act of killing a “friend”. The emphasis on the distortion of religious veneration -which is inherent in all ritual acts- becomes the means of highlighting the conditions in which the φοβερά and ἐλεεινά give birth to a tragic πάθος. This is made possible through the dramatic exploitation of the dangers posed by the provocation of μίασμα, due to the uncontrolled catastrophe it may cause by its transmitter, Orestes. His irreversible contaminated and infectious situation triggers a series of - theatrically acted or verbally implied - ritual acts that are tangibly perverted, primarily through depravation and confusion in the literal meaning of ritual vocabulary, as an indication of the dysfunction of a community to coexist with a person who bears the “μίασμα” due to the act of matricide. Thus, ritual becomes the way to conjoin all the tragic conventions and the ideological and value system of the Athenian society of the 5th century BC. It is the way to channel the tragic passion into the soul and the mind of a listener or a spectator in purely realistic terms. The vocabulary of ritual and the way it is metaphorically and ironically exploited especially in these two works shapes a new - but entirely tragic - criterion for evaluating drama.
Main subject category:
Language – Literature
Drama, Tragedy, Ancient Theater, Euripides, Orestes, Iphigenia, Religion, Ritual, sacrifice, miasma, distortion, Aristotle, Poetics, mimesis, katharsis, lexis, myth, pathos, pity, fear, ambiguity, metaphor, tragic irony
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