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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32938

Title: Iphigenia at Aulis: Myth, Performance, and Reception
Authors: Kovacs, George Adam
Advisor: Revermann, Martin
Department: Classics
Keywords: Iphigenia
Greek Drama
Issue Date: 5-Sep-2012
Abstract: When Euripides wrote his final play, Iphigenia at Aulis, depicting the human sacrifice of Agamemnon’s first child that allowed the sailing of the Greek expedition against Troy, he was faced with several significant mythographic choices. Of primary concern was the outcome of the sacrifice: there existed a strong tradition in early sources that mitigated the sacrifice by affecting a divine rescue by Artemis, usually with a deer being left in her place on the altar. The extremely troubled textual history of our script – the play was first performed posthumously, and we do not know in what state Euripides left the text – means that we cannot be certain which tradition Euripides actually chose to follow, sacrifice or rescue. Depicting Iphigenia as a willing victim, however, must have been Euripides’ own innovation. This dissertation explores the ramifications of that self-sacrifice and contextualizes this play within a tradition of mythographic evolution and reception. Chapter 1 surveys the history of criticism of the text, itself a mode of reception, and also examines trends in Euripidean criticism in the modern period, limited until recently by the textual issues. Chapter 2 considers instances of the Iphigenia legend before Euripides’ play. The parodos of Agamemnon, the first source to express the sacrifice in terms of human suffering, receives special attention. Chapter 3 seeks to understand audience reception at the moment of first performance through three different critical lenses: thematic (self-sacrifice was a recurring motif in Euripides’ work), socio-political (by considering the recurring Panhellenic sentiment deployed in the play’s rhetoric), and dramaturgical (by treating the spatial dynamics of the performance as a point of intertextual contact). Chapters 4 and 5 examine reception of the sacrifice story in antiquity (in the Hellenistic and Roman periods), a process which reveals much about the position of Greek tragedy in the popular imagination following the fifth century. The final chapter brings to bear considerations of adaptations of the play into new genres and new media since the advent of the printing press, all of which open up new possibilities for the creators of these adaptations and the story they wish to tell.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32938
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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