By Fabian Meinel
Pollutants is ubiquitous in Greek tragedy: matricidal Orestes seeks purification at Apollo's shrine in Delphi; carrion from Polyneices' unburied corpse fills the altars of Thebes; delirious Phaedra suffers from a 'pollution of the mind'. This booklet undertakes the 1st certain research of the $64000 position which pollutants and its opposite numbers - purity and purification - play in tragedy. It argues that toxins is principal within the negotiation of tragic crises, gratifying a various array of features via advantage of its traits and institutions, from making feel of adversity to configuring civic id within the come upon of self and different. whereas basically a literary research supplying shut readings of a number of key performs, the ebook additionally presents vital new views on toxins. it's going to attract a wide diversity of students and scholars not just in classics and literary stories, but additionally within the learn of religions and anthropology.
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Additional info for Pollution and Crisis in Greek Tragedy
Ritual pollution as subtext of causation One of these subtexts revolves around ritual pollution. This subtext is itself subject to bifurcation, however. It appears in the form of an implicit suggestion of pollution as the result of ritual transgression. But it also appears in the form of more explicit pollutions and in part in the form of an ironic play with the notion of contagious pollution. Let us begin with the concrete pollution of ritual transgression. Phaedra’s suicide during Theseus’ absence as ‘sacred ambassador’ (θεωρός) constitutes such a ritual transgression.
For these references are distributed evenly, not only among the characters, but also over the play. They occur at important junctures: as the nurse’s cross-examination reaches its climax in the opening parts of the play; upon 35 More on this formulation below. For now, let us note that pollution as a matter of intentions rather than acts seems unusual in the fifth century context; see Barrett (1964) ad loc. A similar formulation crops up at Eur. Or. 1604, where Orestes accuses Menelaus of an ‘unclean mind’ (Menelaus: ἁγνὸς γὰρ εἰμι χεῖρας· Orestes: ἀλλ’ οὐ τὰς φρένας).
SEG xix 427. On religion in Herodotus, see for instance Gould (1994), Harrison (2000), Mikalson (2003). 20 Pollution, interpretation and understanding readily cause that ship to wreck. Earthquakes, too, may result from it: the one that struck Sparta in 464 bc, at any rate, could be seen as the potential result of an agos the Spartans had contracted by dragging away, and putting to death, certain helots who had taken refuge at the temple of Poseidon at Taenarus (Thuc. 6 In Euripides’ Medea, finally, we encounter a rather wide formulation: pollution, at least of kin-murder, could result in (unspecified) ‘woes’, ἄχη (Eur.
Pollution and Crisis in Greek Tragedy by Fabian Meinel