Ghosts in Tragic Fragments†
This chapter demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between fragmentary and nonfragmentary evidence. On the one hand, the ghosts that appear in fragments of tragedy may be better understood when judged alongside those which appear in extant tragedies. However, the opposite is also true: that is, our understanding of ghosts in extant plays is usefully informed by looking at their fragmentary cousins. The frequency with which ‘spectral traces’ appear in fragments suggests that ghosts were far more common in tragedy than the evidence of extant plays would suggest. The chapter discusses two fragmentary plays — Aeschylus' Psychagogoi and Sophocles' Polyxena — and a number of vase-paintings. It also considers broader issues of the staging of ghostly figures and their reception by a fifth-century audience.
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