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The Politics of Greek Tragedy$
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D.M. Carter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781904675501

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781904675501.001.0001

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The Political Shape of Tragedy

The Political Shape of Tragedy

Chapter:
(p.64) Chapter 3 The Political Shape of Tragedy
Source:
The Politics of Greek Tragedy
Author(s):

D. M. Carter

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781904675501.003.0003

This chapter considers what we mean by the word ‘political’ in the context of Greek tragedy and comes up with a definition (modified from Macleod) as ‘a concern with human beings as part of the community of the polis’. Detailed studies of the staging of tragedy and of the characterisation of the demos (people of the city) in the plays reveal how this concern is important to the very form of the genre, and in particular a concern with the safety and stability in the city-state. A final section considers how the heroic subject matter of tragedy could be made relevant, in different ways, to contemporary concerns. A number of the illustrative examples in this chapter are taken from Sophocles’ Oedipus the King.

Keywords:   community, city-state, polis, demos, Sophocles

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