Skip to main content

Electra’s Living Death in Sophocles’ Electra

By Jonathan Fenno

The underworld is a murky, ambiguous place about which we mortals naturally have certain doubts and fears (Plato Rep. 1.330de; cf. Dover 243–46, Mikalson 114–31). This ambiguity is repeatedly exploited in Sophocles’ Electra to present characters experiencing wide ranges of emotion and to accentuate the irony of their situation. The tragedy’s plot turns on the developing theme of the living dead, as a supposedly deceased Orestes unexpectedly returns alive, with the possible assistance of his father’s spirit (e.g., Soph. El.

Choreographing Frenzy: Auletics, Agency, and the Body in Euripides’ Heracles

By Caleb Simone

In the startling peripeteia of Euripides’ Heracles, Lyssa—“madness” personified—arrives at Hera’s command to orchestrate the hero’s slaughter of his household. As Lyssa’s powers take hold, she describes them in terms of choreography and aulos-performance (auletics). This paper examines how Euripides uses movement and music to frame Heracles’ mental breakdown. It centers on a close reading of the peripeteia, analyzing the proxemics that spatially orient the aulos music.

The Agency and Power of the Dying Alcestis

By Mary Dolinar

Alcestis may be the title character of Euripides’ tragedy, but her own role in the play has long been overshadowed in scholarship by a fascination with her husband Admetus. Critics argue whether he should be admired for his hospitality, condemned for abandoning his wife, or upheld as a quintessential man powerless in the face of fate. Scodel (1979), Dyson (1988), and Goldfarb (1992), for example, all develop arguments focused on Admetus and the conflict between philia and xenia.

Low-Probability, High-Consequence Events in Greek Tragedy: A Look at Aeschylus' Seven against Thebes

By Edwin Wong

The worst-case scenario in Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes happens if Eteocles and Polyneices confront one another at the seventh gate. Because of the multitude of permutations possible with seven attackers, seven defenders, and seven gates, the worst-case scenario is a low-probability event. The resulting miasma, however, makes it a high-consequence event. I argue that Seven against Thebes provides an important lesson in risk management by bringing about, against all odds, the low-probability, high-consequence outcome.

Subscribe to Agency in Drama