Tragic Workings in Euripides’ Drama offers a substantially new theory and method for understanding Attic tragedy. Starting from anthropological insights, and drawing on Aristotle’s theory of the specific ‘tragic’ reactions of ‘shock and horror’ as well as his propositions on the ‘tragic’ violation of fundamental social values, Des Bouvrie argues that the participating community in fifth-century Greece, for instance at the Dionysia, the Athenian dramatic festival, assembled as a collective body engaging in a program of ‘prescribed sentiments.’ She identifies this program as a ‘tragic process’ that mobilized the audience into revitalizing their institutional order, the unquestionable values sustaining the oikos and preserving the polis.
Des Bouvrie’s novel, not to say revolutionary, and explicitly ‘anthropological’ approach, consists in focusing primarily on the ‘tragic workings’ of Attic tragedy. While Euripides is singled out – with astute readings of Heracleidae, Andromache, Hecuba, Heracles, The Trojan Women, Iphigenia in Tauris and Iphigenia at Aulis on offer - the author’s earlier work on other Greek
tragedians suggests that these features were operating in the genre as such. For students and scholars interested in ancient Greek tragedy, this volume constitutes a remarkable contribution. It will significantly further studies of the tragic genre as well as stimulate new debate.
Synnøve des Bouvrie er professor emerita i antikkens kultur og litteratur ved Universitetet i Tromsø. Hun har udgivet bredt om græsk mytologi, religion og teater, samt om køn i Oldtiden. Hun er forfatter til Women in Greek Tragedy. An Anthropological Approach (1990) og redaktør på tobindsværket Myth and Symbol. Symbolic Phenomena in Ancient Greek Culture (2002).