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|’The future you will know when it happens’ : a study of the parodos of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon.
|School of Humanities
|The hypothesis of this thesis is that, through an examination of the parodos of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (40-257), we may determine how divine and human causes are seen by the dramatist to combine so as to bring about Agamemnon’s death at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra. It is no exaggeration to assert that the parodos must be interpreted correctly for the proper understanding of Agamemnon and, indeed, the Oresteia as a whole. However, since the parodos is a complex lyrical ode, there is much that is necessarily ambiguous and that frustrates simple explanation. Structurally, the thesis will examine four particular concerns addressed in the parodos. First, the theme of the Sack of Troy, foreshadowed in the parodos, is a recurring one in Agamemnon and it raises the issue of what part sacrilege plays in Agamemnons downfall. Secondly, the omen of the eagles and hare and the demand by Artemis for the sacrifice of Iphigenia illustrate how the gods establish a dilemma which mortals must respond to. Thirdly, Agamemnons decision to sacrifice Iphigenia then raises the still much disputed question of the relation between individual freedom of choice and divine determination (is Agamemnon merely a victim of Fate, or an ancestral curse?). The final concern is the role of Zeus, who, while not a character, is experienced as a force throughout the play and is intimately involved in the tragic scenarios. I am convinced that we need to get away from a conception of Aeschylus as seeking to provide a theology/theodicy for Zeus, and instead evaluate Zeus in relation to the tragedy‟s dramatic requirements. The so called ‘Hymn to Zeus’ (160-83), usually regarded merely as a pious flourish, provides an apt case study for doing so. Analysis of the pressing concerns of the parodos enables us to understand not only Agamemnon’s tragedy but also the wider meaning of the Oresteia. Moreover, it is hoped that a study of the parodos of Agamemnon will further our insight into what constitutes Aeschylean tragedy.
|Thesis (M.Phil.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2012
|Greek tragedy; dramatic technique; ancient religion
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