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Presentation of Character in Aeschylus1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009


Everyone who reads Aeschylus sympathetically does so, I should guess, with at least an implicit understanding of the point I shall be attempting to make in this paper; my reason for elaborating it at such length is that it is barely acknowledged in some of the recent scholarly literature, and the new orthodoxy on characterization is in danger of becoming no more helpful than the old.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1973

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page 3 note 2 Méautis, G., Eschyle et la trilogie (Paris, 1936), 109Google Scholar. Cf. Dawson, C. M., The Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus, a translation with commentary (Englewood Cliffs, 1970), 48.Google Scholar

page 3 note 3 The Persae of Aeschylus, edited by Broadhead, H. D. (Cambridge, 1960), xxvii.Google Scholar

page 4 note 1 L'Antiquité Classique xxxiii (1964), 374.Google Scholar

page 4 note 2 On Aristotle and Greek Tragedy (London, 1962), Sections I and II.Google Scholar

page 4 note 3 I do not mean to imply that Jones was the sole originator of the current approach to characterization; for a representative selection of other references, see Garvie, A. F., Aeschylus' Supplices: Play and Trilogy (Cambridge, 1969), 132 n. 2.Google Scholar

page 4 note 4 Quoted by Fjelde, R., Henrik Ibsen: Four Major Plays (New York, 1965), xiv.Google Scholar

page 5 note 1 Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc. N.S. ix (1963), 2162.Google Scholar

page 7 note 1 JHS lxxvii (1957), 250.Google Scholar

page 7 note 2 Greek Tragedy 3 (London, 1961), 104.Google Scholar

page 8 note 1 Op. cit. 109.

page 8 note 2 Aeschylus, Agamemnon, edited by Fraenkel, Eduard (Oxford, 1950), on 811.Google Scholar

page 8 note 3 820. I have often wondered what precise nuance is contributed by the alliteration. Is it relish, or is it only dignified vehemence?

page 9 note 1 Dawe draws attention to the importance of this detail (art. cit. 48). I take it that γυναικ⋯ς οὕνεκα is meant neutrally enough by Agamemnon (cf. the Chorus's ‘Ελ⋯νης ἕνεκ’ at 800), but for the audience it is heavily loaded.

page 10 note 1 Θεωρ⋯α, Festschrift W.-H. Schuchhardt (Baden-Baden, 1960), 70.Google Scholar

page 10 note 2 Art. cit. 48 n. 2.

page 11 note 1 Aeschylus, Agamemnon, edited by Denniston, J. D. and Page, Denys (Oxford, 1957), on 909.Google Scholar

page 11 note 2 At 946 Fraenkel and Denniston-Page take θε⋯ν with ⋯λουργ⋯σιν rather than with φθ⋯νος in the following line; if this is correct it is proof that these tapestries, at any rate, were thought of as belonging specifically to the gods. But the arguments for the traditional construction (θε⋯ν | μ⋯ τις πρ⋯σωθεν ⋯μματος β⋯λοι φθ⋯νος) seem to me more valid; I see no awkwardness in Agamemnon's very strong stress on the gods here, but a natural emphasis on the real source of his fear (cf. the same preoccupation at 951–2).

page 11 note 3 The Greek Tragic Poets 2 (London, 1959), 95.Google Scholar

page 12 note 1 Fraenkel (on 899–902) gives references.

page 12 note 2 On 931 ff.

page 12 note 3 My discussion owes much to several of the recent critics, and above all to the editions of Fraenkel and Denniston-Page themselves.

page 13 note 1 Clytemnestra proposes to make this kind of sacrifice of property herself at 1574 f.

page 13 note 2 On 939 f.

page 14 note 1 Art. cit. 77.

page 14 note 2 Agamemnon by Aeschylus, a translation with commentary (Englewood Cliffs, 1970), 67Google Scholar. Cf. CQ xii (1962), 195–7.Google Scholar

page 15 note 1 Sheppard, J. T., CAH v (1927), 124.Google Scholar

page 15 note 2 Art. cit. 50.

page 16 note 1 Agamemnon by Aeschylus, 67.Google Scholar

page 16 note 2 FHS lxxxv (1965), 42–3.Google Scholar

page 16 note 3 Op. cit. 85.

page 16 note 4 The Oresteia, a Study in Language and Structure (Washington, 1971), 76Google Scholar. True, she admits that ‘it would be wrong to assert that Agamemnon is only a symbol’, and that ‘he acquiesces because he cannot do otherwise, and, at the same time, because he wishes to’, but she quotes with approval Daube, B.'s remark ‘Dass Agamemnon nachgibt… wird nicht psychologisch begründet. Der Dichter benützt vielmehr magische Motive als Symbol für das schicksalhafte Geschehen’ (Zu den Rechtsproblem in Aischylos' Agamemnon [Zürich and Leipzig, 1939], 127 n. 11).Google Scholar

page 17 note 1 Op. cit. 90.

page 17 note 2 Romola, ch. 13.

page 18 note 1 Eumenides 794 ff., and especially 970–2.

page 18 note 2 Op. cit. 77.

page 18 note 3 AJP lxxvi (1955), 115–26Google Scholar, who writes of the carpet as ‘a thing darkly pooling blood and death while overtly sheening pomp and pride’ (116).

page 19 note 1 Op. cit. 91.