The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides 9781350028791, 9781350028821, 9781350028807

Situated within contemporary posthumanism, this volume offers theoretical and practical approaches to materiality in Gre

276 121 9MB

English Pages [318] Year 2018

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
 9781350028791, 9781350028821, 9781350028807

Table of contents :
List of Figures
List of Contributors
1. Stone into Smoke
2. Morbid Materialism
3. Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action
4. Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’
5. The Familiar
6. The Other Side of the Mirror
7. Memory Incarnate
8. The Boon and the Woe
9. Noses in the Orchestra
10. Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy
11. Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand
12. Materialisms Old and New

Citation preview

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Also published by Bloomsbury Greek Tragedy, Laura Swift The Politics of Youth in Greek Tragedy, Matthew Shipton The Lost Plays of Greek Tragedy, Matthew Wright Hellenistic Tragedy, Agnieszka Kotlinska-Toma

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides Edited by Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller

BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2018 Paperback edition published 2020 Copyright © Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller, 2018 Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editors of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgements on p. x constitute an extension of this copyright page. Cover image © Antony Gormley FEELING MATERIAL XIV, 2005, 4 mm square section mild steel bar, 225 × 218 × 170 cm (unextended size). Photograph by Stephen White, London © the artist. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-­party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Mueller, Melissa, editor. | Telò, Mario, 1977- editor. Title: The materialities of Greek tragedy : objects and affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides / edited by Melissa Mueller and Mario Telò Description: London : Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017055210| ISBN 9781350028791 (hardback) | ISBN 9781350028814 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Greek drama—History and criticism. | Material culture in literature. | Aeschylus—Criticism and interpretation. | Sophocles--Criticism and interpretation. | Euripides--Criticism and interpretation. Classification: LCC PA3136 .M384 2018 | DDC 882/.0109--dc23 LC record available at

ISBN: HB: 978-1-3500-2879-1 PB: 978-1-3501-4359-3 ePDF: 978-1-3500-2880-7 eBook: 978-1-3500-2881-4 Typeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk To find out more about our authors and books visit and sign up for our newsletters.

Contents List of Figures List of Contributors Acknowledgments Abbreviations

vii viii x xi

Introduction: Greek Tragedy and the New Materialisms  Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller


Stone into Smoke: Metaphor and Materiality in Euripides’ Troades  Victoria Wohl


Morbid Materialism: The Matter of the Corpse in Euripides’ Alcestis  Karen Bassi



Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action  Joshua Billings



Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles  Erika L. Weiberg



The Familiar Mask  A. C. Duncan



The Other Side of the Mirror: Reflection and Reversal in Euripides’ Hecuba  Ava Shirazi


Memory Incarnate: Material Objects and Private Visions in Classical Athens, from Euripides’ Ion to the Gravesite  Seth Estrin


The Boon and the Woe: Friendship and the Ethics of Affect in Sophocles’ Philoctetes  Mario Telò


Noses in the Orchestra: Bodies, Objects, and Affect in Sophocles’ Ichneutae  Anna Uhlig


1 2

7 8 9

10 Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy  Naomi Weiss




11 Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand  Nancy Worman


12 Materialisms Old and New  Edith Hall


Notes Bibliography Index

219 269 293

List of Figures 6.1 Red figure amphoriskos. 450–400 BCE. Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, V537. Attributed to Eretria Painter by Beazley. Beazley Vase Number 216946. Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. 6.2 The Tithonos Painter. Oil flask (lekythos). Greek, late archaic or early classical period, about 480 BCE. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 00.340. Beazley Vase Number 203180. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 6.3 Mirror Etruscan. Hellenistic period. Bronze. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Catharine Page Perkins Fund 95.72. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 7.1 Stele of Eupheros. c. 430 BCE. From the Kerameikos. Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens, Kerameikos Museum P 1169/I 417 (photographer: S. Mavrommatis). Copyright © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. 7.2 Stele of Malicha. c. 375–350 BCE. From the Piraeus. Athens, Epigraphical Museum 8844. Copyright © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. 7.3 Stele of Pausimache. c. 400–375 BCE. From Charvati, Attica. Athens, National Archaeological Museum 3964. Copyright © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/Archaeological Receipts Fund. 7.4 Drawing of grave hS 202 in the Kerameikos, Athens, associated with the stele of Eupheros. Copyright © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Athen, Kerameikosgrabung. 7.5 Stele of Demetrios son of Theodote. Mid-­fourth century BCE. Find-­spot unknown. Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1115 (photographer: Pettas). Copyright © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/Archaeological Receipts Fund. 9.1 Three choreuts in satyr costume. Apulian red figure bell krater attributed to the Tarporley painter (c. 410–380 BCE). NM47.5, Nicholson Museum, the University of Sydney.










List of Contributors Karen Bassi is professor of literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Acting Like Men: Gender, Drama, and Nostalgia in Ancient Greece (1998) and Traces of the Past: Classics between History and Archaeology (2016). Joshua Billings is assistant professor of classics at Princeton University. He is the author of Genealogy of the Tragic: Greek Tragedy and German Philosophy (2014) and co-­editor of Choruses, Ancient and Modern (2013) and Tragedy and the Idea of Modernity (2015). A.C. Duncan is assistant professor of classics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and research fellow of the University of the Free State (RSA). He is the author of the forthcoming monograph Ugly Productions: Genre and Aesthetics in Athenian Drama. Seth Estrin is assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of articles and chapters on subjects ranging from Minoan painting to Archaic Greek elegy, and is currently working on a book project on emotion and funerary sculpture in classical Athens. Edith Hall is professor of classics at King’s College London. Her monographs include Inventing the Barbarian (1989); The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society (2006); Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris: A Cultural History of Euripides’ Black Sea Tragedy (2013); and Introducing the Ancient Greeks (2014). Melissa Mueller is associate professor of classics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of Objects as Actors: Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy (2016). Ava Shirazi is a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. Her current book project is entitled The Mirror and the Senses: Reflection and Perception in Classical Greek Thought.

List of Contributors


Mario Telò is professor of classics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Eupolis: Demes (2007) and Aristophanes and the Cloak of Comedy: Affect, Aesthetics, and the Canon (2016). Anna Uhlig is assistant professor of classics at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of a forthcoming comparative study of Pindar and Aeschylus and co-­editor of Imagining Reperformance in Ancient Culture (2017). Erika L. Weiberg is assistant professor of classics at Florida State University. Her current book project is entitled The Trauma at Home: Wives of Returning Veterans in Greek Tragedy. Naomi Weiss is assistant professor of classics at Harvard University. She is the author of The Music of Tragedy: Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater (2018). Victoria Wohl is professor of classics at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Intimate Commerce: Exchange, Gender, and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (1998); Love Among the Ruins: The Erotics of Democracy in Classical Athens (2002); Law’s Cosmos: Juridical Discourse in Athenian Forensic Oratory (2010); and Euripides and the Politics of Form (2015). Nancy Worman is professor of classics at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the author of The Cast of Character: Style in Greek Literature (2002); Abusive Mouths in Classical Athens (2008); and Landscape and the Spaces of Metaphor in Ancient Literary Theory and Criticism (2016).

Acknowledgments Some of the chapters of this volume (those by Joshua Billings, A. C. Duncan, Edith Hall, Anna Uhlig, Victoria Wohl, and Nancy Worman) are based on papers presented at a panel entitled “Objects and Affect: The Materialities of Greek Drama,” which we organized at the annual meeting of the Society of Classical Studies in San Francisco in January 2016. Many thanks to all the participants in the discussion that followed the original presentations. We are very grateful to Alice Wright, acquisition editor at Bloomsbury, for her enthusiastic interest in the project; to Clara Herberg, Merv Honeywood, and Emma Payne for shepherding the production of the volume; and to three supportive anonymous referees for comments and suggestions. Daniel Squire provided invaluable help with reference checking, while Kerry Taylor carefully compiled the index. Deepest thanks also to Antony Gormley for allowing us to use his profoundly inspiring sculpture Feeling Material on the cover of the book.

Abbreviations CEG

P. A. Hansen, ed. Carmina Epigraphica Graeca, 2 vols., Berlin 1983, 1989.


H. Diels and W. Kranz, eds. Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 3 vols., Berlin 1951–52.


D. L. Page, ed. Further Greek Epigrams. Cambridge 1981.

K.-A. R. Kassel and C. Austin, eds. Poetae Comici Graeci. Berlin 1983–2001 LSJ

H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. Stuart Jones, R. McKenzie, P. G. W. Glare, A Greek-English Lexicon, with a Revised Supplement, 9th edition, Oxford 1996.

PMG D. L. Page, ed. Poetae Melici Graeci. Oxford 1962. Σ

scholium, scholia

Unless otherwise indicated, the texts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are cited according to the most recent OCT editions—by Page (1972); Lloyd-Jones and Wilson (1990); and Diggle (1981–94), respectively—and the contributors have used their own translations.


Greek Tragedy and the New Materialisms Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller

In a 1932 letter to her friend Ethel Smyth, Virginia Woolf writes: “[L]et me find you among your things—you can’t think what a shock of emotion it gives me— seeing people among their things.”1 Let us imagine entering the intimate world of Woolf ’s own home in East Sussex, an experience described by art historian Nuala Hancock.2 Woolf ’s iconic glasses immediately attract our attention. Removed from the double protection of a museum envelope and their original, ragged case—and perhaps satisfying an indiscreet desire to unwrap Woolf ’s life—they release a hidden affective energy, which destabilizes the boundaries between subject and object, animate and inanimate, active and passive. The frame and the surface of the glasses are imbued with a “terrific whiff of the past,” in Woolf ’s phrase,3 with intensities that make the object almost a pulsating presence, furnished with a powerful energy. It is an energy derived from its human relationships—past and present—but also, some would argue, autonomous from it. As Hancock suggests, the glasses “bring us into close physical contact . . . with the intimate rhythms of Woolf ’s daily living.”4 We touch the object, but we are also touched by it5—by its sensory allure, synechdochic valences and meanings, or its mere “thingliness.” In this encounter, the object mediates between subjectivities but also affords us, the perceiving subjects, a vivid sense of our own embodiment, our being in the world.6 While linking subjectivities, the object locates the subject in a wider network of agents, a material space of the organic and inorganic that subject and object inhabit together. Woolf ’s psychic turmoil inheres in—and can somehow be re-­experienced through—the case’s uneven texture, whether touched or even just seen. The ragged case absorbed the same ragged feelings that textured Woolf ’s writings and emanate from the paper of her pages. The complex of sensations circulated by the object and implicated with our own turmoil coalesces into a bundle of feelings—of Woolf, her family, and her posthumous visitors. This sensory and affective encounter acts on our imagination, prompting


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

us to assemble the traces of subjectivity impressed on the object into narratives, to transform the immediate experience through language and knowledge. The glasses pass on to us possibilities of imagining and reading that they once provided to their owner.7 But while immersing us in Woolf ’s still-­living world, the object confronts us with the spectral dimension of this encounter, with the purely fragmentary quality of the material exchange it promises. The object’s aesthetic presence carries the unsettling reality of non-­presence, supplying a discomfiting awareness of our distance from the material world we experience. This non-­presence is entailed not just by diachronic distance, but also by what Adorno calls the recalcitrance of the object,8 its resistance to communicating with us, to revealing itself, by its aloofness and seclusion, which, despite our shared materiality, prevent us from ever accessing it fully. Our vicarious meeting with Woolf ’s spectacles exemplifies some of the ways in which recent trends in the social sciences and humanities, the so-­called “new materialisms,” including the affective turn, invite us to reconsider objects and indeed what is construed as material. What distinguishes the new materialisms from traditional materialisms (Marxian, Freudian) is the post-­humanist foundation of their hermeneutic, ethical, and political concerns, that is, their questioning of anthropocentrism, of the primacy of the human subject.9 This re-­orientation, which, propelled by enviromental ethics, has produced a new attention to the ontology of objects (their power, vitality, agency),10 has converged with the affective turn, a new conception of the materiality of emotions, their circulation as an impersonal force that spreads between humans and other beings, both animate and inanimate.11 The new materialisms have far-­reaching implications for Greek tragedy, a corpus of object-­scripts actualized in performance or in the imaginative act of reading. Tragedy enacts dynamic, emotionally charged exchanges, both verbal and physical, between actors (or actants)12 human and non-­human—in the case of the latter, objects that figure prominently in a tragic script regardless of whether they appear as props (and costumes) or not.13 We are invited to interrogate how these exchanges problematize the relationship between human and non-­human; the connectivity (or lack thereof) they project; and the continuity or discontinuity of personhood and thingness that emerge from them. We can gain a new perspective on Greek tragedy’s deep sense of its own materiality—something that goes beyond the specifics of dramaturgy and cultural politics—if we heed the capacities or resistance that objects display; their degrees of autonomy; the sensory, affective, and temporal textures that manifest their agency; the ways in



which they release (or hold in) their inner vitality; and how they position themselves alongside or against other material domains such as language (both human and non-­human), a domain that is, of course, constitutive of their theatrical existence. This attention to non-­human actors can, in turn, lead to a different outlook on the human subject in Greek tragedy, one that challenges the individual’s bodily and psychological autonomy through consideration of emotions as a complex of material intensities that move beyond bodily borders, consciousness and unconsciousness. The new materialisms encourage us to see how Greek tragedy generates and dramatizes circulating feeling—or “affect”— and to direct attention to the energies, extrapolated from language, that connect or separate human and non-­human agents onstage and bring these relations to bear upon audiences. In this collection, we want to defamiliarize the texts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides by analyzing them within the theoretical framework of the new materialisms, but also show how Greek tragedy previews, theorizes in its own terms, the concerns of the new materialisms and suggests its own answers. In doing so, it can rightly claim a central role in current critical debates in the humanities and beyond. In what follows, we will offer some examples and expand on some of the theoretical issues touched on above, which are reflected in the case studies explored in individual chapters. The complexities of the tragic nexus of personhood and thingness are illustrated by Sophocles’ Philoctetes. When, at the end of the exposition of his plan of deception, Odysseus says of the title character (113), “Only his bow can seize Troy,” Neoptolemus responds (114), “Then am I not the one who will destroy it, as you said?” The exchange encapsulates a peculiar rivalry between person and object, whereby, to win Philoctetes’ cooperation, Neoptolemus has to advertise himself as a bow-­like protector. In the prologue, not only does Odysseus require that Neoptolemus serve as his instrument,14 but Philoctetes’ bravery, which defines his subjectivity, is cast as a mere expression of his possession of the bow. When Neoptolemus asks, “Does Philoctetes have some frightening courage (θράσος) consisting of strength?,” Odysseus almost corrects his interlocutor by replacing “courage” with personified weapons—“inescapable arrows that send forth death” (104–5). Odysseus says he will be dead if Philoctetes is “in control of ” his bow (ἐγκρατής 75), but the action seems to show an inverted hierarchy between possessor and possessed object. The bow provides material, almost maternal sustenance, giving Philoctetes “life” (βίος) and coinciding with life itself.15 Realizing that the bow has been stolen, Philoctetes is confronted with the terror of his vulnerability. As he says, “The birds that I used to hunt (ἐθήρων) will


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

hunt (θηράσουσι) me” (958). The language underscores his transition from subject to object,16 but also suggests that the bow, which enabled Philoctetes to hunt or was itself a hunting agent, constituted him as a subject.17 In the eyes of the new possessors—Odysseus and Neoptolemus—Philoctetes has fully become an object himself.18 Under the threat of capture by Odysseus, Philoctetes commiserates with his hands, treating them as companions: “My hands, what you suffer in the absence of the dear bowstring” (ὦ χεῖρες, οἷα πάσχετ’ ἐν χρείᾳ φίλης / νευρᾶς . . . 1004–5). The use of νευρά (“bowstring”), cognate with νεῦρον (“nerve”), highlights the prosthetic function of the bow. In this moment, the hands themselves become a prosthesis, filling the gap left by the bow,19 while the enjambment of φίλης / νευρᾶς visualizes not only Philoctetes’ forced separation from the bow, but also the limits of their encounter. The bow also works as a deliverer of affect, like Virginia Woolf ’s glasses. It is imbued with the residual emotional intensities of Philoctetes’ philia (“friendship”) with Heracles, which is seemingly re-­embodied in his bond with Neoptolemus, though it is the object that is perceived as Philoctetes’ true friend.20 Indeed, when the bow has been taken away from Philoctetes, he imagines it gazing at him pityingly (1128–32): ὦ τόξον φίλον, ὦ φίλων χειρῶν ἐκβεβιασμένον, ἦ που ἐλεινὸν ὁρᾷς, φρένας εἴ τινας ἔχεις, τὸν Ἡράκλειον ἄθλιον…


O dear bow, which was forced out of my dear hands, you certainly look pityingly at your wretched Heraclean friend, if you have any feelings . . .

Set against its unpitying human counterparts, the bow seems to have genuine agency, a capability to alleviate Philoctetes’ present and past wounds with the traces of its original possessor’s compassion. But this retreat into the past may indicate that the silent object is nothing but the mirror of his solipsism, the screen onto which Philoctetes projects his own unfulfilled feelings.21 As with the philia of Heracles carried by Philoctetes’ bow, objects can affect us as vehicles of human feelings, but they can also affect us in a distinct, though interconnected, way, as autonomous or quasi-­autonomous agents. The notion that objects may have an internal, independent, impersonal vitality is at the heart of Jane Bennett’s 2010 book, Vibrant Matter. Bennett reacts against what has been called correlationism, a tendency imputed to most philosophical schools



since Kant—that is, the idea that “thinking and being go hand in hand, such that there can be no conception of the world independent of human experience.” Assuming that “things in themselves are . . . unknowable,” such correlationism is said to elevate the subject over the “unthinkable” object.22 Ascribing an inner vitality to the object is a way to posit both its autonomy and our ability to encounter it meaningfully as it “make[s] ‘calls’ upon us.”23 What creates the conditions for this encounter is, in Bennett’s view, a shared materiality, conceptualized, in Deleuzian terms, as the “swarming activity” of matter, which “self-­organizes regardless of whether it’s garbage or a human being.”24 Bennett observes that “if matter is lively, then the difference between subject and object is minimized and the shared materiality of all things is elevated.”25 The outcome is “a world populated not by active subjects and passive objects but by lively and essentially interactive materials, by bodies human and non-human,” and assemblages of these bodies’ equally material, equally vital intensities.26 In Philoctetes, when Odysseus gets hold of the bow, he says to Philoctetes, “We don’t need you now that we have this weapon” (1055–56), suggesting, for a moment, the object’s autonomous vitality, as though it could launch an unerring arrow without human intervention. Clarifying, in the next line, that he or Teucer could also use the bow, Odysseus indicates an assemblage of object and human subject, before further clarifying that he intends a relationship of domination: “I think I would not be a worse master (κρατύνειν) of this weapon than you” (1058–59). In four lines, the glimpse of a vital object almost instantly gives way to the orthodox dominance of the human subject that Bennett and others challenge, though a trace of the object’s agency and autonomy may linger. Radical as the idea of the vital object may be, it has been challenged and pushed further by a school of thought, represented by Graham Harman and Timothy Morton, that entirely removes the subject from the picture, proposing a radically non-­relational, realist “Object-Oriented Ontology” (OOO). “Vibrant materialism,” in the words of Rebecca Sheldon, “seeks to retain the link between epistemology and materiality,” that is, to hold on to some sense of the knowability of the object, even while “arguing for the autonomy and wayward agency of the extra-­discursive world”—that which eludes language and representation.27 OOO, on the other hand, finds that such an approach ends up reducing or anthropomorphizing the object, reinscribing it in the domain of the subject.28 It argues for “a deeply non-­relational reality of things,”29 in which objects are withdrawn from discourse and representation, but also, contrary to Deleuzian matter, from other objects.30 This radical withdrawal works against the human


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

inclination toward reductive objectification. According to Harman, “the object is a black box, black hole, or internal combustion engine releasing its power and exhaust fumes into the world.”31 The qualities it “releases” and the systems of meaning that such qualities generate are separate from the object itself. The outcome of the object’s emissions is the emergence of an “interobjective” space, in which it hides behind its effects.32 OOO is “the first materialism in history to deny the existence of matter,”33 which, if posited, “allows us to skip over objects by seeing through them to the substratum that bears them.”34 Objects’ being is “accessible only through oblique allusion.” 35 What Harman calls the “allure” of objects and argues is “the key phenomenon of all the arts, literature included” operates by “allud[ing] to entities as they are, quite apart from any relations with or effects upon other entities in the world.”36 In contrast to Bennett’s Deleuzian, feminist new materialism, Harman seems to reinscribe the masculine subject in objects by casting them in terms of “stasis,” “solid units,” and “integers” rather than “flux,” “differences,” and “networks.”37 In Philoctetes, the wounded hero situates the bow in a sphere of being that is separate from discourse, mapping onto the object his own resistance to appropriation (or objectification) by other characters. Neoptolemus, conversely, seeks to align his logoi, his speech, with the bow and consequently with the reliability that, in Philoctetes’ view, it embodies. Intending to return the bow to Philoctetes, Neoptolemus assimilates his words to the object and its accoutrements, first saying “Be confident! And listen to the logoi that I have come carrying (φέρων)” (1267) and, twenty lines later, “Receive (δέχου) these arrows from my hands” (1287). This assimilation, which suggests that Philoctetes’ bow and arrows are, in turn, logoi, or at least their theatrical product, figures the human assimilation of objects (theatrical or not) into discourse.38 But Philoctetes pushes back, positing a gap between the bow and the logoi, the former occupying, for him, a space of existence “beyond” the deception of the latter.39 It is this space of silence, notionally occupied by the object, that he seeks for himself. We could say that he fantasizes a withdrawal into something like Derrida’s notion of materiality—“radical alterity” that cannot be appropriated and that one ought not appropriate40—or perhaps into a “black box” of non-­human being, or even non-­being as such.41 While vibrant materialism and OOO elevate the object, the affective turn tends to destabilize the border between subject and object, interior and exterior, person and environment, conscious and unconscious. In line with their idea of the body as a non-­hierarchical network of relations and intensities, Deleuze and Guattari see affect as impersonal, non-­subjective, a sensation, something like



temperature.42 Challenging the idea of emotions as psychological dispositions owned by an autonomous, self-­enclosed subject, scholars of affect theory see them as secretions released into the environment, overflowing energies, produced by the commingling of cognition and feeling, which, like smell or sound, breach individual boundaries, enabling subjects to “imbibe each other.”43 As Laurent Berlant puts it, “affective atmospheres are shared, not solitary”; they are generated by “bodies [that] are continuously busy judging their environments and responding to the atmospheres in which they find themselves.”44 In this perspective, psychology becomes a physical exchange, a question of bodily orientations and influences; emotion becomes an expansive, contagious process, a movement that diffuses feeling through multiple levels of in-­between-ness.45 Drama powerfully enacts this view of emotional phenomena.46 The prefix dia- in dialogue (Greek διάλογος) highlights the centrality in drama’s worldview of transmission and exchange—not just of sounds and words, but also of other sensory intensities. Tragedy, with its wide array of edgy emotions, provides a privileged case study for affect-­oriented approaches.47 Drama, more than any other literary form, entails the actualization of language through bodily movements and modulations of voice—the “atmospheric quality” that functions, as Deleuze puts it, as “the conductor of discourse.”48 The formal rhythms of tragic language—syntax, word order, and meter, as well as imagistic, verbal, and even phonemic repetition—mark and figure the rhythms of affect.49 In addition, deixis and proxemics not only signal dramaturgical possibilities, articulating spatial relations, postures, and relative orientations of human and non-­human bodies; they also delineate the pathways of affective circulation—the formal and material interstices, edges, or surfaces, through which sensations and feelings are disseminated.50 The material apparatus of drama—the costumes and masks that facilitate mimetic enactment—is also a conduit of this dissemination, arguably acting as a repository of bodily traces or impressions.51 Exemplary of the emphasis on in-­between-ness, relationality, and transmission in the reconceptualization of emotion as affect is Sara Ahmed’s discussion of fear, which, she observes, “works through and on the bodies” both of those who fear and those who are fear’s objects and makes “the world pres[s] against the body” and “the body shrin[k] back from the world.”52 Her model can be fruitfully applied to Philoctetes. In the parodos, the Chorus’s fear of the bow and its abject possessor, together with Neoptolemus’s own anxiety about his enterprise, has a reverberative effect—seeing the terrified sailors, Philoctetes becomes terrified himself. The last word of the parodos, δεινόν (“terrifying” 218), characterizes the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

overall emotional atmosphere of the song by harking back to the beginning of the parodos, where Neoptolemus had revealed his fear by calling Philoctetes δεινός (147). It is a fear that crosses bodily and formal boundaries, seamlessly moving from lyric to speech, from the Chorus and Neoptolemus into Philoctetes’ own body, even if he manifests it only projectively, in his overdetermined characterization of the feelings of Neoptolemus and the sailors: “Don’t be panic-­ struck, terrified by fear” (μή μ’ ὄκνῳ / δείσαντες ἐκπλαγῆτ(ε) 225–26). As a point of encounter between subjectivities, the diffused emotion is not unlike the bow itself, a material presence that paradoxically brings them together, while separating them. In fact, fear, which merges with the sound of Philoctetes’ footsteps (206–7), “hits” the Chorus’s ears like an arrow, as indicated by the repetition of the verb that elsewhere denotes the bow’s action (βάλλει βάλλει 205). Qualified as βαρεῖα (“heavy”), this sound (βαρεῖα . . . αὐδά 208–9) is also an emanation of Philoctetes’ disease, likewise presented as βαρεῖα (39, 1330).53 Echo (Ἀχώ), who is evoked in the parodos as the personified force amplifying Philoctetes’ bitter cries (188–90), is a metaphor for affect in this scene, capturing the boundless sensory extension of his ἄχος (“pain”) to surrounding bodies. Odysseus’s fear even in the absence of Philoctetes renders the stage as a space of de-­personalized emotion that human subjects alternately inhabit. Toward the end of the play, when Neoptolemus is about to announce (and enact) his change of heart, Odysseus fearfully tries to block it (1229–34): Οδ.      . . . μῶν τι βουλεύῃ νέον; Νε. νέον μὲν οὐδέν, τῷ δὲ Ποίαντος τόκῳ— Οδ. τί χρῆμα δράσεις; ὥς μ’ ὑπῆλθέ τις φόβος. Νε. παρ’ οὗπερ ἔλαβον τάδε τὰ τόξ’, αὖθις πάλιν— Οδ. ὦ Ζεῦ, τί λέξεις; οὔ τί που δοῦναι νοεῖς; Νε. αἰσχρῶς γὰρ αὐτὰ κοὐ δίκῃ λαβὼν ἔχω.


Odysseus  . . . are you planning something impromptu? Neoptolemus  Nothing impromptu, but to the son of Poias— Odysseus  What will you do? How some fear has come over me! Neoptolemus  From whom I took these arrows, back again— Odysseus  O Zeus, what will you say? You don’t mean to give them back to him, do you? Neoptolemus  Yes, because I got them with shame and not with justice.

Neoptolemus’s announcement of his decision, a would-­be performative utterance initiated by the solemn formula “to the son of Poias,” is jeopardized by Odysseus’s interruptions, what, in the words of Sedgwick, we could call “periperformative



fractures.”54 Neoptolemus’s intended proclamation (“I am giving the bow to Philoctetes”) is broken into divagations from what we would imagine as its center, δοῦναι, actually Odysseus’s word. The “periperformative” is conceived of as a corrective to Austin’s concept of the performative utterance, which presupposes a “transparent self-­referentiality and pure self-­presence.”55 Like affect itself, a spectral presence in language, periperformative gestures (interruptions, divagations, negations) enable tragic language to reinscribe the intensity of feeling, its constant movement between bodies. Odysseus’s interruptions, one of which surrounds δοῦναι, materialize the disruptive force of circulating fear. They reveal not only Odysseus’s fear, but also Neoptolemus’s dithering agency, his subjection to the will of others, his inability to move from uncertain margins to the fixed center of the performative utterance.56 The periperformative is “the grammar,” as Sedgwick puts it, in which circulating affect, in the form of cognitive and emotional vibrations, breaks the speech act’s smooth surface of immediacy and efficacy.57 The bodies implicated in affect are not just of characters, but also of audiences experiencing tragedy in the architectural space of the theater or in the mental one created by the act of reading. Reading tragedy through affect can help us understand the ways in which the exchanges of feeling that animate speech and song, dialogue, and lyrics stretch into our own emotional engagement with the tragic spectacle (or fail to). Tragic aesthetics are influenced and modeled by the intensities produced within the notional frame of the drama.58 Not just emotions, but whole moods, atmospheres, emerge from the interacting bodies belonging to viewers and critics, human and non-­human performers, and, to an extent, tragic form, for it too is a body, whether fleshed out in performance or in reading. Discussing the sensory dimension of film, Jennifer Barker has suggested that “the material contact between viewer and viewed is less a hard edge or a solid barrier placed between us than a liminal space in which film and viewer can emerge as co-­constituted . . . embodied entities”; cinematic experience is, in this perspective, produced “through the fleshy, muscular, and visceral engagement that occurs between films’ and viewer’s bodies.”59 The absence of a physical barrier in the circumscribed “bodied space” of theater60 makes this “visceral engagement” central to the experience of Greek tragedy. Whereas cinema is able to offer an immersive experience, theater, with the actors set at a greater visual distance, is still able to offer the notional possibility of touching the performers and the objects they manipulate.61 The experience of reading a play, to some extent, capitalizes on that imagined act of touching. Neoptolemus’s


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

desire to get a closer look at (κἀγγύθεν θέαν 656) and even to touch the bow captures this impulse. Seeing the enactment of a tragic script as an object in itself allows us to grapple with the complex dialectic of closeness and distance. Tragedy, like all objects—but perhaps preeminently—is “feeling material,” to cite the title of our cover image, the sculpture by Antony Gormley. The slippery multivalence of this phrase captures much of what we have discussed in terms of the permeability and interchangeability between subject and object, a sliding between active and passive, between transitive and intransitive, which applies both to the objects within tragedy and tragedy itself as an object. One way, perhaps the most obvious, of interpreting “feeling material” would construe “material” as a direct object: a subject feels (i.e., touches) a material object, something on stage or in a text, or the text itself—and, inevitably, the object touches back.62 We can also conceive of tragedy as material that (intransitively) feels, at least in the limited sense that it has its own vitality or, more boldly, in the vision of OOO, is “sentient.”63Alternatively, tragedy is material that feels in the sense that it contains or archives the feelings of various human subjects (mythological personae; authors; actors; and viewers or readers, past and present). Indeed tragedy is feeling material in the sense that it is material that generates feelings—it is about sensation along with representation. At the same time, thinking of “feeling material” as employing a poetic postponement of an adjective (expressing, more prosaically, the idea of “material feeling”), we are reminded of the insight of affect theory, that feeling itself is material. We can further read “material” in “feeling material” as a predicate. Someone or something feels its own materiality. Tragedy, in dramatizing human vulnerability, the dissolubility of the body and its subjection to the labor that produces objects, makes one feel material.64 Gormley, speaking generally of his sculptures, says they “remin[d] us of how . . . dependent and vulnerable and precarious our situation is.”65 Tragedy itself could be said to imagine its own precarity, that is, its own materiality. Keeping in mind tragedy as an aesthetic experience that can go awry and, specifically, Aristotle’s scenarios for those works that do not evoke fear and pity, we could say, with tongue in cheek, that such artistic misfires are simply not “feeling material.”66 Returning to Gormley’s sculpture, a sequence of vibrant swirls that seems to suggest a body forming from (or perhaps dissolving into) a field of energy—or, as the artist puts it, “an unending spiralling line that spins a web around the body, orbiting close to the skin and then spiralling out into space”67—we can perceive in the work’s configuration the dissemination of the disparate meanings conjured by the title. The instability of the relationship



between subject and object, their shared materiality, and their implication in the materiality of feeling—all of this is what makes tragedy matter. “Perhaps the fashion for new materialism can be turned into an opportunity not to heap further ritual opprobrium on Marxist theory but instead to re-­evaluate . . . ideas inherent in it which might enrich classicists’ repertoire of interpretive strategies now.” So says Edith Hall in her coda to this volume, and we wholeheartedly agree. In no way do we want to elide the labor of the hands which made the masks and costumes worn by tragic actors or those that fashioned the necklaces, coronets or shields whose acts of destruction Hall reads suggestively as a “symbolic metastasis, into the language of myth and dramatic plotting, of the conflicted relations of production underlying their elaborate and painstaking manufacture.” In fact, each chapter in this volume can be read as a critical engagement with one or more facets of the new materialisms sketched above. Together, they offer a sustained meditation on tragedy’s materialist ways of mattering. Although the topics constantly intersect and all the chapters exemplify their entanglements, we have grouped the chapters loosely around the volume’s two main interpretive nodes—objects and affect—leaving open a space in the middle for the imagined and imaginary world of tragedy to mingle with various material-­culture “realities.” The first four chapters thus trace in their manifest forms objects ranging from the more familiar properties of the theater, such as weapons and vessels, to the more nebulous “morbid” or “malevolent” materialisms of ash, masks, and corpses. Next come three chapters whose discussions redirect the reader’s gaze from objects on the stage to tragedy’s “dark matter,” i.e., the Dionysion, archive and home to dedicated theater masks; bronze mirrors refracting back at their viewers the depths of the tragic soul; and funerary monuments, whose affective properties can be recognized in the (emotional) architecture of the tragic recognition scene. Four chapters on affect, considered in its sensory, (syn)aesthetic, materialist, and ethical aspects, as well as Hall’s perspective on new and “old” materialisms, conclude the volume. While heeding her call to be attentive to things, the contributors to this volume at the same time question the vitalism and ethics of Bennett’s vibrant materialism. Victoria Wohl’s chapter on metaphor and materiality explores the “zombie world” of Euripides’ Trojan Women, where “human and non-­human are equally undead.” Bennett’s interest is in ontology not epistemology. But the paradox brought to light by Euripides’ “malevolent materialism” is that “the lives or liveliness of things are—by their nature and by ours—fundamentally alien to


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

human consciousness.” Trojan Women looks back at a world where a warrior and his weapon, Hector and his shield, were once “equal collaborators, joined grammatically, energetically, and affectively in a fellowship of heroic labor,” but where in the present time of the play, the city of Troy is burning and only the “barely tangible trace” of that past still remains. Ashes are a metaphor for this dematerialized reality. Like words, “ashes unsettle the ontological distinction between presence and absence,” living and dead. Wohl’s discussion focuses on Trojan Women but Karen Bassi’s chapter on Alcestis navigates a similar zombie realm, one where the tragic spectator is defined by an “ability to distinguish a likeness from a living being.” For Bassi, Euripides’ “morbid materialism” is captured by the “rigid and corpse-­like features” of the tragic mask and by Alcestis’s “improbable return to life” at the end of the play. By staging figures of myth and legend, “tragic mimêsis blurs the strict ontological divide between the living and the dead.” Bennett, however, “does not address the political and ethical implications” of the dead human. Nor does she fully engage with the vitality of language, whose materiality is neither human nor fully non-­human. Language “has a force and agency of its own, a vitality that outlives both people and things,” as Wohl puts it, and, we might add, both makes and unmakes more patently material things, such as stage objects. Take, for example, the urn in Sophocles’ Electra, an object both “created and dissolved” by language, as Joshua Billings argues. Orestes’ attempt to harness the deceptive power of the urn “stumbles,” in Billings’s view, “less on the recalcitrance of objects than on the persistence of logos, which retains a quasi-­ mystical power to shape belief and reality.” Objects have a slippery ontology. They can be by turns vital and malevolent, friend and foe—both on stage and in life. Just ask the veterans. Treating Ajax and Heracles as prototypes of the wounded warrior, Erika L. Weiberg shows how, like modern veterans, these tragic heroes have a complex relationship with their weapons. Bringing Jonathan Shay’s notion of “moral injury” into conversation with Manuel DeLanda’s concept of the “assemblage,” Weiberg argues that Ajax is “embedded in an assemblage of forces—social, material, and affective—that determine his shifting and at times contradictory response” to the losses he has suffered. While both Ajax and Heracles re-­enact past trauma, Heracles alone comes to accept responsibility for what he and his weapons have done; he realizes that, like his weapons, he is “capable of both civilizing and destructive violence.” Responsibility for the crimes against his family is “distributed” between Heracles and his bow. Ajax, by contrast, never assumes responsibility for the crimes of his sword. Instead, he ensures “through his curse and his partnership”



with a weapon he deems unremittingly hostile that his enmity with his fellow soldiers will outlive him. Heracles’ case is instructive. But what, to speak more generally, does “responsible affect” look like? And does it have a home among current proponents of affect theory? Mario Telò tackles the ethical implications of blurring stable boundaries between self and other, inside and outside, body and environment. Focusing on Philoctetes, he explores affect’s cannibalizing, devouring effects. Affect, Telò writes, “seems to become an individual, [. . .] a desiring subject.” It is a personification that radically destabilizes the distinction between “human subjects and non-­human objects” and in doing so threatens to fold the “other” entirely into the suffocating embrace of the self. Philoctetes, as Telò demonstrates, anticipates the way affect theory can “obscure the ethical challenges of relationality, of the encounter with alterity.” For in Philoctetes “we see not only a political power that disguises brutal cooptation as sympathy, but also the possessive and cannibalistic dimension of the search for—and the granting of— sympathy.” Looking at how the bodies of satyrs are created though their interactions with other objects in Sophocles’ Ichneutae, Anna Uhlig further destabilizes the notion of the self, and the body, as discrete, temporally continuous entities. Bodily construction is an ongoing process, as well as a collaborative project—one that, in Uhlig’s words, “makes use of tools and instruments which are integrated into that body by means of affective engagement.” The “Noses” of her title thus alludes both to the paradigmatic case of the “smelling kit” used in perfume houses for refining the olfactory capacities of professional “noses,” and to the particular case of the satyrs whom Silenus urges to crouch to the ground, the better to pick up the scent of cattle with their noses. The satyrs in this sense have their bodies extended by scent. But even before that sensory transformation, the actors have donned explicitly satyric pieces of costume: the distinctive satyr’s mask and the perizôma (a pair of shorts onto which the emblematic phallus is attached in front and the tail on the backside), “the material epitome of somatic hybridity.” Sophocles’ Ichneutae thus dramatizes the construction of the body out of sensory experience, setting us up for the close connection between synaesthesia and materiality that Naomi Weiss explores in Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes and Agamemnon. Like dark matter in the theater which, in Andrew Sofer’s words, is “the ‘not there’ yet ‘not not there’ of theater,” the sights and sounds of Aeschylus’s tragedies make the invisible visible, the immaterial material. Taking the parodos of the Seven as a model case, Weiss examines the intricate choreography and “audible skenography” that bring the army before the eyes and ears of the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

audience. The beacon that opens the Oresteia similarly “assumes a living form.” As the light that brings speech, it is “an object materialized through the words of the watchman,” and through the watchman “producing the choral-­musical experience that is tragedy.” If, as Uhlig shows us, bodies are called into being by different sensory experiences, then the sibling hand, argues Nancy Worman, both creates and dissolves bodily boundaries—particularly the distance between what is “mine” and what is “yours.” Focusing on the dramas of Oedipus and Electra, where “the strongly gendered tensions of pivotal scenes often inflect the emotional atmosphere that attends them with psychic recoil,” Worman explores the various types of tactility and touching that bring together members of these troubled families, asking in particular what such proxemics mean in familial relations in which “every intimate gesture carries with it the shadow of incest.” Chapters 5, 6, and 7 also address questions relating to tragic affect, agency, and materiality, but, taking a comparative approach, they allow vase iconography, relief sculpture, and mask-­makers to share the stage with more familiar tragic objects. A.C. Duncan, for example, begins his chapter with excerpts from an interview with Japanese Noh mask-­carver Mitsue Nakamura, using Nakamura’s insights into the theatrical mask’s “distributed” agency to guide his own discussion of the “vital force of masks across their entire material lives.” With examples drawn from Euripides’ Bacchae, Medea, Trojan Women, Alcestis, and Hippolytus, Duncan’s chapter surveys those moments when the mask’s agency may be clearly distinguished from that of the actor. Duncan argues that “for many—foreign visitors, children, women, and more—dedicated masks provided an accessible, if uncanny, material introduction to the theater and its aesthetics.” Tragic aesthetics are also at the heart of Ava Shirazi’s chapter on the reflective vibrancy of bronze underpinning one young woman’s meditation in front of a mirror. Focusing on the third stasimon of Euripides’ Hecuba, Shirazi suggests that the image of a woman gazing into her golden mirror as shouts signaling the fall of Troy reverberate in the background draws emotional resonance from similar scenes depicted on Greek vases. Euripides, she argues, discovers a new and particularly tragic form of horror in the mirror’s reflective bronze surface. Seth Estrin directs us to surfaces of a less horrifying, though no less emotionally riveting sort, those of funerary monuments, which, he argues, are not straightforward depictions or likenesses of the dead. Instead, they invite viewers to engage in “the kind of visual shift staged in the Ion—to generate recognition by harnessing the structure of the depictive likeness, but transforming it through emotional experience.”



More remembrances than representations, such funerary monuments are “material symptoms” of a family’s grief. They are what has been left behind— traces of an “existence engraved in the mind as readily as into the surface of the marble stele.” Passersby may not share the mourners’ grief. And yet, by giving material form to the emotions with which the deceased is grieved, the stone stele, like tragedy itself, “can engender intersubjective recognition . . . through a viewer’s affective engagement with its materiality.” We hope that this volume’s engagements with tragic materialities will likewise engender moments of recognition as well as an uncanny sense of our own material limits and troubled boundlessness.


Stone into Smoke Metaphor and Materiality in Euripides’ Troades1 Victoria Wohl

—through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones. William Carlos Williams, A Sort of a Song In Vibrant Matter, Jane Bennett describes a world alive with intimate interconnections and mutual transformations between the human and the material. In this world the non-­organic has its own agency, its own conatus or striving, its own shimmering vitality. Matter acts, producing affects and effects. This material effectivity displaces human subjectivity and shows that humans are also non-­human, “a particularly rich and complex collection of materials.”2 Bound by relations of complicity, mutual dependence, and even desire, human and non-­human share “a shimmering, potentially violent vitality intrinsic to matter.”3 Euripides’ Troades stages something like Bennett’s merger of matter and man, but it presents it as a catastrophe, a condition exposed—if not caused—by world-­ ending trauma. Troades unfolds in the state Jacques Lacan terms “between two deaths.”4 The civilization of Troy is dead, but its women are still—barely—alive. Hecuba will insist that life and death are not the same—“for the one is nothing, in the other there is hope” (632–33)—but the distinction is open to debate. In this zombie world, human and non-human are equally undead, and the relation between them is worked through with the urgency of immanent annihilation. This urgency makes Troades an interesting test case for Bennett’s vibrant materialism. The play’s nihilistic vision reveals the potential, as well as the blind spots, of her approach. Among the latter, I will suggest, is the role of language as conduit or blockage between the non-human and the human. Simultaneously material and immaterial, language circulates between the two realms but belongs


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

fully to neither. Indeed, as we shall see, language has a force and agency of its own, a vitality that outlives both people and things. Euripides’ meditation on language and materiality can be read within the context of a wider tendency toward dematerialization in late fifth-­century Athens, a longing to transcend matter and its inevitable entropy. This longing finds perhaps its clearest expression in Thucydides’ Funeral Oration. There Pericles conjures the vision of an ideal Athens and exhorts his audience to give their lives for this glorious abstraction. Sacrificing their mortal bodies, the Athenian soldiers will take on the “self-­sufficient body” (sôma autarkes 2.41.1) of idealized citizenship; impervious to death or decay, this body will live on in “unaging praise” and, in place of a physical tomb, will find an “eternally remembered reputation” in the “unwritten memory” of the entire world (2.43.2– 3). So too the city will perish, its stone walls will collapse and its wooden ships rot. But in its place Pericles offers a fantasy of “the most self-­sufficient city” (tên polin . . . autarkestatên 2.36.3), whose power will never fade.5 The Funeral Oration is a “hymn” (2.42.2) to this sublime polis—both Pericles’ and Thucydides’, for its logic of sublimation is reiterated in the historian’s most famous methodological claim. In offering his History as a ktêma es aiei, a possession for all time (1.22.4), Thucydides transubstantiates matter into metaphor; in this way he aims to achieve through the abstraction of his (notoriously abstract) language a permanence to which no material object could ever aspire.6 Pericles’ utopian Athens and Thucydides’ “possession for all time” were part of a broader fifth-­century “disgrace of matter” that culminated in Plato’s repudiation of the physical body, beset with base desires and destined for death, in favor of the pure, divine, immortal soul, and of the phenomenal world for the etherial realm of the unchanging Forms.7 It is this metaphysical hierarchy that Bennett seeks to overturn with her recuperation of matter. Euripides’ Troades offers a nuanced reflection on the matter of materiality. Euripides may share his contemporaries’ desire to transcend matter, but matter actively resists this overcoming. Amidst the smoking rubble of Troy, the play refuses the easy consolation of idealization. And if, like Thucydides, Euripides replaces that ruined city with a sublime city of words, his verbal construct has a very different ontology from Thucydides’ ktêma es aiei: not an eternal possession but instead just the smoky trace of a polis that never was. The imbrication of the man and matter is a basic premise of Troades, where the human drama plays out against the backdrop of the city’s smoldering ruins. Troy and its women stand in insistent hendiadys throughout the play, from the beginning, when Hecuba opens her first monody with the lament “This is no

Stone into Smoke


longer Troy nor am I the queen of Troy” (99–100), up until the end, when “a single command with a double form” (1265) sets the city alight and sends the women to slavery. Troy is imagined as a victim alongside the other female victims: like them the city is a mother who has lost her children (778–82, 825); like them it will bear the yoke of slavery (600); like them it is bereaved (erêmia 15, 26, 97, 564, 603).8 “Wretched Troy” (ἁ τάλαινα / Τροία 780, 1324; cf. 1276, 1331) is a metonym for the “wretched” Trojan women (273, 291, 498, 502, 504, 517, 624, 1272). But the reverse is also true to the extent that “a city is its men not walls and ships empty of men.”9 Troia and Troiades: each is the objective correlative of the other’s destitution. Thus Hecuba describes her head, shorn for slavery, as “pitifully plundered” (ἐκπορθηθεῖσ’ οἰκτρῶς 142), a verb more properly used of a city. Under these conditions of shared devastation, human and matter converge. Humans become objects. As slaves, the Trojan women are “living tools,” in Aristotle’s phrase (ἔμψυχον . . . ὄργανον):10 they are spoils among the city’s other spoils (573– 76). Functionally reduced to objects, they assume that “objective” position subjectively as well. In her opening monody Hecuba pictures herself as a ship rocking from side to side in her grief: “rolling my back and spine back and forth to each ship’s wall of my limbs” (εἰς ἀμφοτέρους τοίχους μελέων 116–19). The awkward locution does not so much compare her rocking body to a ship as assimilate the two through their shared motion; the metaphor gains materiality from the real ships that lie offshore throughout the play, waiting to take the women to their doom.11 Later Hecuba describes herself as “carded by tears” (δακρύοις καταξανθεῖσα 509; cf. 760, 1253): she becomes the wool that, as a slave, she will be forced to card. She is not just an empsukhon organon but empsukhos hulê, animate matter—and only barely animate: she speaks these lines from the ground where she has fainted. Death literalizes this objectification. In the second episode Andromache learns that her child Astyanax is to be killed, thrown from the walls of Troy. The last “remnant of the Trojans” (λείψανον Φρυγῶν 716), Astyanax is the living embodiment of all the optimism and futurity—the very life-­instinct or conatus— of the city and its human inhabitants.12 In a final heartbreaking address, Andromache bids farewell to her son: “Oh, young embrace most dear to his mother, oh sweet breath of skin” (ὦ νέον ὑπαγκάλισμα μητρὶ φίλτατον, / ὦ χρωτὸς ἡδὺ πνεῦμα 757–58). Lingering on the child’s warm corporeality, she figures him as a physical body alive with breath and love. But death will “break off ” his breath (πνεῦμ’ ἀπορρήξεις σέθεν 756) and “despoil” his psukhê (συλώμεθα σὴν ψυχήν 791), transforming warm, soft skin into sclerotic matter. In the next scene Astyanax is carried on, a lifeless corpse, “a bitter discus thrown from the walls” (πύργων δίσκημα πικρόν 1121).13 Minus its vital breath and animating


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

spirit, the human body is reduced to—or revealed as—a mere body, an inert thing, nothing more than its own physical mass. Astyanax’s transformation seems to insist on the ontological divide between human vitality and dead matter that Bennett wants to challenge. But while death reduces living beings to inert matter, it also releases a vitality latent within the inanimate. If liveliness is defined by breath, then “Troy once breathing mightily among barbarians” (ὦ μεγάλα δή ποτ’ ἀμπνέουσ’ ἐν βαρβάροις / Τροία 1277–78) is—or at least was—alive. In language that recalls Andromache’s embrace of Astyanax, Hecuba longs to “embrace the wretched city” (ὡς ἀσπάσωμαι τὴν ταλαίπωρον πόλιν 1276) and to die with it (1283). This is more than just a pathetic fallacy, the life of anthropomorphism breathed into the city’s stones by its desperate anthrôpoi. The city has its own conatus, its own mute striving to endure, such that if the gods had not destroyed it, “you would be on your foundations still” (47). The immanent vitality of things is clearest in the case of Hector’s shield, which bears the corpse of Astyanax and will be his tomb. Animated through Hecuba’s repeated apostrophe, the “bronze-­backed” shield (χαλκόνωτον ἀσπίδα 1136; cf. 1193) is more alive than the human body it bears (1194–99): ὦ καλλίπηχυν Ἕκτορος βραχίονα σῴζουσ’, ἄριστον φύλακ’ ἀπώλεσας σέθεν. ὡς ἡδὺς ἐν πόρπακι σῷ κεῖται τύπος ἴτυός τ’ ἐν εὐτόρνοισι περιδρόμοις ἱδρώς, ὃν ἐκ μετώπου πολλάκις πόνους ἔχων ἔσταζεν Ἕκτωρ προστιθεὶς γενειάδι.


Oh, you who often saved Hector’s beautiful arm, you have lost your best guardian. How sweet the impression lies on your handle, and on the well-­turned rim of your edge the sweat which often from the brow during labors Hector dripped, holding you to his chin.

Grammatically enfolding Hector’s arm (note the separation of ὦ and σῴζουσ’, reinforced by enjambment), the shield mourns the loss of its former companion.14 The reciprocity between the shield and Hector’s arm as each guards the other has imprinted this object with a borrowed human vitality. But that vitality is also its own. In her brilliant vibrant-­materialist reading of Ajax’s shield in the Iliad, Alex Purves has shown how the interaction between man and material changes both and blurs the boundaries between the two.15 Something similar happens here, as the soft leather of the shield’s strap molds itself to the form of its owner’s arm.

Stone into Smoke


The artisanal metaphor behind τύπος suggests passive matter awaiting human shaping, but the “sweet impression” Hecuba sees is both Hector’s and the shield’s. Likewise, the shield’s “sweet sweat” dripped from Hector’s brow, a material trace of his lost vitality imprinted (in another artisanal metaphor) on its well-­turned rim. But if we hear the verb behind the noun περίδρομος (“rim”), then that sweat is also the shield’s own, worked up as it “ran around” in its labors with its human companion, pressed to his chin. The delay of the subject in the relative clause makes the labors and sweating brow the shield’s before they are Hector’s. Warrior and weapon are not distinguished as agent and instrument; instead they are equal collaborators, joined grammatically, energetically, and affectively in a fellowship of heroic labor.16 The shield lived and fought with Hector. It will die with his son (1221–23): σύ τ’, ὦ ποτ’ οὖσα καλλίνικε μυρίων μῆτερ τροπαίων, Ἕκτορος φίλον σάκος, στεφανοῦ· θανῇ γὰρ οὐ θανοῦσα σὺν νεκρῷ· You, oh victorious mother of countless trophies that once you were, dear shield of Hector, receive a crown; for you will die, not having died, along with the corpse.

Just before these lines Hecuba had lamented the life Astyanax would never have, including the victories he would never win in contests with his age-­mates (1209– 10). The καλλίνικος shield has lived the life of which Astyanax was deprived, and becomes one of those young men with whom he would have competed. At the same time, as a mother, it will replace the mothers—Andromache and Hecuba herself (1182, 1212)—who bury him, as well as the dear father to whom it was dear. The anthropomorphism of this passage is profoundly consolatory: Astyanax will not be alone in death. It is also pathetic: it animates the object in order to mourn its passing.17 Becoming human the shield becomes mortal, as the phrase ὦ ποτ’ οὖσα (used only a few lines earlier of Astyanax, 1217–18) suggests. In this sympathetic vision, objects and humans are connected in the shared pathos of their perishability; they lived together and die together. Affect binds the human and non-­human, but it cannot erase the ontological difference between them. The shield “will die, not having died” (θανῇ γὰρ οὐ θανοῦσα). Anthropomorphized, it is buried with Astyanax. But it also lives on with an uncanny vitality of its own, challenging the play’s reiterated distinction between life and death. The pointed oxymoron of this line marks the limits of sympathy between the human and the non-­human.18 It hints at an autonomy of the material that sets it apart from—and potentially against—the human. We


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

first glimpse this autonomous materiality in the first stasimon (511–67) with the Trojan horse—ironically, as the horse would seem to represent a perfect cooperation of matter with man (515–21, 531–41, 560–67):19 νῦν γὰρ μέλος ἐς Τροίαν ἰαχήσω, τετραβάμονος ὡς ὑπ’ ἀπήνας Ἀργείων ὀλόμαν τάλαινα δοριάλωτος, ὅτ’ ἔλιπον ἵππον οὐράνια βρέμοντα χρυσεοφάλαρον ἔνο- πλον ἐν πύλαις Ἀχαιοί· . . . πᾶσα δὲ γέννα Φρυγῶν πρὸς πύλας ὡρμάθη, πεύκαν οὐρεΐαν, ξεστὸν λόχον Ἀργείων, καὶ Δαρδανίας ἄταν θεᾷ δώσων, χάριν ἄζυγος ἀμβροτοπώλου· κλωστοῦ δ’ ἀμφιβόλοις λίνοιο ναὸς ὡσεὶ σκάφος κελαινὸν εἰς ἕδρανα λάϊνα δάπεδά τε, φονέα πατρί-   δι, Παλλάδος θέσαν θεᾶς . . . λόχου δ’ ἐξέβαιν’ Ἄρης, κόρας ἔργα Παλλάδος. σφαγαὶ δ’ ἀμφιβώμιοι Φρυγῶν ἔν τε δεμνίοις καράτομος ἐρημία νεανίδων στέφανον ἔφερεν Ἑλλάδι κουροτρόφον, Φρυγῶν δὲ πατρίδι πένθος. Now I shall utter a song for Troy, how I was destroyed, a wretched captive, by a four-­footed conveyance of the Argives, when the Achaeans left the horse at the gates, sending up a roar to the heavens with its golden-­bridled tackle. . . . The whole race of Trojans rushed toward the gates, to give to the goddess the mountain pine, the polished ambush of Argives, and Troy’s doom, a gift for the unyoked goddess of the divine steed.



540 560


Stone into Smoke


By encircling lines of spun flax, like the dark hull of a ship, they brought it into the stone temple and chamber of Pallas, murder for the fatherland. . . . Ares emerged from his ambush, the work of the maiden Pallas. Slaughters around the altars and in the beds of the Phrygians beheaded desolation bore a victory-­crown of young women, nursemaids for Greece, a sorrow for the fatherland of the Trojans.

This “four-­footed conveyance” (τετραβάμονος . . . ἀπήνας 516) is a tool of human ingenuity. Compared to a ship (538–40), it is part of a world of objects created by humans for their own use.20 Yet this “polished ambush of Argives” (ξεστὸν λόχον Ἀργείων 534) never loses its material autonomy. It is always still “mountain pine” (πεύκαν οὐρεΐαν 533): the transfer of the epithet ξεστόν from the raw material (πεύκαν) to the product (λόχον) leaves that pine in its natural state, even as it is shaped to human designs. Moreover, its material plays an active part in those designs. Its gold trappings (χρυσεοφάλαρον ἔνοπλον 520) draw the Trojans from their homes toward it. Gold has an active force throughout the play. Both attractive and narcotic, it is closely associated with Helen (992, 995, 1107), herself an alluring and narcotizing object. Gold acts on humans but, in its hard-­edged sheen, is indifferent to its effect on them.21 Here gold cries out: the clanging of the horse’s “armor” elicits a responding cry from the Trojan people (522–23), and incites them to the act that destroys them. This object is thus an instrument of human agency, but it also displaces that agency, and the Chorus blame it, not the Greeks, for their destruction (515–18). In the semantic ambiguity of lokhos, both “ambush” and “childbirth” (560), the Greeks are the unborn children of this “horse pregnant with weapons” (ἐγκύμον’ ἵππον τευχέων 11). But what it finally bears is not men but “Ares” (560), and the stasimon ends with a vision of violence all the more terrifying for being devoid of human agents. Its subjects are σφαγαί (slaughters) and καράτομος ἐρημία, beheading or beheaded desolation.22 This faceless violence reduces the Trojan men to their decapitated heads. Its gruesome fertility likewise displaces the Trojan women: σφαγαί and ἐρημία bear a crown that will nurse Greek sons, while the Trojan women decline to the genitive—appropriately, a “genitive of material.”


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The horse thus has an immanent agency that exceeds its instrumentality. If the shield shows matter vibrating in sympathetic resonance with human concerns, the horse figures a materiality indifferent—if not in fact hostile—to the human. This “thing-­power” (in Bennett’s phrase) waxes as the human wanes. It finds its most terrifying expression in Hecuba’s lament over the dead Astyanax (1173–77): δύστηνε, κρατὸς ὥς σ’ ἔκειρεν ἀθλίως τείχη πατρῷα, Λοξίου πυργώματα, ὃν πόλλ’ ἐκήπευσ’ ἡ τεκοῦσα βόστρυχον φιλήμασίν τ’ ἔδωκεν, ἔνθεν ἐκγελᾷ ὀστέων ῥαγέντων φόνος, ἵν’ αἰσχρὰ μὴ στέγω.


Poor child, how miserably they have shorn you, the walls of your fatherland, the towers of Loxias, and the locks which your mother tended and covered with kisses. There slaughter laughs out from the broken bones—not to conceal this shame.

Throughout the mythic tradition Astyanax—“city king”—bears a metonymic kinship with the walls of Troy, his fall anticipating their own. Here the walls themselves shear his head of its curls. Those curls are—were—living things. The gardening metaphor in ἐκήπευσα assimilates them to tendrils of grapevine (another meaning of βόστρυχον), tended by his mother and nourished with her kisses. This flourishing vegetal matter suddenly falls away to reveal the horror beneath: slaughter laughs out from the broken bones of the boy’s skull. Personified but not fully anthropomorphized, φόνος derives pleasure—or mirth or whatever it “feels”—from the boy’s death, just as his mother did from his life.23 The “mouth” with which it laughs its hideous laugh is the boy’s shattered skull: solid bone and disembodied slaughter collude to mock the human. This is Troades’ materialism. It is vital, but its vitality is malevolent, the obscene obverse of the human. It is less vibrant thing than Lacanian Thing, an unassimilable shard of the real of death.24 From this perspective, the shield comes to look like. . .well, a shield. Its anthropomorphizing sympathy of human and matter is a defensive fantasy against this monstrous vision. Indeed, vibrant materialism as a whole comes to look like a defensive fantasy and its enchantment at the vitality of the inorganic just a shimmering veil thrown over its laughing maw.25 Euripides’ malevolent materialism points toward an acknowledged paradox in Bennett’s phenomenology: she seeks to draw attention to phenomena that are, she says, recalcitrant to human knowledge. Her interest is in ontology not epistemology,

Stone into Smoke


but the problem remains: how can we conceive of the lives or liveliness of things that are—by their nature and by ours—fundamentally alien to human consciousness?26 Why is phonos laughing? What does it feel? Does it feel? Any attempt to answer those questions necessarily translates them into our own terms; it anthropomorphizes and domesticates matter. This is the point of the Lacanian Thing: it is rooted in the real, which is not reality but that ontological register to which the speaking subject, as a condition of his subjectivity, has no access. Humans and Things occupy different ontological spaces and cannot speak to one another across the divide.27 Indeed, language itself is the divide. Language and the real are mutually exclusive: to name the real is to annul it. The real can therefore be symbolized only as an absence, an impossibility, and it is precisely this impossibility that the Thing marks. The Thing, as Slavoj Žižek says (in an uncanny echo of Euripides), is “the bone stuck in the throat of the symbolic.”28 The paradox of vibrant materialism thus turns on the role of language as the conduit or blockage between the human subject and the material world. Euripides’ “laughing slaughter” takes us to the heart of the question. Hecuba’s apology for the image (ἵν’ αἰσχρὰ μὴ στέγω 1177) simultaneously foregrounds its linguistic status and denies it: the rictus of slaughter is both the shameful thing her language reveals and the language that reveals it. The doubleness is repeated in the line’s textual equivocation: Diggle, in the Oxford text, prints στέγω (conceal) but the manuscripts have λέγω (speak). The very language that seeks to expose the real (μὴ στέγω) also necessarily covers it over (μὴ λέγω). But the reverse is also true, for it is precisely in its inexpressibility that the image achieves its full horror. Scholars debate whether the force of ἐκγελᾷ is visual or auditory.29 It seems to me that it is fully neither: more impression than expression, more affective than constative, it provokes sensation precisely through its opacity of sense. It sits right at the edge of human signification, where metaphor meets matter. Euripides thus encourages us to ask (in a way that Bennett declines to do) about the role of language in mediating the relation between the human and the non-­human. That role is profoundly ambivalent, in part because of the ambiguous ontology of language itself, which is simultaneously material and immaterial. At first view, language in Troades works to protect the hegemony of the human, defending against the “grimace of the real.”30 Andromache draws on a long tradition of Greek thought when she singles out voice (phthongos), along with intelligence (xunesis), as what differentiates men from beasts (671). An emanation from the physical body, closely linked to breath (pneuma) and animating spirit (psukhê),


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

voice is both corporeal and spiritual—or rather it is corporeality spiritualized, as it passes from the body’s interior, through the “barrier of the teeth,” into the air where it can circulate freely as intangible logos.31 Through its connection with the enlivening breath, voice bespeaks the human vitality of its speaker: the ability to sing their woes is one of the few remaining marks of the Trojan women’s humanity and a source of dismal pleasure (608–9; cf. 406–7). Voice humanizes not only the speaker but also the addressee, especially through the ubiquitous trope of apostrophe. Apostrophe, as Barbara Johnson says, is the trope of “rhetorical animation;” it makes the “absent, dead, or inanimate entity . . . present, animate, and anthropomorphic.”32 Hecuba’s defense against the gaping maw of her grandson’s skull is a pathetic apostrophe to his hands (1178–86): ὦ χεῖρες, ὡς εἰκοὺς μὲν ἡδείας πατρὸς κέκτησθ’, ἐν ἄρθροις δ’ ἔκλυτοι πρόκεισθέ μοι. ὦ πολλὰ κόμπους ἐκβαλών, φίλον στόμα, ὄλωλας, ἐψεύσω μ’, ὅτ’ ἐσπίπτων πέπλους, Ὦ μῆτερ, ηὔδας, ἦ πολύν σοι βοστρύχων πλόκαμον κεροῦμαι πρὸς τάφον θ’ ὁμηλίκων κώμους ἐπάξω, φίλα διδοὺς προσφθέγματα. σὺ δ’ οὐκ ἔμ’, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ σὲ τὸν νεώτερον, γραῦς ἄπολις ἄτεκνος, ἄθλιον θάπτω νεκρόν.



Oh hands, sweet images of your father, you lie before me broken at the wrists. Oh dear mouth, which uttered many boasts, you are dead, you lied to me when, hanging on my robe, you said, “Oh mother, I will cut a great lock of hair for you and lead a band of comrades to your grave, delivering a loving address.” But you do not bury me, but I you, though you are the younger; an old woman without city, without children, I bury a wretched corpse.

Even as it objectifies the child, this Homeric address also reanimates him and, through him, his father, whose image appears in the hands of his son. The apostrophe to Astyanax’s “dear mouth” that follows will resuscitate the boy’s voice, as Hecuba ventriloquizes his own fond address to her. Through apostrophe, the voice’s vitality seems to undo the work of death. The lifeless body—the limp hands, the silent mouth—is resuscitated in the form of the child’s speech, vital and audible in the present moment of the performance. That speech in turn

Stone into Smoke


resuscitates Hecuba through the remembered address (which also defers her death to a future speech act, προσφθέγματα), a circuit of animating apostrophe belied by the perverted reciprocity of the final lines, which reduce grandson and grandmother alike to a miserable corpse (ἄθλιον . . . νεκρόν 1186).33 Like apostrophe, metaphor too promises to redeem its human speakers from a deathly thingness, reasserting their vitality and subjectivity. We saw earlier how metaphor objectifies the human, as when Hecuba compares herself to a ship, rocking from side to side in her grief (116–18). This rhetorical operation is necessarily ironic, since the trope that turns Hecuba into an object also highlights her status as a subject of poetic speech: “even this is a muse for the miserable, to sing disaster without a chorus” (119–21). This irony is elaborated in a later return to naval imagery. “I myself have never been on a ship,” says Hecuba, “but I have seen them in paintings and have heard about them” (αὐτὴ μὲν οὔπω ναὸς εἰσέβην σκάφος, / γραφῇ δ’ ἰδοῦσα καὶ κλύουσ’ ἐπίσταμαι 686–87). This launches an extended nautical simile (688–96). Like sailors who slacken the sail in heavy winds, Hecuba has “slackened her mouth” and is voiceless (ἄφθογγός εἰμι καὶ παρεῖσ’ ἔχω στόμα 695). This self-­conscious simile negates its own content, as Hecuba uses poetic language to speak of her inability to speak. The metaphor that objectifies her also assures her status as a subject of language, knowledge, and experience (αὐτὴ . . . ἐπίσταμαι). And yet that assurance is false, for the ships resist pure metaphoricity. As vehicles for “carrying across” (meta-­pherein), ships literalize the metaphor of metaphor, returning it to its material origin. The “elegy of tears” (119) Hecuba sings as she rocks back and forth in her opening monody is a song of ships cutting through the purple deep to reach Troy (122–37). In these lyrics, the ships seem to move under their own steam—human agency, to the extent that it is recognized, is reduced to an instrumental metonym (κώπαις)—and toward their own goals; they even have their own voice, as they sail “to the hateful paean of flutes and the sound of sweet-­voiced pipes” (126–27).34 Hecuba’s lyric ships have a material double in the literal ships that will take the women to Greece and that likewise have a force and agenda of their own. Their (unstaged but forceful) presence defines the time of the drama: they are waiting for a favorable wind (19–20) and when they get it the play will end (1332). Indeed, we might think of the play’s ubiquitous naval metaphors as the ships’ own mode of agency, as they use language to inhabit the play’s characters (108, 116–18, 686–96), plot (via the Trojan horse, which is compared to a ship at 537–38), and gestures (570, 1236, 1258), working through them to achieve their ends: to load their human cargo and set sail.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The ships’ resistance to metaphorical translation sinks the play’s hope of mastering matter through language and in this way of transcending materiality and, ultimately, death. Hecuba’s apostrophes, as we saw, revitalize Astyanax as a “sweet eikôn” of his heroic father (1178), transforming him from a dead object into an undying signifier. She goes on to imagine what a mousopoios would write on his tomb: the dead boy will be an “epigram of shame” for the cowardly Greeks (1189–91). The word mousopoios gestures toward the familiar tradition in which kleos—immaterial and imperishable—is compensation for physical death. This is the deal Pericles offered his Athenians when he asked them to sacrifice their bodies for “unaging praise” and their homes and land for the idealized city of his imagination. The Funeral Oration, as is often noted, presents an updated civic version of the old Homeric trade of life for kleos. Troades self-­consciously situates itself within this same economy of kleos: “Sing to me, Muse, of Ilion, a funeral-­song of new hymns accompanied by tears,” begins the first stasimon (ἀμφί μοι Ἴλιον, ὦ / Μοῦσα, καινῶν ὕμνων / ᾆσον σὺν δακρύοις ᾠδὰν ἐπικήδειον 511–14). Hecuba picks up the theme again at the end with another Iliadic allusion (1242–45):            εἰ δὲ μὴ θεὸς ἔστρεψε τἄνω περιβαλὼν κάτω χθονός, ἀφανεῖς ἂν ὄντες οὐκ ἂν ὑμνηθεῖμεν ἂν μούσαις ἀοιδὰς δόντες ὑστέρων βροτῶν.            If the god had not overturned the city and thrown it upside down, we would disappear. We would not be hymned, the subject of song for the muses in generations to come.35

To the extent that the play itself sings that song, it not only alludes to the economy of kleos but participates in it. Its poetry will transform Troy from perishable matter (broken walls, shattered corpses) into immortal, immaterial words, a poetic ktêma es aiei. Euripides, like Thucydides, seems to seek salvation through dematerialization. And yet Hecuba’s lines must be sardonic, for this trade of life for glory has already been shown to be the logic of a madwoman. In the first episode the prophetess Cassandra, dressed in her wedding gown, sings a deranged hymenaeal for her “blessed marriage” to Agamemnon (309–40). In the rhesis that follows she undertakes to prove that the Trojans’ defeat is really a victory and the vanquished are more fortunate than the victors. Her perverse reasoning anticipates Hecuba’s at 1242–45: if it were not for the war, she argues, the Trojans would not have

Stone into Smoke


achieved the “most noble glory” of dying for their land nor would Hector have won his renown as “the most noble man” (386–99). “How sweetly you laugh at your own misfortunes,” remark the Chorus (406): to them the comfort of kleos is pure delusion. Andromache has no such delusions. Her moving final address to her beloved Astyanax can imagine no possible compensation for the loss of her child’s irreplaceable life, the feel of his arms around her neck and his breath on her cheek “now and never again” (761). For her, death brings not immortal glory but pure annihilation: it is like never having been born at all (636).36 The promise of immortality through immateriality is thus annulled in advance, and kleos evaporates into nothingness. Or perhaps it resolves back into the materiality of the language in which it is expressed. When Thucydides characterizes his text as a “possession for all time” he proposes that language can transcend the decay of matter: Athens falls, as all cities must, but the “imaginary Athens” of the Funeral Oration will endure forever (as in fact it has, so far). But the very metaphor in which this idealization is expressed yokes it forever to matter and its inevitable entropy. Ktêmata decay and “the material sublime” is rooted in this inescapable paradox.37 That paradox is obscured by Thucydides’ abstract language (which dematerializes its referents before our eyes), but it takes center stage in Troades, where words have a conspicuous weight and substance. Consider the pervasive trope of polyptoton: “sorrows lie upon sorrows” (ἐπὶ δ’ ἄλγεσιν ἄλγεα κεῖται 596); “tears pour down from tears” (δάκρυά τ’ ἐκ δακρύων καταλείβεται 605); “evil comes to compete with evil” (κακῷ κακὸν γὰρ εἰς ἅμιλλαν ἔρχεται 621); “new misfortunes replace new misfortunes for the land” (καίν’ ἐκ καινῶν μεταβάλλουσαι / χθονὶ συντυχίαι 1118–19). Laying word upon word, Euripides builds an edifice of suffering, capped (as Hecuba says) with a “copice-­stone” of woe (θριγκὸς ἀθλίων κακῶν 489). A verbal monument constructed on the ruins of Troy, this play promises to be a memorial more lasting than the city itself, a “possession for all time.” And yet becoming matter, language too becomes vulnerable to entropy and decay, and the verbal edifice erected on the ruins of Troy risks falling with the city. Indeed, the rot has already set in. The second episode begins with an extended antilabe between Hecuba and Andromache (578–86): Εκ. Εκ. Εκ. Εκ. Εκ. Αν.

οἴμοι.  Αν. τί παιᾶν’ ἐμὸν στενάζεις; αἰαῖ  Αν. τῶνδ’ ἀλγέων ὦ Ζεῦ  Αν. καὶ συμφορᾶς. τέκεα  Αν. πρίν ποτ’ ἦμεν. βέβακ’  ὄλβος, βέβακε Τροία τλάμων.  Εκ. ἐμῶν τ’ εὐγένεια παίδων.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

30 Αν. Αν. Αν.

φεῦ φεῦ  Εκ. φεῦ δῆτ’ ἐμῶν κακῶν.  Εκ. οἰκτρὰ τύχα πόλεος  Εκ. ἃ καπνοῦται.


Hecuba.  Oimoi.  Andromache  Why do you sing my lament? Hecuba  Aiai  Andromache  for the grief Hecuba  Oh Zeus  Andromache  and misfortune. Hecuba  Children  Andromache  we once were. Hecuba  Prosperity is gone, Troy is gone Andromache  Wretched.  Hecuba And the nobility of my children. Andromache  Woe woe  Hecuba  Woe indeed for my Andromache  suffering.  Hecuba  Pitiful fate Andromache  of the city  Hecuba  which goes up in smoke.

In these fragmented lines, as Shirley Barlow comments, “words are made to seem in danger of breaking down altogether, so great is their grief.”38 The structure gives way, and its memorial crumbles. The final 100 lines of the play record this linguistic collapse. As the Trojan women beat their breasts and strike the earth, the language not only mimetically reproduces but actively joins in their mourning, echoing their reiterated gestures with its repetitions and alliterations, its inarticulate cries and strings of alpha-­privatives (1310–14): Εκ. Εκ. Εκ.

ἀγόμεθα φερόμεθ’  Χο. ἄλγος ἄλγος βοᾷς. δούλειον ὑπὸ μέλαθρον.  Χο. ἐκ πάτρας γ’ ἐμᾶς. ἰὼ ἰώ, Πρίαμε Πρίαμε, σὺ μὲν ὀλόμενος ἄταφος ἄφιλος ἄτας ἐμᾶς ἄιστος εἶ.


Hecuba We are led, we are borne Chorus You cry sorrow, sorrow. Hecuba to the house of slavery. Chorus From my fatherland. Hecuba Oh oh, Priam, Priam. You are gone unburied, unbefriended, unaware of my undoing.

Language breaks down; amidst the rubble of signification, it threatens to become mere sound. And even the sound evanesces—and with it Troy’s kleos. “Oh Troy, once breathing greatly among the barbarians,” says Hecuba, “soon you will be robbed of your glorious name” (ὦ μεγάλα δή ποτ’ ἀμπνέουσ’ ἐν βαρβάροις / Τροία, τὸ κλεινὸν ὄνομ’ ἀφαιρήσῃ τάχα 1277–78, cf. 1319–22). The apostrophe’s promise to reanimate a once-­breathing city fails, as does the exchange of kleos for perishable matter. Troy’s citadel and halls will fall, nameless, to the ground (τάχ’ ἐς φίλαν γᾶν πεσεῖσθ’ ἀνώνυμοι 1317); then even “its name will vanish from the

Stone into Smoke


land” (ὄνομα δὲ γᾶς ἀφανὲς εἶσιν 1322). The name of Troy—the kleos, the very word—will vanish along with its walls. Language thus ultimately fails to preserve the polis. The city’s material and immaterial memorials will alike disappear. Nothing will remain but ashes. Yet, ashes there are, and ashes aren’t nothing.39 In his reading of Celan’s poem Aschenglorie, Derrida comments that “ashes . . . annihilate or threaten to annihilate even the possibility of testifying to annihilation itself.”40 For him ashes figure the paradoxical ontology of language: the barely tangible trace of what no longer exists, like words ashes unsettle the ontological distinction between presence and absence. This obscure ontology of language and ashes is figured (or not) at the end of the play in the metaphor (if that’s what it is) of smoke (1298–99; 1319–24): Χο. πτέρυγι δὲ καπνὸς ὥς τις οὐ   ρίᾳ  πεσοῦσα δορὶ καταφθίνει γᾶ. Chorus  Like some smoke rising on a wing of wind, the land perishes, falling to the spear. Χο. Εκ. Χο.

τάχ’ ἐς φίλαν γᾶν πεσεῖσθ’ ἀνώνυμοι. κόνις δ’ ἴσα καπνῷ πτέρυγι πρὸς αἰθέρα ἄιστον οἴκων ἐμῶν με θήσει. ὄνομα δὲ γᾶς ἀφανὲς εἶσιν· ἄλλᾳ δ’ ἄλλο φροῦδον, οὐδ’ ἔτ’ ἔστιν ἁ τάλαινα Τροία.

Chorus  Soon you [Troy] will fall nameless upon the dear land. Hecuba  Dust equal to smoke on a wing to the aether   will prevent me from seeing my home. Chorus  The name of the land will become obscure.   Everything is gone, scattered. There is no longer   wretched Troy.

What is the ontology of this dust become smoke become wing become air? Is it material or immaterial? Organic or non-­organic? Alive or dead? Present or absent? The smoke rises above these distinctions. In these images, we would seem to find the thrumming unity of matter that Bennett celebrates: a complex assemblage of things, organic and inorganic, each with its own conatus (to rise, to thrive, to fly) that combine unpredictably to produce effects. Here, as we might expect, those effects are predominantly negative: ecological catastrophe, the total annihilation of both the human and


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

the material world. The earth in its vegetal vitality decays (καταφθίνει) and falls; dust becomes smoke becomes air. The human element disappears. There are traces of it in the first passage: in the instrumentality of δορί or the irony of οὐρίᾳ (which denotes a favoring wind, and thus evokes the doomed Greek nostos). But in the second passage that human perspective is negated, ἄιστον. Unseen/unseeing, it is enfolded in an an-­aesthetic dust. The same word (ἄιστος) was used of the dead Priam seven lines earlier (σὺ μὲν ὀλόμενος ἄταφος ἄφιλος / ἄτας ἐμᾶς ἄιστος εἶ 1313–14). This alpha-­private belies the promise of kleos, of eternal preservation through dematerialization. Here dematerialization turns Troy not into a Periclean utopia but into a literal ou-­topia. “The great city has become a no-­city/non-­city and Troy exists no more” (ἁ δὲ μεγαλόπολις / ἄπολις ὄλωλεν οὐδ’ ἔτ’ ἔστι Τροία 1291–92); it is a negation so complete it belies the fact that Troy ever existed to begin with (ἔτ’). This vaporization thus recalls Andromache’s definition of death not as the end of life but as its erasure: to die is the same as never having been born (636). It is an alpha-­privative set on life.41 And yet out of this total disintegration, something survives, something beyond both the human and the material, a bare wisp of something that may be nothing. That elusive something, I suggest, is language itself. Both substanceless words and (if the fire was staged in performance) a substance that could be seen and smelled, this smoke is simultaneously metaphor and matter. Or better, it is metaphor materialized as corporeal affect, since for us modern readers it is the metaphor that burns the throat and makes the eyes water. Indeed, language has a marked effectivity in these lines, a reagency if not an agency, even a vitality. Consider 1298–99, the first of the two passages quoted above. The contrast between earth’s heaviness and smoke’s airy lightness means that the simile itself has to effect the transformation of land into smoke: by the time we read it, it has already done its work, leaving the land behind. The smoke is marked as metaphorical (καπνὸς ὥς τις) but the windy wing on which it rises is not, as if the vitality lost to the earth is rediscovered above in the bird-­like wind. Is that wind “fair” to an ironic human eye or from smoke’s own bird’s-­eye view, for which any wind becomes “fair” when it hits its wing—a wing that “exists” only because the wind is fair?42 The simile is as hazy as the “some smoke” its ὥς creates, but there is something animate in the swirling assemblage of smoke, wind, and bird: a movement unanchored by the line-­ending γᾶ. Likewise in the second passage, dust negates human perception (ἄιστον), but something escapes. Dust becomes smoke: again the trope is the reagent of this conversion. But the wing (πτέρυγι) is not contained by the comparison: grammatically autonomous, it flies toward the aether, more verb than noun.

Stone into Smoke


What lives on from Troy’s destruction, in both passages, is a wing that is not quite metaphor, but not quite matter. This wing, I am suggesting, is the material/ immaterial trace that is the play’s own language. This language lacks the monumental solidity of Thucydides’ ktêma es aiei. Breath become smoke, it is no more than a fleeting echo of a lost voice, the reminder and remainder—the leipsanon (as Hecuba calls Astyanax, 716)—of a real that never was.43 Yet I think it is here, ultimately, that we find the vibrancy and effectivity Bennett celebrates— not in walls or men, both liable to decay, but in a language, which, like smoke, endures precisely in its dissipation or dissemination. Dispersed, it persists in the material/human world as an energy, a feeling, an élan vital (in Bergson’s phrase).44 And it is in this form, if at all, that Troy’s walls and women endure, as a trace, the lingering smell of evaporated smoke. Troy is no longer between two deaths but beyond both death and life, absent and present at once, as the chorus conclude (1323–24):   οὐδ’ ἔτ’ ἔστιν ἁ τάλαινα Τροία.   There is no longer wretched Troy.


Morbid Materialism The Matter of the Corpse in Euripides’ Alcestis Karen Bassi

Beginning with the Homeric poems, the prospect of facing death in the Greek literary tradition is acknowledged in the things the dead leave behind. A singular example is the armor that the aged Peleus passes down to his son Achilles in Homer’s Iliad. When the poet euphemistically reports that Achilles “did not grow old in his father’s armor” (ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ υἱὸς ἐν ἔντεσι πατρὸς ἐγήρα 17.197), he establishes a powerful link between the prospect of death and the presence of material objects, a link that culminates in Patroclus’s and then Hector’s death in this same armor.1 In this example, the armor—with its human contours—simultaneously signifies and mediates the hero’s transformation from a living being to an inanimate corpse. This transformation and its after-­effects stand both at the beginning and at the center of the Greek literary tradition. In Greek tragedy, the human corpse is a persistent object of visible, verbal, and affective attention. Insofar as the tragic corpse requires the living body of an actor to imitate the dead body of his character, moreover, it tests both the bases and limits of mimetic enactment.2 In calling attention to the divide between living beings and non-­living things, the human corpse is an object—dead matter—that demands ritual and social care. In temporal and phenomenological terms, it is the conclusive proof of human mortality. It is also the principal agent of what I am calling a morbid materialism in tragedy, a materialism most immediately captured in the rigid and corpse-­like features of the tragic mask.3 As a sign of the radical otherness of tragic characters, the mask captures the philosophical proposition that human mortality is revealed in witnessing the deaths of others.4 In what follows, I argue that this proposition is a feature of Greek tragedy in general and is specifically tested in Euripides’ Alcestis.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Scholarship on the Alcestis, in which the queen Alcestis agrees to die in place of her husband king Admetus, has been primarily concerned with genre and characterization.5 Attention to material objects in the play is focused on Admetus’s infamous vow to have a likeness made of Alcestis’s body so that he can embrace it in his bed (δέμας τὸ σὸν / εἰκασθέν 348–49). Charles Segal, following Jean-Pierre Vernant, suggests that the likeness refers to a kolossos, i.e., “an image put in place of a missing corpse.”6 The vow has led Mary Stieber to conclude that, at the end of the play, Heracles returns with Alcestis’s funerary statue and D.L. Drew to conclude that he returns with her actual corpse.7 I return to this passage at the end of this chapter to explain why I think these sorts of positivistic arguments suppress a more complex understanding of Alcestis’s likeness in the play. As these studies suggest, although her likeness is described as an ostensible replacement for her living body, it is more convincingly equated with her inanimate corpse. This equation helps explain Stieber’s assertion that “the prominent appearance of statuary in Alcestis is altogether out of place.”8 This out-­of-placeness emphasizes the literal and figural centrality of Alcestis’s corpse in the play, beginning with the uncommon fact that she dies before the eyes of the spectators.9 The premise of the Alcestis, based on the substitution of one person’s death for that of another and culminating in Alcestis’s return to life, presents tragic enactment—what Socrates describes in Plato’s Republic as imitating others in “body and voice” (σῶμα καὶ φωνάς 395d3)—as a kind of secular afterlife.10 In animating the figures of myth and legend, tragic mimêsis blurs the strict ontological divide between the living and the dead; it gives formal expression— in “body and voice”—to the notions that death can be overcome and that one life can be exchanged or substituted for another. I realize that this suggestion raises the question of whether fifth-­century Greeks believed that characters from myth and legend had once been alive.11 But this question, rooted in the competing epistemological claims of myth (or epic) and history writing, is itself a sign of how this ontological divide is formative of ancient Greek genres. As a fully embodied medium, tragedy crosses this divide most conspicuously when living actors play dead characters, i.e., when they imitate human corpses. Beginning from the general observations that tragedy is an exploration of the limits of mortal life and that the human corpse is the material expression of these limits, I approach the Alcestis from two recent and related perspectives: Jane Bennett’s defense of vital materialism on the one hand and Bonnie Honig’s critique of mortalist humanism, on the other. The former helps to introduce an argument for the singularity of the human corpse as an inanimate or post-­

Morbid Materialism


animate object; the latter helps situate this singularity in terms of the shared finitude of living humans and non-­living things. Together, these perspectives provide a theoretical basis for approaching the material, ontological, and epistemological effects of Alcestis’s death and improbable return to life in Euripides’ play. In her 2010 book, Vibrant Matter, A Political Ecology of Things, Bennett contrasts what she calls a vital materiality with “the image of dead or thoroughly instrumentalized matter [that] feeds human hubris.”12 She advocates a resistance to this hubris in the form of a “distributive agency,” made up of “a confederation of human and non-human elements.”13 In making this argument, Bennett necessarily raises the question of whether distributive agency—according to which events are mutually produced by human and non-­human material agents (like power grids)—can have the unintended effect of abolishing human accountability even as it curbs human hubris. Do we make inanimate material objects come alive and give them agency simply in order to shift blame for political or ecological failures onto them and away from ourselves? This is an important question for vital materialists and one that Bennett leaves open. In this chapter I make a case for “dead matter” as a way of approaching this question. Making this case means shifting the emphasis from the attribution of agency to the shared finitude of humans and things, exemplified in the inanimate human corpse.14 This shift is comprised of representational strategies that have the power to check human hubris by blurring the divide between the dead and the living. Expressed in rhetorical, dramaturgical, and pictorial forms, this shift is admittedly anthropocentric insofar as it is rooted in the one thing that humans know in absolute terms, i.e., that they will die. But the paradoxical quality of this knowledge, i.e., its reference to what is ultimately unknowable (the state of being dead and when and how it will happen), moderates this anthropocentrism by foregrounding the limits of human knowledge. Historically and philosophically, these limits are confronted in the question of whether death ought to be feared. For Socrates, the fear of death is the test case for what humans cannot know.15 For Epicurus, this fear is met in the dictum that “death is nothing to us.”16 In the concise formulation of contemporary philosopher Marcel Conche, “death is the . . . horizon of thought.”17 As the physical or material proof that humans are destined to die, the human corpse inhabits this horizon. The result is a paradoxical situation in which empirical observation (the sight of the dead body) only confirms what the observer cannot know (the state of being dead); the corpse is the source of what


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Bernard N. Schumacher calls a “radical ignorance.”18 Disclosed in the act of viewing the dead bodies of others, this ignorance is a defining characteristic of the tragic spectator.19 The fact that the bodies of the dead in tragedy are most often revealed on the ekkyklêma after the characters have died off-­stage casts this ignorance in the form of a disavowal.20 As a distinctive feature of Greek tragedy, this mechanical device gives prominence to the material presence of the corpse in the service of concealing the moment of death. In blurring or challenging the human/non-­human divide, the ontological and epistemological conundra raised by the sight of the human corpse in tragedy also complicate what Honig—in her provocative 2013 book Antigone Interrupted—calls a mortalist humanism, i.e., a humanism based on the shared finitude of humans as a universal and, as she argues, a politically sterile concept. Honig remarks that mortalist humanism is problematically based on “the idea that we should dwell together in grief or forge in grief new solidarities, or find in grievability a new social ontology of equality.”21 She proposes instead an “agonistic humanism” that rejects the principle of “equal dignity in death” in favor of “a politics of counter-­sovereignty [that] emphasizes equality in life.”22 The binary relationship she introduces here between equality in death and equality in life gestures toward a necessary corrective. But it also elides a fundamental difference. Equality or “equal dignity” in death is predicated on the unqualified fact that all humans die; this equality is quantitative. Equality in life, in contrast, is only nominally predicated on the fact that all humans were alive at a given point in time. Rather, equality in life is qualitative, as Honig’s appeal to a politics of counter-­sovereignty suggests. At the same time, Honig’s critique becomes part of a long history of evaluating death in economic terms. I will return to this point below. More immediately relevant is the extent to which the radical ignorance mentioned above resists—or at least complicates—the mortalist ideals of dwelling together in grief and conferring equal dignity in death. In the context of the morbid materialism under discussion here, the condition of dwelling together is constituted in the conundra that the deaths of others elicit in survivors rather than in collective and consoling acts of lamentation.23 These conundra allow us to reclaim the notion of shared finitude from its mortalist and universalist premises by foregrounding the formal aspects of Greek tragedy as their source. They also allow us to rescue the human corpse—the material basis of this ignorance—from the category that Bennett (quoted above) refers to as “dead or thoroughly instrumentalized matter.” Bennett’s book presents an impassioned plea for the power of distributive agency to defend against such

Morbid Materialism


instrumentalization. In making this plea, however, “dead” becomes a metaphor for non-­human matter that is denied agency rather than the state of once-­living beings.24 And although Bennett acknowledges a “touch of anthropomorphism” in vital materialism, she does not address the political and ethical implications of a distributive agency that recognizes or perhaps even demands the inclusion of dead humans.25 In contrast, Honig necessarily confronts the instrumentalization of the human corpse in the question of what is to be done with the corpse of Polynices in the Antigone. She addresses this instrumentalization most directly, however, in her discussion of mortalist (and heteronormative) humanism in the context of AIDS activism:26 For these activists, the proper burial that promises dignity in death constitutively supports an unjust social order, folding them into its ground. Such sentimental absorption, its post-­mortem enlistment of the dead on behalf of a heteronormative humanism seems best opposed by non-­burial, but non-­burial seems to instrumentalize the corpse and offend against its dignity too. How can we ease the grip of the binary between good dignity and bad instrumentalization? We may begin by taking note of the binary’s productive power, how it supports the idea that politics ends at death, and stages death as post-­political, thus obscuring the ubiquitous politics of death and burial.

Here Honig positions burial and non-­burial in a binary opposition between the “good dignity” and the “bad instrumentalization” of the human corpse.27 In doing so, she points to the significance of the corpse as an object of concern for both vital materialists and agonistic humanists. More specifically, the binary demonstrates how the human corpse mediates between the anthropocentrism that troubles the former and the shared finitude that troubles the latter. In framing the binary in terms of burial and non-­burial, moreover, Honig points to the visible presence (or absence) of the corpse as a distinctive variable in “the ubiquitous politics of death and burial.” As the focus of this chapter, morbid materialism explores how tragedy—and Euripides’ Alcestis in particular—mediates this binary in the process of turning survivors into spectators. While both cremation and inhumation were practiced in fifth-­century Athens, the burial of the corpse is a commonly debated topic in Greek tragedy (for example in Antigone, Ajax, and Bacchae). The Alcestis seems to call for the inhumation of Alcestis’s corpse rather than its cremation. But the fact that there is some inconsistency about this in the play is symptomatic of an implicitly


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

perceived link between bodily integrity and the possibility for the deceased to return to life.28 As a useful comparison from a later play, cremation in Sophocles’ Electra insures that Orestes’ false remains are both portable and unrecognizable.29 These remains constitute motivated forms of substitution (cremation for burial; ashes for body) that emphasize the absence of the corpse as empirical or material proof (as opposed to tokens) of the personal identity of the deceased. As the physical embodiment of the deceptively “dead” Orestes, moreover, the urn containing his false ashes functions as a metonymy for his absent corpse. As Melissa Mueller observes, “for most of her lament, Electra treats the urn as if it were her brother’s body.”30 This treatment is literalized in Sophocles’ play when Electra apostrophizes the urn as the “remaining memorial” (μνημεῖον . . . λοιπόν 1126–27) of her brother and complains that it has been sent back to her instead of his “dearest form” (1156–59): ἀλλὰ ταῦθ᾽ ὁ δυστυχὴς δαίμων ὁ σός τε κἀμὸς ἐξαφείλετο, ὅς σ᾽ ὧδέ μοι προὔπεμψεν ἀντὶ φιλτάτης μορφῆς σποδόν τε καὶ σκιὰν ἀνωφελῆ. But an ill-­fortuned daimôn, yours and mine, has taken this away, and has sent you back to me in this state, ash and a useless shade in place of your dearest form.

D.L. Page, citing this and other examples, notes that “it is commonplace to say that the mourner is left with the urn or the tomb instead of the living person.”31 This form of substitution is an essential feature of the morbid materialism under discussion here, one that finds its most visible public expression on Attic grave stelae where the deceased are often depicted as if they were still alive.32 In this passage from Electra, the phrase φιλτάτη μορφή conveys a similar ontological ambiguity; the ash and the useless shade exist somewhere between the living man and his lifeless corpse. This ambiguity extends to the difference too between what Electra believes by virtue of what she has been told (that Orestes has died) and what the audience knows by virtue of what it sees (that Orestes is alive). Adapting a line from the Alcestis (to which I will return), “It is possible to say that Orestes is both living and dead,” where his absent corpse is the source of this paradoxical condition. In exploring this condition, the plot of the Alcestis hinges on a complex interplay between two related themes: death as debt and death as replacement or substitution.33 In both cases, death is the source of an economic relation that

Morbid Materialism


takes the human corpse as its medium of exchange. The idea that death is a debt has a long history in the Greek literary and philosophical traditions and is succinctly captured in an epigram uncertainly attributed to Simonides, “we are all owed to death” (θανάτῳ πάντες ὀφειλόμεθα 79 FGE).34 Page also refers to this expression as a “commonplace.”35 In the Iliad, the idea that death is a debt is voiced by Helen who, addressing the corpse of Hector, says that she ought to have died before coming to Troy (ὡς πρὶν ὤφελλον ὀλέσθαι 24.764). In the Odyssey, the swineherd Eumaeus tells his master in disguise that “all of Helen’s race ought to have died utterly since she loosened the knees of many men” (ὠς ὤφελλ᾽ Ἑλένης ἀπὸ φῦλον ὀλέσθαι / πρόχνυ, ἐπεὶ πολλῶν ἀνδρῶν ὑπὸ γούνατ᾽ ἔλυσε 14.68–69). In these Homeric examples, Simonides’ notion of death as a universal debt is individuated as a form of recompense in which a particular life or lives are “owed” in place of another (or others), variously rendered in the phrase ὤφελλον ὀλέσθαι. That Helen and her entire race are the debtors in these examples make this “commonplace” foundational to the social and political fabric of the epic.36 A similar understanding of death as debt is found in the earliest Greek philosophical texts. Commenting on the single surviving fragment attributed to Anaximander,37 Charles Kahn notes how its account of the coming into being and destruction of the primal elements (στοιχεῖα) utilizes the language of debt: “the crime establishes a debt, which the guilty party must ‘pay’; hence the phrase for rendering compensation: διδόναι δίκην καὶ τίσιν.” According to Kahn, the fragment assumes that “the first law of nature is a lex talionis: life for life.”38 This idea is also found in epigrams on classical Attic tombstones, if with a somewhat different lexicon. It finds expression, for example, in the neatly chiastic sentence “it is owed to all to die, as many as live” (πᾶσι θανεῖν εἵμαρτα[ι], ὅσσοι ζῶσιν) where the impersonal use of μείρομαι refers to what is “allotted” but also includes the sense of what is “due” or “owed.”39 What Mark Featherstone in his 2017 book Planet Utopia calls ontological debt, which he defines in Simonidean terms as “universal, infinite, and inescapable, and as a consequence a condition of existence itself,” is incurred in the human knowledge that death is inevitable.40 The acknowledgement of this debt is the object that confirms both the fact of this inevitability and the cessation of this condition, i.e., the human corpse.41 The idea of death as substitution is most notably invoked in Thucydides’ History where Pericles admonishes Athenian parents to produce more children for the war effort (2.44).42 In the Funeral Oration, however, this admonition is not simply a general statement to the effect that individual lives are replaceable, as some scholars have remarked. Rather, it is a particular statement about the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

replaceability of dead children whose survivors, says Pericles, must be ready to work or toil on behalf of the city (2.41.5): περὶ τοιαύτης οὖν πόλεως οἵδε τε γενναίως δικαιοῦντες μὴ ἀφαιρεθῆναι αὐτὴν μαχόμενοι ἐτελεύτησαν, καὶ τῶν λειπομένων πάντα τινὰ εἰκὸς ἐθέλειν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς κάμνειν. Such is the city for which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her, nobly fought and met their end; and well may every one of those who are left be willing to toil on her behalf.43

When the word translated as “toil” in this passage (κάμνω) appears in the form of aorist or perfect participles, it refers to those who are utterly worn out, i.e., to the dead, both in poetry and in prose (see, e.g., 3.59).44 The message of Pericles’ speech is that both surviving and future generations of Athenians must be willing to die for their city.45 Delivered over the bodies or, more accurately, the bones of the dead who are addressed in the passage above as “these men” (οἵδε), the Funeral Oration is a genre in which death as a universal ontological debt becomes specified as a unique political obligation exacted in the substitution of living bodies for dead.46 It authorizes what Sara Heinämaa calls a “generative succession” carried out by beings who “share a communal past and future with other similar beings that are not present, and cannot become present in flesh and blood.”47 In other words, by beings with a shared finitude. But if the Funeral Oration authorizes the kind of shared finitude (or equality in death) that lies behind Honig’s critique of mortalist humanism, it does so by instrumentalizing the bodies of the dead in economic terms. The result is not a strict binary opposition between good dignity and bad instrumentalization, but a more complex relationship in which the abstract promise of the former compensates for the material reality of the latter (i.e., for the sight of the human corpse as the proof of mortality).48 The locus classicus of death as substitution in tragedy is the famous crux in Sophocles’ Antigone (905–12), where Antigone—in justifying her attempts to bury her brother Polynices—explains that, since her parents are dead, she cannot have another brother. This justification—in which replaceability is individuated only to be denied—has been the object of intense study. Scholars, including Honig, look to the example of Intaphrenes’ wife in Herodotus’s Histories who, given a choice among relatives, elects to save her brother from death on the grounds that he cannot be replaced since their parents, like those of Antigone and Polynices, are also dead (3.119).49 But unlike the brother of Intaphrenes’ wife, Polynices is already dead.50 Antigone invokes the logic of replaceability not

Morbid Materialism


in order to save a life but—somewhat obliquely—in order to justify burying a corpse (τὸ σὸν / δέμας περιστέλλουσα τοιάδ᾽ ἄρνυμαι 902–3; cf. 205).51 The fact that she explains her reasoning in an apostrophe to that corpse is decisive, moreover, and has two related effects.52 First, it emphasizes the absence of the corpse from the scene of the play. Second, it exposes the limits of a logic of replacement by acknowledging that Polynices cannot be brought back to life. Thus, if Antigone’s argument is indebted to that of Intaphrenes’ wife, it is in the mode of difference rather than sameness. It is by virtue of this difference that Polynices’ corpse—like the absent corpse of Orestes in Sophocles’ Electra (discussed above)—exemplifies tragedy’s morbid materialism. These preliminary remarks form the background for exploring the ontological ambiguities that accompany death as debt and death as substitution in the Alcestis. The backstory of the plot of the play—as Apollo reports in the prologue— includes three related events: Zeus’s slaying of Apollo’s son Asclepius, Apollo’s killing of the Cyclopes in revenge, and Apollo’s debt-­bondage to Admetus as punishment (1–14): Ὦ δώματ᾽ Ἀδμήτει᾽, ἐν οἷς ἔτλην ἐγὼ θῆσσαν τράπεζαν αἰνέσαι θεός περ ὤν. Ζεὺς γὰρ κατακτὰς παῖδα τὸν ἐμὸν αἴτιος Ἀσκληπιόν, στέρνοισιν ἐμβαλὼν φλόγα· οὗ δὴ χολωθεὶς τέκτονας Δίου πυρὸς κτείνω Κύκλωπας· καί με θητεύειν πατὴρ θνητῷ παρ᾽ ἀνδρὶ τῶνδ᾽ ἄποιν᾽ ἠνάγκασεν. ἐλθὼν δὲ γαῖαν τήνδ᾽ ἐβουφόρβουν ξένῳ, καὶ τόνδ᾽ ἔσῳζον οἶκον ἐς τόδ᾽ ἡμέρας. ὁσίου γὰρ ἀνδρὸς ὅσιος ὢν ἐτύγχανον παιδὸς Φέρητος, ὃν θανεῖν ἐρρυσάμην, Μοίρας δολώσας· ᾔνεσαν δέ μοι θεαὶ Ἄδμητον Ἅιδην τὸν παραυτίκ᾽ ἐκφυγεῖν, ἄλλον διαλλάξαντα τοῖς κάτω νεκρόν. Oh, house of Admetus, in which I suffered to be content with a menial table, even though I am a god. Zeus was the cause; he killed my child Asclepius, striking him in the chest with his lightening bolt. Angered by this, I killed the Cyclopes, the forgers of Zeus’s fire. And as a punishment my father forced me to be in debt bondage to a mortal man. I came to this land and served as a herdsman for my guest friend,




The Materialities of Greek Tragedy and I saved this house up to this day. Being holy I encountered a holy man in the son of Pheres, whom I rescued from death53 by tricking the Fates. And the goddesses promised me that Admetus would escape an imminent death by giving in exchange another corpse (νεκρόν) to those below.

As the Chorus reports later, Zeus killed Asclepius for having brought dead humans back to life (δμαθέντας γὰρ ἀνίστα 126). This series of events begins with cancelling ontological debt (by bringing corpses back to life), proceeds to revenge killing (the lex talionis) and culminates in debt-­bondage (Apollo’s service to Admetus, for which θητεύειν in line 6 is a technical term).54 As the social relationship that motivates the plot of the Alcestis, Apollo’s debt-­bondage magnifies the brevity and fragility of mortal existence by demonstrating that the debt of an immortal god can never be ontological; he can never make restitution by dying.55 In the plot as enacted, this series of individual ontological debts culminates in the proffering of a substitute death, literalized in the passage above in the exchange of one corpse (νεκρός) for another, and expressed in recitative by Thanatos himself using προθνῄσκω—“to die instead of ”—a rare verb that, along with ὑπερθνῄσκω, is repeated throughout the play (37; cf. 383, 471, 620, 684, 698, 710, 1002; ὑπερθνῄσκω 155, 682).56 Taking the form of an allegorical figure, Thanatos comes on stage to claim what he is owed but also to make it clear that, as far as he is concerned, one corpse is as good as another (νεκρός 43). Heracles will later refer to him as “the king of the corpses” (ἄνακτα . . . νεκρῶν 843). The appearance of Thanatos—instead of the Olympian god Hades—stresses the ontological over the theological and mythological dimensions of death in the play.57 It also establishes the economic basis of the play’s morbid materialism. After enumerating his own good offices on his father’s behalf, Admetus commands Pheres to get other children to take care of him in his old age and to care for his corpse (660–64; cf. 724–25):58    κἀντὶ τῶνδέ μοι χάριν τοιάνδε καὶ σὺ χἠ τεκοῦσ’ ἠλλαξάτην. τοιγὰρ φυτεύων παῖδας οὐκέτ᾽ ἂν φθάνοις, οἳ γηροβοσκήσουσι καὶ θανόντα σε περιστελοῦσι καὶ προθήσονται νεκρόν. And this is the recompense that you and the woman who bore me have made to me in exchange.


Morbid Materialism


For that reason, you cannot be too quick in begetting children who will take care of you in old age and dress you when you have died and lay out your corpse for burial.

The kind of filial obligation alluded to here is a given of Greek social life. But in Admetus’s rebuke, the fulfillment of this obligation, issued in the form of an implied threat against a father who refuses to die for his son, is both exaggerated and disingenuous. The threat of withholding the care of the father’s corpse, together with the admonition to beget surrogate children to carry out this duty, amounts to a parody in which filial piety is reduced to an economic logic of debt and replacement. Pheres’ response to his son reduces this logic still further to one of numeric calculation. He tells Admetus that he is not obligated to die for him (ὀφείλω δ᾽ οὐχ ὑπερθνῄσκειν σέθεν 682) and then more pointedly that humans owe only one life to live, not two (ψυχῇ μιᾷ ζῆν, οὐ δυοῖν, ὀφείλομεν 712). Together these statements illustrate the play’s mutually productive discourses of death as debt (ὀφείλω) and death as substitution (ὑπερθνῄσκω). Pheres then gets more specific (699–701; cf. 720):59 σοφῶς δ᾽ ἐφηῦρες ὥστε μὴ θανεῖν ποτε, εἰ τὴν παροῦσαν κατθανεῖν πείσεις ἀεὶ γυναῖχ᾽ ὑπὲρ σοῦ. You have cleverly found a way never to die, by always persuading your present wife to die instead of you.

Here Pheres answers Admetus’s taunt about having more children to care for his corpse with one about having more wives to die in his stead. In this play, the consoling potential of Heracles’ universalist (Simonidean) claim that “death is a debt all mortals must pay” (βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται 782) is undermined by the spectral corpses of dead parents and dead wives.60 The latter, of course, is vividly enacted in the rare onstage death of Alcestis, the lamentations over her corpse (391–415), and her incredible return to the stage and to the light, i.e., to life, at the end of the play. As mentioned above, before Alcestis’s death a servant tells the Chorus that “it is possible for you to say that she (Alcestis) is both living and dead” (καὶ ζῶσαν εἰπεῖν καὶ θανοῦσαν ἔστι σοι 141; cf. 521).61 The servant then describes in detail Alcestis’s preparations for death (157–61): ἃ δ᾽ ἐν δόμοις ἔδρασε θαυμάσῃ κλύων. ἐπεὶ γὰρ ᾔσθεθ᾽ ἡμέραν τὴν κυρίαν


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy ἥκουσαν, ὕδασι ποταμίοις λευκὸν χρόα ἐλούσατ᾽, ἐκ δ᾽ ἑλοῦσα κεδρίνων δόμων ἐσθῆτα κόσμον τ᾽ εὐπρεπῶς ἠσκήσατο,


But you will be amazed when you hear the things she did within the house. When she learned that the appointed day had come, she bathed her white skin in river water, and taking her clothing and ornaments from houses of cedar she adorned herself becomingly.

As Parker notes, “in bathing and dressing elegantly, Alcestis treats herself as a corpse.”62 It is in this act of treating herself as a corpse that Alcestis embodies the paradoxical condition of being “both living and dead.” Her preparations clearly allude to the Greek woman’s well-­known social and religious obligations in caring for the dead, realized in her intimate tactile, emotional, and ritual attentions to the corpse. But these preparations also anticipate Admetus’s strange vow to have a likeness made of his wife so that he can embrace it in his bed (348–54): σοφῇ δὲ χειρὶ τεκτόνων δέμας τὸ σὸν εἰκασθὲν ἐν λέκτροισιν ἐκταθήσεται, ᾧ προσπεσοῦμαι καὶ περιπτύσσων χέρας ὄνομα καλῶν σὸν τὴν φίλην ἐν ἀγκάλαις δόξω γυναῖκα καίπερ οὐκ ἔχων ἔχειν· ψυχρὰν μέν, οἶμαι, τέρψιν, ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως βάρος ψυχῆς ἀπαντλοίην ἄν.


Your body, likened by the skilled hand of craftsmen, shall be stretched out in my bed. I will fall and embrace it with my hands, and calling your name, I will seem to hold my dear wife in my arms, even though I am not holding her. A cold pleasure, I think, but nevertheless I can lessen my life’s heavy burden.

Called “extravagant and bizarre” by Parker, this necrophilic gesture exemplifies the play’s preoccupation with death as substitution that is mediated, as we have seen, by the related motif of death as debt. In this particular accounting system, Alcestis’s body is a form of mimetic recompense. But while Admetus says that her body’s likeness is to be fashioned by craftsmen, he does not explicitly refer to it as a statue or ἄγαλμα as most commentators claim (δέμας τὸ σὸν εἰκασθέν). Rather, this likeness is rendered ambiguous by the fact that δέμας can refer both to living and dead bodies63 and that both the verb ἐκτείνω (“stretch out”) and the

Morbid Materialism


adjective ψυχρός (“cold”), can be used of corpses.64 Alcestis’s likeness thus occupies a point on a continuum somewhere between her living body and her inanimate corpse. It also constitutes a version of the paradox of being both alive and dead, revised here in Admetus’s claim that he will both “have and not have” his wife (δόξω γυναῖκα καίπερ οὐκ ἔχων ἔχειν 352).65 For all the ways in which it is “extravagant and bizarre,” therefore, Admetus’s desire to possess a likeness of Alcestis’s body is also the most powerful expression of the play’s morbid materialism.66 This description of her body’s likeness looks back to her preparations for death and, as mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, forward to the final scene in which Heracles returns with an unnamed woman and urges Admetus to accept her into his house. Dominated by Admetus’s reactions to the woman’s resemblance to Alcestis, this final scene culminates in recognition by periphrasis (1133–34; cf. 1061–69; 1123–25): ὦ φιλτάτης γυναικὸς ὄμμα καὶ δέμας, ἔχω σ᾽ ἀέλπτως, οὔποτ᾽ ὄψεσθαι δοκῶν. Oh, face and body of my dearest wife, I have you against expectation, thinking that I would never see you again.

Never addressing Alcestis by name in this scene, Admetus focuses on the woman’s face (eyes) and body, her ὄμμα καὶ δέμας. Stieber comments:67 The eye, in this passage, is a metonymic way to refer to her face and its appearance here would not be noteworthy were it not for the fact that eyes have rather suddenly made themselves a conspicuous feature throughout the final scene.

Stieber is interested in the ways in which the eyes signal an erotic attachment. In the context of the performance, however, the repeated references to Alcestis’s face or eyes, together with the reference to seeing her again, focus attention on the actor’s mask as the proof of likeness.68 Aided by Alcestis’s controversial silence in this final scene, her impossible reanimation gives concrete expression to this proof as an essential feature of tragic enactment. In using the same word here that he uses to refer to the “body” (δέμας) of Alcestis’s likeness at lines 348–49 (quoted above), moreover, Admetus’s words gesture toward tragic mimêsis as a negotiation between the dead and the living. Strengthened by apostrophe, the anatomization of Alcestis into a face and a body draws attention to what is visible on stage while it simultaneously expresses ambiguity about whether the audience is looking at a character who is dead or alive. Rather than resorting to the positivistic explanations of Stieber and Drew (noted above), however, the reanimated Alcestis is more persuasively a figure for


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

the ontological indeterminacies that define the relationship between a tragic actor and his masked character. Ambiguously positioned between a likeness and a corpse and between the living and the dead, Alcestis embodies a morbid materialism in which the mortalist claims of ontological debt are tested in the audience’s confrontation with its “radical ignorance.” Framed by death as an economic exchange of living and dead bodies, the play responds to Bennett’s critique of dead matter, on the one hand, and Honig’s critique of shared finitude, on the other. Embodied in her corpse as an object of exchange, Alcestis’s death and return to life transcends the limits of the former by blurring the divide between the living and the dead (or dead matter) and challenges the universalism of the latter in the context of a unique cultural form. Based on the proposition that one death or, more concretely, one corpse, can be substituted for another, Euripides’ strange play tests the notion that the inevitability of death is revealed in witnessing the deaths of others and, in the process, defines the tragic spectator by his ability to distinguish a likeness from a living being.


Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action Joshua Billings

Gorgias described the effect of tragedy as ἀπάτη, deception, in which “the deceiver is more just than the non-­deceiver, and the one deceived is wiser than the one not deceived.”1 Gorgias’ apothegm is part of a broader inquiry into determinations of truth and falsehood that becomes widespread towards the end of the fifth century, and is evident in both philosophical and non-­ philosophical works.2 Gorgias is not the only figure to draw attention to the deceptive qualities of artworks: an anecdote records Simonides describing his art in analogous terms, and the Dissoi Logoi associates painting and tragedy under the rubric of deception as well.3 This self-­consciousness concerning the status of artistic representation makes a profound impact on drama, and is almost inescapable in the works of Euripides and Aristophanes.4 Sophocles does not descend nearly as far into this hall of mirrors as his fellow dramatists, but his later works are nevertheless saturated with the moral questions raised by a self-­ reflexivity concerning truth, falsehood, and artistic illusion.5 Within Sophocles’ staging of questions of representation, objects play an important role. Props have a unique ontological status within drama: among the physical world of the stage—bodies, masks, setting—they are the only things that actually are what they represent. The mask is not a human face, the skênê is not a house, but the spears, swords, and urns are in fact spears, swords, and urns. Props on stage are ontologically fraught, a place where the mythical world represented and the physical space presented coincide.6 Not surprisingly, then, they often carry the weight of questions of representation, truth, and falsehood. Within dramatic deception, material objects—as uniquely non-deceptive elements—have the potential to become privileged sites for ontological concerns. Deception is a favorite plot element in later Sophoclean tragedy.7 Karl Reinhardt describes how in the Electra and Philoctetes, Sophocles takes over what he calls the “form of intrigue” from Euripides, but places the intrigue itself


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

in a broader context, which is ethical and epistemological at once.8 In both plays, objects bear a good deal of this pressure, with Philoctetes’ bow and Electra’s urn serving as focal points for deception plots that, crucially, take place between those who fundamentally are friends or at least allies.9 These transgressions of the basic rule of helping friends and harming enemies raise questions of the ethics of deception, which in large part are articulated in relation to stage properties. Both plays set the material reality of the objects around which the plot turns against the falsity of the stories that drive the plot forward. Gorgias’ saying points us to one more aspect of the experience of drama: that the effects of its deception are emphatically real. Drama’s deception is effected, Plutarch explains (it is not clear if he is paraphrasing or extrapolating), “through stories and experiences” (μύθοις καὶ τοῖς πάθεσιν), which cause the viewer to be “easily taken in by the pleasure of words.”10 Though we must at some level retain a consciousness that the stage-­world is not our own world, we react—at least at some level—as if it were.11 Gorgias’ paradox elides this “as if ” quality of drama, the gap between mimêsis and reality, and Sophocles does much the same, spotlighting the consequences of deception for the deceived, and curiously enough, the “justice” of the deceiver.12 The deceiver is just, according to Plutarch, “because he has accomplished what he promised,”13 suggesting a mutual understanding between performer and audience by which deception can go forward without harm. Such a mutual understanding is precisely what is lacking in the cases of Electra and Philoctetes, whose pain is no less real for taking falsehoods as their basis. The urn scene of Sophocles’ Electra is a focal point for questions of representation, materiality, and affect. The poignant scene of lamentation shows the way that objects on stage are a powerful focus for emotion. At the same time, the very artificiality of the scene—revealed to Electra just after her lamentation— reminds us of the way that the presence of objects on stage draws the audience into questions of reality and appearance. The scene serves as the occasion for perhaps the first attestation of Method acting, which is based on precisely this elision of the “as if ” quality of drama: as Aulus Gellius reports, the actor Polus, playing the role of Electra, filled the urn with the ashes of his dead son, in order to increase his emotional involvement in the scene.14 Lamenting over the urn, Polus “filled the whole place not with simulations or imitations, but with sorrow and true lamentations and sighs.”15 The audience in this story is in the position of Orestes (though it is never clear whether they are aware of the contents of the urn or not), watching an expression of genuine grief in artificial circumstances.

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


Whatever the authenticity of the anecdote, it is deeply Sophoclean in its staging of emotion, artifice, and reality. In this chapter, I seek to show how concerns of language intersect with the ontological and emotional issues raised by objects on stage. The concrete presence of the urn acts a physical correlative of the logos of Orestes’ death, which through its presence complicates the distinction between truth and falsehood, and renders the deceptive story effective far beyond its initial intent. The urn scene has long been recognized as highly metatheatrical, but my reading suggests that the broader context for its concerns of representation is an interest in language itself, and with the material efficacy of speech.16 Theatrical representation is only one of a number of modes of representation that the scene interrogates, and indeed, the more urgent context seems to be broadly ritual (for lack of a better word). The urn is a physical corollary to a linguistic taboo—it makes concrete Orestes’ pretense of his own death—and thus becomes a charged site for thinking about the way that language can affect reality.17 Though the urn scene has received a great deal of attention in scholarship, the language surrounding the urn, which runs through practically the entirety of the play, has not been thoroughly analyzed. In the following, I trace the play’s references to the urn to show how it is fashioned by speech as a deceptive object, and ultimately, dematerialized at the point that its deceptive power is eliminated. The urn’s significance changes quite substantially over the course of the play for each of the characters who encounters it, and these shifting meanings, I argue, demonstrate the power of language to shape matter and reality. The urn, though physically present on stage, is constructed and deconstructed by its linguistic instances.18 From the beginning to the end, the urn is caught up in questions of deception. The prologue sets out the interaction of truth and falsehood that will pervade the story as a whole, with Orestes revealing himself as a rather uneasy plotter. In his first speech, he describes to the Paidagogos and the audience the content of the oracle he received in Delphi: ἄσκευον αὐτὸν ἀσπίδων τε καὶ στρατοῦ / δόλοισι κλέψαι χειρὸς ἐνδίκου σφαγάς (“alone, unequipped with shields or army [I] would accomplish stealthily by tricks the slaughter of a just hand” 36–37).19 The insistence on his “just hand” (which could be the oracle’s description or his own) seems to defuse two potential pitfalls of the command: first, a concern about the pollution that could result from matricide; and second, a concern about acting dishonorably in taking his revenge by stealth.20 Although it is the latter that will come more to dominate the discourse of the play, as Orestes’ deception wreaks havoc on the emotions of his two sisters, the former fear may be the stronger—as, indeed, the recollection of Aeschylus’s Oresteia would lead


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

the audience to expect.21 The play as a whole seems notably unconcerned about its central act of matricide, but this is one of the moments where we see signals that it is not a wholly straightforward ethical choice.22 Orestes’ denial of the thorny issues surrounding the matricide, though, like another denial we will observe, proves significant. The opening of Sophocles’ Electra, as is well known, shows striking parallels to the beginning of the Philoctetes, which likewise depicts two characters plotting a deception in response to an oracular utterance.23 There, Odysseus commands Neoptolemus, τὴν Φιλοκτήτου σε δεῖ / ψυχὴν ὅπως λόγοισιν ἐκκλέψεις λέγων (“You must deceive the soul of Philoctetes speaking with your words” 54–55). The pleonasm λόγοισιν . . . λέγων emphasizes the act of speech as a mode of deception, and Odysseus goes on to lay out in detail the specifics of Neoptolemus’s approach to Philoctetes and the story he will tell.24 Neoptolemus questions the legitimacy of employing a trick, δόλος, proposing persuasion or force as alternatives (88–91)—but Odysseus claims that it is only by means of deception that they will be able to bring Philoctetes and, crucially, his bow to Troy (101–3).25 In the Philoctetes, like the Electra, an object is at the center of the deception (though Philoctetes’ bow is a target rather than a medium of deception) and this object constitutes a strong locus of affect.26 These fraught conjunctions of material and emotion carry with them a strong ethical charge, but even more important for the dynamics of the Electra dolos, I suggest, is the way that it involves more than just lies, but a form of effective speech encompassing the physical presence of a deceptive object, the urn, and statements that border on the taboo.27 Both aspects of the trick—an object and a story—are introduced in Orestes’ first speech, in which he orders the Paidagogos to narrate his death in the Pythian chariot races. Orestes has clearly been meditating on this plan for some time, as becomes apparent when he introduces the urn (51–58): ἡμεῖς δὲ πατρὸς τύμβον, ὡς ἐφίετο, λοιβαῖσι πρῶτον καὶ καρατόμοις χλιδαῖς στέψαντες, εἶτ’ ἄψορρον ἥξομεν πάλιν, τύπωμα χαλκόπλευρον ἠρμένοι χεροῖν, ὃ καὶ σὺ θάμνοις οἶσθά που κεκρυμμένον, ὅπως λόγῳ κλέπτοντες ἡδεῖαν φάτιν φέρωμεν αὐτοῖς, τοὐμὸν ὡς ἔρρει δέμας φλογιστὸν ἤδη καὶ κατηνθρακωμένον.


And we, having first adorned the tomb of my father with libations and locks of luxuriant hair, as the god commanded, will then come again bearing in our

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


hands the bronze-­ribbed vessel, which you also know is hidden somewhere in the bushes, so that cheating with our speech, we may bring them a pleasing report, that my body is gone, already burnt and reduced to ashes.

The description of the urn here as τύπωμα χαλκόπλευρον invokes the Libation Bearers, in which a vessel containing Orestes’ ashes is mentioned but does not appear on stage.28 There, reporting the words of Strophios, Orestes inquires whether Clytemnestra would like the ashes returned to Argos or buried in exile: νῦν γὰρ λέβητος χαλκέου πλευρώματα / σποδὸν κέκευθεν ἀνδρὸς εὖ κεκλαυμένου (“For now the ribs of a bronze vessel have enclosed the ashes of well-­lamented man” 686–87). Λέβης need not be an urn—it can be any kind of metal basin—but it is used in a funerary sense in the Agamemnon (444) to describe a vessel in which ashes of warriors are held.29 In Aeschylus, the detail receives no further thought, and seems most of all to add verisimilitude to the report of Orestes’ death. Sophocles picks up some of the language of the Aeschylean scene, but in a slightly alienated manner: the compound χαλκόπλευρον is obvious in meaning but not otherwise attested, and τύπωμα, literally, something beaten or struck, is quite rare and its one other usage does not describe an urn.30 Both words, though, describe the urn in terms of its construction rather than its function. This periphrasis, avoiding any word that would normally describe a vessel for ashes, concentrates on the urn’s sheer materiality divorced from its function. Yet the rest of the description curiously dematerializes the urn. The particle που (55) has long been puzzling, and could be understood either as expressing Orestes’ belief that the Paidagogos knows where the vessel is hidden (“you know, I suppose . . .”) or expressing uncertainty as to where precisely it is (“hidden somewhere in the bushes”).31 Combined with the question of how the urn could already have been hidden when Orestes seems to have just arrived in Argos, the impression is of a somewhat uneasy materiality to the urn: it appears in language at once as highly material and as only elusively present. Orestes’ description of the urn seems to dematerialize the physical object, an act that finds its corollary in a materialization of language as an effective, even physical medium: along with the urn, they will bring a report, φάτιν. The story and the physical object it accompanies will together effect the deception, fusing the urn and the report of Orestes’ death. The verb κλέπτω recurs from the oracular report, with Orestes using λόγῳ (as in the Philoctetes) rather than δόλοισι as the means of stealth. Λόγος for Orestes is a form of deception, which is able to bring about the emphatically real consequences of murder. Orestes’

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy


reliance on language as an effective medium suggests a continuity with ideas of speech in late fifth-­century intellectual culture.32 Many of the sophists investigated questions of language and rhetoric, foregrounding some of the characteristics of logos that Orestes suggests in Sophocles.33 Persuasive language, in Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, “shaped the soul as it wished” (DK 82 B11.13 τὴν ψυχὴν ἐτυπώσατο ὅπως ἐβούλετο); Gorgias uses the same root as Orestes’ τύπωμα to suggest a physical mark made by speech on the soul.34 This is, Gorgias famously asserts, because of the overwhelming power of logos, which he describes as “a great dynast” (DK 82 B11.14 δυνάστης μέγας), comparing its power to drugs (φάρμακα) with the power to save or kill. Gorgias’ speech lends embodiment both to language and its effect on the listener, suggesting a view of speech as materially affective and effective.35 In planning the false story of his own death, Orestes exposes himself to a still more dangerous power of speech. Narrating the death of someone living seems to border on the taboo, and Orestes’ presentation of his plan recognizes this potential concern.36 In another significant denial, he asks, τί γάρ με λυπεῖ τοῦθ’, ὅταν λόγῳ θανὼν / ἔργοισι σωθῶ κἀξενέγκωμαι κλέος (“Why does this pain me, if dying in speech, in actions I am safe and win glory?” 59–60). The lines emphatically raise the question of what “having died in speech” means for a character. It is clearly ill-­omened, as in a passage of the Helen that is usually taken to be closely related to the Electra, though the direction of influence is disputed (1050–52):37 Ελ. Με.

βούλῃ λέγεσθαι μὴ θανὼν λόγῳ θανεῖν; κακὸς μὲν ὄρνις· εἰ δὲ κερδανῶ, λέγε. ἕτοιμός εἰμι μὴ θανὼν λόγῳ θανεῖν.

Helen.  Do you wish me to say you are dead in speech, though not dead? Menelaus. It is a bad omen, but if I gain, say it. I am prepared to die in speech, without dying.

Like Menelaus, Orestes is motivated by the possibility of κέρδος, asserting, δοκῶ μέν, οὐδὲν ῥῆμα σὺν κέρδει κακόν (“I think no word that brings gain is bad” 61).38 The potential gains of the lie overcome the concern with taboo, and indeed, both plays go on to flaunt the falsehood, with Helen’s impersonation of the grieving wife, and the Paidagogos’s involved narration of Orestes’ death in the chariot races.39 The false story of Orestes’ death, a detail of the Aeschylean version, becomes in Sophocles one of the central plot elements of the whole drama. Reinhardt writes that “this ‘tragedy’ differs in two ways from the original form of the story: in taking lightly what should be taken seriously, and in taking

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


seriously what should be taken lightly.”40 Orestes’ glibness concerning the story of his own death is an example of the former, while the intensity of Electra’s response to the urn will prove an example of the latter. In justifying the story of his own death, Orestes contrasts the logos in which he is dead with the erga in which he is safe. The opposition between logos and ergon is an important feature of the fifth-­century thought, and can take on a range of meanings, from contrasting literal speech and action to quite general ideas of fiction and fact.41 Orestes asserts that only erga matter, and that logos is insignificant.42 Though this view may appear to be incompatible with the idea that language is materially powerful, there is a Gorgianic parallel for it as well.43 Gorgias’ On Not Being makes the radical argument that if anything did exist, we could not convey it to another person, “for that by which we indicate is speech, and speech is not the things that exist and are. For we do not indicate to other people the things that are, but rather speech, which is different from the things that exist.”44 This position drives a wedge between language and reality (and, in the larger form of the argument, tends to the negating of reality tout court), making speech a closed form of self-­reference.45 This can suggest, in one inflection, that truth is indifferent to action—as, indeed, Orestes declares in the prologue. Yet his blithe dismissal of the possibility of harm from his false story at least gives voice to an alternative possibility, which, on my reading, the rest of the play will explore: that stories have consequences, both for the speakers and for the listeners. The urn will be the material vehicle through which the power of language is felt. One of Sophocles’ most significant interventions in the story is to elaborate and delay the process of recognition.46 The Paidagogos’s false narrative of Orestes’ death and the scene surrounding it bring questions of the truth and the effects of language to the fore.47 It is the first of three extended scenes of misrecognition that follow one upon the other, nearly all of which, strictly speaking, are gratuitous to the forward motion of the plot.48 In all three scenes, matter appears resistant to recognition and interpretation. The Paidagogos’s virtuoso narrative of Orestes’ death reaches its climax with the pathetic description of Orestes’ body, so bloodied ὥστε μηδένα / γνῶναι φίλων ἰδόντ’ ἂν ἄθλιον δέμας (“that no one of his friends seeing [him] would recognize the wretched form” 755–56), a failure of recognition that will be repeated when Electra actually sees Orestes in person. The Paidagogos goes on to set the stage for the arrival of the urn (757–60): καί νιν πυρᾷ κέαντες εὐθὺς ἐν βραχεῖ χαλκῷ μέγιστον σῶμα δειλαίας σποδοῦ


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy φέρουσιν ἄνδρες Φωκέων τεταγμένοι, ὅπως πατρῴας τύμβον ἐκλάχῃ χθονός. And now, having burnt him in fire, chosen men of the Phocians are bringing, in a small bronze vessel, the greatest body of wretched dust, so that he may obtain the tomb of his paternal land.

Like Orestes’ description of the urn as τύπωμα χαλκόπλευρον, the phrase ἐν βραχεῖ / χαλκῷ concentrates on the physical character of the urn rather than its form or function, and again, avoids ordinary designations for an urn. The collocation of the smallness of the vessel, the greatness of Orestes’ body, and the “wretched dust” it is now—each noun given together with its epithet, as discrete components—emphasizes the pathetic insignificance of material remains. The mention of a tomb is also significant, given that we have heard of Orestes’ plan to pay respects at his father’s tomb in the first scene: Orestes has, in a sense, already reclaimed “the tomb of his paternal land.” Though Sophocles does not follow Aeschylean precedent in setting the play at Agamemnon’s tomb, Orestes’ offstage visit to the tomb and the offering he places there is highly significant for questions of recognition (as it is also in Stesichorus, Aeschylus, and Euripides).49 The urn, as an object of misrecognition, stands in implicit but stark contrast to the lock of Orestes’ hair found by Chrysothemis, which becomes an object of missed or negated recognition.50 The three successive episodes of misrecognition all play with the question of evidence, τεκμήριον, of Orestes’ death: Clytemnestra had greeted the Paidagogos’s narration as πίστ’ . . . τεκμήρια of Orestes’ death (“trustworthy proofs” 774), relying only on the speech as proof (as she had in Aeschylus), and seeming not to require anything more than its vividness for persuasion.51 In the following episode, Chrysothemis describes the lock she has found on the grave as τεκμήριον of Orestes’ life (902–6): κεὐθὺς τάλαιν’ ὡς εἶδον, ἐμπαίει τί μοι ψυχῇ σύνηθες ὄμμα, φιλτάτου βροτῶν πάντων Ὀρέστου τοῦθ’ ὁρᾶν τεκμήριον· καὶ χερσὶ βαστάσασα δυσφημῶ μὲν οὔ, χαρᾷ δὲ πίμπλημ’ εὐθὺς ὄμμα δακρύων.


And just as, wretched, I saw it, some familiar sight strikes at my soul, that I see this evidence of Orestes, dearest of mortals. And having taken it in my hands, I say nothing ill-­omened, but in joy at once my eyes fill with tears.

The emotions of this moment are closely connected to sight, and the passage is full of visual language, including ὄμμα in the senses, first, of “sight,” and then of

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


“eye.” The immediacy of recognition, though, brings up a possibility of dusphêmia, which is not easily explicable in this context: the other tragic uses of the verb δυσφημέω have a clear sense of “speak impiously” or “speak ill,” which is obviously inapplicable to a context of joy.52 It is generally taken to refer to not violating the somber atmosphere of the grave with an expression of joy, but it also suggests the other side of Orestes’ worry about telling the story of his own death: just as speaking of the living as dead is ill-­omened, speaking of the dead as living may be as well.53 Chrysothemis would be claiming that she is within the bounds of correct speech in interpreting the lock of hair as a token of Orestes’ life. In contrast to Clytemnestra’s linguistic τεκμήρια of the previous scene, Chrysothemis’ physical τεκμήριον here is in fact trustworthy—though it is not seen as such by Electra, who is as convinced as her mother by the Paidagogos’s narrative. The scene that follows pits the evidence of words against the evidence of sight, with Chrysothemis asking, πῶς δ’ οὐκ ἐγὼ κάτοιδ’ ἅ γ’ εἶδον ἐμφανῶς; (“How can I not know what I saw clearly?” 923). Electra does not answer the question, but simply reports Orestes’ death, harshly turning the emphasis on seeing back on Chrysothemis: μηδὲν ἐς κεῖνόν γ’ ὅρα (“look in no way to that man” 925). The Paidagogos’s story—and the force of Electra’s grief—proves more powerful than the physical object, demonstrating the power of even a false logos to overwhelm the evidence of matter. The question of evidence returns in the following scene, and Electra’s first question to Orestes and Pylades is whether they bring ἐμφανῆ τεκμήρια (“manifest evidence” 1109) of Orestes’ death, recalling the ἐμφανῶς of Chrysothemis’ sight. It is worth remembering that the urn is itself strictly gratuitous as proof: we have already witnessed the power of the Paidagogos’s story to remove all doubt about Orestes’ death, even in the face of contrary evidence. By the time the urn appears onstage, more than a thousand lines after it was first mentioned, its meaning has already been created, and the material object acts as an empty (literally and metaphorically) pointer to the story of Orestes’ death. The urn’s emptiness is emphasized by another reference to its size, and the smallness of the remains it brings: φέροντες αὐτοῦ σμικρὰ λείψαν’ ἐν βραχεῖ / τεύχει θανόντος, ὡς ὁρᾷς, κομίζομεν (“Bearing the small remains of him who died in a small container, as you see, we come” 1113–14). The lines look back to the Paidagogos’s ἐν βραχεῖ / χαλκῷ even in their line-­position, with ἐν βραχεῖ / χαλκῷ again pointing to the urn’s simple material, divorced from function. As a small, artificial product with an outsize significance, the vessel functions in the scene like the language that invests it with meaning.54

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy


But the urn, despite its emptiness, plays a crucial role in eliciting the emotions of Electra and then Orestes. From the moment Electra recognizes τοῦτ’ ἐκεῖν’ (“that is it” 1115), effecting a first—though misplaced—recognition, the urn takes on a tremendous burden of meaning and emotion.55 Orestes’ reply heightens the affective concentration on the urn (1117–20): Ορ. Ηλ.

εἴπερ τι κλαίεις τῶν Ὀρεστείων κακῶν, τόδ’ ἄγγος ἴσθι σῶμα τοὐκείνου στέγον. ὦ ξεῖνε, δός νυν πρὸς θεῶν, εἴπερ τόδε κέκευθεν αὐτὸν τεῦχος, ἐς χεῖρας λαβεῖν.

Orestes. If really you bewail in any way the ills of Orestes, know that this vessel houses the body of that man. Electra. Stranger, if really this container encloses him, give it now by the gods into my hands to hold.

Ἄγγος, like the Aeschylean word λέβης, has a broad range of meanings centering around being a vessel or container, and is only in Sophocles’ Electra used of a cinerary urn. In Orestes’ mouth, it constitutes the first and most direct reference to the urn, eschewing the periphrases that have been used previously. Both Orestes and Electra use deictic language to indicate the urn, concentrating attention on its physical presence.56 The repetition of εἴπερ (“if really”) marks the gap of trust that still exists between them, but perhaps also reminds the audience of the falsity of the story: later in the scene, the same particle will indicate Electra’s growing doubt about the urn’s contents. Here, Electra describes the content of the urn as Orestes himself (αὐτὸν) rather than his body or remains (as Orestes had), completing the transformation of the urn into Orestes. The story of Orestes’ death has rendered the urn powerfully present, and on both sides of the scene, we witness a deep affective concentration on the object, which makes it into a kind of actor.57 Electra’s speech makes constant reference to the urn as a physical object, drawing repeated attention to its small size. The urn, for Electra, becomes Orestes, and she addresses it as if it were her brother, while ironically, the real Orestes watches and hears everything.58 The urn’s presence on stage works in tandem with another particularity of Sophocles’ staging of the story: Orestes does not recognize Electra initially, while in both Aeschylus and Euripides he is aware of her identity from the beginning of the recognition scene. As Electra laments over the urn, Orestes becomes increasingly involved in the plight of the woman he gradually recognizes as his sister.59 The urn serves as the focal point for both of their grief—Orestes’ because of the story he has told, and Electra’s because of the story she has heard. While the urn acts

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


to elicit recognition for Orestes, for Electra it only serves to obscure the fact of her brother’s presence in front of her. Once introduced on stage, the urn attains a power that Orestes never expected and cannot immediately dispel. Viewing Electra’s lamentations leaves him, grief-­ stricken, at a loss for words: φεῦ φεῦ. τί λέξω; ποῖ λόγων ἀμηχάνων / ἔλθω; (“Alas, alas, what shall I say? To where among helpless words shall I turn?” 1174–75).60 His manipulations of language have left him no way out but “helpless words,” and all he can do is lament Electra’s plight. In their initial stilted interaction, proper speech and dusphêmia are again a concern: to Orestes’ exclamations of pity, Electra responds, οὔτοι ποτ’ ἄλλην ἢ ’μὲ δυσφημεῖς (“you do not speak ill of any other person than me” 1182). Orestes has become so involved in the scene that he has breached the conventions of speech.61 At the same time, Orestes’ dusphêmia in this context has to bear the weight not just of being negative, but of actually being effective: his ill-­omened speech concerning his own death is, we know, the cause of her unhappiness. The interplay of language, objects, and emotions works itself out in Orestes’ struggle to persuade Electra to give up the urn. The grueling scene of stichomythia reveals the extent to which both characters are invested in the urn as a bearer of meaning. On Orestes’ side, this is surprising: he could simply reveal who he is, and the urn would instantly become meaningless. But Orestes acts as if it held a deeper significance, suggesting that the fear of taboo is still live. While Electra holds the urn, he delays revealing its falsehood, leaving them both under the cloud of its ill-­omened story. Orestes repeatedly demands that Electra give over the urn before he will explain who he is. Control of the urn becomes a kind of proxy for control of the logos that Orestes has told (1205–11): Ορ. Ηλ. Ορ. Ηλ. Ορ. Ορ.

μέθες τόδ’ ἄγγος νυν, ὅπως τὸ πᾶν μάθῃς. μὴ δῆτα πρὸς θεῶν τοῦτό μ’ ἐργάσῃ, ξένε. πιθοῦ λέγοντι κοὐχ ἁμαρτήσῃ ποτέ. μὴ πρὸς γενείου μὴ ’ξέλῃ τὰ φίλτατα. οὔ φημ’ ἐάσειν. Ηλ. ὢ τάλαιν’ ἐγὼ σέθεν, Ὀρέστα, τῆς σῆς εἰ στερήσομαι ταφῆς. εὔφημα φώνει· πρὸς δίκης γὰρ οὐ στένεις.

Orestes.  Now give over this urn so you may know all. Electra.  Do not do this to me, by the gods, stranger. Orestes  Obey what I say and you will never err. Electra  By your beard, do not take the dearest things from me. Orestes  I say I will not allow it.




The Materialities of Greek Tragedy Electra  Oh, I am wretched on your behalf, Orestes, if I am deprived of your burial. Orestes  Speak well-­omened things. You do not lament rightly.

Electra’s belief that Orestes is dead leads her to address him in apostrophe, to which Orestes responds sharply, εὔφημα φώνει (“speak well-­omened things”).62 This fits with the broader use of euphêmia primarily to censor speech: to speak well, εὐφημεῖν, is not to say certain things—most importantly, to speak incorrectly about life and death.63 Orestes emphasizes language in three successive lines (λέγοντι 1207; οὔ φημ’ 1209; εὔφημα φώνει 1211) pitting the effectivity of speech against the evidence of matter. The moment at which Electra relinquishes the urn is never specified—in the scene’s last reference to it, it is clearly in Electra’s hands: εἴπερ γ’ Ὀρέστου σῶμα βαστάζω τόδε (“If really this here is the body of Orestes that I caress” 1216). Her εἴπερ here express the same that it did when she received the urn, but now mingled more with a sense of confusion (and maybe hope) than her earlier dread. Orestes’ reply utterly removes any importance that could be attached to the urn, revealing that it is a creation of language: ἀλλ’ οὐκ Ὀρέστου, πλὴν λόγῳ γ’ ἠσκημένον (“It is not that of Orestes, except in being fashioned in speech” 1217). Ἀσκέω here has usually been taken to indicate adornment or artifice, but I would suggest it carries with it the Homeric idea of working material: the urn is fashioned in language—another instance of emphasis on the material quality of the urn. Once the linguistic nature of the urn is established, the object loses its power, and recognition is imminent; it takes place through the substitution of another prop, the sphragis that proves that Orestes is alive.64 Curiously, the text gives us no hints as to how and when Electra should let go of the urn in order to embrace Orestes—though this would be a question for any staging.65 The urn effectively disappears from the scene the instant its story is dispelled. Within the scene’s economy of truth and falsehood, it has been rendered immaterial—even though it must remain physically present. Created by language, the urn, as a significant object, is dissolved by language. But the actual urn is still on stage, and has to be disposed of somehow. There are no indications in the text, but it seems that it must be brought off stage and into the house by Orestes and Pylades—it represents, after all, their claim to entrance into the house and a part of their planned deception. But the lack of any verbal cue, especially in contrast to the rich deixis surrounding the appearance of the urn, is a striking index of just how meaningless the object without its story is. There is one more reference to it: after Orestes and Pylades have entered the house and an intervening choral ode, Electra reports to the Chorus: ἡ μὲν ἐς

Orestes’ Urn in Word and Action


τάφον / λέβητα κοσμεῖ, τὼ δ᾽ ἐφέστατον πέλας (“She [Clytemnestra] is adorning a vessel for burial, they two are standing near” 1400–1401).66 Electra can now observe the urn acting as a tool for deceiving Clytemnestra, as it had previously acted on her. There is a double Aeschylean resonance to this use of λέβης: as mentioned above, the word had been used in the Libation Bearers for the urn containing Orestes ashes; moreover, in the Agamemnon, Cassandra envisions Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon with the words δολοφόνου λέβητος τύχαν σοι λέγω (“I tell you of the fortune of a trick-­slaying vessel” 1129). Like Cassandra, Sophocles’ Electra is narrating events off stage (though not, of course, in the future) that center on a “trick-­slaying vessel,” which here, fittingly, avenges Clytemnestra’s λέβης.67 The urn, rendered harmless and indeed useful by Electra’s knowledge, now functions as a simple tool of revenge, and in this form receives the Aeschylean appellation λέβης. Understanding the urn as the focal point for the issues of language and materiality in the play returns us to Gorgias’ paradoxical suggestion that in the deception of tragedy, “the deceiver is more just than the non-­deceiver.” This would seem emphatically not to be the case in the Electra, in which, though the murder itself seems to go unquestioned, the act of deception comes under intense ethical scrutiny. The central problematic in Sophocles’ version of the story is displaced in relation to its Aeschylean predecessor from the relationship between Orestes and Clytemnestra to that between Orestes and Electra, and from the pollution of bloodguilt to the dusphêmia of false speech concerning life and death. Orestes remains free from the taint of his actions, but he is profoundly compromised by his words. This displacement, though, retains a (or the) central thematic of the Aeschylean narrative: actions have inevitable but unexpected consequences for the actor, the doer suffers, δράσαντι παθεῖν (Ch. 313). Sophocles explores the justice of the deceiver through the role of the urn. The changing valences of the urn track the changing valences of deception in the story, as it goes from a vaguely described thing in the bushes (in Orestes’ prologue), to a detail in a virtuoso narrative (in the Paidagogos’s narration), to a physical presence on stage (in the recognition scene), to an off-­stage—again— object (in Electra’s narration of the murder sequence). Only when it is physically present, and only as long as it remains invested with the power of its story, does it have its full emotional power, but this power proves overwhelming to Electra and Orestes alike. In rendering the urn a significant object, language creates a reality, which then proves hard to escape. The dolos plot ultimately illustrates the power of deception to entrap even the deceiver.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The play of deception surrounding the urn undeniably implicates the theatrical medium itself, but I suggest it goes even further. At the most basic level, it has to do with the issues of truth, language, and proper speech that are laid out in the prologue, and woven through the play even when the urn is not on stage. This reading of the urn speaks directly to Sophocles’ consistent concern with the opacity of language, with the gap between speech and significance.68 The urn’s presence on stage opens up this gap, causing the affective, material, and ontological dimensions of the scene to diverge sharply. Orestes’ attempt to functionalize matter for his deception stumbles, though, less on the recalcitrance of objects than on the persistence of logos, which retains a quasi-­mystical power to shape belief and reality. The urn’s shifting significance points to the slippery ontology of objects on stage. The urn appears at times more as a “relational object” (say, in Electra’s lamentations), at times more as a “black box” (in the struggle for physical control over the urn), but the constant in all of its appearances is a gap between matter and meaning.69 This gap is constitutive of every aspect of tragedy’s physical presence, but objects on stage may be especially conducive to exploring it because of their apparent self-­sameness: the urn, as the story of Polus reminds us, could actually be full of human ashes. Orestes’s deception is premised on the apparent solidity and trustworthiness of material objects, but in the end reveals most of all their construction through human thought and speech. As an object “fashioned in logos,” the urn is at once material and immaterial, a weighty symbol and a slight presence—a fitting vessel for tragedy’s deception.70


Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles Erika L. Weiberg

American veterans at risk of suicide have a complicated relationship with guns. Studies have shown that access to guns at home increases the likelihood that a veteran will commit suicide,1 but veterans’ identities and interests are often entwined with guns, making them difficult to give up. One veteran interviewed by National Public Radio gives his guns to a friend every fall, when traumatic memories of combat in Iraq are more likely to be triggered: “Come toward September–October, if I get the feeling, I’m more than happy to give my guns back to my buddy again.”2 Legal and medical institutions also complicate this relationship. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) flags the names of veterans declared mentally incompetent in the FBI’s background check system, preventing them from buying a new gun. This policy damages the trust between some veterans, like Todd Kuikka, and the VA: “At the same time I was fighting to get the care that I desperately wanted through the VA [I was] finding out that, ‘Hey, by the way, your Second Amendment rights have been stripped and you gotta give up your weapons.’ ”3 This aversion to giving up weapons, and thus, giving up perceived constitutional rights and a social identity, dissuades some veterans from seeking medical care through the VA. This short account outlines the various forces in our current historical moment that contribute to a rising suicide rate among veterans: unresolved mental health issues resulting from combat experience; the impulse to self-­harm triggered by a smell or sound or sight or season; access to guns and knowledge of how to use them; self-­identification as a gun owner and attraction to weapons; access to medical care and fear of legal repercussions when seeking this care. This is not a comprehensive list. The forces at play are multiple: material, institutional, cultural, and social.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Two Greek tragedies, Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles, stage a warrior’s suicide and rejection of suicide, respectively, as a confrontation with weapons as material “friends” and “foes.” In drawing a superficial connection between modern veterans’ experiences and these ancient plays, my intention is not to suggest that the experiences are the same, but rather to demonstrate that, in both cases, the factors contributing to a warrior’s suicide are multiple, complex, and potentially different across time and space and also between individuals. In both the modern and the ancient context, however, the material (weapons) and the social (relationships with others, concepts of identity) are intricately intertwined. This nexus of the material, the social, and the affective experience of trauma will be my focus in this essay. Recent work on combat trauma in Greek literature has identified in Ajax and Heracles mythical prototypes of the wounded warrior, whose “moral injury” culminates in suicide or in domestic violence.4 “Moral injury” is a term developed by psychiatrists and clinician-­researchers to describe the emotional distress that occurs when a service member experiences or “does something in war that violates their own ideals, ethics, or attachments.”5 Often contrasted with post-­ traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which describes a fear response to a life-­ threatening event, moral injury describes a guilt or shame response to the violation of what the soldier perceives as right.6 PTSD and moral injury can result in similar symptoms, including the re-­experiencing of past trauma, emotional numbing, and suicidal thoughts. Clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who introduced the concept of moral injury to scholars of Greek poetry in his books on the Iliad and Odyssey, argues that moral injury involves not only the body and mind of the individual soldier, but also the culturally specific concept of “what’s right” and social concepts of power and authority. In Shay’s words, “The whole human critter is in play here: body, mind, social system, culture.”7 Shay’s “whole human critter” corresponds in certain ways to the new materialist idea of the “assemblage,” since it recognizes that the soldier’s emotional responses are embedded in social and cultural networks outside of his or her individual mind and body. A new materialist analysis would view this “critter” (or “vital assemblage”) as constituted and maintained not only by human forces, but also by objects, processes, and materials in excess of the individual soldier and his or her response to trauma. Building upon Manuel DeLanda’s assemblage theory,8 psychologists Price-Robertson and Duff argue that we should view PTSD, for example, “as a social, material, and affective expression of an assemblage of forces

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


acting within a complex network of actors and institutional arrangements to produce particular events, memories, feeling-­states, an impulse to seek treatment, the technical skills adequate for the accurate diagnosis of a treatable condition, and the means of managing this condition.”9 At stake in this revised view of PTSD is a more expansive understanding of the “entities, forces, and agencies” that contribute to the experience, diagnosis, and treatment of this type of injury.10 Ajax and Heracles interrogate their protagonists’ experiences of psychological suffering,11 occasioned by their traumatic loss of philia (the reciprocal bond of friendship), as rooted in a particular social, material, and affective environment.12 In Ajax, for example, we can identify a human or social force (the betrayal of “what’s right” by his commanders and fellow soldiers in the Judgment of Arms, and shame about returning home to his father empty-­handed), a divine force (Athena’s punishment for Ajax’s blasphemous boasts), and a material force (the hostile pull of Hector’s sword) at work in the tragic hero’s psychological response to traumatic loss and impulse to commit suicide.13 Both in his deluded torture of the army’s flocks and in his subsequent inability to attain self-­control and moderation (sôphrosynê),14 Ajax is embedded in an assemblage of forces—social, material, and affective—that determine his shifting and at times contradictory response to the traumatic loss of his attachments to others. Similarly, in Heracles, the eponymous hero is betrayed by his philoi at Thebes, who fail to protect his family from the tyrant, Lycus, in his absence. This betrayal of trust is compounded by an attack by Hera, his divine stepmother, who sends Lyssa (madness personified) to destroy him. His weapons also have an important role to play. Their recent act of violence within the house—Heracles has just used them to kill Lycus in an ambush—primes their quick turn against his family members, whom Heracles mistakes for the children of his enemy, Eurystheus. The hero’s madness and recovery are carefully contextualized within these social, material, and divine frameworks. It is impossible to identify one strand that is more important than others; if you pull on one, the others follow. This essay focuses on the influence of Ajax’s and Heracles’ weapons on their decisions to commit or resist suicide. In both plays, weapons become the focal point of the protagonists’ confrontations with traumatic loss by re-­enacting past conflicts in the dramatic present. Re-­enacting is both a common psychological response to trauma and an experience especially appropriate to dramatic performance.15 In both the private theater of psychological trauma and on the public stage, re-­enactments undo linear time, so that “the past is a future direction in which one can travel,” in the words of performance theorist Rebecca Schneider.16


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Schneider identifies this “undoing of linear time,” typical of re-­enactments, as “part of the nervousness or queasiness of theatricality, contributing to the uncertainty of where and how time takes place.”17 Ajax and Heracles disorient time through the dramatic representation of the re-­enactment of traumatic loss. Moreover, the re-­ enactments staged by the sword in Ajax and the bow in Heracles exemplify two distinct ways of responding to the traumatic loss of philia: by “acting out,” as in Ajax, and by “working through,” as in Heracles. In so doing, these performances also model these psychological responses to trauma for the audience of tragedy, itself composed of combat veterans and their family members.18 The terms “acting out” and “working through” are drawn from psychoanalytic trauma theory, with their roots in Freud’s 1914 essay “Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through.”19 In this essay, Freud describes his theory of “repetition compulsion,” which claims that patients act out traumatic events that they have repressed, compulsively and unwittingly repeating them.20 This compulsive repetition is a form of resistance to the memory of a traumatic event. Eventually, Freud claims, the analyst can help the patient “work through” this resistance by calling the patient’s attention to the repressed memory. Dominick LaCapra expands on Freud’s ideas of “acting out” and “working through” in his discussion of theoretical and literary critical attempts to come to terms with historical and cultural trauma. He argues that “trauma brings about a dissociation of affect and representation: one disorientingly feels what one cannot represent; one numbingly represents what one cannot feel.”21 In LaCapra’s reading, “working through” is not opposed to acting out, but rather distinct from it, a method of counteracting the re-enactment of this dissociation between affect and representation, this compulsion to repeat. The first part of this essay examines Ajax’s traumatic loss of philia with his fellow Greeks and argues that he unwittingly acts out the attempted slaughter of his commanders during his suicide scene. Through his enemy’s sword, Ajax replicates past hostilities in the present and future. The second part investigates Euripides’ Heracles as a play that responds to Ajax’s presentation of the protagonist’s isolation and suicide. This play focalizes the protagonist’s confrontation with traumatic loss through his weapon and prop, the bow, but instead of opposing the bow as an enemy, Heracles views it as a friend and partner. Heracles’ decision to continue confronting his loss through the bow’s re-­ enactments of the murder of his family demonstrates his ability to work through his loss and his own role in it. Heracles’ process of working through traumatic loss does not transcend the compulsion to act out, but rather counteracts it through the support of friends, brought to life onstage by his weapons.

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


Finally, I briefly consider the role of tragic performance in acting out and working through traumatic loss for its fifth-­century audience, who were mired in long-­lasting wars to support their expanding empire. Jonathan Shay and Peter Meineck have discussed the Athenian theater as “cultural therapy.”22 A new materialist analysis, like the one I pursue in my analyses of these two plays, supports this conclusion by drawing attention to the role of things—mirrored by props onstage—in this cultural katharsis.

1.  Ajax and acting out Ajax’s betrayal by his fellow Greeks in the judgment of Achilles’ arms immediately precipitates his madness and suicide. This perceived betrayal compounds his isolation and makes him more vulnerable to other antecedent forces at play. Jonathan Shay explains the corrosive effects of moral injury on the soldier’s social relationships as follows: “When social trust is destroyed, it is replaced by the settled expectancy of harm, exploitation, and humiliation from others. With this expectancy, there are few options: strike first, withdraw and isolate oneself from others, or create deceptions, distractions, false identities to forestall what is expected.”23 This description mirrors precisely Ajax’s responses to his loss of social trust. He strikes first, attempting to attack his commanders, but attacking their flocks instead. When he discovers that this preemptive strike has failed, he withdraws, isolating himself even from his small circle of dependants, including his spear-­bride Tecmessa, their son Eurysaces, and the Chorus of Salaminian sailors, who remain loyal to Ajax. Finally, just before his suicide, he creates deceptions in the aptly named “Deception Speech,”24 evoking the hostile power of his sword, a gift from his enemy Hector, as the reason for his quarrel with the Argives, and claiming that he must bury it in the hostile earth of Troy. These claims distract his internal audience and possibly also himself from his true intention of burying the sword in his own body. The suicide scene, which takes place at the midpoint of the play, coalesces the material, affective, and social forces at work on Ajax. He unexpectedly reappears onstage alone, except for the sword, emphasizing his social isolation.25 Moreover, his affective engagement with the sword in this scene rehashes his damaged social trust, first by turning time back to a moment before his loss of trust with the Argives, and second, by re-­enacting his attempted slaughter of his fellow Greeks, but with Ajax as victim instead of victimizer. In neither of these scenarios does Ajax take responsibility for his part in the rift with his former


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

friends. This failure to take responsibility, to exercise self-­empathy and understand his own part in this conflict, results in the fatal acting-­out of his loss through his suicide.26 A closer look at Ajax’s suicide speech and its Iliadic hypotext demonstrates the ways in which this confrontation with Hector’s sword repeats Ajax’s social conflict with the Greeks. Scholars have convincingly shown that Hector’s sword reaches back in time to an Iliadic past.27 I wish to highlight the larger context of this scene from the Iliad, which elaborates the relationship of philia with his commanders that Ajax has lost in the play. To mark the end of their duel in Iliad 7, Hector and Ajax exchange gifts: Hector gives Ajax a silver-­studded sword (ξίφος ἀργυρόηλον 303), while Ajax gives Hector a belt (ζωστῆρα 305). These gifts establish a kind of friendship (ἐν φιλότητι . . . ἀρθμήσαντε 302) between Hector and Ajax. Yet unlike guest-­friendships, which can persist between families for generations, these two warriors’ friendship is explicitly temporary.28 Hector acknowledges that he and Ajax must fight one another again (ὕστερον αὖτε μαχησόμεθα 291). Their temporary “friendship” is merely a pretext so that each warrior can return to his true philoi. Indeed, Ajax receives a warm welcome from the Achaeans. The Homeric narrator remarks that Agamemnon, in particular, rejoices at his victory (κεχαρηότα νίκῃ 312). The general slaughters a bull in honor of Ajax and gives him the choicest cut of meat (313–22). As its Homeric context reveals, the sword is not merely a vehicle of Hector’s persistent enmity.29 Embedded in the epic text that haunts this scene is also evidence of a time when Ajax was allied with and honored by the Argives.30 The conscious re-­enactment of this past conflict with Hector allows Ajax to relive a moment when his social trust was not shattered. At the same time, this performative act, in its surrogation of social connection with the material of the sword, accentuates the philia that he has lost.31 Ajax calls attention to his re-­ enactment of the conflict with Hector through meta-­theatrical language. In Rebecca Schneider’s words, “enactment becomes recognized as reenactment, recognized as a matter of againness, through explicit theatricality.”32 Archiving its past conflicts not as memories but as repeat performances, the sword draws Ajax into the repetition of the past (815–22):33 ὁ μὲν σφαγεὺς ἕστηκεν ᾗ τομώτατος γένοιτ’ ἄν, εἴ τῳ καὶ λογίζεσθαι σχολή, δῶρον μὲν ἀνδρὸς Ἕκτορος ξένων ἐμοὶ μάλιστα μισηθέντος, ἐχθίστου θ’ ὁρᾶν. πέπηγε δ’ ἐν γῇ πολεμίᾳ τῇ Τρῳάδι, σιδηροβρῶτι θηγάνῃ νεηκονής·



Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


ἔπηξα δ’ αὐτὸν εὖ περιστείλας ἐγώ, εὐνούστατον τῷδ’ ἀνδρὶ διὰ τάχους θανεῖν. The slayer stands where he would be sharpest, if one has the leisure even to make calculations, a gift of Hector, the man most hateful among foreigners to me, and most loathsome to see. And he stands fixed in the hostile land of Troy, newly sharpened on an iron-­gnawing whetstone. I fixed him, wrapping him well in earth, most kindly to this man, so as to die quickly.

The sword at first appears to stand fixed of its own accord (πέπηγε 819), but Ajax also remarks that he fixed the sword (ἔπηξα δ’ αὐτόν 821), wrapping “him” in earth as if in a costume (or a burial shroud).34 The sword most fully comes to life in this moment. From the beginning of this speech, Ajax characterizes the sword as a human agent with an agent noun (σφαγεύς 815) and with masculine adjectives and pronouns (νεηκονής 820; αὐτόν 821; εὐνούστατον 822).35 Moreover, as Taplin has pointed out, the adjective εὐνούστατον attributes to the sword a nous (mind), an attribute specific to humans.36 Assessing his work, Ajax remarks, “And so, we are well equipped” (οὕτω μὲν εὐσκευοῦμεν 823). Although the verb εὐσκευέω occurs only here in extant Greek literature, it is based on the noun σκευή, which can refer both to the attire of an actor and to the weapons of a soldier (both “equipment” of these professions).37 This double meaning captures the overt theatricality of this duel between Ajax and his sword. When Ajax looks at the sword that he has fixed in the hostile earth of Troy, the theatrical illusion convinces: he sees his most hated enemy, Hector, and so do we. Through this re-­enactment of his one-­on-one duel with Hector, this conjuring act, Ajax bends time back to a moment before his crisis of philia and his loss of honor. Yet Ajax’s sword also re-­enacts another conflict of which Ajax is less aware: the failed attempt on his commanders’ lives, which Athena diverted against their flocks. As terminology for the priest who slaughters the sacrificial victim, the noun σφαγεύς (815) cues the theme of perverted sacrifice that pervaded the aftermath of Ajax’s slaughter of the flocks.38 In the first episode, Tecmessa characterizes these killings as bloody, transgressive sacrifices (218–20): τοιαῦτ’ ἂν ἴδοις σκηνῆς ἔνδον χειροδάικτα σφάγι’ αἱμοβαφῆ, κείνου χρηστήρια τἀνδρός.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy Such are the victims you could see inside the tent, torn apart by his hands and bathed in blood, the sacrifices of that man.

The first word for sacrificial victims (σφάγια 219) connects this scene with the later suicide speech (σφαγεύς 815), while the second, χρηστήρια (220), from χράω (“to prophesy”), points to the ominous possibility of a future re-­enactment of this slaughter.39 At 815–22, Ajax is transformed from sacrificer to victim of sacrifice. He thus acts out his loss of philia with the Greeks without assuming any responsibility for that loss. Instead of the mad and bloody sacrificer of the opening scenes, he is victim, and the sword his hostile avenger. Indeed, in the same speech, Ajax turns away from his confrontation with Hector’s sword to curse his original victims in the sacrifice, for whom the sheep were unsatisfactory doubles. In lines chilling for their extreme hostility, he calls upon the Erinyes to punish the Atridae—and the rest of the Greek army—for destroying him (835–38). The Erinyes are goddesses who aid the dead in haunting the living; for this reason, Teucer later calls them “ever mindful” (μνήμων 1390). The Erinyes ensure that Ajax will act out his past conflict with the Atridae even after his death. The Erinyes also, according to Teucer, forged Hector’s sword (ἆρ’ οὐκ Ἐρινὺς τοῦτ’ ἐχάλκευσε ξίφος 1034). These vengeful goddesses animate the sword’s re-­enactment of the violent past; through it, Hector reaches out from beyond the grave to destroy Ajax, and Ajax in turn reaches out to destroy the Argives.40 Material, social, and affective forces converge in Ajax’s sword, which is tied through its violent acts to conflicts both distant (Hector) and more recent (the attempted slaughter of Ajax’s commanders). Channeling the hostility of its former owner, Hector, the sword re-­enacts an Iliadic battle, killing Ajax “most kindly” (εὐνούστατον 822) because, in this fantasy, his honor remains intact. At the same time, the sword stages Ajax’s acting out of his hostility toward the Argives, the friends whose betrayal occasions his suicide. Ajax’s curse and self-­sacrifice ensure that he will remain stuck in this pattern of repetition even after his death. Indeed, in the second half of the play, Ajax’s great body fuses with the sword in an enduring monument to enmity and the loss of philia. Even after Odysseus has offered a more flexible perspective on the ethical imperative to “hurt friends, harm enemies,”41 allowing Ajax’s remaining philoi to bury him, Ajax’s hatred prevents a reconciliation of the two warriors. Teucer rejects Odysseus’s offer to help with Ajax’s burial, fearing that his touch would be unwelcome to the dead man (μὴ τῷ θανόντι τοῦτο δυσχερὲς ποῶ

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


1395). Ajax’s “black force” (μέλαν μένος 1412–13) continues to flow at the end of the play, threatening to derail the new alliances that have made his burial possible, and demonstrating that, at least for Ajax, no reconciliation can redress past wrongs.

2.  Heracles and working through Like Ajax’s madness, Heracles’ madness can be attributed not to a single cause, but to a network of interacting forces.42 After he wakes from his madness and sees his murdered children lying on the ground, he asks his father to explain the sight (1132–35): Hρ. Aμ. Hρ. Aμ.

οἴμοι· τίν᾽ ὄψιν τήνδε δέρκομαι τάλας; ἀπόλεμον, ὦ παῖ, πόλεμον ἔσπευσας τέκνοις. τί πόλεμον εἶπας; τούσδε τίς διώλεσε; σὺ καὶ σὰ τόξα καὶ θεῶν ὃς αἴτιος.

Heracles  Oimoi! What is this sight that I, miserable, see? Amphitryon  O child, you set in motion a war that was no war against your children. Heracles  What war do you mention? Who destroyed them? Amphitryon  You and your bow and whichever god was responsible.

Amphitryon distributes responsibility for the children’s deaths between Heracles, his weapon, and one of the gods. The audience earlier learned that Lyssa was sent by Hera to drive Heracles mad. Despite her uncertainty about the ethics of attacking a benefactor of the gods, Lyssa concedes and does her job. The messenger later reports that Athena, dressed in her full panoply, intervened before Heracles could kill his father. The divine forces that contribute to Heracles’ madness are multiple and competing, some working together, if reluctantly, and others working at cross purposes. In addition to these divine forces, the beginning of the play maps out Heracles’ betrayal by his friends in Thebes and elsewhere in Greece. Although Heracles fought alongside the Thebans in their battle with the Minyans, none of them is willing to stand up to the usurping tyrant Lycus and protect his family during his absence. The stage property at which the family supplicates in the opening tableau is an altar to Zeus the Savior that Heracles dedicated with his victorious spear after this victory (44–50). This visual reminder of Heracles’ past military aid places in sharp relief the Thebans’ betrayal and abandonment of his family.

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy


Indeed, Heracles recalls this past benefaction in disbelief when he discovers his family in mortal danger upon his return (558–61): Hρ. Με. Hρ. Με.

οὕτω δ᾽ ἀπόντες ἐσπανίζομεν φίλων; φίλοι γάρ εἰσιν ἀνδρὶ δυστυχεῖ τίνες; μάχας δὲ Μινυῶν ἃς ἔτλην ἀπέπτυσαν; ἄφιλον, ἵν᾽ αὖθίς σοι λέγω, τὸ δυστυχές.

Heracles  Were we so lacking in friends while we were away? Megara  Yes, for what friends does an unfortunate man have? Heracles  And did they dismiss the battles with the Minyans that I endured? Megara  Again, I tell you, misfortune has no friends.

Heracles’ persistent questions and strong language (e.g., ἀπέπτυσαν; literally, “did they despise the battles . . .”) highlight the shock of discovering his family abandoned by friends. He responds violently a few lines later, threatening to murder all the Thebans who were ungrateful for his benefaction with his “victorious club” (τῷ καλλινίκῳ τῷδ’ ὅπλῳ 570) and “winged arrows” (πτερωτοῖς τοξεύμασιν 571), and “to fill the entire Ismenus river with the slaughter of dead bodies and redden the clear spring of Dirce with blood” (572–73). This image evokes the Iliadic Achilles’ berserk behavior against the river Scamander after his loss of Patroclus (Il. 21.200–232).43 Heracles’ moral injury, the betrayal of his trust by the Thebans, prompts this extreme revenge, in which his weapons are named as central players. Wilamowitz located the seeds of Heracles’ mad rampage against his children in this speech, which calls attention to Heracles’ capacity for destructive, vengeful violence against philoi.44 Heracles’ promised act of violence against former friends is brought instead against his closest friends and family. In its extreme way—and stories about Heracles are often extreme—this play shows how a warrior’s participation in violent conflict can destroy even the most intimate relationships in a warrior’s life. The weapons provide a dramatic link between Heracles’ betrayal by the Thebans and his killing of his family, since the same weapons that he names in his imagined murder of the Thebans are prominently involved in the murder of his wife and children. In addition, after the murder, these weapons, Heracles’ material “friends,” are central to his affective confrontation with his traumatic loss of philia.45 This confrontation, in which the material, social, and affective merge, will be my focus for the rest of this essay. The final episode of the play focuses on Heracles’ process of recognizing himself as both savior and murderer, and depicts his sudden and unexpected decision to continue living, while working through his loss of philoi. His bow

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


and arrows play an important role in this self-­discovery and in his decision to continue living without forgetting what he did to his children and wife. When Heracles awakens from his madness, with no knowledge of what he has done, he takes note of the broken pillar to which he is tied, the corpses around him, and his bow and arrows scattered beside them. At first glance, he recognizes only the weapons as his own (1098–1100): πτερωτὰ δ’ ἔγχη τόξα τ’ ἔσπαρται πέδῳ, ἃ πρὶν παρασπίζοντ’ ἐμοῖς βραχίοσιν ἔσῳζε πλευρὰς ἐξ ἐμοῦ τ’ ἐσῴζετο. Winged arrows and bow are scattered on the ground, which previously bore a shield beside my arms, protected my side and were protected by me.

Heracles addresses the bow and arrows as fighters in a hoplite phalanx. The arrows themselves are called “winged spears” (πτερωτὰ ἔγχη 1098),46 and they carry a shield beside him (παρασπίζοντο 1099), like a hoplite who protects the man on his left with part of his shield, while he is in turn protected by the man on his right.47 With this metaphor, Heracles imagines himself and his arrows providing reciprocal protection to each other. The rhetorical play on the active and passive forms of σῴζειν highlights the reciprocity of their relationship (ἔσῳζε . . . ἐσῴζετο 1100). Heracles’ address to the bow and arrows ascribes to them their own vital force as his comrades-­in-arms. At the same time, he fails at first to recognize that while the weapons do indeed fight at his side, they do not always preserve (σῴζειν) him or his philoi. Heracles’ gradual recognition of the weapons as both fellow-­fighters and murderers of philoi mirrors his gradual recognition—and acceptance—of himself as capable of both civilizing and destructive violence. In addition, by animating Heracles’ bow and arrows as comrades-­in-arms, Euripides reverses the staging of Ajax’s suicide in Sophocles’ play as a duel to the death with an enemy. Instead, through this confrontation with his weapon, Heracles faces friends who have, like him, committed a terrible violation against friends.48 Like Ajax, Heracles also at first believes that suicide is the only way out of his disgrace. However, his friends, both human and non-­human, intervene, convincing him to work through his loss instead of acting it out, replicating it, in another act of violence against himself.49 The arrival of a human friend, Theseus, interrupts Heracles’ plans for suicide. Theseus makes the case for the value of Heracles to his community. He arrives with a force of Athenian hoplites (ἔνοπλοι γῆς Ἀθηναίων κόροι 1164), whom he


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

calls an “allied spear” (σύμμαχον φέρων δόρυ 1165), and offers Heracles a future, including land and honor, in Athens. The “allied spear,” previously an emblem of ineffectual friendship (cf. 49–56, 126–30), comes to Heracles’ aid in his time of need and thus glorifies Athens, the only Greek city to provide this aid to their benefactor.50 Theseus’ argument does not, however, convince Heracles, in part because it fails to account for the role that his past must play in his future. While the material aid of the “allied spear” is important, Heracles recognizes that he must also confront the atrocity that he committed (1347–52): ἐσκεψάμην δὲ καίπερ ἐν κακοῖσιν ὢν μὴ δειλίαν ὄφλω τιν’ ἐκλιπὼν φάος· ταῖς συμφοραῖς γὰρ ὅστις οὐχ ὑφίσταται οὐδ’ ἀνδρὸς ἂν δύναιθ’ ὑποστῆναι βέλος. ἐγκαρτερήσω θάνατον·51 εἶμι δ’ ἐς πόλιν τὴν σήν, χάριν τε μυρίαν δώρων ἔχω.


I have been thinking, even though I am in the midst of troubles, that I might incur a charge of cowardice if I commit suicide. For whoever does not stand up to misfortunes could not withstand a man’s arrow. I will confront death. And I will go to your city, with the greatest gratitude for your gifts.

In a sudden change of mind, he declares that he will not commit suicide because he must confront the deaths of his family head-­on, like a hoplite in the line of battle. He mentions Theseus’ gifts as an additional motivation, but not as the primary motivation for his decision. The murder of his children and wife, together with the grief and shame that follows it, constitute his thirteenth labor, “a doublet of his twelfth, the confrontation with death (in the form of Cerberus).”52 I understand ἐγκαρτερήσω as a promise to continue confronting through memory the deaths of his family members, whom Heracles killed unwillingly and without full knowledge of his actions.53 With this statement, Heracles vows to continue living in order to work through his loss. Indeed, immediately after this change of mind, Heracles puts his promise into action, turning from Theseus back toward his father and the corpses of his wife and sons. After arranging for their burial, he addresses the corpses directly, lingering on the sad irony that the man who fathered them also killed them (ὦ τέκν’, ὁ φύσας καὶ τεκὼν ὑμᾶς πατὴρ / ἀπώλεσε 1367–68). The play on τέκνα (children) and τεκών (parent), both from the same root, highlights this irony. Addressing Megara, he also acknowledges that he failed to reciprocate her

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


faithful “preservation” (ἔσῳζες 1372; cf. 1100) of their marriage bed in his absence. By addressing the corpses directly, Heracles takes responsibility for the atrocity that he committed against his will (ἄκων 1364), thereby confronting death, as he promised, face-­to-face. Finally, Heracles turns to his bow and arrows, his partners in this murder, who suddenly come fully to life, endowed with speech (1376–85):54              ὦ λυγραὶ φιλημάτων τέρψεις, λυγραὶ δὲ τῶνδ’ ὅπλων κοινωνίαι. ἀμηχανῶ γὰρ πότερ’ ἔχω τάδ’ ἢ μεθῶ, ἃ πλευρὰ τἀμὰ προσπίτνοντ’ ἐρεῖ τάδε· Ἡμῖν τέκν’ εἷλες καὶ δάμαρθ’· ἡμᾶς ἔχεις παιδοκτόνους σούς. εἶτ’ ἐγὼ τάδ’ ὠλέναις οἴσω; τί φάσκων; ἀλλὰ γυμνωθεὶς ὅπλων ξὺν οἷς τὰ κάλλιστ’ ἐξέπραξ’ ἐν Ἑλλάδι ἐχθροῖς ἐμαυτὸν ὑποβαλὼν αἰσχρῶς θάνω; οὐ λειπτέον τάδ’, ἀθλίως δὲ σωστέον.



             O painful pleasures of kisses, and painful company of weapons. I am at a loss whether I should keep them or let them go, weapons that falling at my sides will say these things: “With us you killed your children and wife. You keep us, killers of your children.” Will I, then, carry them on my arm? What will I say? But stripped of these weapons with which I accomplished the most noble deeds in Greece, shall I die a shameful death, surrendering to my enemies? I must not leave them, but must, miserably, keep them.

The bow and arrows channel Heracles’ dead philoi, mimicking their final words and actions. Heracles imagines them falling at his side in supplication, as his children did before he killed them.55 The weapons’ speech also reprises Megara’s earlier cry, just before Heracles killed the children: Ὦ τεκών, τί δρᾷς; τέκνα / κτείνεις; (“You are their father, what are you doing? Are you killing your children?” 975–76; cf. παιδοκτόνους 1381). Heracles imagines the bow repeating these visual and aural components of the murder, which he experiences only belatedly, every time he picks them up. Moreover, the two parts of the arrows’ speech blend their role as instruments (ἡμῖν) and agents (ἡμᾶς παιδοκτόνους).56 Did Heracles kill with the bow or did the bow kill of its own accord? This tension, which remains unresolved, distributes responsibility for the crime between Heracles and the bow.57 By


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

recognizing the bow and arrows, his allies and friends, as both instrument and agent of the crime, Heracles begins to work through his own role in the murders, as both instrument of Hera’s revenge against him and agent of his family’s deaths. Finally, by keeping his talking weapons at his side, Heracles prepares for his life without his family, in which he must face enemies in battle, while also acknowledging his—and the bow’s—role in their pitiful end. Finally, Heracles’ exit from stage enacts the same kind of reminder for the audience that his arrows promise to enact for him in the post-­play future. Heracles, hanging on his friend Theseus as his children once hung on him, remarks: “I who have destroyed my house in shame will follow Theseus, in my utter destruction, like a boat in tow” (ἡμεῖς δ’ ἀναλώσαντες αἰσχύναις δόμον / Θησεῖ πανώλεις ἑψόμεσθ’ ἐφολκίδες 1423–24). This visual and verbal reminder of an earlier scene, in which Heracles led his children offstage, “taking these tugboats in hand” (λαβών γε τούσδ’ ἐφολκίδας χεροῖν 631), dramatizes the extreme reversal that has taken place onstage. Heracles the savior, the all-­ destroyer, has become Heracles the murderer, the all-­destroyed (πανώλεις 1424). Heracles’ exit re-­enacts his sons’ gestures, just like the arrows promise to fall at his side, re-­enacting the murder. This re-­enactment makes vivid Heracles’ “working-­through” by demonstrating his acceptance of a new, more dependent role, and by calling to mind the very relationships that he has tragically lost. Through their protagonists’ interactions with material friends and foes, these tragedies model two different approaches to confronting the traumatic loss of philia that parallel Freud’s categories of “acting out” and “working through.” The key to Heracles’ ability to work through his loss is the social support of Theseus and his material friends, the bow and arrows, which compel him to acknowledge his own role in his family’s deaths, but not succumb to crippling self-­pity, guilt, and shame. Ajax, by contrast, never assumes responsibility for his part in the conflict with his fellow Greeks. He instead disastrously acts out this traumatic loss, ensuring through his curse and his partnership with the hostile sword that his enmity with the Greeks will endure. The theatrical performance of these confrontations with trauma carved out a space in fifth-­century Athenian life for reflection on loss of philia in the context of war. In this way, the theater brought to the surface latent cultural tensions between a soldier’s obligations to family and his service to the polis in war. As the engaged theater projects of Bryan Doerries and Peter Meineck have shown, these plays still have the power to spark reflection and discussion of difficult topics such as veteran suicide and the conflict between military service and the

Weapons as Friends and Foes in Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles


needs of one’s family.58 Drawing cross-­cultural comparisons, Jonathan Shay and Peter Meineck have both suggested that the ancient theater served as a kind of “cultural therapy” that helped reintegrate warriors returning to civilian life.59 The ancient theater provided a designated, ritualized space for confronting war-­related cultural trauma in a communal setting. In this way, the annual performances at the Dionysia allowed audience members to counteract the rift between affect and representation by seeing their most difficult confrontations with trauma played out, sensitively and poignantly, onstage. The difference with our current cultural moment is telling. Mental health issues are a taboo topic among many veterans, who often rely on informal and private networks of social support, like the friend who takes away his buddy’s guns every fall. By contrast, Greek tragedy and the rituals surrounding its performance are attuned to the “whole critter,” the vital assemblage of forces at play in the veteran’s interactions with family, army, weapons, and self. We need to be better attuned to this “whole critter,” including the force of things, like weapons, which are wrapped up with soldiers’ identities and emotions, in order to confront the social cost of endless war and the various and complex forces that perpetuate or counteract traumatic loss.


The Familiar Mask A. C. Duncan

Once I asked: “When you’re making the mask, at what point does it come alive?” “It’s hard to say, but from a certain point it starts to exist.” “How much individuality can you put into your masks?” “There are cases when I make a mask and the mask starts to affect me somehow, so I start to follow that something from the mask, rather than doing something to the mask. In other cases, I have a clear idea of what I am doing, and I simply obey that. Both approaches can be powerful.” “Do you feel that there is a real spirit to the mask, or is it simply a tool for the actor?” “Both can be true. This thing that is just made with wood; I don’t completely believe that there is a spirit in it; but there is something. And of course when it is worn on the stage and the actor is on the stage, the eyes start to be alive.” . . . “Is it difficult for you to say goodbye to the mask?” “If it’s going to be used on the stage, I’ll be happy,” said Ms. Nakamura. “Last year, somebody from Ireland just passed by and bought a lot, and I felt a little sad.” “Are there any stories about somebody who fell in love with a mask?” “I can’t think of any story like that, but I wish that someday someone will fall in love with one of mine.” William T. Vollmann, Kissing the Mask1

This interview, between the American writer William T. Vollmann and renowned Japanese Noh mask-­carver Mitsue Nakamura, is offered as prelude to this study of the vitality of the Greek theatrical mask. Parallels between Noh and ancient Athenian drama, two of the most celebrated masked traditions, are well known.2 Vollmann and Nakamura’s conversation is not adduced for comparative argument so much as for critical re-­orientation. It is an invitation to see old masks in a new light—not the garish illumination of performance, but the lambent glow of professional workshops, private homes, and museum displays.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

I pull at two threads running through this dialogue. Nakamura twice asserts the mask’s ontological duality—or, to extend her own words, its “both-­ness.” Nakamura establishes the mask as both passive object and active thing, to adopt Jane Bennett’s terms for discussing “vibrant matter.”3 The mask is material that, at times, conveys a strong sense of agency. The first instance of the material’s ontological duality is the moment of the mask’s creation: in Nakamura’s hands, the wood may either remain (apparently) passive in its transformation or else, by asserting a “material recalcitrance,” assume a more active role in “leading” the carver.4 The recalcitrant mask in effect fashions itself, positioning its sculptor as midwife, not mother, at its birth. The mask’s both-­ness extends beyond its genesis, for although it might also be recognized as a “tool” for the actor, it maintains an ineffable vitality at odds with the purely instrumental. Nakamura shrinks from the word “spirit”—a salutary reminder not to further mystify the oft-­romanticized mask—but nevertheless recognizes a powerful je ne sais quoi latent in the wood. This material agency expresses itself upon the body of the actor, who like the mask’s sculptor, is compelled to follow the material’s lead. It is through the joint agency of actor and mask that the “eyes,” which, as eye-­holes and shadows do not properly belong to either party entirely, “start to be alive.” Nakamura’s phrasing suggests the mask becomes a living presence not through mere embodiment or movement, as is often claimed, but through the mutual gaze between the mask and other faces.5 In both formation and performance, agency and vitality are distributed between mask and man. A second strand to extricate from the conversation is that, for Nakamura, the physicality and presence of the mask are always paramount. At no point is the mask imagined as an icon, nor is it a mere placeholder for some absent or fictional face. Nakamura frames the mask as resistant to any semiotic or Platonic dualism that might separate signifier from signified, material from message.6 As a result, maker and actor have intimate relations with the mask denied to collectors or viewers who engage at a studied distance. The reduction of the mask to an objet d’art—a fate that, in the case of the Irish collector, leaves Nakamura a “little sad”—is paradoxically both a denial and recognition of the mask’s independent efficacy. In a museum-­like collection, the wooden visage is intentionally framed as a detached “object,” and yet, divorced from the contexts of its production or performance, the face exerts an absolute power to arrest vision and provoke response. The new materialisms warn that it is a fallacy to think that masks’ collectors and viewers, although they style themselves as “subjects,” truly occupy a position of command. The mask has first requested, and earned, their gaze. Indeed, as Vollmann suggests in his last question to

The Familiar Mask


Nakamura, “Are there any stories about somebody who fell in love with a mask?”, the mask may solicit more than disinterested viewing. Although her atelier in Kyoto is far removed from fifth-­century Athens, Mitsue Nakamura gives voice to issues highly apposite but rarely applied to ancient Greek drama. Her words highlight the abiding, affective connections between people and things in the theater. Nakamura situates theatrical performance as simply one node, however spectacular, within a wide network of individuals, materials, meanings, and values associated with theatrical masks. A fifth-­century Athenian mask-­maker—the skeuopoios of whom we know little more than name—would no doubt differ from his modern Japanese counterpart in many particulars. But the mask-­maker’s perspective is a useful one to imaginatively adopt, for by familiarizing ourselves with the mask as an off-­stage object and actant—that is, following Bruno Latour’s use, a source of action whether human or material—we stand to correct several false assumptions within the modern criticism of ancient drama.7 The dramatic mask, a visage manufactured to provoke emotional response, is an obvious, paradigmatic case for applying the new materialisms to Attic tragedy. Indeed, some have already found the theatrical mask to inhabit (or create) the gray area between person and thing.8 The manufactured face blurs seemingly natural or fundamental categories of self and other, especially when worn. In the wake of Françoise Frontisi-Ducroux’s work, it is commonly noted that such conflation is both facilitated by (and reflected in) the Greek word prosôpon, a term that by the middle of the fourth century and presumably before denoted human face and dramatic mask alike.9 Harnessing and denying the uniquely expressive and affective powers of the face, the mask is a peculiar theatrical prosthesis.10 Much ink has been spilled over the function, aesthetics, and psychological effects of the Greek dramatic mask.11 Nakamura’s words suggest an alternate, materialist approach. I take the opportunity of this volume to pursue the Greek dramatic mask’s material “both-­ness” and the ways the oscillation and overlap between mask and face, inert object and agentive thing, extended beyond performance in fifth-­ century Athens. I propose that some of the mask’s most fundamental operations are slower and subtler than typically reckoned but, like a glacier, no less forceful for being imperceptible. Taking a cue from the distanced perspective of geological time, I consider the vital force of masks across their entire material lives. From creation to disintegration, I argue masks not only enabled and symbolized brief moments of collaborative performance, but also actively and independently embodied performance. By this I mean that the mask, even—or especially—when


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

apart from an actor, fashioned its own identity and meaning. The mask invited others to regard it as a quasi-­person and, beyond signifying identity and abstract concepts, directly and emotionally affected those within its material presence. To take a distanced, materialist perspective necessitates considering masks beyond their “two hour’s traffic” on the stage. Even so, the off-­stage life of this peculiar property is of no small consequence to its function within drama. As will become clear, masks’ on- and off-­stage lives were mutually informing.12 What emerges, perhaps unexpectedly, from this investigation of the mask’s ontological duality is its remarkable familiarity across a variety of contexts. For Athenians, theatrical masks were known to sit upon tables as well as faces; to smell as well as to smile; to startle in the shadows and to shine in the sun. For theater-­makers especially, masks were not just familiar but familial: they were intimate materials of substantial emotional attachment with an affective presence that was exploited both on- and off-­stage. I present this study in two sections. The first one explores the uniquely affecting power of the human face as well as the evidence for the mask’s offstage agency in Athens. I assert that masks enjoyed a rich, independent, and familiar “off-­stage life”—one involved in various associative networks but largely distinct from actors and festival performance.13 In the second section, I study how this cultural familiarity ramifies in later fifth-­century tragedy, using examples from Euripidean drama to demonstrate how the mask operated not only as a familiar but also a familial face on stage, serving as a point of particularly emotive contact. I suggest the mask’s affect was verbally highlighted by references to the face or head, but its material agency is best discerned at those moments when the actor’s body or movement is most subdued. In championing the mask’s independent efficacy, this chapter adds nuance to the current consensus opinion that tragic masks affected audiences, primarily or even exclusively, in collaboration with moving actors. Given the power of the prosôpon in Greek myth, language, and practice, it is preferable instead to consider masks as theatrical actors—or at least actants—in their own right.

Masks’ off-stage lives Few things are more affecting than the human face. A host of psychological studies have demonstrated the singular, highly evolved powers of human facial recognition and response.14 Basic facial recognition predates almost all other milestones of cognitive development, and while humans’ induction into symbolic

The Familiar Mask


systems of language and culture further elaborate facial meanings, these systems complement rather than replace our primal, non-­discursive responses. Like other core perceptual faculties such as taste or smell, it is often hard to put into words what is instantly, automatically “known”—or, better, felt—upon seeing a face. Of course, such affect does not occur in isolation, and networks of association determine the face’s impact upon others. But simply because the face rarely acts alone does not mean that it does not act, or even act on its own. As testament to its uniquely affecting power, the face has invited material imitation across time and cultures.15 The mask particularly fascinated a twentieth-­century imagination fed a diet of totemism and semiotics, but this uneasy attraction is not a uniquely modern phenomenon.16 As T. B. L. Webster has shown, the penetrating and even quizzical looks between actor (or poet) and his mask, evidenced in a number of classical- and Hellenistic-­era artifacts, vividly illustrate how the Greeks grappled not only with the vitality of the mask in performance but also the mask’s active role in shaping drama beyond the festival program.17 When representing moments of rehearsal, rest, or partial performance, visual artists use the mask to do more than mark the theatricality of the scene. As Rosie Wyles has argued, depictions of off-­stage theatrical moments are crucial to conceptually separating actor from mask.18 It is in the stillness of visual representation that the mask’s independent efficacy comes most to the fore. Half a century after Webster’s work, few scholars today grant masks such meaningful autonomy, on-­stage or off. To take a recent example, Peter Meineck has argued that masks must be understood alongside other aspects of performance, especially the bodies and movements of actors. While recognizing the affective power of the mask as a material face within a cognitive framework, Meineck nevertheless denies autonomy to the object in all but the most marked cases of Attic drama, writing: This last point [sc., that face and body make meaning jointly] is vital in understanding how the mask operated in performance and communicated changing affective states . . . [T]he Greek mask was usually not presented as a disembodied object separated from the rest of the body. When it was, such as the visages that stun the satyrs in Aeschylus’s Theoroi (POxy 2162), or as the inanimate head of Pentheus held by Agave in the Bacchae. . ., the disembodied mask is an object of shock and dissociation . . . [T]he mask, as a schematic surrogate face, cannot be understood in isolation detached from the body of the actor who was wearing it and the environment within which it performed.19


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Meineck is justified in urging a correction away from the pernicious habit, common to both theatrical and neuroscientific studies, of analyzing the face as an absolute unit of meaning. But the new materialisms suggest the mask enjoys an independent efficacy that anthropocentric and performative biases too readily obscure. True, masks “cannot be understood in isolation,” but to limit masks’ pertinent context to the kinetic actor and his environment is to unduly privilege traditional theatrical boundaries when a more expansive definition of performance may be illuminating. The shortcomings of traditional, play-­ oriented approaches are most apparent in the claim that the Greek tragic mask was “usually not presented as a disembodied object,” for this is only true if one considers the mask’s role within scripted performance and ignores the object’s enduring material life. The mask, itself, has meaning. Although they rarely appear in play-­scripts, disembodied masks were frequently encountered and represented by Athenians outside of festival performance. These experiences inevitably affected spectators’ responses to parallel images within the theater, perhaps mitigating the “shock and dissociation” Meineck postulates while highlighting the masks’ independent theatricality. In this section, I sketch the off-­stage life of theatrical masks in classical Athens, beginning with the visual record but placing emphasis on certain verbal responses that present complementary, and no less compelling, evidence for the affecting power of the disembodied mask. Distinct theatrical masks, separate from the actor’s head, enter the visual record near the middle of the fifth century in depictions of casual or partial rehearsal. Isolated masks become well-­attested in a variety of contexts near the turn of the century, appearing in such epinician scenes as the famous Pronomos Vase and a handful of other paintings and sculptural reliefs.20 Depictions of theatrical masks, arranged in one or more rows or groups, proliferate in the fourth century as a common visual trope in both vase-­painting and relief sculpture. Such imagery is crucial to our understanding of Attic theatrical culture and has been robustly studied.21 Eschewing full engagement with this developed discussion here, I call passing attention to the visual record for two reasons: first, to underline the familiarity of disembodied theatrical masks within fifth-­century Athenian visual culture, if not in the theater itself; and second, to highlight Athenians’ early and sustained fascination with the mask which, more than any other piece of theatrical equipment in these images, demands interpretation. One visual phenomenon in particular encapsulates the ontological duality of the mask and its nearness to, even identification with, the human face. This is the so-­called “melting” of masks in which distinction between actor’s face and

The Familiar Mask


artificial visage becomes impossible.22 Melting is, itself, cogent evidence for the mask’s ability to blur distinctions between person and thing, and the curious phenomenon has provoked much theorization.23 Nevertheless, the mimetic flattening of visual representation—by which human face and wooden mask equally become represented visages in paint or stone—limits the perspective vase painting can offer. The mask’s place in verbal discourse complements and complicates the picture gleaned from visual art. I call attention to what may be the earliest surviving verbal reference to the off-­stage life of theatrical masks, preserved in a short but evocative fragment from the lost Aristophanic comedy, Geras, or Old Age: (A) τίς ἂν φράσειε ποῦ ’στι τὸ Διονύσιον; (B) ὅπου τὰ μορμολυκεῖα προσκρέμαται, γύναι. (A) Who can tell me where the Dionysion is? (B) Where the theatrical-­masks (mormolukeia) are hung-­up, woman.24

What we have here, apparently, is an Athenian (Speaker B) directing a woman (A) visiting the city.25 The visitor asks directions to the Dionysion, the sacred precinct of Dionysus directly behind the skênê-wall of the theater. Her interlocutor locates the precinct not by indicating the theater, a salient location in any ancient city, but by means of a remarkable landmark, the hanging mormolukeia, which an Aristophanic scholiast elsewhere defines as “theatrical masks.”26 This fragment and other verbal and visual sources have led scholars, most notably J. R. Green, to conclude that victorious theatrical masks were prominently, if occasionally, dedicated in the precinct.27 Although singular in its overall impression, the Dionysion draws a number of comparisons in points of detail. In some ways the dedication of masks parallels the tripods also offered after competitive victory at the City Dionysia, but for dithyrambic choruses.28 But compared to tripods, theatrical equipment was a comparatively humble votive object that projected material, rather than symbolic, meaning. The bronze tripod connoted the end, rather than the means, of festival competition, and from atop its monumental marble base projected the prestige and power of the chorêgos. Masks, on the other hand, were material agents in festival victory, intimately associated with actor and mask-­maker. As such, the dedication of masks is reminiscent of votive offerings from the successful pentathlete’s kit, such as diskoi and halteres, whose efficacy was similarly crucial to competition.29 But unlike the uncertain dedicatory practice surrounding the dedication of athletic equipment (or even other comparanda, such as the “masks” unearthed at the temple of Artemis Ortheia in Sparta), the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

fragment from Geras implies that Athens’ dedicated theatrical masks were visible to passersby near the sanctuary of Dionysus, likely over a low temenos wall.30 This visibility is important, for unlike other final resting places for votive objects—which in their transition from earthly to divine possessions were variously housed, stowed, buried, or burnt—dramatic masks, like the performance they enabled and commemorated, were presented outdoors to the public as well as the god. Greek theater masks were well-­suited for public dedication. In practical terms, their rigid helmet structure and mask-­string allowed actors or walls to easily suspend the face without obscuring its front. But more telling was the mask’s affecting aura as an object. The peculiar name for the masks employed by the Athenian, mormolukeia, “bogey faces,” signals that masks shared a certain affinity with one of the principal spooks of Greek folk tradition, Mormo.31 Indeed, when explicating mormolukeion in another Aristophanic context where the word apparently denotes simply a “fright” (phobêtron), the scholiast felt compelled to inform readers that the term also signifies “ugly masks (aischra prosôpeia), both tragic and comic.”32 This note implies at least three points: (i) even when used of general frights, the (meta)theatrical resonances of mormolukeion were salient; (ii) these masks were of marked aesthetic interest, surely related to their emotional effect; (iii) the term mormolukeion was sufficiently uncommon to demand a detailed gloss and, as a result, its apparent etymology was significant in proportion to its lexical obscurity. As an early, if cheeky, term of art, mormolukeion projects an independent, aesthetically marked, and emotionally communicative identity for the dramatic mask. Each morpheme of the term must have been suggestive for Athenian audiences, but our interest in mormolukeion lies not in the monstrous stem but rather its suffix, -eion, closely aligned with the term gorgoneion.33 The gorgoneion, or “Medusa-­head,” was pervasive in Athenian iconography; few faces were more frequently seen in the city. Like the theatrical mask, the gorgoneion and its associated myth offer a paradigm or symbol for vibrant matter. For although no longer “alive” in the traditional sense, the gorgon’s face remained a thing gifted with remarkable, autonomous power. As Perseus, who could not fully control the head, nevertheless found it profitable to weaponize the gorgoneion, the word mormolukeion may imply that Athenians also saw potential in exploiting the mask’s independent agency. Furthermore, mormolukeion stands as fifth-­century precedent for prosôpeion, the term eventually introduced to distinguish between human face and theatrical mask. Although prosôpeion reflects discomfiture with the semantic and ontological ambiguity of prosôpon, as David Wiles points out,

The Familiar Mask


it is significant that such disambiguation did not occur until well after the fifth century.34 In the period of drama documented in our texts, then, the available lexicon either conflated masks with general “theatrical gear” (skeuê) or with the human face (prosôpon)—a point of potential mimetic concern, to which we return below. In such a semantic field, mormolukeion stands out as the word for mask most associated with emotional impact. For true believers in the theater like Aristophanes, the mask seems to have been, above all, an affecting face. Before moving on from the Geras fragment we may consider how it locates off-­stage masks within the Athenian cityscape. The Dionysion’s proximity to the theater and other hodological features in the city endowed the materials showcased there with particular prominence and meaning. Those approaching the theater from the south or east would have encountered the precinct near their journey’s end, where the masks not only commemorated past victory but also prepared theatergoers for the performances about to begin.35 Indeed, masks in the Dionysion visually complemented the verbal proagôn presented across the street in the Odeion, where poets and actors, apparently without the aid of costumes, introduced their dramatic program to the public.36 Festival attendees thus viewed materials from their theater’s past as they were asked to visualize its future. Moreover, dedicated masks were not encountered only around the time of dramatic festivals. It is telling that the Dionysion intersects with all five types of urban forms Kevin Lynch isolates in his 1960 book The Image and the City, namely: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks.37 Located along the innermost path around the acropolis, the southern and eastern walls of the Dionysion mark the edge not only of the sacred precinct, but also the de facto performance district of Athens. At the intersection of three roads, including the so-­called “Road of Tripods” whose monumental dedications have already been mentioned, the Dionysion stood beside a major node of transit and tourism. Such locational features explain why dedicated masks, as the Geras fragment suggests, served as a ready landmark for visitors at any time of year. Few places in Athens offered such exposure. Publicizing comedy and tragedy through their material presence, masks made these emergent genres accessible to new and wider audiences. It may be that the words of another Aristophanic fragment, “Ever since I knew the comedic mormolukeion . . .” (ἀφ’ οὗ κωμῳδικὸν μορμολυκεῖον ἔγνων fr. 31 K.-A.), hark back not to performance but to an early encounter with masks at the Dionysion. For many—foreign visitors, children, slaves, women, and more—masks afforded accessible, material introductions to Athenian theater and its aesthetics. The peculiar bogey-­faces naturally prompted discussion and debate, serving as


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

catalysts for—indeed, material agents within—ongoing theatrical discourse and definition. This public display of dedicated masks and its later reception, especially in sculptural art, no doubt contributed to the metaphorical expansion of prosôpon to signify not simply “mask” or “face” but literary “character,” as in the paratextual tradition of prefacing the work with ta tou dramatos prosôpa, or in its Latin calque, the dramatis personae—literally, “the faces of the drama.”38 Free from the movements of the actor, it was in the Dionysion that the mask could most obviously transform into a literary persona, a fictional “person” with an existence independent of performance. By the early fourth century, sculptors drew upon the well-­known image of the precinct’s masks when fashioning monumental simulacra in stone, even when representing domestic environments such as the homes of theater-­makers or even of Dionysus himself.39 The Dionysion then, as much as the adjacent theater, seems to have been the birthplace of the symbolic correspondence, still in effect, between disembodied masks and the performing arts. If the Dionysion was a prominent and public off-­stage site for masks, it was hardly the only space they were encountered. For several reasons, the vast majority of theatrical equipment was not dedicated but privately stored.40 Although less accessible than their votive counterparts, private masks, too, were neglected by Athenians neither in daily life nor in the imagination. Tragedy in the fifth century was at some level community theater, its practitioners visible and integrated members of the polity. Theater-­makers’ homes housed the materials that enabled and reflected their residents’ creative lives. Glimpses of dramatic objects in domestic contexts stoked popular fascination, vividly precipitating particular concerns out of the nebulous interests and anxieties attending Athens’ theatrical enterprise. Theatrical materials are famously integral to the Aristophanic scenes set at the homes of the tragedians Euripides, in Acharnians, and Agathon, in Thesmophoriazusae, where costumes and properties proliferate, shaping—often in quite striking fashion—poets’ domestic lives.41 Agathon’s razor, for instance, not only mocks his supposed effeminacy, but materializes broader cultural anxieties over cross-­gendered performance enabled by the mask.42 Likewise, the rag-­and-bone costume shop Euripides effectively runs out of his home satirizes tragedy’s penchant for “playing the other” in various guises. Old Comedy humorously exaggerates a general cultural principle: objects associated with theater-­makers were readily imbued with theatrical meaning.43 Although applicable to all materials (and even, in the reductio ad absurdum of Acharnians, to small and broken cups) this metaphor was anchored, above all, by the mask.

The Familiar Mask


Whether hanging, resting, or held, masks played crucial iconographic roles in the visual representation of playwrights’ homes. It is presumably on account of the practical difficulties of stacking masks in performance that these symbolic objects are conspicuously absent from these Aristophanic scenes. Even so, Old Comedy and sculpture both suggest that to understand the material afterlives of theatrical gear one must look, if only in the imagination, into playwrights’ homes. Again, rather than engage with the well-­studied visual evidence here, I call attention to an underappreciated verbal account of obscure origin but popular currency that illustrates the agency of masks, as autonomous materials, in domestic contexts. A short Aesopic fable, transmitted in multiple versions under the heading “The Fox to the Mask,” briefly encapsulates the peculiar impression left by the dramatic visage.44 The text of the Aesopica is famously mangled, and this fable is transmitted with multiple settings, including the home of an actor as well as the workshop of a sculptor who has fashioned a stone mask. Despite Aesop’s popularity in fifth-­century Athens, the origins of this multitextual fable should almost certainly be placed in the fourth century or later. Nevertheless, its details and general contours are suggestive. In the version set at the actor’s home, the fox inspects “each item of his (sc., the actor’s) equipment (σκευῶν)” before settling upon the “well-­made” mask, which is singled out among the many items of theatrical realia as worthy of remark. Whether in the actor’s home or sculptor’s workshop, the fable ends with the fox addressing the mask, remarking with characteristic wit upon the “mindlessness” (ἐγκέφαλον οὐχ ἔχει) of “such a head” (οἵα κεφαλή). Whether of stone or a more portable material, the mask serves as a ready symbol for vanity due to the tensions inherent to the object. It demands to be regarded both as a person with an interior life as well as a superficial, inanimate thing. Tellingly, the mask’s inability to fulfill the conditions of personhood is not attributed to its disembodied or immobile state, but rather its “mindlessness,” which in this context refers to its lack of speech rather than its hollow interior. Yet the charge of “mindlessness” might also be laid upon the many other mute costumes and properties inspected by the fox. The mask materializes, with particular power and clarity, the ontological duality of all theatrical equipment. This Aesopic moment, framed in response to similar scenes from Old Comedy, is likely to have been influenced by satyr play as well. In a much-­ discussed papyrus fragment of Aeschylus’s Theoroi or Isthmiastae, members of the satyr Chorus encounter “images” (εἰκούς) that remarkably mirror their own appearance. Although there is debate over the precise meaning of εἰκούς, it has


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

been compellingly argued that these images were realized with theatrical masks.45 If so, as in the Aesopic fable, a chief distinction made between living and artificial heads, twice emphasized by the satyr Chorus, is the latter’s silence: “It lacks only a voice” (φωνῆς δεῖ μονον) the satyrs observe, calling it a “voiceless herald” (κήρυκ’ ἄναυδον).46 Both Theoroi and the Aesopic narrative share the conceit that masks are persons in all but speech: embodiment and movement have little bearing on the objects’ vitality.47 The uncanny resemblance of these silent satyr faces does more than create a sense of shock and dissociation. The masks’ verisimilitude calls familial relations to mind. Among the many aesthetic ironies of satyr play, these grotesque faces are imagined as beloved objects. A hypothetical encounter envisioned by the chorus foregrounds the familiar reception of these affecting visages: τῇ μητρὶ τἠμῇ πράγματ᾽ ἂν παρασχέθοι· ἰδοῦσα γάρ νιν ἂν σαφῶς τρέποιτ᾽ ἂν αἰάζοιτό θ᾽ ὡς δοκοῦσ᾽ ἔμ᾽ εἶναι, τὸν ἐξέθρεψεν· οὕτως ἐμφερὴς ὅδ᾽ ἐστίν. This business would not sit well with my mother: if she were to get a good look at it, she would turn away and wail, believing it was me, the one she raised—that’s how much this is like me.48

These lines have attracted attention as evidence for realism in fifth-­century Greek aesthetics, leaving the familial relations that structure the recognition underappreciated.49 As will be shown below, a mother’s connection to her child’s face was a regular, if not the supreme, means of expressing familial attachment in tragedy, where the intimate connections between the two, from nursing to adulthood, was treated as if a relationship in its own right. A mother’s false recognition of her child’s face served therefore not only as supreme proof of visual identity or trompe l’œil effects, but also further evidence for the strong emotive connections between face and family, mask and viewer. Eventually it is suggested that these remarkable images be pinned upon the Isthmian temple of Poseidon, represented in the theater by the skênê wall. There these visages would have called to mind the victorious dramatic masks retired just meters behind and below the skênê in the Dionysion. The satyrs suppose that their faces, once hung in the holy precinct, will “hold fast travelers on the road,” as likely replicating the effect of dedicated theatrical masks as apotropaic antefixes, to which these faces have been compared.50 Despite the satyrs’ initial amazement, in the end even these disembodied satyr faces are revealed to be familiar objects, capable of

The Familiar Mask


convincing a mother she beholds her son and of persuading an Athenian audience that, as so often, the topsy-­turvy mythical world of the satyrs has immediate connections to their own cultural practices.

Familiar masks in tragedy The face is a frequent topic of conversation and concern in tragedy. Attic tragedies called frequent attention to their masks, although never with the overt meta-­theatricality observed in Aeschylus’s Theoroi.51 Again, where the well-­ studied visual evidence is firm, materialist approaches to verbal sources yield pertinent results. But where to begin? Tragedy enjoyed a rich lexicon for referring to the face and facial expression, including especially omma and prosôpon, but also, to a lesser extent, forms of opsis, blemma, derkomai, and other still more tangential words.52 References to heads, too, inevitably call attention to the helmet mask. It is intriguing that, already in the fifth century, kephalê and kara stood in a synecdochal relationship to the entire individual, much as prosôpon would later come to do. Indeed, kara was employed uniquely in tragedy to signify not just any individual, but a beloved person.53 Such expressions not only reflect the broad metaphorical use of corporeal vocabulary in ancient Greek and its affective associations, but also must have resonated materially within embodied and costumed dramatic performance, where such signifiers inevitably directed spectators’ attention to actors and objects onstage. Of the terms listed above for face or head, the metatheatrical overtones of prosôpon, given its use as a technical term for mask, pose a unique set of issues. It is natural to wonder, alongside Edith Hall, whether the use of the word prosôpon called attention to the artificiality of the performance mask.54 Tragedians, at any rate, appear not to have avoided the word but, on the contrary, deployed prosôpon frequently, especially in scenes where emotion is a central concern. Moments of extreme grief, shame, and anger are often climactic and therefore fragile in performance, where a misspoken word or malfunctioning stage property might derail a carefully constructed sequence building to this emotional crescendo. The tragic prosôpon thus sits at the crux of the so-­called “paradox of fiction,” that is, the apparent fact that audiences feel a strong emotional response to events they know to be fictional and, therefore, logically inappropriate for such a powerful response.55 How the prosôpon manages this crucial dramatic role is an issue of no small importance for understanding the emotions in tragedy.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

When theorizing the mask’s connections to tragic emotions, earlier generations of scholars problematized the material’s static form. However, today it is generally accepted that word, image, and movement collaborate to lend emotions, especially transient ones, to the mask.56 Yet such a multi-­causal explanation risks effacing the mask’s independent contributions to the scene. As the unique semantics of prosôpon may allow us to trace the mask’s effects in the text, it will be useful to consider those moments in tragedy when the mask does not move upon a dynamic actor, but nevertheless drives actions or emotional responses within the scene with what has been called an “action force.”57 Isolating the mask’s efficacy in tragedy puts us closer to resolving an important material aspect of the broader paradox of fiction central to tragedy’s function.58 One such moment of the mask’s autonomy has already been mentioned. The head of Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae, sundered from his body and paraded across the stage by his mother Agave, is by any account an exceptional one. There is much to support the claim that the mask was both shocking and dissociative. The head’s separation from body is repeatedly emphasized and, in response to her father Cadmus’s question, “Whose face (prosôpon) do you hold in your hands?” a delirious Agave replies, “A lion’s, or so the huntresses said” (1277–78). Agave’s ravings divorce the mask, not only from Pentheus’s former character, but even from his humanity.59 However, the surrounding discourse connects Pentheus’s face to others’: the scene is dense with facial references (opsis 1232; ommata 1252; omma 1264), and Agave’s devastating recognition ultimately hinges upon her looking at the head anew. Realizing with horror that it is in fact “the head of Pentheus” (Πενθέως . . . κάρα 1284) she holds in her hand, Agave beholds an uncanny, but nevertheless familial and dear object, an intimacy morbidly highlighted by the uniquely tragic periphrasis involving kara. Pentheus’s mask is exceptional, but it is only the macabre realization of tragedy’s widespread isolation of the face as a discrete object of meaning and, especially, mourning. Agave grieves over her child as any tragic mother would, but the unparalleled staging casts the independent affecting power of the mask into stark relief. Agave’s piteous recognition of her son’s face mirrors several other intimate moments in Euripidean drama.60 A striking parallel occurs in the remarkable scene in Medea in which the eponymous mother prematurely mourns her still-­ living sons. Medea apostrophizes the parts of their bodies she will soon bloody: “O dearest hand, dearest too to me the mouth, and form, and noble face of my children” (ὦ φιλτάτη χείρ, φίλτατον δέ μοι στόμα / καὶ σχῆμα καὶ πρόσωπον εὐγενὲς τέκνων 1071–72). With such pathetic anatomization, Medea touches

The Familiar Mask


(and is touched by) individual body parts, each integral to (but also autonomous within) the whole.61 As in Bacchae, individual body parts are objectified, but become no less vital on account of their conceptual separation. Of these bodily sites of affect, the face receives special emphasis here from its final position, strengthened by an adjective.62 That the child’s face is eugenes, “noble” but literally “well-­born,” underscores its familial attachment. This is not the first moment of intimate contact onstage between mother and sons in Medea, but it will be the last. Where forms of omma had previously been used of the children’s faces and expressions, at this ultimate farewell, the playwright does not shrink from using prosôpon despite its material and metatheatrical resonances. As Florence Yoon has suggested, “[d]ramatically speaking, children are consistently objectified; we might say that children, particularly the mute ones, are essentially stage properties.”63 The object-­like nature of the children may be reinforced by Euripides’ word-­choice at this final moment, but it hardly prevents the scene from reaching its emotional crest. If in their silence the children’s faces are perhaps closer to dramatic objects than persons, they are nonetheless beloved materials, their masks serving as visual focus and emotional fulcrum in the scene. Lament over dying offspring takes a more narratively typical yet scenically grotesque form in Trojan Women. In that play, Hecuba, aged queen of fallen Troy, withstands waves of misfortune that reach their (and the play’s) climax in the arrival of the corpse of Astyanax, the son of Hecuba’s son, Hector. Troy’s young scion, having been flung from the city’s walls, is carried onstage upon his father’s shield.64 Delivering a funeral speech over the child full of vitriol towards the Greeks, Hecuba eventually turns to her grandson’s gruesome appearance. Like Medea and Agave, Hecuba enumerates specific body parts (hands, lips) as focal points of affective attachment.65 Then, in a grisly description, Hecuba notes how Troy’s walls have shorn the hair from Astyanax’s head (1173), and where she once had kissed his face, “there gore smiles out of the broken bones, that I may not conceal the ugliness of it” (1176–77).66 Although attached to a body, this mask’s presence is not unlike Pentheus’s head, acting as a visual focal point of great emotional impact. Furthermore, as in Medea, a conceptually anatomized body brackets the mask’s independent power. Hecuba’s gruesome description certainly paints the scene, but the material presence of the still and silent mask produces its own effects. Some might dismiss the masks of children or the dead as marginal cases, but the independent efficacy of the mask is observed upon major characters as well. Such autonomy is twice on display in Alcestis, first in the titular heroine’s dying


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

moments and again at her revivified return to the stage. Seconds before her remarkable onstage death, Admetus plaintively instructs Alcestis, “Lift up your face, don’t leave your children” (ὄρθου πρόσωπον, μὴ λίπῃς παῖδας σέθεν 388). The juxtaposition of commands nearly implies that, onstage, to look upon another is life. The visible face’s connections to life are later reinforced, when the Chorus sympathizes with Admetus’s loss, remarking: “No more to look upon the face of your dear wife is painful” (τὸ μήποτ᾽εἰσιδεῖν φιλίας ἀλόχου / πρόσωπον σ᾽ ἔσαντα λυπρόν 876–77). It may be significant that prosôpon, not omma, is used at these moments, for it is arguably Alcestis’s material representation, and not merely her imagined body, that is the object of Admetus’s longing.67 So much is insinuated by Admetus’s bizarre promise to fashion a statue after his wife’s image (δέμας τὸ σὸν / εἰκασθέν 348–49) with which he will share his bed.68 At the play’s end, Herakles deceptively leads a veiled and silent Alcestis back onto the stage and compels Admetus to raise the veil to expose the woman’s face. However, the widower turns away as he does so, reaching out “as if cutting off the Gorgon’s head” (Γοργόν᾽ ὡς καρατομῶν 1118). Even without looking, Admetus demonstrates through his evocative simile and careful avoidance of the woman’s gaze the dramatic efficacy of even a silent, immobile mask. To conclude this series of Euripidean vignettes, we turn to Hippolytus, a play deeply concerned with “saving face” and the mask’s operations at the intersections of emotion, identity, and vitality.69 Beholding the love-­sick Phaedra, whose lassitude parallels that of the dying Alcestis, the Chorus wonder aloud “How can he (=Theseus), when he looks upon her face, not take this as a sign?” (ὁ δ᾽ ἐς πρόσωπον οὐ τεκμαίρεται βλέπων; 280). Although the prosôpon is here framed in semiotic language, the Chorus implies that Theseus’s response to the wan complexion of his wife is callous. In tragedy, the face of a loved one is rarely neutral, but a sight that sparks either pleasure or pain. At the play’s end, the mangled body of Hippolytus, who had earlier hidden his prosôpon from his father’s false accusations, makes a last request: “I’m dying, father. Cover my face, quickly, with my robes” (ὄλωλα γάρ, πάτερ. / κρύψον δὲ μου πρόσωπον ὡς τάχος πέπλοις 1457–58). As observed in Alcestis, to conceal the mask is tantamount to deleting the character onstage.70 The theatrical impulse to cover the defunct mask is not unlike the urge to close the eyes or cover the face of the human dead: even in the stillness of death, faces remain an affecting presence, albeit of an uncanny and uncomfortable impression. And yet the mask portraying Hippolytus may not have remained covered for long. The tetralogy in which the play appeared was one of Euripides’ few festival entries we know to have won first prize at the City Dionysia. Hippolytus’s mask may have been covered on stage,

The Familiar Mask


only to be revealed days when dedicated in the Dionysion. Like Herakles in Alcestis, competitive victory had the power to bring a dramatis persona back from the dead. This study of Athenian dramatic masks has made two interrelated points: first, that masks enjoyed a familiar off-­stage life in late fifth-­century Athens, and second, that this enduring, material life informed responses to masks’ on-­stage appearances, especially when their dramatic function was independent from actors and their movements. Masks developed close and abiding connections with those whose space, goals, and moments they shared. Even in the wake of an emergent professionalism in the latter half of the fifth century, materials supporting Dionysian performance were hardly confined to theater spaces or a cadre of thespians. Athenians knew the performers behind the mask, but they knew the masks as well. Many had themselves danced for Dionysus under this material guise. Their intimate relations with these exceptional materials are reflected in the plays themselves, where masks are trusted to act their own parts well even in crucial but fragile scenes of heightened emotion. Through their long and close cohabitation with these dramatic materials, Athenians—like the Pygmalion-­figure Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady—had “grown accustomed” to their theatrical faces. Nevertheless, they seem rarely to have exoticized or eroticized their masks, in the manner William T. Vollmann supposes for Noh. Rather, it is a sense of close familiarity, of the sort Mitsue Nakamura expresses towards her creations, that pervades the ancient evidence. These uncanny materials remained obstinately familiar, even as they arrested attention and provoked wonder. For Athenians, the dramatic mask was an object of love, fear, and intimacy as much as it was a tool for performance or an objet d’art.


The Other Side of the Mirror Reflection and Reversal in Euripides’ Hecuba1 Ava Shirazi

In his 1938 commentary on Euripides’ Hecuba, F. W. King characterizes one of the play’s most mesmerizing choral lines as “a picturesque description of the mysteries of the world of the looking-­glass, that reminds us of Alice Through the Looking-Glass.”2 King’s note refers to the mystifying moment in the third stasimon when the Chorus sings of a woman “gazing into the endless light of a golden mirror” (χρυσέων ἐνόπτρων λεύσσουσ’ ἀτέρμονας εἰς αὐγάς 925). His brief yet intuitive comparison captures an enigmatic force in the passage, in which the woman seems both lost in and transformed by her mirror experience. But what is it about the mirror that suggests a world beyond its surface—one which the viewer, like Alice, can enter through the looking glass?3 Why does the object create the impression of an abyss or of “bottomless depths”?4 In this chapter, I seek to answer these questions through a close reading of this passage in light of the materiality of mirrors and their resonances in the cultural imaginary of classical Athens. I intend to bring out the affective charge of these objects and connect them with tragic aesthetics. Attending to the fine details of a dense textual surface, I hope to recapture the affective intensities reflected by the literary object, considering visual comparanda that can help us feel the material complexity of the tragic mirror, the sensory and emotional energies it seductively and ominously releases through its smooth appearance. Euripides’ brief description of the woman and her mirror is at the heart of a passage that brims with expressions of subjectivity. In a song performed by a group of Trojan women, an individual woman’s perspective5 is established through the first-­person voice and through descriptions of her sensory experiences. Her point of view is expressed through verbs of seeing, repeated at the most emotionally charged moments in the ode: the woman looks back at her destroyed city, where


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

she saw her husband killed, a man who himself could not see the enemy coming.6 Meanwhile, in the most intimate instantiation of perspective in the stasimon, the woman gazes (λεύσσουσ’) at her golden mirror. The narrative evokes other senses, such as sound, touch, smell, and taste, through the description of dancing, music, and feasts. But it is the act of looking into the mirror—a most ordinary practice— that is presented in the most extraordinary way. In order to illuminate the enigma of the Euripidean line, which has given pause to both ancient and modern critics, we must consider the materiality that motivates its imagery. Yet it is not enough simply to identify the stuff out of which mirrors were made (bronze) and the places in which they were used (the gynaeceum). Rather, we need to consider how classical culture as a whole—that is in both the verbal and the visual arts—conceived of the mirror as an object along with the experience this object generated.7

Reflection and the senses In the first person, the Chorus sings of a quintessential moment between a husband and wife, who, after a party, retire to their chambers and prepare for bed. The tranquil moment, however, is immediately disrupted by shouts from the city announcing the invasion of the Greek army. In a cinematic montage of the final chain of events, the Chorus leaves us with images of a futile supplication, a husband’s murder, and, from a captor’s ship, a glance back at a destroyed city (914–32): μεσονύκτιος ὠλλύμαν, ἦμος ἐκ δείπνων ὕπνος ἡδὺς ἐπ’ ὄσσοις σκίδναται, μολπᾶν δ’ ἄπο καὶ χοροποιὸν θυσίαν καταπαύσας πόσις ἐν θαλάμοις ἔκει  το, ξυστὸν δ’ ἐπὶ πασσάλῳ, ναύταν οὐκέθ’ ὁρῶν ὅμιλον Τροίαν Ἰλιάδ’ ἐμβεβῶτα. ἐγὼ δὲ πλόκαμον ἀναδέτοις μίτραισιν ἐρρυθμιζόμαν χρυσέων ἐνόπτρων λεύσσουσ’ ἀτέρμονας εἰς αὐγάς, ἐπιδέμνιος ὡς πέσοιμ’ ἐς εὐνάν. ἀνὰ δὲ κέλαδος ἔμολε πόλιν· κέλευσμα δ’ ἦν κατ’ ἄστυ Τροίας τόδ’· Ὦ παῖδες Ἑλλάνων, πότε δὴ πότε τὰν





The Other Side of the Mirror


Ἰλιάδα σκοπιὰν πέρσαντες ἥξετ’ οἴκους; In the middle of the night I lost my life, when after the feast sweet sleep strewed over my eyes. After the songs, after the dance and sacrifice were over, my husband took rest in the bedroom, with his spear upon its peg, no longer seeing that the naval horde had arrived at Troy. I was arranging my hair in a headband tied up, gazing into the endless light of my golden mirror, so that I might fall in rest upon my marriage bed. Clamor then rose in the city and this command went down through the town of Troy: “O sons of Hellas, when, when, will you lay waste to the peak of Ilium and go back to your homes?”

In just two words (μεσονύκτιος ὠλλύμαν) the woman begins and at the same time ends her story. While μεσονύκτιος anticipates tranquillity, ὠλλύμαν, as Judith Mossman notes, “shatters the peace.”8 This contrast between serenity and destruction is maintained and elaborated in the rest of the narrative. The descriptions of dinner, sweet sleep, songs, dancing, and sacrifices blend together to create a dizzying image. The sensory descriptions of the party come and go, but the song then dwells on the image of a husband in bed, unarmed and unaware of the danger to come. At this point, the narrative finds rest in the boudoir—in the final image of the woman preparing for sleep as she arranges her hair in a headband in front of her golden mirror. The image of the woman braiding her hair is conveyed through the verb ῥυθμίζειν, reflecting the actions of the Chorus, whose own rhythmic movements would perhaps enact it. The verb evokes both the tactile and the aural: while the audience would hear the movements of the Chorus, they would be imagining and feeling the steady rhythm of the woman’s hands moving through her hair. It is amid this rhythmic and almost hypnotic movement that the woman gazes into the depths of her golden mirror. In the women’s beautification routines depicted on thousands of Attic and South Italian vessels, dating from the late sixth through the fourth century BCE, the mirror is central, signifying the preparation, presentation, and perception of feminine beauty. I use “beautification” to identify the more general representation of a woman at her toilette, both “doing” and “undoing” beauty. The figures below are two indicative examples. Painters often limit the setting of these routines to the gynaeceum, the women’s quarters of the house, and thus the mood is suffused with serene domesticity.9 The woman and her mirror are the central unit in such


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

depictions; but the process is not imagined as a visual act alone—rather beautification is often represented as an extension of the woman’s entire sensory apparatus. In Fig.  6.1, for example, we see the focused and intimate gaze the female figure directs towards her mirror and the way she holds it tightly in one hand while twisting the curls of her hair in the other. The gentle folds and contouring fabrics of her clothes follow the texture of her hair and let our eyes move from the mirror and the face down toward the rest of the body. Figure 6.2

Fig. 6.1  Red figure amphoriskos. 450–400 BCE. Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, V537. Attributed to Eretria Painter by Beazley. Beazley Vase Number 216946.

Fig. 6.2  The Tithonos Painter. Oil flask (lekythos). Greek, late archaic or early classical period, about 480 BCE. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 00.340. Beazley Vase Number 203180.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

is a very similar representation, but with slight variations. The standing woman is also lost in a moment of reflection as she looks into her mirror. This time, her hand is directed toward her hair, anticipating the moment of contact, rather than representing it directly. In both figures, the mirror focalizes a particular aspect of the woman’s physical features—her hair.10 The act of intense visual contemplation is matched by a tactile experience: while one hand holds the mirror, the other is directed toward the hair, so that vision and touch seem to reflect one another. Touch in fact is central to seeing in the mirror. In the classical period, mirrors had to be held, as we see in the vase paintings above;11 in holding the mirror in her outstretched hand, almost as if it were an extension of her body, the woman interacts with it through both vision and touch. Meanwhile, in both images, the scent of perfume is insinuated by the alabastron hanging on the wall. Thus, as vision is entangled with touch, scent lingers in the background. The Euripidean ode also posits a connection between sight and the other senses. The verb ῥυθμίζειν, used to describe the act of braiding the hair, matches the intensity of λεύσσειν so as to connect vision and touch;12 ῥυθμίζειν also adds a “rhythmical” layering that can be both felt and heard.

Reflection and light The parallelism between the mirror and the woman’s gaze establishes a seemingly unbreakable connection so that she appears to be absorbed by the image in the reflective surface (as we see in Figs. 6.1 and 6.2).13 Yet we are left to wonder what she actually sees on the reflective surface. Classical poets and painters are generally less concerned with the actual reflection in the mirror,14 than with what it feels like (both in the physical and mental senses) to be in the presence of the material object.15 It is precisely this presence that Euripides explores (and exploits) in the third stasimon of Hecuba through the image of a woman, her mirror, and its light. Bronze has always been an important metal for thinking about light, but before bronze reflected light, it emitted it. While mirrors are seldom seen in early Greek literature, bronze itself is everywhere, especially in Homer, where the experience with bronze is remarkably sensitive to light. The light of bronze often parallels the brilliance of fire. In the Iliad, for example, the Homeric poet compares the experience of bronze to a fervid forest fire, visible from a bird’s eye view: the light (αὐγή) of fire shines (φαίνεται) in much the same way as a dazzling

The Other Side of the Mirror


gleam (αἴγλη παμφανόωσα) comes out from magnificent bronze (ἀπὸ χαλκοῦ θεσπεσίοιο).16 The comparison highlights the extraordinary reddish hues of bronze while bringing to mind the warmth produced by this collision of sunlight and metal. What is more, the simile visualizes the relationship of fire and bronze with light: the metal and the element are similar in the radiance they project outwards. Light is the most important element in the visual experience of bronze in the world of Homeric poetry. As the production of bronze mirrors proliferates in the late archaic and classical period, bronze is now also a producer of images. However, its light is not lost. For example, in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia,17 we find bronze in the familiar Homeric setting of armor and warfare. Like the heroes of the Iliad, the men of Cyrus’s army are adorned in bronze (χαλκός): the men are wearing bronze corselets, bronze helmets; even their horses are armed with frontlets, breast-­pieces, and thigh-­pieces of bronze. As for the leader himself, Xenophon tells us, his arms “differed from those of the rest in this only, that while the rest were overlaid with a gold-­like color (τῷ χρυσοειδεῖ χρώματι), Cyrus’s arms flashed like a mirror (ὥσπερ κάτοπτρον ἐξέλαμπεν).” The men’s bronze armor is seemingly gilded (τῷ χρυσοειδεῖ χρώματι) creating the image of an even finer metal on top of the already impressive bronze. But, for Xenophon, amid the sight of a golden army, Cyrus’s bronze armor is the sight to see, a bronze which not only shines forth light, but does so like a mirror. The armor of Cyrus, unlike that of the Homeric heroes, is no longer like fire, merely blazing in light. But it possesses a quality now best captured by another bronze object, the mirror. This does not mean that Cyrus’s armor was necessarily reflective but that the technology of the mirror, now both widely available and open to newer conceptualizations in the classical world, had replaced the way one thought about the relationship between light and bronze. No longer is bronze in general the material for thinking about light but the mirror in particular is becoming the bronze object for experiencing and understanding reflections in light. Perhaps one of the most telling—yet brief—examples of “reflection as light” in classical thought is a short passage from Aristophanes’ Clouds where Strepsiades imagines having a witch to “pull down the moon at night and then lock it up in a round case, as if it were a mirror (ὥσπερ κάτροπτον)” (749–52). By likening the light of the captured moon to the light captured in a bronze mirror,18 Strepsiades is highlighting the brilliant light produced by a bronze surface. Moreover, by comparing the bronze mirror to a moon, Aristophanes emphasizes the importance of mirrors as reflectors of light—just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, rather than its image.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The interest in bronze as a material capable of emitting light was not only inspired by the interaction with mirrors but it was also depicted on their surfaces. Figure 6.3, for example, is a bronze Etruscan mirror, on the back of which we see an engraved figure.19 Here, we see a face in profile, framed by a series of designs.

Fig. 6.3  Mirror Etruscan. Hellenistic period. Bronze. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Catharine Page Perkins Fund 95.72.

The Other Side of the Mirror


The fourth circle, the one closest to the face, is a circle of emanating rays. This last band highlights the face of the man, generally identified as the sun god, Helios. The choice of the sun god as the central subject and the depiction of the reflecting rays around his face are significant. Not only is the subject of reflection, the face, highlighted, but so is the element of light which makes its revelation possible. Light would be central to the function of the mirror. Given the bronze surface and the lack of artificial light in antiquity, proper lighting would be crucial if a viewer wanted to see her own reflection. The high polish of the bronze, moreover, as well as its textured points, such as the engraved circles on the back, would have caught light in different and dynamic ways. The frame of emanating rays surrounding Helios’s face is the very experience of light and bronze that classical thinkers also articulate: the experience of light as emanating from a bronze surface.20 Figure 6.3 reminds us that the rays of the mirror could perhaps parallel those of the sun. And in fact, Hecuba also makes this very connection between the mirror and the sun through the shared vocabulary and images of the second and third stasima. While lamenting Paris’s disastrous decision to pursue his wife in the second ode, the Chorus describes Helen as “the fairest woman the gold-­ shining sun illuminates” (. . .τὰν / καλλίσταν ὁ χρυσοφαὴς / Ἅλιος αὐγάζει 635– 37). The similarity between these lines and 924–25 in the third stasimon has hardly been noted, even though the parallel verbal expressions are crucial for our interpretation of the mirror scene.21 The description of the sun as golden (χρυσοφαής) should remind us of the “golden” (χρύσεος) mirror in the third stasimon. Golden, in both instances, signifies color, though it more importantly points to the impression of light that is the cause of this “color.” Much as the sun illuminates (αὐγάζει) the beauty of Helen, the mirror’s rays (αὐγαί) also shine upon the woman’s face. The woman and her mirror, then, emerge as a microcosm of the grander image of Helen and the sun. And while the sun illuminates Helen’s beauty for all to see, the mirror’s light gives the woman an up-­close experience of herself and her circumstances. By now, we have begun to see how the relationship between bronze and light motivates Euripides’ verbal expressions in the mirror lines. But this leads us to the issue of the highly debated phrase λεύσσουσ’ ἀτέρμονας εἰς αὐγάς, “gazing at the endless light.” Commentators generally single out this phrase as the most difficult in the ode.22 Most interpretations focus on four problems: (1) the use of the plural mirrors (ἔνοπτρα) where one would expect the singular; (2) the use of the adjective “golden” (χρύσεος) to describe the mirror(s); (3) the meaning of the adjective ἀτέρμων, generally meaning “boundless”; and (4) the exact meaning


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

of αὐγαί, “rays,” which is usually (though not always) connected to the problem of its preceding adjective, “boundless.” The genitive plural of ἔνοπτρα is a tragic (i.e., poetic) plural. Most scholars resolve the issue of the “golden” mirror by taking the adjective as a signifier of Trojan luxury. The light of the mirror was often imagined to exude a warmth and a brilliance similar to that of gold or even the sun. The metal could even surpass gold in its ability to radiate a beautiful light, as we saw in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, all while exuding a warmth comparable to that of fire, as we saw in the Homeric example. In the Euripidean lines, then, the adjective “golden” is much more than a signifier of Trojan luxury. Even if Euripides does have an actual golden mirror in mind, the adjective is not only a token of material splendor but also evocative of the surreal experiences so frequently associated with the light-­emitting mirror. The description of the mirror’s “endless rays of light,” moreover, only obscures the boundary between χρύσεος, as meaning “gold” (i.e., as indicating a material entity) and as meaning “golden” (i.e., as describing an effect between bronze and light). As for αὐγαί, the noun, its verb form, and other words of light, are common in verbal descriptions of bronze and the bronze mirror. In all instances, the vocabulary of rays suggests a light that is emanating from a bronze surface, much like the projecting rays of the sun. This is not to say that the woman looking into a bronze mirror would be blinded by a stream of light, but that in the classical imaginary, the experience with a bronze mirror was one where the emission of light was considered a key attribute, as if to imply that one’s interaction with a mirror was parallel to gazing at the sun: both illuminate via their light.23 The debate about ἀτέρμων dates back to antiquity: a scholion glosses ἀτέρμων as “circular” (περιφερής and κυκλοτερής) suggesting that the word refers to the shape of the mirror.24 Circles, after all, have no real end. Most modern critics have taken issue with this gloss, pointing out that there are no attested uses for ἀτέρμων in this sense, a word which means “boundless” rather than circular.25 The answer, I believe, has already been elucidated through the discussion of the materiality of Greek mirrors. The impression of a light-­emitting surface is only enhanced by the adjective, which, I believe, describes the endless and overpowering sense of illumination associated with the bronze mirror.26 The Euripidean articulation of the mirror experience, then, draws upon broader cultural conceptualizations of bronze and light. Yet the location of these lines at a climactic moment in the ode—that is, their position immediately after the festivities but preceding the destruction of the city—adds a sense of mystery and suspense. We feel that the woman is at once lost in the light and

The Other Side of the Mirror


depth of her mirror, but we also sense a foreshadowing of what this fateful night has in store for her. One can now see why these lines reminded King of Alice’s transformative experience through the looking glass. Yet unlike Alice, the Trojan woman does not go beyond the mirror27 into a new world; rather it is as if the mirror is suddenly flipped so that the woman is pulled out from the depths of meditative reflection into a world of destruction. Immediately following the mirror lines, a voice abruptly announces the arrival of the Greeks, and the bedroom is no longer a safe place but a space for unheeded supplications28 and murder. One imagines the light of the mirror now to reflect the fire of the burning city, the sounds of singing and dancing to have turned into the clamor of chaos—in short that all the beautiful and sensory moments evoked and epitomized in the description of the woman and her mirror are now completely reversed.

Reflection, reversal, and tragic aesthetics While the third stasimon of Hecuba is a detailed and poignant description of reflection and reversal, it is not unique in the tragic corpus. In another significant mirror moment in Greek tragedy, we see a similar technique, where the playwright draws upon the domestic and tranquil moment between a woman and her mirror before a complete reversal of her state and circumstance. The closest parallel is in Euripides’ Medea, where a messenger narrates the account of Glauce’s death. The princess, dressed in a colorful gown (πέπλους ποικίλους) and with a crown on her head (χρυσοῦν … στέφανον), “arranges her hair in a bright mirror, smiling at the lifeless reflection of her body” (λαμπρῷ κατόπτρῳ σχηματίζεται κόμην, / ἄψυχον εἰκὼ προσγελῶσα σώματος 1161–62). The description of Glauce at her toilette closely resembles the mirror scene of Hecuba. Both women arrange their hair in front of a bright mirror (described here by the adjective λαμπρός). The image of light is also suggested by the mention of the golden crown, another potential reflected surface in the image.29 Glauce, like the Trojan woman, seems lost in her reflection, not recognizing her own death. The context of this picture lends “lifeless” (ἄψυχον) a double meaning. on the one hand, the adjective describes the reflection Glauce sees: that is, an image sans life. At the same time, ἄψυχον foreshadows her death from the very robe she now admires.30 As in Hecuba, Glauce’s moment of beautification, as epitomized by the mirror, comes immediately before a complete reversal. In both instances, moreover, we hear of the reversal through reported speech, where the poet


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

invites us to imagine a moment of beauty and tranquillity, layered with a sense of discomfort, only to reverse this image into a scene of horror.31 The material, sensory, and domestic; rest, repose, and reversal—all figure in the blinding of Polymestor and the death of his children in the final act of Hecuba.32 Polymestor’s tragedy is also presented through reported speech, his own, which he delivers with fresh and bleeding wounds. Polymestor enters a private and feminine space, the domos, and with a sense of comfort and security, rests on the couch. The women33 sit near him, pretending to be his friends, and gaze at the embroidery of his clothes against the light (ὑπ’ αὐγὰς τούσδε λεύσσουσαι πέπλους 1154). Here, the language of the women’s action closely resembles that of the mirror scene in the third stasimon, with the repetition of λεύσσειν (“to gaze at”) and αὐγαί (“rays”). The image is one of aesthetic contemplation, which, much like the mirror scene, is characterized by beauty, vision, and touch. The women then slowly disarm Polymestor, as though to imitate but also reclaim the image of their unarmed husbands prior to the fall of Troy. Suddenly, as though out of nowhere, the women produce swords and kill his children. Holding Polymestor by his arms, legs, and hair,34 they use their brooches, another object of beautification, to stab his eyes. Euripides’ audience would have already been familiar with the motif of “blinding-­by-brooch” through the stories of Oedipus;35 and perhaps the evocation of a private space, beautiful objects, and the feminine gaze would have created a sense of anticipation for the revelation of a domestic weapon. While the women usually direct their gaze towards items of beauty, such as their hair and the mirror, they now use an object associated with beautification in order to rob Polymestor of his vision. The visual and narrative force of these objects, from the mirror and Glauce’s robe to the women’s brooches, is at once beautiful and uncomfortable. While these items evoke a sense of domesticity and privacy in the imagination of the audience, they also create a sense of suspense, as though their presence should anticipate terror. But what is it about these objects, and especially the mirror, that makes suspense and horror so profound? On the one hand, these objects conjure an aesthetic experience: as items associated with the process of beautification, they evoke a woman’s visual, tactile—and at times fragrant and aural—experience with beauty. And while the aesthetic evokes beauty and the senses in an idealized way, the plays’ narrative descriptions of the past, layered with images of the present moment, give these items an eerie and disturbing feel. Suspense, then, is created by the sense of discomfort that generally overrides and complicates these objects; and suspense only enhances the horror when all their beauty and sensory implications are reversed.

The Other Side of the Mirror


The mirror is an especially effective tool for suspense and reversal: not only is it the object of beautification par excellence, but as such, it evokes an idealized sensory and cognitive moment, one which brings the perspective of a person into focus.36 It is precisely this heightened moment of perspective that makes suspense and horror so profound: it is through the affective force of the mirror that the audience feels the beauty and despair, the before and after, of the woman’s experience. The visual and verbal arts, and perhaps tragedy in particular, generally aestheticize the shocking or the appalling so as to represent the tribulations of reality in an idealized, even beautiful, way. Perhaps, then, the thrill in such scenes of self-­reflection lies in Euripides’ decision to do the opposite: to take an aesthetic experience, as epitomized by the mirror, and make it ugly; to draw upon the cultural imaginary only to reverse the meaning behind its shared experience. In the light of Euripides’ golden mirror, the image is reversed, and beauty can reflect both pure happiness and sheer horror.


Memory Incarnate Material Objects and Private Visions in Classical Athens, from Euripides’ Ion to the Gravesite1 Seth Estrin

In the parodos of Euripides’ Ion, a group of women arriving in Delphi from Athens marvel at the temple of Apollo.2 As they explore the architectural sculpture of this “beautiful-­eyed light with two faces” (188–89), they enact a form of pictorial recognition, uncovering gods and goddesses who appear, through the temple, before their eyes. Pointing and gesturing towards the images they see—“See, look at this!” (190), “Look with your eyes!” (193), “But look at this!” (201)—they find figures “in the stone walls” (206–7), intertwining the material presence of the temple with narratives they know from elsewhere. Individual memories and moments of personal recognition—“I gaze upon Pallas, my own god” (211)—are confirmed by other Chorus members. Gods and goddesses are recognized through objects: Herakles with his golden sickle (192), Athena with her gorgon shield (210), Zeus with his thunderbolt (212), Dionysios with his ivy staff (217). For the Chorus, such objects grant identities to the figures who hold them, enhancing the temple’s wondrous effects. The sight of the temple that fills the Chorus with delight causes their mistress Creusa to close her eyes and weep. Ion, the temple servant who is later revealed to be Creusa’s son, notices she is distraught and asks why, unlike her companions, she does not take pleasure in looking at the temple. Creusa tells him he is not wrong to wonder at her tears (249–51): ἐγὼ δ’ ἰδοῦσα τούσδ’ Ἀπόλλωνος δόμους μνήμην παλαιὰν ἀνεμετρησάμην τινά· ἐκεῖσε τὸν νοῦν ἔσχον ἐνθάδ’ οὖσά περ.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

For I, looking on these halls of Apollo, I retraced some ancient memory. I had my mind there, although I was here.

Creusa does not explain herself to Ion, but the audience already knows from the play’s prologue why she turns inwards to an “ancient memory.” When she was a girl, Creusa was raped and impregnated by Apollo. A young mother abandoned by the god, she placed the son she bore in a vessel, adorned him with ornaments, and left him to die. Years later, now married, she has come to Apollo’s shrine to ask the god why she cannot conceive, while secretly seeking the fate of the son she bore and exposed long ago. Although Ion cannot yet understand Creusa’s “ancient memory,” her words affirm what he observed: she sees something different than the Chorus when she looks at the temple. The women of the Chorus engage with the depictive content of the sculptural decoration, opening up its imagery through a relay between what the sculptures show and what they themselves remember. Creusa, in contrast, is transported by the mere sight of the temple to a memory of Apollo—a god the Chorus does not identify, but to whom the temple is dedicated.3 Rather than recognizing an image of the god in the surface of the temple itself, Creusa moves from the temple before her to an image world constructed in memory. Art historians wishing to understand how ancient viewers looked at temples and their architectural sculpture frequently cite the Ion’s parodos as evidence.4 Treating the Chorus’s description as an accurate account of the actual temple of Apollo at Delphi, they use it to complete what archaeological remains have not preserved intact.5 By the same token, they ignore Creusa’s visions, implicitly understood as the products of a labile mind. Yet by the play’s end, the singularly affective, mnenomic prism through which Creusa looks at objects of craft will triumph. Only through her appreciation of objects as materializations of her own memory can she perform the play’s climactic act of recognition, and reunite with her son. In this chapter, I follow the thread of Creusa’s mental visions from this early scene to the moment of recognition, investigating some of the ways in which Euripides stages material objects as things that translate between different emotional experiences and visualizations.6 Creusa’s distance from the Chorus compels us to move beyond concepts like depiction and representation in investigating how objects lead to image recognition. Focusing in particular on the relationship between image recognition and memory, I emphasize the role of the viewer’s emotional perspective in activating visualization. An object can

Memory Incarnate


engender intersubjective recognition, I argue, through a viewer’s affective engagement with its materiality as a physical thing—a thing that appears not to record memory, but incarnate it. The apparent idiosyncrasy of Creusa’s emotionally charged approach to objects gains meaningful consistency when it is related to actual visual practices of image recognition in classical Athens, outside of the theater. As an historian of art interested in such practices in their own right, I consider Euripides’ use of material objects dramatically effective precisely because it resonated with how audience members approached similar objects in their own lives.7 To explore this connection, I examine structural relationships between material objects as they are used within the play and real, archaeologically ­retrieved objects from a different context: sculpted funerary monuments, of the kind erected by the thousands in and around Athens beginning more than a decade before the Ion was first performed and extending towards the end of the fourth century. In exploring the use of objects in both contexts, I harken to recently articulated theories of affect and materiality outlined in the Introduction to this volume— ones that call our attention to the ability of objects to act on us through their material properties and sensuous configurations, to draw us into extended affective environments and intersubjective relationships. Such approaches on their own cannot account for the manifold workings of objects, whether treated as things, images, or works of art. But they can make us more sensitive to modes of viewing different from our own, and can shape how we look at and describe the relationships between human and material agents as they interact within particular narrative constraints.8 The story of both the Ion and the funerary monument is a story of loss. Like Creusa, the family members who set up such a monument are afflicted with memories of a loved one, often a child. Through sculpture and epigram, such a monument encourages viewers to come to recognize the deceased by engaging with it as a physical trace of the memory of the bereaved, as an externalization of their longing and trauma. For the actors in these stories—both those onstage and those in the audience, those who bury their loved ones and those who merely passed by the grave site—objects open up an alternative paradigm of image recognition across different contexts in classical Athens, one in which they gain social meaning not only through what they show, but what they lack.9 In their reactions to the temple, the Chorus and Creusa appear, at first glance, to model different kinds of image recognition—the Chorus turning to depictive content by deciphering iconography, Creusa in turn visualizing a deeply personal


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

memory. Yet by staging Apollo’s temple as their shared visual focus, Euripides provides a stable, materially grounded pivot that invites the audience to consider a structural relationship between them. The recursive relay between sight and memory that leads the Chorus to recognition is operative for Creusa as well, I suggest, but is reconfigured by her particular affective connection with the temple.10 The experience of looking at a depictive work of art, in which a thing present is matched with a mental image of a figure who is absent, is succinctly defined by Aristotle in the Poetics, when he describes looking at a painted likeness (εἰκών) as a process of understanding “this [is] that” (οὗτος ἐκεῖνος).11 The thing before our eyes (“this”) remains the same, but now we see an individual (“that”) whom we have seen before (προεωρακώς)—someone who is physically distant but whom we can recognize by looking at the work of art before us. The Chorus’s experience of the temple, loaded with deictic gestures and imperatives—“See, look at this!” (ἰδού, τᾶιδ’ ἄθρησον 190), “But look at this!” (καὶ μὰν τόνδ’ ἄθρησον 201)—provides an unfolding of this process in real time.12 What is in Aristotle’s formulation an analytic process is here tinged with personal experience: sculptures and images move through layers of knowledge and memory to become recognizable as gods and goddesses.13 While the process of seeing “this is that” moves from present object to absent individual, in Greek literature it can describe the inverse experience: the discovery of what is mentally or imaginatively salient, but thought to be physically absent, in something that is actually present.14 The acquisition of new knowledge or a shift in perspective might prompt us to recognize anew something that has always been visible, and the expression is commonly used in Greek literature in cases of intersubjective recognition between long-­separated individuals. So, for instance, in Euripides’ Helen, Menelaus, upon realizing that the woman he has been speaking to is in fact his wife, exclaims: “This is that!” (τοῦτ᾽ ἔστ᾽ ἐκεῖνο 622). Likewise, when Orestes, in Sophocles’ Electra, asks the woman to whom he has been speaking—a woman he does not recognize—if she could be his sister Electra, she replies in the affirmative: “This is that” (τόδ’ ἔστ’ ἐκεῖνο 1178). While operating according to the same correlative structure as Aristotle’s painted likeness, such recognitions derive more from cognition and memory than the visual stimulus’s sensuous appearance. In this way, where the Chorus moves from “this” object to “that” figure which appears through contemplation and recall, Creusa moves from “here” (ἐνθάδ’) to “there” (ἐκεῖσε)—a place of memory that has never left the focus of her mind, that is triggered by the mere sight of the temple itself.15 In both instances, the collocations of deictics suggest a disjunction between what is actually present

Memory Incarnate


(“this,” “here”) and a viewer’s memory or mental imagination (“that,” “there”). For the Chorus, the disjunction is resolved through the sculpture that is both “this” object here and “that” god or goddess elsewhere. In contrast, Creusa feels the disjunction within her, her body “here” yet her mind “there,” her closed eyes failing to integrate what is before her with the memory world to which she retreats.16 For the audience, the shared structure renders images in Creusa’s mind no less vivid, no less “real,” than the gods and goddesses described by the Chorus. “Looking at these” (ἰδοῦσα τούσδ’) allows Creusa to “retrace” or “measure out” (ἀνεμετρησάμην) memory images that are not abstract, but just as spatially concrete—as measurable—as the figures that the Chorus reveals in the temple’s walls. Indeed, in the later lyric monody where she revisits the rape in her own words (859–922), Creusa describes her memories in highly ecphrastic terms.17 Standing before his temple once again, she addresses Apollo directly: “You came to me, your hair shimmering (μαρμαίρων) with gold, as I was gathering into the folds of my dress crocus (κρόκεα) petals for dyeing that burst in response with their own golden light (χρυσανταυγῆ)” (887–90).18 Mental images are brought to life through their material composition and aesthetic effects—shimmering golden hair, saffron flowers for dyeing garments that reflect golden light. The participle μαρμαίρων (“shimmering” or “sparkling”) is particularly charged: it is often used in Greek poetry to describe the glitter of bronze, or suggest the effect of marble, whose Greek name was derived from the same verb.19 Creusa, with her “pale white wrists” (891), emerges through her description as another ecphrastic object, her body consumed by an Apollo who sparkles as if made of bronze, marble, or gold. Through this description, Creusa’s rape becomes, for the audience, as vivid pictorially and materially as the sculptural decoration of the temple, likewise made of stone (207) and gold (192). Euripides’ abundant use of artistic description throughout the play—beginning with the parodos, culminating in the messenger’s breathless ecphrasis of magnificently embroidered tapestries (1141–66)—thematizes the ability of poetic language to make audience members “see” what they cannot actually see.20 Where such ecphrasis allows the audience to visualize images depicted in sculpture or fabric, Creusa adopts the same language to give her memory externally visible matter and form.21 If Creusa is distinguished from the Chorus by her emotional experience, the contours of that experience and its effects on how she looks at the temple would have been familiar to many members the audience. The funerary monument, an ubiquitous visual presence in classical Athens, was erected and viewed according


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

to an emotional framework of loss similar to that which afflicts Creusa. To modern eyes, funerary monuments, when sculpted or painted with an image of the deceased, have the appearance of a straightforward likeness, one that allows us to see the deceased by deciphering the work of art’s iconographic content. Yet in their original contexts they were framed in such a way as to provoke the kind of visual shift staged in the Ion—to generate recognition by harnessing the structure of the depictive likeness, but transforming it through emotional experience.22 Pictorial imagery was not an essential component of the classical funerary monument: in its most basic form, it consisted of a marble stele inscribed with the name of the deceased in the nominative. The combination of stele and name alone prompts a perceptual shift: “this” object before us becomes “that” person, who is not, in fact, present, but buried below. The addition of a sculpted or painted image could augment and complicate the process of visualization, elaborating “this” object into something we might see as “that” person (e.g., Fig. 7.1). Epigrams inscribed on such monuments can make the shift explicit, using deictic markers to point, variously, to the space of the viewer, where the deceased is absent, and to the deceased themselves, as if they are present.23 An epigram on a small stele for a woman named Malicha (Fig.  7.2), for instance, reads (CEG 534):24 (i) 〈ἐ〉νθάδ〈ε〉 γῆ κατέχει τίτθην πα|ίδων Διογείτο    ἐκ Πελοποννήσ|ο τήνδε δικαοτάτην. (ii) Μαλίχα Κυθηρία.

Here the earth holds back the nurse of the children of Diogeites from the Peloponnese, this woman, most trustworthy: Malicha of Cythera.

Malicha’s epigram begins by acknowledging the reality of the space we occupy—“the earth here” (ἐνθάδε) that “holds [her] back” (κατέχει) from us.25 Yet it ends by pointing to “this woman” (τήνδε), who appears present in two ways: first, in name, inscribed in larger letters and in the nominative case just below the epigram, and second, in image, through the sculpted relief below that. The epigram’s two deictics—“the earth here,” “this woman”—gesture to conflicting realities that are mediated only by the material presence of the monument. The simple formulation of Malicha’s monument belies an almost seamless slippage between depiction and memory in order to make us contemplate the object as something close to a likeness. The epigram structures our recognition of Malicha according to the same framework through which the Chorus recognizes

Fig. 7.1  Stele of Eupheros. c. 430 BCE. From the Kerameikos. Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens, Kerameikos Museum P 1169/I 417 (photographer: S. Mavrommatis).


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Fig. 7.2  Stele of Malicha. c. 375–350 BCE. From the Piraeus. Athens, Epigraphical Museum 8844.

figures of gods and goddesses in the temple sculpture. Yet, unlike them, we ourselves have no remembered image of the figure we see to serve as the basis for recognition. Instead, the monument itself provides the basic elements—a name, an image—with which we can recognize someone we do not, in fact, remember. To do so, the funerary monument promotes itself as the material instantiation of a memory, as the epigram on a similar monument for a girl named Pausimache makes clear (Fig. 7.3).26 As a sculptural type, Pausimache’s monument is close to Malicha’s, consisting of a tall, pedimented stele with a relief figure of a young woman looking in a mirror, carved within a sunken frame. The figure is formulaic, lacking individualized features in her appearance, and positioned much like Malicha’s once was. Yet the epigram inscribed above her head invites us to take this generic material presence, and, by engaging it from the perspective of bereaved parents, recognize it as Pausimache (CEG 518):   πᾶσι θανεῖν 〈ε〉ἵμαρτα〈ι〉 ὅσοι ζῶσιν, σὺ δὲ πένθος   οἰ|κτρὸν 〈ἔ〉χ〈ειν〉 ἔλιπες, Παυσιμάχη, προγόνοις   μητρ〈ί 〉 | τ〈ε Φ〉αινί〈π〉πηι καὶ πατρὶ Παυσανίαι,

Fig. 7.3  Stele of Pausimache. c. 400–375 BCE. From Charvati, Attica. Athens, National Archaeological Museum 3964.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

σῆ〈ς〉 δ’ ἀρετῆ〈ς μ〉νη|μ〈ε〉ῖον ὁρᾶν τό〈δ〉ε τοῖς παριo˜σιν σωφροσύνη〈ς〉 τ〈ε〉. For all to die is the fate of all who live; and you, Pausimache, left behind pitiable mourning to your parents, your mother Phainippe and your father Pausanias, and (you left) this remembrance of your virtue and moderation for passerby to see.

The epigram shifts between the deceased’s presence and her absence, between the perspective of the parents and the perspective of passersby, and our visualization of the relief below might transform in similar ways as we read. First, we address Pausimache directly in the second person, as if the figure is the woman herself. Yet, as we continue, we remark that all that is really here—all the epigram can point to—is “this remembrance” (μνημεῖον τόδε) that we see as we pass by. The epigram establishes a structural relationship between the visual work of the material remembrance and the memories that Phainippe and Pausanias retain of their dead daughter: what they experience as mourning, we experience by looking at this remembrance.27 Both are what Pausimache herself has left behind—traces of her existence engraved in the mind as readily as into the surface of the marble stele.28 Creusa’s emotional state, as we have seen, means she accesses Apollo through the temple’s material relationship to the god rather than what its sculptures depict. Likewise, Pausimache’s epigram compels us to treat the monument not as a depiction of her so much as the material outcome of her parents’ memories. For a passer-­by, to make a shift from seeing simply an anonymous woman to seeing a likeness—to match “this” figure with “that” woman, Pausimache—is not a dispassionately analytic act, but one that is deeply emotional. It is predicated not on the figure’s resemblance to a girl we ourselves have never seen, but on our capacity to understand “this remembrance,” the one that exists as a physical presence before us, as a material symptom of her parents’ grief. The monument’s status as a thing that itself produces Pausimache’s remembrance is signaled, within the relief sculpture, by the mirror. Carved at the margins of the sunken panel, extending the flat surface of the stele into the virtual space of the girl, the mirror acts like a microcosm of the monument as a whole, generating an eternal operation of image-­making that emanates from the stele’s very surface.29 The block of stone, when treated as a remembrance, emerges as the analogue for a private trauma. We passersby are not ourselves afflicted with this pain, but

Memory Incarnate


we nonetheless share the fate of mortality that, as the epigram reminds us, is common to all. To recognize Pausimache is to confront our own mortality, our own subject position constituted through the memories and emotions of others, and so our own physical affinity with this stone. Understanding the monument as a remembrance compels us to look not to its ability to reproduce Pausimache’s appearance, but to its very material form as what makes our recognition of her possible. As Pausimache’s epigram makes clear, funerary monuments are set up not for family members—those whose minds already preserve memories of the deceased—but for strangers passing by.30 If prior visual experience is required to recognize the subject of a likeness, funerary monuments shift the power of memory to the object itself. In this sense, Pausimache’s monument provides her parents with a solution to the same problem that afflicts Creusa for much of the play: how to make her memories as viscerally present for others as they are for her. For the audience, these memories become visible through Euripides’ use of the temple as the common object of perception for the Chorus and Creusa. But within the narrative of the play Creusa’s memories cannot be extended into external reality until a different material object is produced: the vessel in which she abandoned her son as an infant. Like the funerary monument that compels those passing by to recognize the deceased as their family does, the vessel and the objects it contains provide the material mechanism through which Ion and Creusa can see each other for who they are.31 The existence of this vessel and its contents has been known since the play’s opening, when Hermes explains Creusa’s story, including how she left Ion in a vessel adorned with ornaments, and how the Pythia saved him from this vessel (8–75). Yet recognition only becomes possible for the characters onstage—for Ion above all—towards the end of the play, when this vessel appears onstage. Retrieving the object for the first time since she discovered it, the Pythia explicitly instructs Ion to look at the vessel and its contents as we are instructed to look at Pausimache’s monument: as materializations of memory, for those of us who cannot ourselves remember. Presenting the vessel to Ion, the Pythia prompts him to shift his perception according to the same structure that prompted the audience to see the temple through two distinct visualizations. First, she points to the vessel—“Do you see this vessel?” (ὁρᾷς τόδ᾽ ἄγγος; 1337)—and calls on Ion to identify it as such. Then, she introduces a new narrative (1340), an affective perspective: this vessel is that one—the one she found him in (1339), the one that still contains the clothing and objects that accompanied him, the one that can


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

operate not merely as a present material object, but as an index of the mother he longs to find. Through this shift, the vessel and the objects it contains become objects through which Ion, as he states, can “look for” (ζητήματα 1352) and even look at his mother through “apparitions” (φασμάτων 1354).32 Holding the vessel in his hands and engaging the emotional state of the woman who left him in it enables him to almost remember a mother he has never seen before: “How I cast a tender tear down from my eyes, giving my mind over to that moment (ἐκεῖσε τὸν νοῦν) when she who bore me sold me in secret after a hidden affair” (1369–71). Ion has expressed similar attempts to connect with his unknown mother earlier in the play, speaking to her as someone he longs to look upon or might dream about (563–65), and invoking her name as present, even while acknowledging her as corporeally absent (1276–78). Yet here, as he holds the vessel, Ion goes further, fully giving himself over to a distant, unreal world, remembering, like the viewer of a funerary monument, what he cannot actually remember. The story he makes up is wrong in its details: his mother did not sell him; she was not, as he worries, a slave (1382). Yet the emotional, visual connection he forms with her is as palpable as the physical object he holds in his hands. It seems no coincidence that Ion describes his mental state by repeating the same words—“my mind [is] there” (ἐκεῖσε τὸν νοῦν)—that Creusa used to describe her eidetic visualization before Apollo’s temple (251). What was for Creusa a secret world of memory, open only to her, has now become visible to Ion through the mediating presence of the vessel. The ability of the vessel to make Ion go “there” in his mind shows how, within the play, emotional engagement with a material object takes on the power of depiction in generating image recognition. The joining of two minds according to the same thoughts and emotions (1378–79) sets up the terms for true recognition, which begins when Creusa sees the vessel Ion holds and recognizes it as the one in which she exposed her child. For Creusa, recognizing the vessel is tantamount to experiencing a mental vision brought to life: “What apparition (φάσμα) of unexpected things do I see (ὁρῶ)?” (1395). Just as Ion hoped the vessel could produce “apparitions” (1354) of his mother, Creusa sees the vessel as the disembodied image that links the memory of the infant it once contained with the presence of the boy who holds it—the boy who, she now realizes, is her son (1398–99). What was a mere vision, stored in the memories of her mind, has now succeeded to physical reality: to hold the vessel in her own hands is to hold—and not merely remember—her son (1404).

Memory Incarnate


Initially skeptical of Creusa’s claim, Ion tests her by asking her to name the objects contained within the vessel sight unseen. Objects first emerge through Creusa’s ecphrastic descriptions, and these in turn are checked against what Ion sees once he retrieves the actual objects and holds them in his hands. Recognition, in other words, takes place by looking through Creusa’s eyes—seeing her memories first, and mapping them onto external reality. Once again, the structure of the likeness is inverted: instead of first seeing “this” and matching it to “that,” in Ion’s test “that” emerges first, through Creusa’s memories, only to settle into the material reality of “this” object that Ion finds within the vessel.33 Like the funerary monument that is a remembrance, the objects themselves are products of memory, so that even a viewer like Ion with no memory of his own can perform recognition. Both Creusa and Ion invite those around them to see as they do, pointing and gesturing towards images that coalesce through expressive descriptions that prefigure the actual appearance of the objects onstage. Before anyone can see it, Creusa commands everyone present to “look at” (σκέψασθ᾽ 1417) the weaving she made as a young girl. When, to Ion’s astonishment, he finds in the vessel the same object she describes, he reciprocates her command: “See! This is the weaving!” (ἰδού· τόδ’ ἔσθ’ ὕφασμα 1424). After Creusa describes gold necklaces from memory, Ion can again point to “these” (οἵδε 1432)—a word that gestures towards both the objects he finds in the vessel and those made visible through Creusa’s description. And when Creusa anticipates the final object—an olive wreath—Ion sees not just the vessel’s contents but the woman who remembers them in a new light, as his mother (1437). Memories located in the past have succeeded to material reality in the present, and mother and son have found one another. As in the recognition scene of the Ion, the presaging of objects through private memory in the funerary context relies on an inversion of the normative structure of image recognition. Instead of acting as the visual record of the deceased, as if it were a depiction, the monument finds its point of origin in the remembrance of the bereaved, of which it is the material externalization. The small, personal objects through which Ion and Creusa recognize one another might seem different than large-­scale sculpted monuments—works of art created to generate recognition, rather than everyday objects that have succeeded to that function. Yet in antiquity, individuals would perceive the tomb not only visually, but by placing objects in the burial or on the monument—objects that in many respects resembled the gifts with which Creusa adorned her son.34 The language Hermes uses at the play’s opening to describe how Creusa “set him out to die” (κἀκτίθησιν


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

ὡς θανούμενον 18) suggests the similarity of her actions to burying a child and erecting a monument. Ornaments that she “fastened” (προσάψασ’ 27) to her son, for instance, functioned as mechanisms “to protect his body” (φύλακε σώματος 22) rather than his living self. Creusa’s searing memory of the objects underscores that they that were deliberately chosen by a mother to adorn a child she was seeing, she thought, for the last time: the vessel, from her perspective, was his coffin, the ornaments his burial gifts. Funerary imagery of the classical period, especially as it is preserved on hundreds of white-­ground lekythoi that themselves functioned as grave gifts, indicates that visitors to tombs frequently adorned stelae with objects like those Creusa left with Ion—vessels, bits of cloth, jewelry, and garlands, among others.35 Such objects were also commonly placed by family members in tombs, and were often depicted in the hands of figures on carved stelae: mirrors like the one that the girl holds before her on Pausimache’s stele (Fig.  7.3), for instance, are frequently found buried with young girls. Like the exchange between memories and objects in the Ion’s recognition scene, the use of similar objects in multiple related contexts enhances their ability to mediate between different experiences, by providing a material constant that triangulates between the deceased, the bereaved, and the passerby. The sculpted stele carved with the name Eupheros, set up in the Kerameikos cemetery around 430 BCE and, exceptionally, excavated with its associated burial, provides an unusual opportunity to see how this triangulation could play out (Fig. 7.1).36 The figure on Eupheros’s stele conforms to standard representations of young men of the period: as has often been noted, he resembles quite closely young men on the Parthenon frieze. Nonetheless, this figure has often been looked at as a straightforward, if idealized, depiction of the deceased. Indeed, the archaeologists who uncovered the stele and its associated grave used the stele, rather than the actual skeletal remains, to determine both the deceased’s gender and age at death.37 Yet the sculpture is no portrait: the boy—with his muscular torso, impossibly elongated legs, his soft, hairless face, and his heavy cloak and strigil—is a fictional hybrid, one that combines anatomical and cultural attributes of different age categories. Nonetheless, his stature, mien, and dress suggest someone several years older—or at any rate taller—than the small skeleton found in the grave. This skeleton was found buried with an array of objects (Fig.  7.4.). Some, including a chous painted with an infant and a small toy monkey, suggest Eupheros’s identity as a child. Others, like lekythoi painted with scenes of visitors adorning tombs, more clearly refer to the commemorative function of the grave.

Memory Incarnate


Fig. 7.4  Drawing of grave hS 202 in the Kerameikos, Athens, associated with the stele of Eupheros.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The most striking find, perhaps, was a pair of child-­sized bronze strigils. One was placed by the corpse’s left leg, while the other was found just below the left hand.38 It is in this same left hand that the boy sculpted on the stele holds a strigil of his own. The coordination of strigils between burial and stele demonstrates that the sculpture does not tell us about the boy as he was in life so much as it shows us what he was like at the moment of his death—at the moment his family looked at him for the last time. Eupheros’s family chose to bury him with strigils, perhaps even placing one in his left hand. So too did they set up a monument decorated with a figure who most likely did not closely resemble Eupheros physically, but who also held a strigil. As the single constant between Eupheros as he lies in the grave, as he appears on the stele, and as he remained in the memories of those who buried him, the strigil itself is what enables us to recognize the boy on the stele as Eupheros. The boy does not use the strigil as a scraper. Instead, he holds it before his eyes, transforming it into an object of contemplation. Although he himself stands in profile, he opens the palm of his hand towards the viewer, turning the strigil so that it is maximally visible to our perpendicular gaze. As a material and visual presence, the strigil mediates between present stele and imaged boy. The sinuous curve of scraper—the instrument that shapes the athletic body, that smooths and cleans its surface—is laid flat against the background plane of the stele, which has been left visibly tooled.39 Below, its handle intersects the delicately carved hand that holds it, its shaft partially obscured as it passes through splayed fingers, its end loop pressed into the fleshy flexure lines of the palm. The result is an object that, like the objects in Ion’s vessel, pivots between the minds of different subjects and their distinct visualizations as it moves across surfaces, between stone and skin. In so doing, it acts like a metonym for the monument as a whole—an object generated through the experience of bereavement, whose physical presence and visual imagery is the material output of subjective memory and emotion.40 Like the objects in Ion’s vessel, Eupheros’s strigil is a prosaic object that opens up a world of memory when looked at from the perspective of a parent seeking their lost child. Yet this shift in visualization is only made possible, in both contexts, through a material transformation. At the gravesite, a bronze strigil and a human corpse find their counterparts in the stone remembrance that is able to visually reunite material object with living boy. A similar transformation underscores the ability of objects to generate recognition in the Ion, where the materiality of objects of craft makes them persuasive carriers of memory. In

Memory Incarnate


both contexts, materiality is harnessed for its capacity to repel the effects of human mortality, to remove memories and images from the life-­cycle of the human body, and so to give permanent, visible form to what would otherwise disintegrate over time into nothingness. We can understand the role of materiality in the Ion by returning to the recognition scene. As others have shown, the objects Creusa describes and which Ion finds within the vessel—the weaving with Athena’s aegis, the golden necklaces in the form of her snakes, and the olive wreath from her tree on the Acropolis— symbolize family history and Athenian identity. But it is only through their materiality that they can function as fulcrums between the past and the present, between the images in Creusa’s mind and those Ion sees holding the object in his hand.41 When Ion first receives the vessel, he remarks on its miraculous preservation and lack of damage, despite the time that has passed since the Pythia stored it away (1392–93). In the recognition scene, each object emerges from it unravaged by the intervening years. Creusa’s descriptions emphasize, in each instance, how the object overcomes the effects of time, recapitulating ephemeral stories and events by replicating and embedding them in physical form that does not age or diminish. The objects’ unchanging material configuration plays an important narrative function in allowing Creusa to match her memories precisely with what Ion sees. Her description from memory of the final object, the olive wreath, is perhaps most evocative of all (1433–36): στέφανον ἐλαίας ἀμφέθηκά σοι τότε, ἣν πρῶτ’ Ἀθάνας σκόπελος ἐξηνέγκατο, ὅς, εἴπερ ἐστίν, οὔποτ’ ἐκλείπει χλόην, θάλλει δ’, ἐλαίας ἐξ ἀκηράτου γεγώς. I set up around you on that day a wreath of the olive that the rock of Athena first brought forth, which, if it exists, has not yet lost its green, but flourishes, being born from an inviolate olive.

The wreath does not merely guarantee the accuracy of Creusa’s memory, as it might if it were found in the vessel in a withered state. Instead, Creusa’s prophecy that it still flourishes (θάλλει) indicates that, once found, it will enable recognition through its material composition, by remaining just as vibrant and animate as the memory Creusa retains of it in her mind. The wreath’s relationship to Ion himself is clear: a branch cut from a tree still flourishes in life as it does in memory; a son thought to be dead but remembered is found to be still living.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Just as the placement of Eupheros’s sculpted strigil in his sculpted hand guarantees that he will remain visible and remembered even after his corpse has disintegrated, so too does an ever-­flourishing olive wreath restore to light the lost son who holds it. The objects in the recognition scene of the Ion are in a miraculous state of preservation because of their divine origins. Yet funerary monuments rely on language similar to Creusa’s to highlight the permanence of their own stone materiality, which outlasts any individual human memory. In one epigram for a woman named Biote, for instance, the deceased’s sister is described as having set up “this stele” (στήλην τήνδ’) that will weep for her and hold “a tearful remembrance of your age forever” (μνήμηγ γὰρ ἀεὶ δακρυτὸν ἔχοσα ἡλικίας τῆς σῆς CEG 97). A stele for Timocleia records that her body is hidden, “but no period of time will cause your virtue to fade away; wherefore the remembrance of your good sense is immortal” (τὴν σὴν δὲ ἀρετὴν οὐθεὶς [φθ]ίσει α[ἰών]· [ἀθά]νατος μνήμη σωφρ[ο]σύνης ἕνε[κ]α CEG 611). Another describes the deceased as having left to her husband an “immortal remembrance” (μνήμην ἀθάνατον) that “time will never dissolve” (χρόνος οὔποτε λ[ύ]σει CEG 603). When combined with sculpted images, such epigrams encourage us to visualize the monument not as a depiction of the deceased in the flesh, but as an object through which a viewer can continue to recognize the deceased precisely because they are made of stone. We might compare Creusa’s description of the olive wreath with an epigram partially preserved on a small stele that a certain Erxis set up for a man named Demetrios (CEG 548; Fig. 7.5):42 (i) Δημητρίο[ς] | Θεοδότης (ii) ψυχὴ μὲν προλιποῦσα τὸ σόν, [Δημήτριε, σῶμα] |   οἴχεται εἰς Ἔρεβος, σωφροσύν[η δὲ ?καλὴ] | θάλλει ἀγήρατος· τύμβωι δέ σε [κρύψε θανόντα] |   Ἔρξις, ἴσον στέρξας οἷσι τέκ[νοιc(ιν) (⏑) ⏑ -]. (iii) ἄφθονον εὐλογίας πηγήν, Δημ[ήτριε, λείπεις] |   ἀσκήσας κόσμον σωφροσύνη[ν τε ?καλήν]· | ὧν σε χάριν στέρξας Ἔρξις τεκ[νοιc (ιν) (⏑) ⏑ - -].   μνημεῖον φιλίας τεῦξε τάφ[ον ⏑ ⏑ -]. (i) (ii)

Demetrios, son of Theodote The soul, having left behind your [body, Demetrios], is gone to Erebos, but your [beautiful?] good sense flourishes without aging. Erxis [hid] you in a tomb [when you died], loving you equal to his children.

Fig. 7.5  Stele of Demetrios son of Theodote. Mid-­fourth century BCE. Find-­spot unknown. Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1115 (photographer: Pettas).

130 (iii)

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy A profuse fountain of praise, Demetrios, [you leave] having worked adornment and [beautiful?] good sense. In return for these things, loving you, Erxis, to his children [. . .] fashioned a tomb as a remembrance of love.

The first line introduces a paradox. Demetrios is dead, his body hidden, and his soul, rent from his decaying body, has left this world for one below; yet somehow, his affective self—his good sense (σωφροσύνη)—still “flourishes without aging” (θάλλει ἀγήρατος); for, as the following δέ clause explains, Erxis has buried him in a tomb as a tribute of his affection. The apparent contradictions— the preservation of affection, the still-­flourishing, unaging nature of his character, all in the absence of a body or soul—are resolved in the last line. Here, the tomb is named as a “remembrance of love” (μνημεῖον φιλίας)—or even, if the genitive is taken as appositive, “a remembrance that consists of love”—created by Erxis for Demetrios.43 This reciprocal relationship between the monument’s formal appearance and the emotional bond that motivated it promotes remembrance as an object that exists both in the stone and in the mind, a hinge between Erxis’ experience and our own. Like Creusa’s descriptions of the objects, Demetrios’s epigram uses vivid imagery, interlacing the language of craft with that of emotion. Like the tree sprung from an eternal rock, Demetrios’s renown flows as if from a natural source (πηγήν). His good sense still flourishes (θάλλει), because he himself “shaped” or “worked” (ἀσκήσας) it during his lifetime according to a sense of “adornment” or “order” (κόσμον). For the viewer, the stone monument set into the ground itself provides the natural source from which something of Demetrios can eternally flourish, even though he himself is gone. The epigram’s emphasis on the materiality of the monument itself in generating recognition can help us appreciate the small, cursory relief, carved between Demetrios’s inscribed name and epigram. The relief ’s depictive content does not correspond with the epigram: where the epigram appears to name two men, the relief shows a seated woman and a standing man facing and reaching their hands towards one another—typical, even derivative, iconography for such a stele.44 Yet instead of serving to illustrate the named individuals, the relief calls on us to consider how a reunion between the dead and the living can take place only as a function of the stone surface. The rich imagery of the epigram encourages us to find personal meaning in the modest, unrefined chisel strokes—still-­visible, unpolished indexes of a mortal hand that has translated memories into stone. The figures are only lightly

Memory Incarnate


engraved, unframed by any border and floating in the empty space between inscriptions. Details are laconic, rendered in angular lines that appear to modulate the surface rather than create independent figures, aligning the craft that makes visible human form with the same craft that makes visible the inscribed names and epigram. The lack of pictorial realism works to its own effects, eliding, for instance, the moment where two hands meet, and so joining two arms into a continuous appendage. Two individuals appear eternally bound together, not because their appearance has been faithfully depicted, but because they exist as memories made of immortal stone, their images flourishing without aging. At a critical juncture in the Ion, the title character muses on the nature of appearances (585–86): οὐ ταὐτὸν εἶδος φαίνεται τῶν πραγμάτων πρόσωθεν ὄντων ἐγγύθεν θ’ ὁρωμένων. The visual form that appears of things that are far off is not the same one as when they are seen close up.

Ion is here expressing his doubts about his family origins, but the statement articulates a problem that haunts the entire play: how can the same thing, under different circumstances, appear different?45 Ion’s words suggest the answer lies in the viewer’s sense of mental, rather than physical, proximity: things far off appear different when they are visualized (ὁρωμένων) close up. The question is one that colors not only the way loss is conceptualized as a visual problem in the Ion, but in Athenian society more generally, as we have seen with contemporary funerary monuments. Our inability to see someone distant can be mitigated by turning towards other mechanisms of recognition, towards images contained in memories and objects. Visions of things far off appear real because our memories of them are close at hand; objects that are already close at hand make affectively and visually present what is actually far away. The same thing shifts before our eyes, its stable materiality giving way to protean appearances and affective connections that depend not necessarily on what is actually present, but on who looks, who remembers.46 At the end of the play, Creusa turns again to Apollo’s temple, now with a change of heart: “These gates,” she says, are “lovely to my eyes” (αἵδε δ’ εὐωποὶ πύλαι μοι 1611). With Ion’s identity settled, his place within Athenian society restored, Creusa herself can join the women of the Chorus, admiring the temple


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

as they do. Yet the happy ending the audience witnessed onstage was not easily replicated in their own lives, and monuments like those of Malicha, Pausimache, Eupheros, and Demetrios never succeeded to an encounter in the flesh. Instead, their survival into our own present testifies to the eternally unfulfilled nature of their work, their permanent, undecaying status as objects that prompt us to recognize those we can never actually encounter. Nonetheless, the parallels between the theater and the gravesite run deeper than their narrative differences. By drawing on strategies of image recognition that infused real-­life interaction with material objects and works of art, Euripides amplifies his play’s emotional pull. Through a common audience of Athenians, two forms of cultural practice—theatrical performance, burial customs— intersect and nurture one another. Even those in the audience who could not hope for the kind of reunion achieved by Creusa and Ion could understand on a subjective level the mechanisms through which it was achieved. Like the play’s characters, they could still recognize their own lost loved ones by holding the objects they once held and by looking on their images—whether embedded in stone, or in the memories of the mind.


The Boon and the Woe Friendship and the Ethics of Affect in Sophocles’ Philoctetes1 Mario Telò

In the introduction to The Affect Theory Reader, the editors say that “affect arises in the midst of in-­between-ness: in the capacities to act and be acted upon.”2 In this Spinozan/Deleuzian definition, in-­between-ness captures affect’s desta­ bilization of the subject-­object opposition, its emphasis on the atmospheric circulation and convergence of bodily intensities rather than their demarcation as specific emotional content. As they observe, “affect . . . makes easy compartmentalisms give way to . . . blends and blurs,” to “body-­to-body/world-­ body mutual imbrication,” what Deleuze and Guattari call a “shared deterritorialization.”3 In the wake of Deleuze and Guattari, the metaphor of contagion is frequently employed in affect theory to conceptualize this process,4 as are other words with co(n)- or syn- prefixes, such as sympathy, synchrony, co-­presence, co-­existence.5 Centered around a kind of sensual contagion, Sophocles’ Philoctetes can be read as a dramatization of what Gibbs calls the “epidemiology of affect” but with an element of personification, affect that presents itself as a quasi-­subject.6 In the prologue, we are immediately reminded of the unsettling cries of pain (9–10) that the diseased character released in the Greek camp before he was abandoned on Lemnos. A few lines later, the description of Philoctetes’ solitary life on the island includes charged encounters with spaces or natural phenomena in the feminine gender—for example, the marine breeze sending forth sleep to him during the summer, but, in a sense, also turning into or mixing with his breath (ὕπνον / . . . πέμπει πνοή 18–19). This almost sexualized “world-­body . . . imbrication” is also perceptible in the description of his foot, in line 7, dripping with nosos, another feminine presence, which elsewhere in the play is cast as a companion.7


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Not just an imbrication or a companion, however, Philoctetes’ disease is presented as “devouring” (διαβόρῳ 7), confronting us not just with an asymmetrical relation, but with a violent incorporation that is at odds with the logic of in-­between-ness and “shared proximity.”8 Philoctetes stages the dynamics of affect as a contagion, but, as I will suggest in this chapter, it also challenges the idealized notion of a sensory, emotional interchange or convergence between human subjects, as well as human subjects and non-­human objects. Creating “packs,” to use Deleuze and Guattari’s image, contagion may jeopardize multiplicity and difference.9 Through its thematic preoccupation with homosocial, even homoerotic, friendship (φιλία), Philoctetes exposes a troublesome ethical implication of affect, the way that the blending of bodily energies risks erasing alterity, reducing otherness to sameness, turning relational trajectories—inter-, in-­between, toward, or con- (or syn-)—into a totalizing appropriation, an outright in or within.10 At the same time, more than decentering the subject, affect—along with material objects and spaces—may become an incorporating subject in itself. Before we proceed with the analysis of the play, more needs to be said about friendship and affect. The name Philoctetes, combining φίλος and κτάομαι / κτῆμα, has been interpreted to mean “fond of gain” or “fond of a possession” (i.e., the bow), but also “possessor of a friend” and, in context, “a friend better than any possession.”11 Another, less optimistic reading may posit the φίλος as a κτῆμα, an objectified subject or a subject incorporated or assimilated into the sphere of the self. In The Politics of Friendship, Derrida takes issue with the ancient and modern view of friendship as a “community” or fusion of souls, a view which he finds exemplified in Aristotle and especially Montaigne.12 Once asked for a definition of φιλία, Aristotle, as reported by Diogenes Laertius (5.20), responded “one soul living in two bodies” (μία ψυχὴ δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικοῦσα).13 Expanding on this image, Montaigne observed that in friendship souls “lose” (perdre) themselves in each other; they “are mingled and confounded (se meslent et confondent) in so universal a blending that they efface the seam which joins them together so that it cannot be found.”14 Privileging sameness over difference, the “correspondence” (convenance) between souls described here turns φιλία into something similar to kinship—and, in particular, brotherhood—or into “the friendship of self, philautia, if not narcissism,” as Derrida puts it.15 In this perspective, φίλος (“friend”), converging with its Homeric grammatical use as a possessive adjective, becomes “property.” Derrida advocates a model of φιλία as radical alterity, an anti-­fraternalist model of friendship that “goes beyond the proximity of the congeneric double.”16 While, according to Derrida, the self is

The Boon and the Woe


necessarily predicated on the encounter, identification with the other, and even on eating the other, this process of incorporation ought to avoid digestion, the complete assimilation of the other into the self.17 Importing Derrida’s take on friendship into the theorization of affect, we can start to see the danger of slippage between affective blending and the assimilation of subject into object or vice versa. In Philoctetes, I argue, affect’s promise of in-­between-ness or “body-­to-body/ world-­body mutual imbrication” is threatened by the stifling sameness of a fraternalist or cannibalistic friendship. Philoctetes seeks full incorporation of a non-­human prosthesis, the bow, into his body and psyche, violating its irreducible alterity by transforming it into a φίλος—a cathected possession assimilated to its human possessor. The feelings that imbue his interactions with Neoptolemus threaten a similar outcome, to some extent on both ends. A false or fickle friend, Neoptolemus conforms to Philoctetes’ world in order to absorb him into the agenda of his unscrupulous enemies. At the same time, however, Neoptolemus is in danger of being reduced to a prosthesis, to a “congeneric double” incorporated into Philoctetes’ selfhood. Like the disease, which through its perverse φιλία, has assimilated him, Philoctetes seeks to assimilate others. The affective contagion spreading in the play thus has the consuming power of Philoctetes’ disease, a repetition and extension of the cannibalistic φιλία that has devoured him. The connection realized by affect in the play is less the tactile encounter of “contagion” (from contingere “to touch” physically and emotionally) than destructive, swallowing “consumption” (from consumere “to eat, digest, destroy”), albeit shifting and unstable. We see both models in the Chorus’s description of Philoctetes’ “cry” (στόνον) as ἀντίτυπον and βαρυβρῶτα (693–94). The first adjective, meaning “echoing,” is suggestive, at least initially, of contagion: that is, of atmospheric circulation, in-­between-ness, relationality. However, an echo is not merely a circulating sound, but a repetition, a replication, and in that sense closer to Derrida’s model of φιλία as generating a “congeneric double.” The second adjective is violently direct, characterizing the cry as “deep-­devouring.” In both cases, there is not just a blending, but an assimilating force, a diminution of difference, an affect that does not merely touch but takes over. Echo, an image of affect central to Philoctetes, where it binds beginning and ending,18 is, for Derrida, the figure of a desperate desire to appropriate the other.19 In the first dialogue with Neoptolemus, Philoctetes’ abundant, compulsive use of φίλος seems to display a prehensile relation to the other, a desire to become, in his own right, a comprehensive material space where everything is turned into


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

his κτῆμα. After hearing Neoptolemus confirm his Greek provenance, Philoctetes jubilantly greets not the stranger, but the sound of his voice, the material, almost depersonalized intermediary of the unfolding intimacy (234–35): ὦ φίλτατον φώνημα· φεῦ τὸ καὶ λαβεῖν / πρόσφθεγμα τοιοῦδ’ ἀνδρὸς ἐν χρόνῳ μακρῷ (“O dearest voice! Ah, to receive the address of such a man after a long time!”).20 An equivalent of the φίλτατος wind (237) that has brought Neoptolemus to Lemnos, the breath of air denoted by φώνημα may be seen to figure the space where the two characters’ bodily intensities converge. In the address, however, the enjambed juxtaposition of λαβεῖν (“to receive, to take in”) and πρόσφθεγμα (etymologically, “what is said, directed toward”) presents the emerging φιλία as the result of the transformation of toward into in, of a contact or an approach into an aural incorporation or an assimilation of the other—as suggested by the initial ºtriple alliteration. When, introducing himself, Neoptolemus modifies his island, Skyros, with an epithet (περιρρύτου “surrounded with water” 239) reserved, in the play’s first line, for Lemnos, Philoctetes’ island, he activates a sense of sameness, prompting Philoctetes to address him properly, with two forms of φίλος: ὦ φιλτάτου παῖ πατρός, ὦ φίλης χθονός (“O son of the dearest father, of the dear land” 242). What provokes this address and intensifies intimacy here may not just be Neoptolemus’s mention of his noble father and fatherland, but also the use of an adjective that Philoctetes, not unlike us, spectators and readers, recognizes as an affectively charged allusion to his own world. When he utters the phrase ὦ φίλης χθονός, he is, in a sense, conflating the land of his new φίλος with his own island (νῆσος), a steady companion, like the disease (νόσος). Rather than a search for connection—wind mixed with voice, Lemnos with Skyros—Philoctetes’ encounter with Neoptolemus seems rapidly to slide into the process that Derrida calls “friendship of self.”21 In Philoctetes’ first long speech, where he rehashes the trauma of abandonment, the verbal texture insistently enacts the assimilating power of φιλία (276–97): σὺ δή, τέκνον, ποίαν μ’ ἀνάστασιν δοκεῖς αὐτῶν βεβώτων ἐξ ὕπνου στῆναι τότε; ποῖ’ ἐκδακρῦσαι, ποῖ’ ἀποιμῶξαι κακά; ὁρῶντα μὲν ναῦς, ἃς ἔχων ἐναυστόλουν, πάσας βεβώσας, ἄνδρα δ’ οὐδέν’ ἔντοπον, οὐχ ὅστις ἀρκέσειεν, οὐδ’ ὅστις νόσου κάμνοντι συλλάβοιτο· πάντα δὲ σκοπῶν ηὕρισκον οὐδὲν πλὴν ἀνιᾶσθαι παρόν    [. . .] ὁ μὲν χρόνος δὴ διὰ χρόνου προὔβαινέ μοι,



The Boon and the Woe    [. . .]     . . . γαστρὶ μὲν τὰ σύμφορα τόξον τόδ’ ἐξηύρισκε, τὰς ὑποπτέρους βάλλον πελείας· πρὸς δὲ τοῦθ’, ὅ μοι βάλοι νευροσπαδὴς ἄτρακτος, αὐτὸς ἂν τάλας εἰλυόμην, δύστηνον ἐξέλκων πόδα, πρὸς τοῦτ’ ἄν· εἴ τ’ ἔδει τι καὶ ποτὸν λαβεῖν, καί που πάγου χυθέντος, οἷα χείματι, ξύλον τι θραῦσαι, ταῦτ’ ἂν ἐξέρπων τάλας ἐμηχανώμην· εἶτα πῦρ ἂν οὐ παρῆν, ἀλλ’ ἐν πέτροισι πέτρον ἐκτρίβων μόλις ἔφην’ ἄφαντον φῶς, ὃ καὶ σῴζει μ’ ἀεί.




Philoctetes What kind of rising from sleep, son, do you think I arose to at that time, after they were gone? Which troubles do you think I shed tears over, which do you think I lamented, seeing that the ships with which I sailed were all gone, that there was no man in place, nobody who could defend me, nobody who could share the disease while I was suffering? And looking in all directions I found nothing present but distress . . . Time after time passed for me . . . this bow found what was needed for my belly, striking winged doves; to this, whatever my arrow drawn by the string would strike, I would crawl, miserable, dragging my wretched foot; and if I also needed to have something to drink and—when frost was on the ground, as in the winter—break some wood, I wretchedly slithering, would arrange this; then there wouldn’t be fire, but I, rubbing a rock against rocks, would, with pain, light an invisible light, which always saves me.

Commentators on this passage draw attention to the striking concentration of repetitions, which “raise the emotional level” and “heighte[n] the pathos of Philoctetes’ situation.”22 But besides supplying a sequence of affective markers, the almost uninterrupted chain of doublings of various sorts—ποῖ’ . . . ποῖ’; ἀνάστασιν . . . στῆναι; βεβώτων . . . βεβώτας; ὅστις . . . ὅστις; χρόνος . . . χρόνου; βάλλον . . . βάλοι; πρὸς δὲ τοῦθ’ . . . πρὸς τοῦτ’; πέτροισι πέτρον; ἔφην’ ἄφαντον— may also channel the particular dynamics of affect itself during this encounter. Each pair can be seen to encapsulate Philoctetes’ attempt to make Neoptolemus a “congeneric double,” or a φίλος-as-κτῆμα like the bow. A “congeneric double”— not a brother in this case, but a parent—also comes into view, cryptographically, in the first line of the passage, where the interrogative adjective ποίαν, following the vocative τέκνον, overlaps with the vocative of the name of Philoctetes’ father, Poias (Ποίας, Ποίαντος), whom he mentioned a few lines earlier. The echo of this


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

name persists in line 278, where ποῖ’ and the sequence ποια produced by the proximity of the second ποῖ’ and ἀποιμῶξαι read like fragments of a sobbing invocation of the father. Later on, Philoctetes will explicitly transfer to Neoptolemus the function of a savior that he had assigned to his “dear” father (πατρί . . . φίλῳ 492).23 Whether achieved through infantilism or paternalism, Philoctetes’ manipulation of Neoptolemus—parallel to Odysseus’s own manipulation of the young man—is a well-­known topos in the critical reception of the play.24 But the juxtaposition of τέκνον and ποίαν—the address to Neoptolemus and the encrypted address to the absent father—intimates a more encompassing acquisitiveness. In turning Neoptolemus into his father (not just a fatherly figure), Philoctetes exhibits a distinctive compulsion to assimilate, own, digest, and ultimately annihilate the other. This is not merely a counterpart to his enemies’ efforts to incorporate him into their agenda, but a traumatic re-­ enactment of his disease’s cannibalistic friendship.25 It is the same annihilation that Philoctetes undergoes when he refers to himself as Ἡράκλειος (1131)—that is, as a property of his φίλος Heracles—and when he asks Neoptolemus to enclose him (ἐμβαλοῦ 481) in the ship’s bilge, a prenatal space or a crypt where, he says, he will not be able to affect others (ἥκιστα μέλλω τοὺς ξυνόντας ἀλγυνεῖν 483), where, in other words, his disturbing alterity will be severed from the possibility of approach, of contact, and absorbed into non-­existence.26 During the encounter with Neoptolemus, we observe Philoctetes’ empathic or sympathetic response to the deceptive narrative—to the alleged feud with the Greek leaders and the deaths of Achilles and Nestor (see, for example, the emblematic phrase τι καὶ σύ at 322). The intrigue Neoptolemus is acting out does not impede a coming together of experiences and intensities that will also directly affect him, causing his dilemma and his later capitulation to Philoctetes. This coming together is something similar to the contact of stony surfaces rubbing against each other, which is visualized by the polyptoton πέτροισι πέτρον in the quoted passage. However, the “congeneric doubles” appearing in the interstices of Philoctetes’ speech suggest that this rubbing may slip into—or be the disguise of—a different affective dynamic, which is suggested by the following line. The “saving” light that Philoctetes has lit (ἔφην’ ἄφαντον φῶς, ὃ καὶ σῴζει μ’) figures Neoptolemus in the rest of the play. Not just a surrogate, henchman, or caretaker, Neoptolemus is the internal accusative to Philoctetes’ action whose incorporation is underlined by the figura etymologica; he is an objectified subject made invisible (ἄφαντον), annihilated by the alpha privative. Neoptolemus is the person who would be “in

The Boon and the Woe


place” (ἔντοπον 280) to “share” (συλλάβοιτο 282) the disease with Philoctetes, a “sharing” that, as we will see, would place him in the cave along with other possessions. While acting out Odysseus’s script, Neoptolemus may reveal in the last section of his false narrative that he has fallen victim to the swallowing affect of Philoctetes’ φιλία. Neoptolemus’s execution of Odysseus’s plan of deception climaxes with the account of the wrong the Atridae did to him by assigning Achilles’ armor to Odysseus. Robbed of his “weapons” (τἀμὰ . . . ὅπλα 376), as he puts it, Neoptolemus says he has decided to retreat to Skyros. An obvious image of castration is, then, paired with a reference to the island where, before the Trojan war, Achilles was coerced into an emasculating experience, which Odysseus’s fiction causes Neoptolemus to relive, at least symbolically.27 Neoptolemus may just be parroting what he has been told to say while surrendering to the words’ evocative power. But in the presence of Philoctetes, who, in his body, nurtures a female disease, as he is devoured by it,28 Neoptolemus’s symbolic castration may be seen as an affective consequences of this encounter, a body-­to-body experience. Neoptolemus may be turning—or afraid of turning—into a version of Philoctetes’ nosos, the feminine “friend” at once within his body and periodically “visiting” him. It is a process of contagious becoming that threatens outright incorporation, as perhaps indicated by the last word of Neoptolemus’s speech, φίλος. What lies behind his solemn declaration “let whoever hates the sons of Atreus be to me and the gods alike a friend (φίλος)” (389–90) is not just a disingenuous strategy for winning Philoctetes over by repeating for the first time the word his interlocutor has already used many times, but a marker of his own affective entanglement. It is an entanglement that carries the annihilating dangers of friendship. The friendship that assimilates, fraternalizes, or cannibalizes the other is, in Derrida’s view, comparable to Freud’s notion of mourning as a process by which the subject works through and ultimately overcomes a loss, digesting the lost object, the “friend.” Melancholy, the opposite of mourning, its pathological counterpart in Freud’s system, is defined by a perennial inability to overcome a loss, to digest the other internalized by the subject. A loyal friendship, that is to say, one respectful of alterity, is, thus, paradoxically, a form of melancholy, something similar to Philoctetes’ relation to his disease, incorporated in his body but abidingly vital, never fully digested.29 Neoptolemus’s affective entanglement with Philoctetes may bring about not a replica of the melancholic incorporation of the female disease, but, more radically, a mourning-­like φιλία, a total assimilation or burial of alterity.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

We will see possible markers of this phenomenon in the continuation of the encounter, but first we will need to consider how the bow’s appearance as a cathectic locus creates an erotic triangle.30 The initial conversation between Neoptolemus and Philoctetes is interspersed with hints of “imperceptible micro-­ attractions”—the former’s reference to his longing (ἱμέρῳ 350) for his father, the latter’s description of Patroclus as “your father’s lover” (πατρὸς . . . τὰ φίλτατα 434).31 This erotic φιλία is at full force when the Merchant, Odysseus’s emissary or perhaps Odysseus himself in disguise announcing his own impending arrival,32 leaves them alone again. The outcome of the intensified intimacy, catalyzed by the Merchant’s final words,33 is Philoctetes’ ranting comparison of Odysseus to a snake—the ἔχιδνα responsible for his festering wound. The evocation of the “footless” (ἄπουν) condition caused by the ἔχιδνα generates a startling image of castration: θᾶσσον ἂν τῆς πλεῖστον ἐχθίστης ἐμοὶ / κλύοιμ’ ἐχίδνης ἥ μ’ ἔθηκεν ὧδ’ ἄπουν (“I’d rather listen to the snake, most hateful to me, which made me footless in this way” 631–32).34 This mutilation, a transmission of footlessness by a creeping phallus, is the Ur-­loss that encompasses all the others (of Philoctetes’ father, fellow soldiers, honor). At the same time, it evokes the substitutes for the traumatic lack: not just the perverse company of the disease, but also the bow and Neoptolemus himself. The focus shifts, in fact, from Philoctetes’ loss of his foot to Neoptolemus’s desire for the bow, which is expressed directly, or through projection, in sexualized language. When Philoctetes mentions his healing herb as the thing he wants to bring on the ship that he believes will take him home, Neoptolemus prods him: “What else do you desire to take (ἐρᾷς λαβεῖν)?” (651). As soon as Philoctetes “raises aloft or points to”35 the bow in his hands, Neoptolemus, titillated, if not aroused, confesses: “Is it possible for me to take a close look at it (κἀγγύθεν θέαν λαβεῖν), and hold it (βαστάσαι),36 and prostrate myself before it (προσκύσαι) as though it were a god?” (656–57). When Philoctetes consents, Neoptolemus says, “Yes, I desire (ἐρῶ) it” (660), adding a caveat that only heightens the feeling’s intensity (“but my desire [ἔρωτα] is such: if it is rightful [θέμις] for me, I’d want it; if not, let it go” 660–61). A surrogate of the lost foot, the bow here exemplifies both the Freudian fetish and the Lacanian idea of the phallus as a signifier of lack and desire,37 but no matter what symbolic meaning we privilege, the object, in its synecdochical, figural force, acquires and disseminates an erotic affective charge exceeding that of its anatomical referent in its base materiality. What particularly interests me in this arresting moment of theatrical homoeroticism is how Neoptolemus and the bow come together as homologous prosthetic objects. Neoptolemus is prosthetized during Philoctetes’ fit of

The Boon and the Woe


delirium. After imploring Neoptolemus to amputate his foot, in a re-­enactment of the snakebite that made him ἄπους, Philoctetes utters a sesquipedalian interjection, ἀπαππαπαῖ . . . παπαῖ (746) incorporating the vocative that soon follows: ὦ παῖ (750).38 The linguistic incorporation of παῖ(ς) suggests that, while Philoctetes anticipates the full removal of his foot, he contemplates absorbing Neoptolemus, as a φίλος, a compensation for lost bodily possessions, including a nourishing breast, which the Chorus alludes to in comparing him to “a child without . . . a nurse” (παῖς ἄτερ . . . φίλας τιθήνας 703), with φίλας connoting both “dear” and “his own.” At 786 (παπαῖ μαλ’, ὦ πούς), παῖ (in παπαῖ) is juxtaposed with πούς. Neoptolemus and the bow can, then, be seen as rival prostheses, opposite edges of an affective triangle converging on Philoctetes. The sexual energy that Neoptolemus directs toward his fellow prosthetic object is a version of the magnetism between rivals that, as Sedgwick has taught us, is characteristic of triangles.39 At the same time, Neoptolemus’s declared interest in the bow can seem to bend him away from Philoctetes himself, creating a double sense of loss—even mourning—that anticipates the revelation of betrayal. Philoctetes’ response sounds like postmortem praise (663–66). In an apostrophe, he speaks of Neoptolemus as “you, the only one who has granted (δέδωκας) that I behold this sunlight, see the land of Oeta, the elderly father, friends (φίλους), you who raised me up (ἀνέστησας) while I was in the power of my enemies.” Philoctetes here treats actions that have not yet taken place almost as past.40 Through δέδωκας and ἀνέστησας, he seems to react to the loss of someone or something treasured, memorializing its services.41 Neoptolemus is addressed, but he is not spoken to as much he is spoken of or about, the discursive mode typical of mourning, which takes on a kind of instrumentalizing perspective. In the funeral oration for Emmanuel Levinas, Derrida fights against the logic of mourning by seeing the friend’s task as “to address oneself directly to the other . . . before speaking of him.”42 Philoctetes’ quasi-­mourning in the form of a litany of benefits delivered suggests that Neoptolemus may already be lost—to the bow and vice versa. However, this is a loss that paradoxically entails a kind of possession. Unlike the melancholic internalization of the other, which allows it to keep a measure of agency—as with Philoctetes’ devouring disease—a mourning internalization is in the mode of totalizing assimilation, of digestion.43 The final portion of the dialogue gathers the scene’s affective energies in Philoctetes’ cave, casting φιλία as an annihilating incorporation merging intercourse and death. After Philoctetes promises Neoptolemus to reward his ἀρετή by letting him “touch” (θιγγάνειν 667) the bow or “touch [it] lightly”


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

(ἐπιψαῦσαι 669), the conversation briefly turns to the relation between friendship and possession (670–75): Φι. Νε.

εὐεργετῶν γὰρ καὐτὸς αὔτ’ ἐκτησάμην. οὐκ ἄχθομαί σ’ ἰδών τε καὶ λαβὼν φίλον. ὅστις γὰρ εὖ δρᾶν εὖ παθὼν ἐπίσταται, παντὸς γένοιτ’ ἂν κτήματος κρείσσων φίλος. χωροῖς ἂν εἴσω. Φι. καὶ σέ γ’ εἰσάξω· τὸ γὰρ νοσοῦν ποθεῖ σε ξυμπαραστάτην λαβεῖν.



Philoctetes I too have acquired the bow by doing good. Neoptolemus I don’t regret having found you and taken you as a friend, for whoever knows how to reciprocate the good he has received would be a friend better than any possession. Go inside. Philoctetes I will lead you in too, for my illness desires to take you as an assistant.

Featuring inter- and intralinear juxtapositions of φίλος and κτῆμα / κτάομαι, this passage has been seen to dramatize the etymological link between Philoctetes’ name and the idea of friendship as the best κτῆμα.44 But verbal resonances with the earlier part of the scene complicate this reading, casting friendship as a form of objectification. Seemingly yielding to Philoctetes’ impatient wish to leave Lemnos, while actually seeking to get hold of the bow, Neoptolemus has said, “All right, if this is your opinion, let’s go (χωρῶμεν), after you have taken from inside (ἔνδοθεν λαβών) that for which need and desire (πόθος) grip you most” (645–46). In the two lines that conclude the scene (674–75), marking the characters’ movement inside (χωροῖς ἂν εἴσω), Neoptolemus, who believes he has “taken” Philoctetes and the bow, becomes an item stored in the cave, his entrance fulfilling the “desire” (ποθεῖ) of Philoctetes’ illness to “take” (λαβεῖν) a new attendant.45 The cave is not just a storage space, however. In symbolic terms, it is something between a tomb and a bedroom, the natural destination of the erotic energies built up throughout the scene.46 Neoptolemus’s entrance into this charged offstage space thus visualizes Philoctetes’ acquisition of his new friend (see Neoptolemus’s phrase λαβὼν φίλον at 671) as an incorporation (εἰσάξω 674) of the other that is, at once, a prosthetic assimilation, intercourse, and death.47 Reconfiguring the triangle in the totalizing, annihilating mode of φιλία, Philoctetes enfolds Neoptolemus in the petite mort of sex or the abyss of death itself. The erotic contagion that Neoptolemus’s language of πόθος and ἔρως spreads into the scene does not envelop him and Philoctetes in an affective atmosphere, where they infect and mix with each other. There is, rather, a zero-­ sum game, an objectification and annihilation of subjects, of which Neoptolemus is the victim more than the beneficiary.

The Boon and the Woe


In this play of objectifying and objectified subjects, there is perhaps an additional contestant, affect itself. Bersani polemically reconceptualized the homophobic analogy of the rectum and the grave, both of which we might see in Philoctetes’ cavern, as a liberating proposition, an invitation to embrace sex as an opportunity for the “breakdown of the human itself in . . . intensities.”48 Luciano and Chen, in turn, use Bersani’s provocative thesis to theorize impersonal affect—the “intensities” in his phrase—as the solution to the “fantasies of possessive individualism and sovereign agency”49 attached to traditional views of the bounded, autonomous self. In Sophocles’ play, however, Philoctetes imputes a desire to “take” Neoptolemus to a personification of the disease (τὸ νοσοῦν). Affect—that is, the atmospheric manifestations of Philoctetes’ condition such as his cries of pain and the effluvium taken in by the characters who surround him—seems to become an individual, the third actor in a new triangle, a desiring subject (ποθεῖ 675). The personification shows that, even if depersonalized, conceived as “intensities,” affect maintains, or can be painfully perceived as, a “possessive” and “sovereign” agency of the sort that desires to appropriate Neoptolemus. This conception is not entirely divorced from the ancient idea of emotion as daemonic or divine.50 Philoctetes seems to alert us that, while dissolving subjects, affect may be felt as a new subject in itself, even a master, appropriating and incorporating instead of circulating and commingling. Thought to occupy an interval, a space of in-­between-ness between two or more bodies, connecting them without merging them—that is, without effacing their differences—affect, it seems, can become a body with its own totalizing (or “territorializing”) stakes in the game. We see affect emerging as a subject at a moment of crisis, when Neoptolemus’s betrayal is revealed and appropriation gives way to attempted expulsion or exclusion. After Neoptolemus reveals the truth, Philoctetes reviles him, again speaking not to him but of him, this time because of what he has done to, not for him (927–31): ὦ πῦρ σὺ καὶ πᾶν δεῖμα καὶ πανουργίας δεινῆς τέχνημ’ ἔχθιστον, οἷά μ’ εἰργάσω, οἷ’ ἠπάτηκας· οὐδ’ ἐπαισχύνῃ μ’ ὁρῶν τὸν προστρόπαιον, τὸν ἱκέτην, ὦ σχέτλιε; ἀπεστέρηκας τὸν βίον τὰ τόξ’ ἑλών.


You fire, utterly fearful object, and most hateful handiwork of fearfully clever wrongdoing, what things you did to me! How you have deceived me! You wicked man, aren’t you ashamed to look at me, the one turned toward you for purification, the suppliant? Having taken my bow, you have taken away my life.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Equating Neoptolemus to three objects or quasi-­objects (πῦρ, δεῖμα, τέχνημα, the latter two marked by the resultative suffix -μα), Philoctetes cryptically adds a fourth at the beginning of 928, where the phonemic sequence of δεινῆς τέχνημ’ ἔχθιστον anagrammatically materializes the ἔχιδνα.51 The reappearance of the snake impresses upon the text a trace of the original bite, the previously mentioned χάραγμα (267), which has engraved itself on Philoctetes’ skin. The anagram erupts like Neoptolemus’s betrayal, inscribing on the verbal surface an alternative path of signification, which affords a moment of visibility to the alterity Philoctetes has taken in. Having similarly incorporated Neoptolemus into his own subject world and lost his bow, Philoctetes now suggests on some level that once again he has been bitten by, has taken in, a castrating snake. The glimpse of a textual unconscious here thus reveals Philoctetes’ φιλία as a re-­ enactment of the traumatic bite by which he had internalized the disease and the snake that delivered it. The anagram constitutes the “hidden serpent” (κρύφιος . . . ὄφις 1328) that wounded Philoctetes. The anger and fear that discovery of the truth provokes in Philoctetes look back toward the burning sensation and chills of the bite and of the ensuing bouts of illness.52 Fear itself, externalized in language in the scornful address ὦ δεῖμα, is not just Philoctetes’ own but also Neoptolemus’s—as signaled just before the revelation by the latter’s repetition (παπαῖ 895) of Philoctetes’ earlier agonized shriek and by Philoctetes’ echoing response (παῖ ποῖ 896).53 Having taken in the fear of Neoptolemus the snake, along with the false friend himself, Philoctetes now casts both out. But thrown into the world through invective, fear is turned into an antagonistic, “possessive” subject.54 An emotional intensity such as fear circulates, but can congeal into a “sovereign” subject in itself. Becoming less fluid, the movement of affect thus hardens into a triangle of three precarious subjects, Philoctetes, Neoptolemus, and “fear,” each striving to absorb and annihilate the other. With the renewed threat of devouring fear as Neoptolemus recoils, Philoctetes seeks again to digest him and restore a part of his prosthetic self. In demanding the bow, Philoctetes also demands the return of Neoptolemus, another lost object, the snake he had taken in, asking him to give himself back, as it were.55 Neoptolemus’s silence, even amid pleas to speak, signals his attempted disincorporation from φιλία. He pulls back from his prosthetic role but also inadvertently reinforces his affinity to the non-­speaking bow, thereby re-­ energizing Philoctetes’ desire to prosthetize him. Saying that Neoptolemus “looks (ὁρᾷ) as though he will never give back the bow” (935), Philoctetes previews his later wishful imagining of the bow’s feelings: “Dear bow (ὦ τόξον φίλον) . . ., you certainly look (ὁρᾷς) pityingly, if you have any sense” (1128–31).56 After calling

The Boon and the Woe


on the natural features and animals of the island to bear witness to his mistreatment, Philoctetes turns once again to Neoptolemus and says, “But now become again ‘in yourself ’ (ἐν σεαυτῷ)” (950), suggesting at once a return to the Neoptolemus that Philoctetes thought he knew (and possessed) and, perhaps, as a corollary, a coming back in to the cave. We can detect a surge of emotion, a return of fear, when Philoctetes’ pleading demand (“what do you say?” 951) is met with silence. “O cave,” he says, “. . . once again I will enter you naked, having no food (τροφήν)!” (952–53). “Food” here includes not just the prey captured with the bow’s aid, but the bow and Neoptolemus themselves, the prostheses that, by being coopted into Philoctetes’ world, swallowed into the cave’s devouring maw, give him nourishment. Neoptolemus is not just a potential σύντροφος— the word used by the Chorus, in the parodos (171), to define the companion Philoctetes needs57—but τροφή itself. Full of objects whose alterity has been digested by Philoctetes—leafage turned into a bed, wood into a cup, fabric into a bundle of bodily excretions (32–39)—the cave is an image of Philoctetes’ prosthetic self, and of the intrinsically prosthetic nature of the self. No longer able to incorporate the other, the self can fall apart, losing its parts, loosening its resistance to being incorporated and annihilated. The dissolution resulting from the antagonistic movement of affect in the scene is conveyed by Philoctetes’ suicidal threat just before he is captured at Odysseus’s behest. Moving toward the edge of the cliff, he exclaims (1001–2): κρᾶτ’ ἐμὸν τόδ’ αὐτίκα / πέτρᾳ πέτρας ἄνωθεν αἱμάξω πεσών (“Falling from the top of the rock, I will immediately make this head of mine bleed on the rock”). The juxtaposition of πέτρᾳ and πέτρας belies the gap between the two rocks. In his first speech to Neoptolemus, the similar polyptoton πέτροισι πέτρον (296) reflected, in contrast, the proximity of rocks sparking fire, the same rocks (πυρεῖα 36) that are stored in Philoctetes’ cave, domesticated and integrated into his prosthetic self as much as the bow and Neoptolemus himself. The gap between rocks in the later passage figures an interruption, a threat of disincorporation, bodily parts separated and re-­incorporated by others: his head, absorbed by fear, or his hands (1004–5), with which Philoctetes commiserates as they are seized by Odysseus’s attendants, as though, alienated from him, they have become prostheses rather than anatomical possessions. In the last choral ode of the play, after his apostrophe to the “dear” absent bow, Philoctetes, addresses the wild animals of Lemnos, assuring them (1153–55) that they should no longer be afraid to come to him, inviting a perverse form of φιλία. In declaring, “It is fine to satiate your mouth on my flesh, reciprocal murder for murder” (καλὸν / ἀντίφονον κορέσαι στόμα πρὸς χάριν / ἐμᾶς σαρκὸς 1155–57), he presents himself as a σύντροφος (com-­panion) in the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

sense of becoming their τροφή (panis “bread”).58 The connection between eating with and being eaten by was already implicit in the address to them that had opened Philoctetes’ monologue after Neoptolemus’s revelation: ὦ ξυνουσίαι / θηρῶν ὀρείων (“O companies of mountain animals” 936–37). The search for compassion in the name of shared vulnerability comes across as a desire for a carnal co-­being on the border with mutual devouring.59 In Philoctetes’ offer of his flesh, we see the subject’s desperate attempt to break through the skin and make room for the other,60 a longing for an encounter that ends, however, in some kind of ingestion, and even in digestion.61 In the choral ode, Philoctetes uses the epithet ἀντίφονον (1156) to define the reciprocity that binds him to the wild animals.62 The only other ἀντι- compound appearing in a lyric section is ἀντίτυπον (693), which, in the first stasimon modifies στόνον, conveying the “echoing” force of affect, with its appropriative, consumptive quality. Ἀντίφονον may bring out this quality, almost glossing ἀντίτυπον, suggesting the antagonistic movement of affect, the shifting devouring dynamic that is implicated in every interaction between human or non-­human bodies and every exchange of personal or impersonal energies. Neoptolemus’s response to Philoctetes’ despairing monologue hints at the ethical conundrums of encountering the other through affective identification— pity, sympathy, or compassion. At the end of the monologue, the Chorus of sailors urges Neoptolemus to make a decision—to “set sail” or “accede to the words of this man” (τοῖς τοῦδε προσχωρεῖν λόγοις 964). The second option is expressed in language that intimates the “approach” (προσχωρεῖν) to a shore,63 while Neoptolemus’s response alarmingly envisions a more intimate relationship (965–66): ἐμοὶ μὲν οἶκτος δεινὸς ἐμπέπτωκέ τις / τοῦδ’ ἀνδρὸς οὐ νῦν πρῶτον, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάλαι (“Some fearsome pity for this man has fallen upon me, not now for the first time, but long ago”). Neoptolemus apparently fears that his οἶκτος—a kind of pity that does not imply an obligation to take action—may turn into ἔλεος, a committment to sympathizing without “withholding,” that is, by acting.64 It is precisely this commitment that Philoctetes requests in the following line (ἐλέησον, ὦ παῖ 967). But Neoptolemus’s language alerts us to what he may perceive as the consequences of ἔλεος. If, as promised, Neoptolemus were to return Philoctetes to his fatherland en route to a homecoming in Skyros—with the Greek army abandoned and Troy still standing—he would not be Neoptolemus anymore but a version of Philoctetes, stranded on an island, mutilated. After restoring the bow and taking Philoctetes home, he would again be enclosed, figuratively, in a cave, assimilated and digested by him, as it were. In addition, ἐμπέπτωκε links pity with a bout of Philoctetes’ ulcerous eruptions. As

The Boon and the Woe


the Chorus tells us in the first stasimon, he has faced in solitude “the burning-­hot stream of blood oozing from the ulcers” of his foot, “infested by the wild beast (ἐνθήρου ποδός),” if some such stream “attacks” (ἐμπέσοι) (696–99). The “attack” referred to here is, ultimately, that of the ἔχιδνα, whose hungry bite is periodically felt through the violent hemorrhages. The “fearsome pity” is perceived by Neoptolemus as biting into him with the voracity of the animal hidden in Philoctetes, but, in a sense, of Philoctetes himself. Absorbed, annihilated by fear, Philoctetes has, with a reconfigured incorporating power, become the fearsome pity that “falls upon” Neoptolemus. The verb ἐμπέπτωκε, whose hard consonant sounds almost materialize the gasping discomfort in Neoptolemus’s voice, thus encapsulates the pressing question of whether and how affective identification—sympathy or empathy, compassion without “withholding”—can avoid, for both sides, a diminution or elimination of alterity. It is this set of ethical concerns that led Levinas to abandon the notion of compassion and propose the alternative of suffering for (instead of with)—a painful exposure to others’ suffering, a responsibility toward their vulnerability, but without identification.65 We might see here a decoupling of identification and action, whereby the latter does not depend on the former and is perhaps even hindered by it. As Tahmasebi-Birgani puts it in a discussion of Levinasian ethics, “the other’s suffering is never my suffering, it is not mine to have, nor is it accessible to my comprehension. . . . [I]t is mine insofar as I am responsible for its alleviation.”66 Differently, in the Eudemian Ethics (1240a37-b3), Aristotle observes that φίλοι should not just “suffer with” (συλλυπεῖσθαι) each other, but also feel the “same pain” (τὴν αὐτὴν λύπην). Earlier in the play, Neoptolemus, as he says, experienced the pity that he is now deeply afraid of. We can say that the threat of assimilation posed by this feeling makes him relive the moment he entered—and was incorporated into—the cave of Philoctetes, “fullest of my pain” (πληρέστατον . . . / λύπας τᾶς ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ 1087–88), as its wretched inhabitant presents it in the last stasimon. Cannibalistic affect brings about Neoptolemus’s return to the cave even before he decides to return the bow to Philoctetes. Understanding that Neoptolemus is about to leave together with Odysseus and the bow, Philoctetes directs a last, desperate appeal to his lost friend (1066–67): “Offspring of Achilles, will I no longer be addressed by your voice (οὐδὲ σοῦ φωνῆς ἔτι / γενήσομαι προσφθεγκτός), but will you go away (ἄπει) like this?” Unable to shut Neoptolemus’s ears, Odysseus attempts to protect him (and himself) by warning about eye contact (μὴ πρόσλευσσε 1068), the call of the other, which is layered here with quasi-­erotic power.67 But it is probably too late. Although Neoptolemus


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

suggests a delay in order to give Philoctetes a chance to come along voluntarily, he is, on the surface, still obedient to Odysseus’s plan to take the bow.68 Yet he prefaces his remarks by mentioning (and not denying) what he imagines Odysseus will say about him, i.e., that he is “full of pity” (οἴκτου πλέως 1074). With this phrase Neoptolemus equates himself not just to the cave—itself a companion of Philoctetes,69 which only a few lines later he will characterize as “fullest (πληρέστατον) of pain” (1087–88)—but also to some of the objects it contains, the rags “full of some heavy matter from a sore” (βαρείας του νοσηλείας πλέα 39). Filling the cave, these objects are assimilated to the pains themselves, constituting an assemblage of sensations as things. Earlier in the play, Philoctetes enthusiastically thanked his apparent benefactor, in one of his many apostrophes (870–71): “I could have never hoped for this, son, that you would have the courage to bear my pains so pitifully, being present and helping me” (τλῆναί σ’ ἐλεινῶς ὧδε τἀμὰ πήματα / μεῖναι παρόντα καὶ ξυνωφελοῦντά μοι). The participles παρόντα and ξυνωφελοῦντα, masculine singulars that modify Neoptolemus but that are also magnetically close to the neuter plural πήματα,70 disrupt the surface of collaboration or identification (ξὺν- and ὠφελέω, resonant with φιλέω),71 almost suggesting his incorporation, through ἔλεος, into the “full” archive of sorrows (πήματα) abiding with Philoctetes in the cave. The resonance between οἴκτου πλέως and βαρείας. . .νοσηλείας πλέα invites us to see (or feel) Neoptolemus’s pity as something oppressively material, which weighs him down, objectifies him while decomposing him, like the rags or Philoctetes himself. This ragged condition puts him back in the cave, the material space that visualizes the workings of affect in the play. It is as though, in the act of speaking, Philoctetes were gulping down Neoptolemus and enclosing him in the architectural counterpart of his mouth, the hollow of his cavernous abode. Derrida conceptualizes the encounter with the other as an intrinsically anthropophagic experience, a perennial entanglement of “eat-­speak-interiorize,” which transforms ethics into a question of “eating well,” eating without digesting the other.72 Although, at this moment, Neoptolemus seems to remain aligned with Odysseus, the onslaught of what we can call anthropophagic pity alerts us to the imminence of his change of heart, the prospect, again, of his being digested. For Neoptolemus, returning the bow means re-­experiencing the possessive logic of φιλία. After he solemnly commits to returning it, he is greeted by Philoctetes with ὦ φίλτατ’ εἰπών (“O you who have said dearest things” 1290). The grammatical ambiguity of the elided form φίλτατ’—a neuter vocative plural (φίλτατα) overlapping with the masculine vocative singular (φίλτατε)—merges the reacquired arrows with Neoptolemus himself, as well as with Patroclus,

The Boon and the Woe


Achilles’ φίλτατα, referred to earlier. Later, when Philoctetes promises that, by taking him home, Neoptolemus will obtain a double “gain” (κτήσῃ 1370),73 from him and his father, Neoptolemus repeats that his goal is to persuade Philoctetes, “with my own words,” to set sail for Troy “together with this man [i.e., himself], a friend” (φίλου μετ’ ἀνδρὸς τοῦδε 1375). The interlinear link between κτήσῃ and φίλου reinscribes Philoctetes’ name and the troublesome relation of κτῆμα and φιλία that this name dramatizes. Referring to himself with the deictic τοῦδε as though he were pointing to a third, distinct person, Neoptolemus seems alienated from himself, caught up in φιλία’s law of objectification. Neoptolemus may be back in the cave, but the rapport of φιλία between Philoctetes and the bow seems in jeopardy. When Philoctetes tries to use the bow against Odysseus, Neoptolemus’s grip prevents it, suggesting a kind of complicity between himself and the other side of the triangle that we previously considered (1299–1303). Just before the finale, Philoctetes calls the bow “Heracles’ arrows” (βέλεσι τοῖς Ἡρακλέους 1406), a reference to the former owner that forecasts his arrival as the deus ex machina, but also his impending re-­ appropriation of Philoctetes himself. Moments after asserting his firm grip on the bow (“I’ll be present with Heracles’ arrows”), Philoctetes will become the object, and the firm grip will be Heracles’ own. It is the affective power of Heracles’ voice that brings the play to a resolution while exposing the persistence of the complexities we have touched upon throughout this chapter: echo as affect, affect as incorporation, reterritorialization instead of deterritorialization. In the middle of the finale, Heracles’ speech is joined with Philoctetes’ farewell to Lemnos by the latter’s greeting to his long-­ ago friend, ὦ φθέγμα ποθεινὸν ἐμοὶ πέμψας (“O you who have sent me your longed-­for voice” 1445). This seems to construe the unfolding alliance as a renewed reciprocity of erotic intensities, seeming to figure affect as an “intersubjective exchange” or an “interabsorption.”74 Such exchange and mutual absorption is expressed in Philoctetes’ farewell through images of sound (1453–60): χαῖρ’, ὦ μέλαθρον ξύμφρουρον ἐμοί, Νύμφαι τ’ ἔνυδροι λειμωνιάδες, καὶ κτύπος ἄρσην πόντου προβολῆς, οὗ πολλάκι δὴ τοὐμὸν ἐτέγχθη κρᾶτ’ ἐνδόμυχον πληγῇσι νότου, πολλὰ δὲ φωνῆς τῆς ἡμετέρας Ἑρμαῖον ὄρος παρέπεμψεν ἐμοὶ στόνον ἀντίτυπον χειμαζομένῳ.




The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Farewell, abode that shared watches with me, and watery Nymphs of the meadows and masculine crashing of the sea on the jutting rock where my head was often doused, in my inmost dwelling, by the blows of the wind, and many times Mount Hermaion sent a cry, an echo of my voice, back to me in my stormy distress.

The text here seems to work as the atmosphere, a space of affective in-­betweenness where multiple sounds circulate and commingle with each other—Heracles’ and Philoctetes’ current voices, the roar of the sea around Lemnos, and the past echoes of Philoctetes’ laments. The convergence between Heracles’ voice and the “masculine” marine roar reaching Philoctetes within the cave generates the impression of “interabsorption” between the two friends, their respective worlds, the present/future and the past. The resonance of παρέπεμψεν (1459) with πέμψας (modifying Heracles in 1445) makes us see that, in bringing to suffering Philoctetes a very familiar voice (his own, in fact), Mount Hermaion foreshadowed Heracles, who is perceived to be as sympathetic as the ξύμφρουρον μέλαθρον of Lemnos (1453). In a sense, then, to Philoctetes’ ears Heracles’ voice must appear blended with his own (he calls himself Ἡράκλειος after all, at 1131, as we have seen). But, in evoking echo, Philoctetes gives away what the sounds he is memorializing actually are, “congeneric doubles” of Heraclean sound, feeble traces of the past swallowed into the presence of the god’s voice. Affect defines its own movement here not through the open circularity of the atmosphere, but through the closed one of the sea-­bound cave (ἐνδόμυχον) or of the ship’s hold, spaces between annihilation and rebirth. The capaciousness of affect—its ability to bring together apparently separate domains (subject and object, human and non-­human)—gives way to a reduction of the other to sameness.75 It is the sameness of friendship, which subliminally emerges at the end of Philoctetes’ farewell, where he wishes to reach the place where “the opinion of friends (φίλων) and the all-­taming (πανδαμάτωρ) god” are leading him (1467–68). In assimilating his suffering to the experience of a storm through the metaphorical verb χειμάζομαι (“to be tossed, distressed, as in a storm”), Philoctetes may present an atmospheric image of affect, but Heracles’ voice enacts the affinity of φίλος and πανδαμάτωρ.76 Re-­creating Mount Hermaion, it embodies the appropriative intensity of echo, which, by repeating a sound, makes that sound its own, in a replay of the consuming love of the eponymous nymph. As suggested by the Chorus’s exhortation (“Let us all depart in a horde [ἀολλεῖς] 1469),77 the affect that spreads in the last scene assimilates Philoctetes into a “pack” (the Greek army). Along Deleuzian lines, this incorporation through an apparent “alliance” or “contagion” could be seen optimistically as an expression of coming together, of

The Boon and the Woe


imbrication in the space of in-­between-ness.78 However, in the loss of individuality, of difference, of alterity, it constitutes a coerced (and still-­hierarchical) “becoming” more than a “becoming with,” a “reterritorialization” rather than a “deterritorialization.”79 Cast away and isolated, Philoctetes is decomposed in body and language by his disease, a malevolent external and internal other. His precarious sense of subjecthood tends toward a self-­dispersal that lodges his feelings in external others, whether human (Neoptolemus, the once-­human Heracles) or non-­ human (the bow, the cave, surrounding flora and fauna). Yet this centrifugal movement of affective energy coincides with a centripetal impetus, a compulsive desire for possession, which implicates both Philoctetes and those he encounters. This drive toward appropriation, as well as dispersal, complicates the notion of affect as “scattered and diffuse.”80 The affective turn reacts against the traditional concept of emotion as essentially “unresponsive to . . . other pulsations and propulsions floating around bodies and environments,”81 positing a world of “ ‘mixed’ encounters,”82 where the subject, like Philoctetes, is refound “as a subject-­amongst-subjects and an object-­amongst-objects”83 and “a body is as much outside itself as in itself— webbed in its relations—until ultimately such firm distinctions cease to matter.”84 There is, however, the danger of an uncomfortable and stifling intimacy— something similar to the φιλία between Philoctetes and Neoptolemus, or Philoctetes and his bow. The sensorial and even ontological continuum presented by affect theory may obscure the ethical challenges of relationality, of the encounter with alterity. In Philoctetes we see not only a political power that disguises brutal cooptation as sympathy, but also the possessive and cannibalistic dimension of the search for—and the granting of—sympathy. Philoctetes illustrates how affect comes up against responsibility toward the other, a concern that is central to the practice of friendship. Just as friendship’s sympathy and solidarity may result in the creation of a mere copy of the self, as suggested by Aristotle’s phrase ἕτερος γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ φίλος,85 affect theory’s dissolution of subject and object into the atmosphere, “spatialized feeling,”86 conjures a comprehensive materiality that may eliminate difference as much as hierarchy. Pity and fear bring Philoctetes and Neoptolemus together, but less through a meeting in-­between than an incorporation of the latter into the former’s subject world. At the end of the play, Heracles’ voice reconnects him with Philoctetes, but also cannibalizes him. Affect theory may, in other words, obscure the dynamics of assimilation, the power imbalances underlying the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

blending of subject and object. “Spatialized feeling” may be an omnivorous place, like a tomb-­like cave, where ingestion implies digestion. It is a material space that closes in the full openness of the atmosphere while allowing enough openness to swallow up the other. It is in this sense more of a black hole than a black box.87 What does all this mean for the tragic audience? Instead of a Platonic warning against the dangerous sameness produced by theatrical mimêsis, perhaps we can derive from Philoctetes a call for responsibility toward tragic characters and their stories.88 In watching, hearing, and reading, we may be tempted to assimilate these characters into our world, absorb them in our feelings, and in that way kill them. But like Philoctetes’ disease, tragic characters can remain vital, internalized—melancholic objects, which are never completely absorbed or annihilated. An affective engagement in which the other is approached rather than blended, or where the outside is incorporated but not fully digested, may produce what we can call responsible affect. Responsible affect may thus be the affect of melancholy—that is, a quintessentially tragic affect.


Noses in the Orchestra Bodies, Objects, and Affect in Sophocles’ Ichneutae Anna Uhlig

In the opening scene of Sophocles’ satyr drama Ichneutae (“The Trackers”),1 Apollo presents the satyrs’ patriarch, Silenus, with an attractive proposal. In a scenario familiar from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the god’s beloved cattle have been stolen. But unlike in the hymn, Apollo has decided to outsource the work of locating his herd and promises Silenus a golden crown and his freedom if he can secure their safe return. Silenus, in turn, hands off the dirty work to his sons, the half-­human, half-­equine satyrs who make their appearance in the orchestra soon after the god’s departure. A lacuna makes the satyrs’ entrance difficult to reconstruct, but they seem eager to embark on the hunt, and to earn the enticing reward promised by the god. Soon Silenus is directing their search, instructing them to sniff out the cattle like dogs, as if taking literally Apollo’s description of his own failed attempts to “dog-­hunt” (κυνηγετῶ 21) for his lost herd. While the text here is also quite fragmentary, what remains of the speech preserves much of Silenus’s emphasis on the satyrs’ sense of smell as the means by which they will track down the cattle (91–99): φησίν τις; .[ ἔ.οικεν ἤδη κ[ ἄγ’ εἷ.α δὴ πᾶσ. . .[ ῥινηλατῶν ὀσμ[ αὔρας ἐάν πῃ πρ[ non plus 15 ll. ] διπλοῦς ὀκλάζω[ν . . . . . . . . . . . . .]ν. ὕποσμος ἐν χρῷ .[ non plus 15 ll. ] οὕτως ἔρευναν καὶ π[. . . . . . . . . . .]. ἅπαντα χρηστὰ κα[ὶ . . . . . . . . . .]λειν.



The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Does someone say? . . . now it seems . . . Come, then (everyone?) . . . nose-­tracking (by scent?) . . . if somehow the breeze . . . crouching down doubled . . . guided by smell, skin close to (the ground?) . . . thus the search and . . . everything good and . . .

The satyrs must, Silenus insists, “track with their noses” (ῥινηλατῶν), and it is likely that the next word, which begins with ὀσμ[, also has something to do with smell.2 Somewhat more speculatively, the reference to breezes (αὔρας) in the following line may refer to smells carried by the wind. And then, to drive home the point, Silenus declares that the satyrs will be ὕποσμος (97), a rare word, found here for the first time, meaning something like “subject to, ruled by smell.”3 This passage, and the subsequent focus in the play on the satyrs’ sight and then hearing, might seem to invite consideration of sensory perception, but I believe that Sophocles’ interest in the satyrs’ senses, and their smelling noses in particular, can equally well be explored under the rubric of affect. Indeed, sensory perception, and scent in particular, has been at the heart of many studies of affect, since, as Teresa Brennan observes, it “is critical in how we ‘feel the atmosphere.’”4 And while one might generally associate affect with what we call “emotion,” many branches of affect theory function with a somewhat broader definition that, as Seigworth and Gregg state, “marks a body’s belonging to a world of encounters.”5 It is in this spirit that my own thinking about affect has developed, as a way of gaining better purchase on how the fantastic bodies of satyrs are created through their interactions with (other) objects in the theater. In the Ichneutae passage just examined, Silenus’s interest in the satyrs’ sense of smell is also unmistakably an interest in their bodies. In order to be “ruled by smell,” Silenus instructs his sons to crouch down, doubling over their bodies (διπλοῦς ὀκλάζων), and to move “skin close” (ἐν χρῷ) to better follow the scent of the cattle along the ground. The latter phrase, used elsewhere by Sophocles of shaving,6 highlights the satyrs’ own fleshy form by identifying their skin (χρώς) as (one of) the means by which the scent will be encountered. The somatic component encourages a pointedly physical understanding of the satyrs’ resemblance to a pack of hunting dogs. Silenus’s instructions might otherwise have remained a compelling verbal metaphor and no more, as is the case when the Chorus of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon describe Cassandra finding the scent of past bloodshed like a dog,7 or when Athena praises Odysseus for sniffing out Ajax’s tracks in Sophocles’ Ajax.8 In Ichneutae, by contrast, the satyrs’ physical adjustment, adopting the downward facing posture of hunting dogs, parlays the

Noses in the Orchestra


verbal metaphor into a visual/corporeal one. The satyrs are, in a sense, transformed into dogs before the audience’s eyes.9 The physical metamorphosis of the satyrs is put on prominent display in a mimetic dance celebrating the Chorus’s new canine physiques.10 The dance is vividly described by their father who emphasizes the novelty of the satyrs’ physical posture. “What is it, this new manner of bending over towards the ground to dog-­hunt?” Silenus asks, “What is this act of yours?” (τίν’ αὖ, / πρόσπαιον ὧδε κεκλιμ[ένος] κυνηγετεῖν / πρὸς γῇ; τίς ὑμῶν ὁ τρόπος; 124–26). In addition to noting their “dog-­hunting” posture, Silenus compares the satyrs to hedgehogs (127) and farting monkeys (128). Even as they insinuate a degree of bathetic inelegance that may or may not have been an accurate description of the dance, the comments re-­enforce the bestial nature of the satyrs’ appearance, and ensure that attention remains firmly fixed on the form of their newly transformed bodies.11 The dance turns the satyrs’ bodies into a conspicuous spectacle for both Silenus and the audience alike and invites us to contemplate the unaccustomed forms that their transformation has brought about. The hunting dance described in Pindar’s famous hyporcheme, in which the singer instructs an unidentified dancer to “imitate” a horse or dog with his twirling foot (fr. 107ab. 1–3), not to mention vase iconography, reminds us that the mimetic animal dancing of the Ichneutae Chorus was neither unprecedented, despite Silenus’s repeated protestations of novelty, nor limited to the realm of satyr drama.12 But the physicality of the dance, its celebration of the bodies’ altered appearance, and Silenus’s insistence that the Chorus have transformed themselves in a way that he has never seen before, asks us to think about how theatrical bodies—and satyrs bodies in particular—can be remade through interaction with the world around them.

1.  Fashioning bodies Before following the transformed bodies of the Ichneutae Chorus any further, it will be helpful to consider what one means by the term body. I pursue this question with respect to two distinct, but related objects, a general definition of the body, and a more circumscribed description of the unique bodies of satyrs as they appeared in dramatic competition at the fifth-­century Great Dionysia. My approach to the first, more broadly conceived category of body is grounded in the work of Bruno Latour, who calls for a new language of bodies that reflects the affective relationships that constitute our lived experience.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Rather than rely on the traditional post-­enlightenment model of bodies and subjects, Latour argues that we must learn to account for what he calls a “multiverse of articulated propositions.”13 The multiverse is comprised of the vast array of affective experiences that, when recognized (or, as Latour puts it, articulated),14 contribute to the construction of what we otherwise call a body. The body, he explains, is “an interface that becomes more and more describable as it learns to be affected by more and more elements. [. . .] There is no sense in defining the body directly, but only in rendering the body sensitive to what these other elements are.”15 The body, in other words, cannot be considered as a singularity. It only exists as a product of affective engagement. For Latour, the affective construction of the body is an ongoing process which is never fully completed.16 Moreover—and this point is of particular importance for my thinking about satyrs—the ongoing construction of a body is a collaborative project that makes use of tools and instruments which are integrated into that body by means of affective engagement. Latour thus rejects the customary boundaries that distinguish between inside and outside, self and other. The “external” objects that give shape to a body, by honing or teaching its sensory capacities, become a part of that body, no different than the muscles and sinews that have been taught to walk, run, and dance.17 The illustrative example that Latour offers to describe his rather unconventional definition of the body pertains, coincidentally, to how people train their sense of smell for work in perfume houses, namely by honing their olfactory sensitivity through the use of a smelling kit containing particularly extreme examples of various types of scent.18 This smelling kit, which trains the body to be what in the trade they metonymically call a “nose,” should, Latour argues, be treated as “coextensive with the body.”19 The kit is, in other words, as much and as authentically a part of this newly fashioned smelling body—the professional “nose”—as the flesh and blood agent who does the smelling. One might also consider the way that tools hone the muscles of other types of professionals while becoming veritable extensions of their bodies: chefs and their knives, dancers and their shoes, astronomers and their telescopes. For those of us who spend much of our lives with books, such a radical notion of the body finds expression in the way that our own perceptions are honed by powerful affective engagements with the texts that we study, so much so that these external objects can indeed be incorporated into our corporeal form (above and beyond our hunched backs and myopic vision). Latour’s observations are compelling in their own right, but I am drawn to his theoretical framework here because it serves as an exceptionally powerful tool for thinking about satyrs, and those of Sophocles’ Ichneutae in particular,

Noses in the Orchestra


for whom it is the affective engagement of their noses, trained to the ground by the scent of Apollo’s lost cattle, that reshapes and thus extends the boundaries of the body. But the smells that the satyrs are tracking are not the first external forces to be amalgamated into the composite bodies of the hybrid Chorus. Before the dramatic action has even begun, the human choreuts must be transformed into satyrs. They must take on, by means of theatrical costume, the somatic attributes—shaggy beard and equine ears, equine tail and jovially erect phallus— that define the mythical creatures. This basic fact is true of all figures who appear in mimetic guise, whether in the theater or elsewhere, but I believe that there are certain attributes of theatrical satyrs that make this point particularly salient for the questions I am exploring here. There are two “external objects” that help to construct the bodies of the satyr Chorus in the theater of Dionysus. In the upper register, there is a distinctive mask adorned with the satyrs’ characteristic facial features.20 In the lower position, a perizôma, a specialized type of shorts made of fur or leather that allows the human choreut to acquire the satyrs’ equine tail and erect phallus. Whereas the theatrical mask has enjoyed the lion’s share of scholarly attention,21 I believe that the all-­too-often neglected perizôma holds the key to understanding the satyrs’ dramatic form.22 Reveling in anything coarse and crude, satyr drama is always eager to draw attention to the nether regions, even when it comes to theorizing about costume. We have a good sense of what the perizôma looked like through the striking frequency with which it is depicted in fifth-­century vase painting. In contrast to the mask, the perizôma is represented in these images as a costume on the body. Since vase painters almost invariably depict worn masks as “melting,” the object blending seamlessly with the body of its wearer, it can, with rare exceptions, only be identified when not in use.23 The perizôma, however, is only seen when worn. It retains its marked status as costume even when performing its mimetic function. The disparity is beautifully illustrated by a famous bell crater attributed to the Tarporley painter which, although somewhat removed from the context of fifth-­century Athens, nevertheless exemplifies its iconographic idioms (Fig. 9.1).24 The three choreuts on the vase, represented just before or after a performance, all wear the distinctive perizôma of the dramatic satyr. Two of the figures hold their masks, which are easily identified as such, but the mask of the third, which is worn, has melted and become indistinguishable from the body of the choreut.25 When one examines the lower register, however, the perizômata worn by all three choreuts are clearly demarcated as costume and the craftsmanship behind the garments is emphasized by conspicuously rendered details. If the popularity


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Fig. 9.1  Three choreuts in satyr costume. Apulian red figure bell krater attributed to the Tarporley painter (c. 410–380 BCE). NM47.5, Nicholson Museum, the University of Sydney.

of the perizôma as a subject for vase painters attests to the outsized role of this particular costume in the theatrical imagination of fifth-­century Athenians, its explicit representation as a costume in use suggests that this general fascination was due, in no small part, to its ability to stimulate thinking about how crafted objects transform bodies. Such an inference is given further support by the form of the perizôma itself, the material epitome of somatic hybridity. Satyrs themselves are hybrid figures. They are, most obviously, a combination of man and beast, but satyrs combine disparate, even oppositional elements in many other ways as well; as François Lissarrague has so elegantly explored, insofar as they are the paradigmatic internal other of the Athenian imagination, their very being comes to represent the union of seemingly antithetical qualities.26 The perizôma reflects this essential

Noses in the Orchestra


hybridity in its combination of human and equine anatomy—the upright penis in the front perfectly balanced by the dangling tail in the back. But it also, when worn, draws attention to the more complex hybrid body constructed through the combination of the human flesh of the choreut and the leather—the flesh of a dead animal simulating human flesh—of the perizôma. This hybrid nudity constitutes the essential definition of the perizôma in vase iconography, where the presence of the costume is signaled by the line that simultaneously separates and joins the body of the choreut and the new, artificial body created by the perizôma. It is useful here think of the hybrid nudity of the perizôma in contrast with the so-­called stage nakedness so familiar from comedy. In comedy, nakedness is represented by a full-­body suit that covers the actor’s entire body, with the exception of hands and feet.27 Even “nude” limbs are covered by fabric, which is always conspicuously marked as costume in the vase representations.28 By contrast, the perizôma combines with the exposed limbs of the choreut to represent a truly composite body; part mimetic, part “real”; part covered, part exposed; part animal, part human; part dead, part living. The perizôma is both the symbol of the coordinated function of choreut and costume and the means by which it is achieved. It embodies the fusion of human actor and object out of which the basic bodies of theatrical satyrs are formed. Because satyr drama is defined by the presence of a Chorus of satyrs, the two elements of the basic costume, mask and perizôma, represent essential components of the genre, transforming the Chorus members, who will have portrayed any range of figures in the preceding three tragedies, into the expected and reliable satyrs of the fourth play. But my generalized picture of the basic construction of the satyr body is incomplete, since it does not reflect the vast range (or multiverse, to use Latour’s term) of additional objects that are employed within individual plays. As Rebecca Lämmle has explored, satyr drama engages in a “serial poetics” in which each new theatrical iteration represents a blend of familiar attributes cast in compelling new light.29 In many plays the use of supplementary dress and other objects, items which we may call “secondary costumes”, helps to differentiate the satyrs, adapting them to the particular mythical narrative into which they have been inserted.30 Be they the torches of Aeschylus’s Prometheus Pyrkaeus, the goat skins of Euripides’ Cyclops, or the hammers of Sophocles’ Pandora, these secondary costumes function as further extensions of the satyrs’ bodies, transforming them from their accustomed status as rustic attendants of Dionysus into the new roles, and bodies, that they inhabit only for the duration of any given performance.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Through their hybrid status as bodies shaped by perizômata, and through their penchant for honing their form by further incorporating the additional “external objects” of secondary costumes, satyrs, more than any other creatures of the fifth-­century Athenian theater, embody Latour’s composite form. Their very bodies are the products of affect, physically created through engagement with the materials that surround them.

2.  Satyrs, cattle, and other things And yet, as we have already seen, the satyrs of Sophocles’ Ichneutae do not transform themselves by means of secondary costumes. Their transition from “normal” band of satyrs to the hunting dogs of Apollo is unusual in two respects. Firstly, it is effected entirely through the “basic” bodies of the Chorus, the hybrid construct of human choreut and primary costume (mask and perizôma). Secondly, and perhaps more radically, the satyrs’ transformation takes place in the orchestra, during the course of the play, in front of the audience rather than before the drama begins (backstage, as it were).31 The exposure of the satyrs’ metamorphosis, made all the more conspicuous by their elaborate mimetic dance, situates the malleability of the satyrs’ bodies at the heart of the dramatic action. The foregrounding of the satyrs’ sensory experience, through scent above all, frames their transformation as something that happens through affective interaction with the external world (all the more so when we recall how many ancient theories of sense perception entail the physical interaction of sense organ and sensory particle).32 Within the structure of Ichneutae, it is the task of the transformed satyr-­dogs, now the “trackers” of the play’s title, to seek out the sensory object that has trained their noses in this canine fashion.33 For the spectator, whose gaze has been directed to the performative construction of the satyrs’ new form—and who has, to use Latour’s terminology, articulated the affective engagement that has given their bodies new shape—the hunt takes on a deeper significance. It is a search for the “kit” that is now a part of the “noses” in the orchestra. The unseen cattle, whose bodies have joined together with the satyrs by means of scent, can be understood as a kind of metaphorical secondary costume, an added element that adapts their bodies to the circumstances of this dramatic iteration.34 Like the tracks of Apollo’s cattle, the trail that I follow toward the unseen costume-bodies of Ichneutae leads backwards, beginning near the end of our extant fragments with Cyllene’s response to the re-­fashioned satyrs as they near

Noses in the Orchestra


the conclusion of their search. As they approach the nymph’s mountainside dwelling, the satyrs once again perform a raucously mimetic dance, leaping about the orchestra like the hunting dogs they have become, urged on by Silenus’s “dog-­ driving whistle” (κυν. ο. ρ.τικὸ. ν σύριγμα 173). The play’s emphasis on affect has shifted from smell to sound,35 and Cyllene reprises the “dog-­hunting” language of the earlier scenes, but now with regards to the satyrs’ vocal expressions (231– 32).36 More importantly for my present purposes, the speech contains the play’s most pointed discussion of costume, and is thus a particularly acute provocation to further contemplate the construction of the Chorus’s bodies (221–32): θῆρες, τί. [τό]νδε χλοερὸν ὑλώδη πάγον ἔν�[θ]ηρο�ν ὡρμήθητε σὺν πολλῇ βοῇ; τίς ἥδε τέχνη; τίς μετάστασις πόνων, οὓς πρόσθεν εἶχες δεσπότῃ χάριν φέρων, ὕ..ι �νος αἰεὶ νεβρίνῃ καθημμέν[ο]ς δορᾷ χερ[ο]ῖ ν� τ�ε� θ�ύ�ρ�σ�[ο]ν� εὐπαλῆ φέρων ὄπισθεν εὐίαζες ἀμφὶ τὸν θεὸν σὺν ἐγγόνοις νύμφαισι καἰπόλων ὄχλῳ; νῦν δ’ ἀγνοῶ τὸ χρῆμα· ποῖ στροφαὶ νέα�ι� μανιῶν στρέφουσι; θαῦμα γὰρ κατέκλ�[υ]ο�ν ὁμοῦ πρέπον κέλευμά πως κυ�ν�η�γετ[ῶ]ν ἐγγὺς μολόντων θηρὸς εὐναί[ου] τ�ρο�[.]ης,



Beasts! Why do you attack this verdant wooded hill, home of wild things, with such shouts? What is this skill? What is this change from the labors which you used to complete on behalf of your master, always (drunk?), clad in fawn skins and carrying the thyrsoi easily in your hands, shouting “euai” behind the god with your kindred nymphs and throng of goatherds? But this (τὸ χρῆμα) now I do not recognize. Where are these new twists of mania turning you? I was astonished to hear a shout just like that of dog-­hunters closing in on a beast in its lair . . .

The play between absent and present costumes is neatly encapsulated in Cyllene’s address to the satyrs-­dogs. Like Silenus observing their earlier mimetic dance, Cyllene comments on the satyrs’ odd and unaccustomed behavior, noting the new skill (τέχνη 223) that their bodies display.37 But in contrast to Silenus, Cyllene makes a pointed observation about costuming when she questions the absence of the satyrs’ typical paraphernalia: the fawn skins and thyrsoi of their Dionysian identity, items that could be called their standard bacchic secondary costume. Cyllene’s words conjure the image of the satyr Chorus in another guise,


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

clad in the accoutrements of Dionysiac celebration. But the bodies before her in the theater hold nothing in their hands (χερ[ο]ῖ�ν) and are covered not by the skins of deer (νεβρίνῃ [. . .] δορᾷ) but by their own naked hides, the hybrid construct of choreut and perizôma. Cyllene’s projection of an absent secondary costume calls attention to the unorthodox way in which the Chorus has been transformed. The new features of their bodies are apparent from the satyrs’ deportment, and their bowed posture, which raises the equine tails of the perizôma into the air, emphasizes the bestial features already present in their hybrid form. But the source of this change—a different sort of absent costume— remains unseen. Amidst the suggestive language of Cyllene’s speech, the use of the term χρῆμα is particularly intriguing. As Cyllene contemplates the satyrs’ unfamiliar appearance, she proclaims her bafflement at their new form: νῦν δ᾽ἀγνοῶ τὸ χρῆμα, which I have translated (or perhaps avoided translating) as “but this now I do not recognize.” It is difficult to know exactly how to construe the usage here. The term χρῆμα has a wide range of meanings stemming from the root sense of “something that is needed.” It can denote inanimate objects, most often money, as well as the more abstract sense of “affairs.”38 Cyllene’s use of the word here seems to refer, at least superficially, to the behavior of the satyrs (looking forward to the στροφαὶ νέα�ι� of the line’s end); that is, to the general disposition of the Chorus— their appearance, dancing and singing—in a variation of the “affair” sense of the word. But following so closely on the heels of a discussion of the satyrs’ familiar, but absent, accoutrements, it is hard not to hear a further sense of physical object, possessions—or even of, as English theater idiom so appropriately dubs them, stage properties, props. One can readily hear both registers in Cyllene’s broadly phrased exclamation, since they are, in fact, two sides of the same coin, as the nymph herself has made clear. She cannot understand what the satyrs are doing and, or perhaps because, she does not see their customary possessions. Sophocles’ use of the term χρῆμα elsewhere in the play further complicates our understanding of Cyllene’s unusual turn of phrase.39 In the opening exchange between Apollo and Silenus, a tightly paired twofold usage raises the question of whether, and how, animals can be considered χρήματα. Apollo is the first to make use of the word, speaking of τὸ χρῆμα as he encourages Silenus to take up the task of retrieving his cattle (44). Gaps in the papyrus make the precise reference of word difficult to determine, but it seems clear that he is speaking either of his cattle or of the reward (μισθός) that he will offer for their return.40 Silenus repeats the term almost immediately in his response to the god, expressing his eagerness to “dog-­hunt the thing”: ἄν πως τὸ χρῆμα τοῦτό σοι

Noses in the Orchestra


κυνηγ�[έ]σω (50). Silenus thus quite clearly applies the term to Apollo’s cattle, the object of the hunt. His language either echoes Apollo’s earlier phrasing or, perhaps more intriguingly, reframes the god’s economic discourse by equating the wages of Apollo’s hired hands to the monetary value of his lost animals.41 Whatever the specific nuances of this first, double usage of the term, the exchange situates the bodies of living creatures within the discourse of χρήματα. Like the reward that Apollo offers, the cattle at the heart of the play are, in a certain sense, objects. But so, too, are the satyrs themselves. Apollo and Silenus’s blending of animate and inanimate objects colors the implications of Cyllene’s speech to the satyrs, whom she addresses as θῆρες (“beasts”)—the first word she utters on stage. By foregrounding the satyrs’ own bestial status, Cyllene calls attention to the blurry boundary between the satyrs and the object of their hunt.42 The nymph twice describes the satyrs’ unusual (canine) hunting sounds as if they were targeting beasts (ἔν�[θ]ηρο�ν 222; θηρὸς 232), echoing the vocative θῆρες with which she begins her address. The domesticated cattle are not, properly speaking, θῆρες, which refers specifically to wild creatures, but they are, at least according to Silenus, χρήματα, the term which Cyllene applies to the Chorus’ new bodies. The somatic analogy between the Chorus and the object of their hunt is thus twofold, the bodies of both are simultaneously animal and object. The blending of animate and inanimate bodies in Ichneutae finds its most explicit and decisive expression in the form of the lyre—the object that the satyrs find in place of the cattle they have been searching for. Like the Chorus themselves, the lyre is an old body given new form. A tortoise transformed into a musical instrument, the lyre is a once-­living animal fully assimilated to the realm of objecthood but still capable of finding voice by joining with the bodies of others—with the musician, who plucks the strings with his fingers, but also with those who hear and, like the satyrs, are “carved” or “shaped” (δι[α]χαράσσεται 261) by its sound. Like the cattle, the lyre is an unseen force working upon the satyrs’ bodies, entering and shaping them through their ears.43 The satyrs struggle to understand how the voice they have heard can come, as Cyllene asserts, from something dead (299–300): Χo. Κυ.

καὶ πῶς πίθωμαι τοῦ θανόντος φθέγμα τοιοῦτον βρέμειν; πιθοῦ· θανὼν γὰρ ἔσχε φωνήν, ζῶν δ’ ἄναυδος ἦν ὁ θήρ.

Chorus But how can I believe that this voice bellows from something dead? Cyllene Believe it. For now that it is dead, it has a voice, but when alive the beast was mute.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Cyllene’s retort, an adaptation of Hermes’ own language from the Homeric hymn,44 classifies the tortoise as a θήρ, yet another animal in the play’s ever-­ expanding bestiary.45 The satyrs, still unable to fully comprehend the nymph’s meaning, pick up on the term and launch into a catalogue of bestial forms that the instrument might take: a cat or a panther (303); a weasel or a crab (305); a dung beetle (307).46 The satyrs’ humorous comparisons recall their father’s earlier mockery of their own canine dance, and, as then, the ludic buffoonery masks the sharper point that the very definition of the body is at stake in this play. Cyllene launches into a more schematic description of the lyre, detailing the components—pegs, knots, holes, and skin (δέρμα 314)—of Hermes’ new “possession” (κτέανον 313) and the satyrs finally come to embrace the instrument’s “-plucked voice” (οψάλακτός� τις ὀμφὴ 329).47 The object now interacts with their bodies in a different way, not “carving” them in fear but “lengthening their smooth knobs in pleasure” (τὸ� λεῖον φαλακρὸν ἡδονῇ πιτνάς 367).48 As the satyrs are more strongly joined with the lyre, their affective experience shifts to the sexual excitement that so often characterizes their encounters with anything new. And it is now, when its composite nature has come fully into view, that the satyrs declare the lyre too to be a χρῆμα (372–76):            οὐ      γάρ με ταῦτα πείσεις, πως τὸ χρῆμ’ οὗτος εἰργασμένος ῥινοκόλλητον ἄλλων ἔκ�α�ρ�-     ψεν βοῶν που δοράς [γ’ ἢ] ’πὸ τῶν Λοξίου. ·


You will not persuade me that whoever fashioned the thing (τὸ χρῆμ’) of glued hide, dried the skins of any cows other than those of Loxias.

The tortoise’s body has found its paradoxically immortal voice in death by joining her hollowed shell together with the dried skins of Apollo’s cattle. The satyrs’ hunt for Apollo’s cattle has led them to an entirely different kind of body.49 The lyre’s skin (δοράς), formed of the χρῆμα after which the satyrs have been · searching, stands as a correlate to the fawn skins of the satyrs’ unworn secondary costume, its variegated appearance (302) mimicking the proverbially dappled patterning of young deer.50 Indeed, as Tim Power has observed, the lyre itself is a common accessory (what I have been calling a secondary costume) of satyrs in vase painting.51 At the same time, the lyre’s hybrid construction, formed of the bodies of tortoise and cattle, also mirrors the costumes that the choreuts do have on, the perizôma which amalgamates their bodies with the tanned skins of

Noses in the Orchestra


chattel. In this final marked use of the term χρῆμα, Sophocles invites us to consider the composite nature of the play’s (and the genre’s) satyr Chorus, creatures whose basic bodies are formed through the new anatomy of their hybrid costumes and then further transformed for each new play, often through the application of secondary costuming. Rather than literally employ such secondary costumes, Sophocles’ Ichneutae calls attention to their absence, and in so doing allows us to reconsider the ways in which the satyrs’ bodies are joined with other objects that serve this same role. The parallels between the satyr Chorus and the lyre that they inadvertently discover on their search for Apollo’s cattle, a body into which those cattle have themselves been incorporated, is already anticipated somewhat earlier in the play when Silenus rebukes his sons for their cowardice. The fearful behavior that they exhibit, a result of the frightening new sounds that meet their ears, is itself already a manifestation of their affective engagement with the lyre,52 a transformation that mirrors in the aural sphere their earlier mutation into dogs by means of their noses. Silenus’s indignant response offers an account of the ways in which the satyrs’ bodies are themselves objects of craft, and are re-­ formed in concert with the objects around them (145–60): τί μοι ψ[ό]φον; φοβ[. . .]. κα[.] δειμαίνετε μάλθης ἄναγνα σώ[μα]τ�’ ἐκμεμαγμένα κάκιστα θηρῶν ὀνθ�[. .]ν [π]ά�σῃ σκιᾷ φόβον βλέποντες, πάν[τα] δειματούμενοι, ἄνευρα κἀκ�όμιστα κἀν�ε[λε]ύθερα διακονοῦντες, σώ�ματ’ εἰ[σ]ιδ[ε]ῖ�ν� μόνον κα�[ὶ γ]λ�ῶ�σσα κα[ὶ] φ�άλητες. εἰ δέ που δέῃ, π�ι�σ�τ�οὶ λόγοισιν ὄντες ἔργα φεύγετε, τοιοῦ�[δ]ε πατρός, ὦ κάκιστα θηρίων, οὗ πόλλ’ ἐφ’ ἥβης μνήματ’ ἀνδρείας ὕπο κ[ε]ῖται παρ’ οἴκοις νυμφικοῖς ἠσκημένα, οὐκ εἰς φυγὴν κλίνοντος, οὐ δειλ[ο]υμένου, οὐδὲ ψόφοισι τῶν ὀρειτρόφων βοτῶν [π]τήσσοντος, ἀλλ’ α[ἰχ]μαῖσιν ἐξει[ρ]γασμένου [ἃ] νῦν ὑφ’ ὑμῶν λάμ[πρ’ ἀ]π�ορρυπαίνεται [ψ]όφῳ νεώρει κόλακ[ι] ποιμένων π[ο]θέν.





What noise (sc., do you hear)? . . . you are afraid, filthy bodies molded of wax, most vile of beasts . . . you see a fright in every shadow, you are scared of everything. You behave like you have no sinews—filthy, slavish. You are mere bodies to see: mouth and phalluses. If anything is needed, you are faithful in


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

your words, but flee from action. Most vile of beasts! Yet born from such a father, one who set up many memorials to his bravery in his youth, fashioning them in the homes of nymphs. A father who did not turn to flight, who was not frightened, nor cowered in fear at the sounds of livestock in the mountains, but who made use of spears whose luster you now befoul because of the new gentle sound of shepherds somewhere.

Silenus lards his abuse with mention of the satyrs’ bestial character (κάκιστα θηρῶν, ὦ κάκιστα θηρίων), highlighting one of the features that aligns them with the other animal/objects that they will encounter. But the passage is, above all, a description of, and meditation on, the satyrs’ own bodies as constructed, hybrid forms. I will highlight just two points from this amazing passage. Firstly, when Silenus accuses his sons of being “filthy bodies, molded of wax” he may, as most modern critics have concluded, be referring to their cowardly “softness,” but he is also pointing to the fact that their bodies are, indeed, fabricated and, in the case of the mask, quite literally molded out of workman’s materials.53 As Andreas Antonopoulos has recently argued, the mention of bodies of wax “makes allusion to contemporary plastic art” and the wax effigies that were then popular in Athens and elsewhere.54 This sense of the Chorus as artistic creations is echoed in Silenus’s subsequent, and, I would argue, parallel, insult, that the satyrs are mere bodies (σώ�ματ’ . . . μόνον 150), where the specification κα�[ὶ γ]λ�ῶ�σσα κα[ὶ] φ�άλητες (151) points to the two elements of the basic satyr costume—the mask and perizôma—which the Chorus are indeed wearing.55 My second point is that in drawing a contrast between himself and his sons, Silenus presents yet another picture of absent secondary costume, namely the spears that he claims to have employed in his youthful exploits, which the satyrs are now tarnishing through their cowardly performance. Silenus’s military identity is, in this description, a matter of external objects. Not only the spears, but also the memorials (the mnêmata) which he, in a particularly odd bit of phrasing, fashioned in the houses of nymphs—almost as though creating them through sexual congress. Where the tortoise will engender the sexual response of the satyrs only after becoming a composite χρῆμα, Silenus’s sexual adventures produce offspring (the satyrs themselves?) that are already objects. Silenus may not employ the term χρῆμα in his speech, but his rebuke to his sons exhibits the same complex blending of animate and inanimate bodies that Sophocles associates elsewhere in Ichneutae with that term. His passionate diatribe gives clear expression to the play’s larger contention that such a binary cannot be sustained (any more than one can sustain the binary between human

Noses in the Orchestra


and beast when one looks at the satyrs) and paints a picture of bodies that are conglomerates of animate and inanimate, hybrid accumulations, like the theatrical satyrs constructed of the perizôma worn atop human limbs.

Conclusion If, as Latour asserts, the body is a composite, accumulative creation born of affective engagements that hone and refine the capacity to live in the world, the dramatic world of Sophocles’ Ichneutae gives an ever-­evolving shape to the hybrid bodies of its satyr Chorus through their interactions with other similarly hybrid forms, other χρήματα that challenge the distinction between living body and inanimate artifact. Through their affective engagement with these “external objects,” the satyrs incorporate new elements into their own bodies, new skins to create ever more complex forms of composite nudity. The hunt that began with their noses, and then eyes and ears, extends to encompass the entirety of the theater. The process of forming a body is, as Latour observes, one without end. Thus, it is perhaps fitting that Ichneutae survives to us only as a fragment, a play without an end. We have no final form to consider, no happy conclusion to the satyrs’ hunt. We are free to imagine them in the never-­ending process of giving shape to their bodies, of honing and extending themselves through the other objects that they meet.


Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy Naomi Weiss

. . . spectacle (opsis) is able to move the soul but is completely untechnical and not at all related to poetry: tragedy’s power is independent of performance and actors, and, besides, the mask-­maker’s art is more potent than that of poets in producing effects of spectacle. Arist. Poet. 1450b15–20 Alongside material bodies and objects . . . invisible phenomena continually structure and focus an audience’s theatrical experience . . . Materially elusive though phenomenologically inescapable, dark matter is the ‘not there’ yet ‘not not there’ of theater. Sofer 2013, 4

According to Aristotle, the visual dimension of a theatrical performance can move the soul. Masks, costumes, props, stage scenery—elements of a production all covered by the term opsis—together constitute an integral and powerful part of a tragedy, but one which he claims is removed from the poetry itself.1 This statement seems to account for the fact that Aristotle, though he recognizes the significance of opsis, has little more to say about it in the Poetics, since his main interest lies in the poetic construction of a tragedy and how it can affect an audience, regardless of its actual performance. And yet the disjunct between poetry and opsis that Aristotle sets up here is not so clear-­cut. For the reader of a tragedy, many elements of opsis are actualized by means of the poetry, in the frequent references to objects around which so much dramatic action clusters. For the audience of a tragic performance, too, poetry and opsis are closely connected. Theater, as Andrew Sofer reminds us, has an “ever-­present potential to conjure something real out of thin air,” to produce presences in the mind (or mind’s eye) of the spectator.2 Words, combined with movement, voice, and the presence of actors and objects on stage, can make the invisible visible and the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

immaterial material, extending the realm of opsis to the “dark matter” of the theater.3 It is this imaginary dimension of opsis that I want to explore here, specifically in relation to the tragedies of Aeschylus. For all the pompous verbosity for which he is mocked in Aristophanes’ Frogs, Aeschylus was especially well-­known in antiquity for the nonverbal aspects of his performances, as we can see from the repeated references to his sets, costumes, props, and choreography in the anonymous Vita Aeschyli.4 The author of this biography includes these among the tragedian’s main innovations: Aeschylus was the first to augment tragedy with the noblest sufferings and he decorated the stage-­building and astounded the spectators’ gaze (τὴν ὄψιν τῶν θεωμένων κατέπληξεν) with splendor, paintings and machines, altars and tombs, trumpets, ghosts and Erinyes, and he gave the actors long sleeves, increasing their size with long robes and raising them up on bigger boots.5

The phrase “astounded the spectators’ gaze” underscores the visual dimension of Aeschylus’s productions and their affective impact. The term opsis can mean not only the things we see but the ways and means by which we see them; here, translated as “gaze,” it conveys the total visual experience of those watching (τῶν θεωμένων) a tragedy. Such effects can be very powerful: earlier the author claims Aeschylus uses opseis for the sake of “portentious shock” (ἔκπληξιν τερατώδη);6 here the verb κατέπληξεν, with the same root of πληγή (“blow, strike”), again stresses their physical impact on the audience. Such an emphasis corresponds with the famous anecdote, related both in the Vita and by Pollux, that the original audience of the Oresteia was so terrified by the entrance of the Erinyes that some women miscarried right there in the theater.7 But alongside his innovations in terms of the physical space and materials of the theater, Aeschylus also played extensively with making unseen objects and figures appear on stage. This area of experimentation, closely related to the first, is not simply a result of the limitations of the ancient theater, in which certain effects to which we are accustomed today, such as stage lighting, might only be conjured through words. On the contrary, as we shall see in my two case studies of Seven Against Thebes and Agamemnon, Aeschylus was constantly experimenting with ways of blurring the line between the material and immaterial, stretching his audience’s expectations of what could appear within the performance space.8 Several scholars have noted how the famous series of shield ecphrases in Seven Against Thebes draws on the audience’s familiarity with objects beyond the theater to materialize them within it.9 I argue here that such

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


play with the material/immaterial, visible/invisible divide extends through much of the tragedy, and is especially pronounced in the parodos, when Aeschylus uses the singing and dancing bodies of the chorus to make the Argive army present on stage. I then consider the beacon light with which the Oresteia begins—an object that quickly exerts a powerful agency over both the characters and the theatrical performance itself. At the end of the trilogy it finally appears in tangible form on stage, suggesting not so much an evolution from offstage presence to physical object but rather an equivalence of the two. We can see Aeschylus’s play with materiality across different tragedies as well: with the ghost of Darius, which does in fact appear in Persians, as opposed to that of Agamemnon, upon whom the Chorus, Orestes, and Electra call as if present in Libation Bearers; or with the extra chorus of Egyptian men who rush on stage to seize Danaus’s daughters in Suppliants, as opposed to the physical absence of the Argive army in Seven Against Thebes.

Sight and sound in Seven Against Thebes Seven Against Thebes opens with three successive reports of the Argive army. First Eteocles in the prologue tells us that Teiresias, through observing birds “with his ears and mind” (ἐν ὠσὶ . . . καὶ φρεσὶν 25), has declared that the Argives are planning a great attack on the city. Then, sent by Eteocles to spy on the enemy, a scout enters, elaborating on Teiresias’ blind vision with what he has seen with his own eyes—the terrifying scene of the seven Argive leaders and their men. His report, he says, is “clear” or “manifest” (σαφῆ), since he himself was an eyewitness (κατόπτης) of what the Argives were doing (40–41). After describing their oath to destroy Thebes and warning the king that they are already on their way, he goes off to “keep a trustworthy day-­scout’s eye out” (πιστὸν ἡμεροσκόπον / ὀφθαλμὸν ἕξω 66–67) so that he can continue to deliver news of what is happening outside the city. With these first two reports, then, the object of attention—the Argive army—has shifted from something that exists beyond sight, a sort of “dark matter” visible only to the blind prophet, to a vision that is clearly perceptible in the light of day. The next and much more extended report is delivered by the Chorus, a group of Theban women, who enter singing the parodos. This is an extraordinary, chaotic, frantic song, in which the women describe the approach of the army with increasing distress. In one sense they act as a counterpart to the scout, but while he privileged sight, they begin their song by telling us that all they can see


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

is the dust kicked up by the horses’ hooves—a “voiceless messenger” that is “clear and true” (ἄναυδος σαφὴς ἔτυμος ἄγγελος 82). Then they focus on the sounds instead: the war cries, the thud of hooves, the clash of shields.10 In contrast with the dust, the sound of the army is so powerful that it seems to become an active agent with a physical body, flying through the air, likened to a torrent of “irresistible mountain-­beating water” (ἀμαχέτου . . . / ὕδατος ὀροτύπου 85–86). Soon this torrent assumes a human form, even though it cannot yet be seen: “A wave of men with nodding crests crashes over the city” (κῦμα περὶ πτόλιν δοχμολόφων ἀνδρῶν / καχλάζει 114–15). Sound here is a material thing, something seen as well as heard. The scout provides a visual image of the army; the Chorus then give us a sound picture, in which sound is so vivid that we can visualize it. This picture is materialized not just through the rich and suggestive language of the parodos, but through the singing and dancing bodies of the Chorus. Their song is initially astrophic, with the opening 21 lines performed sporadên—that is, with choreuts entering the orchêstra one by one, gradually coming together as a group. The scattered array of voices performing these opening lyrics produces a sense of chaos that matches and intensifies the terrifying scene they describe, as do the agitated rhythms and multiple resolutions. These metrical effects continue even as the parodos begins to assume a strophic structure. The predominant meter throughout is the dochmiac, which was closely linked to displays of extreme emotion. The dochmiac may have been invented by Aeschylus himself, and Seven Against Thebes is the first extant tragedy in which it is used extensively (it appears just briefly in Persians, produced five years earlier in 472 BCE). It may therefore have had an especially unsettling effect early on in the play’s performance history, on audiences for whom these metrical patterns would not yet have been familiar. The song, as Mark Griffith has well shown, produces a metrical bombardment, its rhythms representing the Argive assailants, battering the audience’s ears.11 This rhythmical attack joins forces with the plethora of violent sound words and the Chorus’s simultaneous production of such sounds through its own performance. The most frequent word here is κτύπος, meaning “beat” or “clatter.” This often appears in performances of lament, referring to the hitting of bodies and stamping of ground: in one particularly vivid example, the Chorus of Libation Bearers, while performing its kommos with Orestes and Electra, sing “with a battering beat rang my beaten and utterly wretched head” (κτύπῳ δ’ ἐπερρόθει / κροτητὸν ἀμὸν καὶ πανάθλιον κάρα 427–28).12 Here in the parodos of Seven Against Thebes κτύπος not only describes the sounds of the approaching

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


army but directs our attention to the Chorus’s own percussive movements there in the orchêstra—to twelve bodies moving, jumping, stamping, hitting. At the same time, the Chorus’s song is full of cries of lament and terror— nonverbal noises that reproduce the ones they are describing. Such an acoustic overlap is especially powerful in the second strophic pair (150–60): ἒἒἒἔ ὄτοβον ἁρμάτων ἀμφὶ πόλιν κλύω· ὦ πότνι’ Ἥρα· ἔλακον ἀξόνων βριθομένων χνόαι· Ἄρτεμι φίλα· δοριτίνακτος αἰθὴρ ἐπιμαίνεται· τί πόλις ἄμμι πάσχει, τί γενήσεται; ποῖ δ’ ἔτι τέλος ἐπάγει θεός; ἒ ἒ ἒ ἔ· ἀκροβόλος δ’ ἐπάλξεων λιθὰς ἔρχεται· ὦ φίλ’ Ἄπολλον· κόναβος ἐν πύλαις χαλκοδέτων σακέων·



e e e e! I hear the crash of chariots around the city. O lady Hera! The sockets of the weighted-­down axles shrieked! Beloved Artemis! The spear-­shaking air is raging mad! What is our city suffering? What will happen to it? Where is the ending god is yet to bring? e e e e! Far-­shooting stone comes over the battlements! O beloved Apollo! Clashing of bronze-­covered shields at the gates!

Short, staccato cries are followed by onomatopoeic sound words (ὄτοβον, κόναβος) and vivid sound-­pictures—the shrieking of chariots, the crashing of shields—delivered primarily in dochmiacs with multiple resolutions and performed (we assume) with frenetic choreography.13 The song would also be accompanied by the penetrating sound of the aulos, a famously mimetic instrument whose tune could seem to represent some of the disturbing noises the Chorus describe.14 For the audience of a live production this could be a very powerful acoustic (and visual) experience, stirring up considerable suspense and trepidation as they too begin to hear the Argive soldiers. Even for a reader the overload of violent sound in the language and rhythms of the song produces a seemingly tangible, terrifying presence.15 The noises of the incoming army thus become present in and through the Chorus’s own performance in the theater. There is no recorded background noise of the sort we might expect in a modern production. Instead the choreuts


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

themselves produce a sort of acoustic skênographia—stage scenery that exists primarily through sound; it is also visual insofar as it is represented through their dancing bodies. The Chorus explicitly point to this synaesthetic materialization of sound in the astrophic opening of their song, when they refer to such κτύπος as something they can see as well as hear: “Do you hear or don’t you hear the beating of shields? . . . I see the beating—it’s the clattering of not just one spear!” (ἀκούετ’ ἢ οὐκ ἀκούετ’ ἀσπίδων κτύπον; . . . κτύπον δέδορκα· πάταγος οὐχ ἑνὸς δορός 100–103). This beating is not just an imaginary noise but something the audience can see and hear with the Chorus’s own sounds and movements in the orchêstra. As James Porter writes, “sensory registers clash; sensations blur; sounds intensify and bleed into the visual, which is where everything in fact started.”16 This last comment refers to the synaesthetic statement (“I see the κτύπος”) I just quoted but, in fact, as we noted, the focus on the visual begins earlier, with the scout’s eyewitness account, which is itself presaged by the blind vision of Teiresias. Now the Chorus of Theban women, trapped within the city walls, must themselves, like the prophet, use their ears and minds to visualize the army; for them it becomes a more vivid and certainly more affective sight than it was for the scout, who could look on the Argives clearly as a trustworthy κατόπτης. Materialized through the Chorus’s own dancing, singing, crying, beating bodies, sound becomes a visible thing for both characters and audience. Such a conflation of the senses is flagged again almost 150 lines later, as Eteocles tries to persuade the women to calm down and be quiet. To their exclamation “Now I hear the neighing of horses!” (καὶ μὴν ἀκούω γ’ ἱππικῶν φρυαγμάτων 245) the king responds “Well then, if you can hear them, don’t hear them too clearly” (μή νυν ἀκούουσ’ ἐμφανῶς ἄκου’ ἄγαν 246). An even more literal translation of the adverb ἐμφανῶς in line 246 would be “visibly”: something is ἐμφανής if it appears in bodily form before one’s eyes.17 Eteocles’ expression here—this adverb of sight sandwiched between two forms of ἄκουειν, the primary verb of hearing—seems to acknowledge the way the one sense can act for the other, making palpable something that cannot yet be seen. Aeschylus’s experimentation with ways of conjuring up sights and sounds that are not physically present on stage continues through much of Seven Against Thebes. Messenger speeches, a standard tragic device for achieving enargeia, dominate the first half of the play: the early appearance of the scout just before the parodos already points to his unusual prominence in the tragedy as a whole; a few hundred lines later he enters again and, in a famous and much-­discussed scene, describes in great detail the Argive warriors ready to fight by each of

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


Thebes’ seven gates, focusing above all on the designs on their shields. In response, Eteocles assumes a role like that of Teiresias, reading signs he hears but cannot see, and matches a Theban warrior against each Argive one, envisaging an impending series of duels that ends with his own against his brother Polynices. These ecphrases, as Froma Zeitlin in particular has shown, function as a complex semiotic system, demonstrating not just the identification of the shields with their bearers but the relationship between the Argive attackers and Theban defenders and the climactic progression from one to the other, culminating in the inevitability of mutual fratricide.18 Though these shields only exist in language, they come alive with the sights and, in particular, the sounds depicted on them, from the naked man with a torch who threatens “in golden letters” (χρυσοῖς . . . γράμμασιν 434) to burn the city to the ground to Typhon, bellowing out smoke and fire (493–96). Previously sounds were made visible; now objects of sight become audible, channeled through the voices of the messenger and Eteocles.19 It is not just through verbal description, however, that these objects assume a material form. As the bodies of the Chorus earlier communicated the shapes and sounds of the incoming army, so now the bodies of the two actors merge with each of the warriors they describe: “The messenger, as the bearer of the report of each shield, is, for the spectators, the physical/visible substitute for the actual bearer . . . Similarly, Eteocles is the visible substitute for the Theban commanders he will set at each gate, until at the seventh gate he realizes himself.” 20 At the same time, the ecphrases engage with the audience’s own experience with such designs on objects seen and handled in everyday life: on coins and above all on vases, on which a shield device often acts not only as a sort of body double for its bearer but can communicate some of the broader narrative surrounding him.21 Thus, for example, the shield of Eteocles, the third Argive soldier described by the scout, shows a soldier scaling the walls, crying out “in strings of letters that not even Ares could throw him off the battlements” (γραμμάτων ἐν ξυλλαβαῖς / ὡς οὐδ’ ἂν Ἄρης σφ’ ἐκβάλοι πυργωμάτων 468–69)—a boast which at this moment seems imminently plausible. I have thus far been stretching the meaning of opsis, using the term broadly to refer to those sights—and often sounds too—which appear without assuming physical form in the theater. But in Seven Against Thebes Aeschylus also brings things onstage, for both the characters within the play and the audience in the theater to see with their own eyes. Eteocles goes off to fight Polynices; the Chorus sing an ode, then the messenger comes in and announces that each has killed the other; the Chorus sing another song, and finally the brothers’ bodies are carried


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

in. All the descriptions and enactments of sights and sounds that exist beyond the theatrical space make this moment all the more powerful—the moment when these corpses, the outcome toward which the imagined sights and sounds in the shield ecphrases pointed, are presented to us in the flesh.22 As the bodies are brought in, the Chorus resume their singing, pointing to them with the line “Here it is, plain to see; the messenger’s words are visible reality” (τάδ’ αὐτόδηλα· προῦπτος ἀγγέλου λόγος 848).23 The adjective αὐτόδηλα here literally means “self-­evident”: words are no longer necessary, as the object of our attention is now in plain sight before us. The rest of the play is full of textual uncertainties, and it is not clear how much is original or how much was composed later and added to Aeschylus’s script. It is striking, however, that the Chorus’s songs, which dominate the remaining drama in the form we have it, no longer contain descriptions of sights or sounds—instead they are laments for what is there on stage for all to see.

Visualizing the beacon in Agamemnon The sort of play with the crossover of material and immaterial, visible and invisible, audible and inaudible that we have seen at work in Seven Against Thebes is also evident through the entire Oresteia trilogy, produced almost a decade later. The ghost of Agamemnon, as we have already noted, is perhaps the clearest example of Aeschylus’s continued interest in stretching and pushing against the audience’s expectations of what might appear within the theatrical space. The repeated addresses to him through the course of the long, extraordinary kommos performed by Electra, Orestes, and the Chorus in Libation Bearers, culminating in their cries that he be present with them (ξυγγενοῦ 456, 460), lead us to wonder if he will indeed emerge, like Darius’s ghost does in Persians, and like the figure in the theatrical scene on the famous Basel krater, who rises from a tomb-­like structure to face the Chorus singing and dancing before him.24 Instead, of course, the ghost we will see in this trilogy is that of Clytemnestra, who comes on stage at the start of Eumenides to summon the Erinyes to pursue her son. But the suggestion of Agamemnon’s appearance in Libation Bearers fits within a larger pattern of experimentation with the material/immaterial interface, in a tragedy full of remarkable things on stage—from the carpet on which the king walks to his doom to the appearance of the Erinyes.25 Most remarkable of all at its first production may have been the skênê itself, which was probably a very recent addition to the theater’s apparatus.26 Indeed, the skênê is the ultimate paradox of

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


theatrical materiality, both confronting the audience with the physical site of offstage action and emphatically keeping it hidden.27 The opsis of the Oresteia trilogy includes objects that are extensively prepared for in language before finally appearing in physical form.28 The entrance of the Erinyes as the Chorus in the third play of the trilogy is the most dramatic manifestation of this trend. At the end of Libation Bearers Orestes describes in terrifying terms his vision of these creatures, looking like Gorgons, dressed in dark clothes and dripping gore from their eyes, and displays their violent impact on his mind and body as he is driven offstage, out of his mind (1048–62). At the start of Eumenides, the Pythia is so affected by the sight of the Erinyes that she comes back onstage crawling on her hands and knees; she goes on to describe their appearance, likening them first to Gorgons and then to Harpies, whom she has seen in a painting (γεγραμμένας 50). Like in the series of shield ecphrases in Seven Against Thebes, Aeschylus prompts his audience to visualize offstage figures by thinking of their representation in other media beyond the theater. But the Pythia promptly shatters such a visualization, declaring she has never before seen this race of wingless creatures in black—and indeed, images of the Erinyes in Attic vase painting only appear after what was probably their first theatrical representation here in Aeschylus’s tragedy.29 After the Pythia leaves and before the Chorus enter, the Erinyes exist in sound alone—in the “groaning” (μυγμός, ὠγμός 117, 120, 123, 126, 129) heard in response to the ghost of Clytemnestra, as she calls on them to pursue Orestes.30 Like the Chorus of Seven, they then enter gradually as they begin to sing the parodos, until all twelve of them are present for the audience to see and hear for themselves. Prepared for extensively, the Erinyes then dominate the entire play, and finally, through their transformation into the Semnai Theai, they allow the entire trilogy to draw to a close. As we have seen, Aeschylus became known both for spectacular costumes and in particular for the terrifying appearance of this Chorus of Erinyes. But by the time they finally come into the orchêstra their actual appearance has been so overlaid with both verbal descriptions and displays of mental and bodily affect that what the audience sees is as much an imaginative construct as a physical reality. My focus for the rest of this essay is the beacon, an object that appears in the opening lines of the trilogy and achieves physical form at the end. Like the Argive army in Seven Against Thebes, from the very first reference to it the beacon blurs the material/immaterial divide through its synaesthetic quality, by being a sight that produces sound. And like the Erinyes, by the time the beacon becomes a tangible thing onstage it has long had a powerful agency, affecting not only characters within the drama but the production of the play itself.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

The Oresteia famously opens with a watchman lying on the roof of Agamemnon’s house, looking out for the beacon signal that will bring news of Troy’s fall. The position of the actor in this initial scene both focuses our attention on the skênê, highlighting this new structure within the theatrical space, and transforms the house into a speaking object: if the actor is meant to stay lying down, almost invisible, until line 22, his voice would appear to emanate from the building itself.31 One speaking object produces another, as the watchman/house tells us of the news the hoped-­for beacon will deliver (8–10): καὶ νῦν φυλάσσω λαμπάδος τὸ σύμβολον, αὐγὴν πυρὸς φέρουσαν ἐκ Τροίας φάτιν ἁλώσιμόν τε βάξιν And now I’m keeping watch for the signal of a torch, a gleam of fire bringing from Troy word and news of its capture.

This light will bring φάτις—literally “speech” or “voice”—and βάξις, which means a report or rumor that is vocal, delivered by mouth. The beacon assumes a living form here, an object materialized through the words of the watchman and “speaking” in turn. The beacon also transforms the voices and actions of others, scripting their performance and that of the play as a whole.32 Waiting in the dark, lying on bent elbows “like a dog” (κυνὸς δίκην 3), the watchman says he has been trying to sing or hum to keep himself awake, but ends up weeping instead (16–18). The appearance of the light prompts a dramatic change in his voice, posture, and movement (22–31): ὦ χαῖρε, λαμπτήρ, νυκτὸς ἡμερήσιον33 φάος πιφαύσκων καὶ χορῶν κατάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν Ἄργει τῆσδε συμφορᾶς χάριν. ἰοὺ ἰού· Ἀγαμέμνονος γυναικὶ σημαίνω τορῶς εὐνῆς ἐπαντείλασαν ὡς τάχος δόμοις ὀλολυγμὸν εὐφημοῦντα τῇδε λαμπάδι ἐπορθιάζειν, εἴπερ Ἰλίου πόλις ἑάλωκεν, ὡς ὁ φρυκτὸς ἀγγέλλων πρέπει· αὐτός τ’ ἔγωγε φροίμιον χορεύσομαι



O hail, beacon, by night declaring light as of the day and reason to start up many choruses in Argos because of this good fortune. Iou iou! I make a shrill signal to Agamemnon’s wife to rise from her bed as quickly as possible and to lift up for the house the cry of ololugê, sounding it triumphantly over this beacon, if indeed

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


the city of Ilium has been taken, as the signal-­fire is clearly announcing. And I myself will dance a prelude!

The inferred stage direction between lines 21 and 22 is that the watchman suddenly jumps up with excitement. As he stands upright, he again gives the beacon a voice, turning it into an audible as well as a visible sign with the participle πιφαύσκων (23), meaning both “speaking” or “declaring” and “showing” or “exhibiting.” In response he “gives a shrill signal”—a phrase that likewise combines both the visual (σημαίνω 26) and the auditory (τορῶς, an adverb typically used of the voice). The verb σημαίνω assimilates the watchman with the sign (σῆμα) he announces, so that the beacon becomes both subject and object, achieving perceptible form through the words and body of the one who sees it. His/its signal is to Clytemnestra, that she should produce a sound in turn by raising the ololugmos, a cry of triumph. As she makes clear later on, Clytemnestra herself produces both an audible and a visible sign of Troy’s capture, by starting up the ololugmos and setting all the city’s altars ablaze (594–97; cf. 84–96). The beacon also announces the start of choral dances (χορῶν κατάστασιν 23), which the watchman declares that he will begin himself (φροίμιον χορεύσομαι 31). Previously unable even to sing or hum, now, invigorated by the beacon’s sign, he can start up choral song and dance. And so, as he finishes his prologue and goes into the house, the Chorus of the play enter, singing and dancing as they perform their extraordinarily long parodos. The light of the beacon thus starts up the play, with and through the watchman, producing the choral-­musical experience that is tragedy. Entering as the Chorus finish their parodos, Clytemnestra talks about it using the metaphor of childbirth: merging torchlight and daylight, she tells the Chorus of Argive elders that “the night has just now given birth to this light of day” (τῆς νῦν τεκούσης φῶς τόδ’ εὐφρόνης 279). Like other references to the sun and dawn in surviving Greek tragedies, this line encourages the audience to link the beacon and the daylight (both metaphorical and real) that it brings to the sun shining above them in the outdoor theater; it also works as a metadramatic allusion to the “birth” of the play itself.34 Setting in motion the voices and movements of not only the actor who begins the tragedy but the Chorus and Clytemnestra, its central character, the beacon is not so much a viewed object as an active subject, exerting a physical force upon the entire production. The presence of this object becomes even more manifest through the first extended speech of Clytemnestra. The Chorus fail to understand her metaphorical statement about the night giving birth to the day, asking in response what


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

messenger this could be. She replies, “Hephaestus, sending a bright light from Mount Ida; and from that courier-­fire beacon sent on beacon all the way here” ( Ἥφαιστος, Ἴδης λαμπρὸν ἐκπέμπων σέλας· / φρυκτὸς δὲ φρυκτὸν δεῦρ’ ἀπ’ ἀγγάρου πυρὸς / ἔπεμπεν 281–83). Though it starts as a signal sent by each lookout point between Troy and Argos, the beacon quickly assumes a life and agency of its own as a single stream of light; it is subject (φρυκτός) as well as object (φρυκτόν). Though lines 286–89 are corrupted, it is clear that the light not only transmits its own message (παραγγείλασα 289; cf. σημαίνει 293) but becomes physically powerful, rising up as a force (ἰσχύς 287) to speed over the sea all the way from Mount Athos on the Chalcidice peninsular to Macistus in Euboea. As it passes from point to point between Euboea to Boeotia and into the Peloponnese it gains even more strength (296–316): σθένουσα λαμπὰς δ’ οὐδέ πω μαυρουμένη ὑπερθοροῦσα πεδίον Ἀσωποῦ, δίκην φαιδρᾶς σελήνης, πρὸς Κιθαιρῶνος λέπας ἤγειρεν ἄλλην ἐκδοχὴν πομποῦ πυρός. φάος δὲ τηλέπομπον οὐκ ἠναίνετο φρουρά, πλέον καίουσα τῶν εἰρημένων· λίμνην δ’ ὑπὲρ γοργῶπιν ἔσκηψεν φάος, ὄρος δ’ ἐπ’ αἰγίπλαγκτον ἐξικνούμενον ὤτρυνε θεσμὸν †μὴ χαρίζεσθαι† πυρός· πέμπουσι δ’ ἀνδαίοντες ἀφθόνῳ μένει φλογὸς μέγαν πώγωνα, †καὶ Σαρωνικοῦ πορθμοῦ κάτοπτον πρῶν’ ὑπερβάλλειν πρόσω φλέγουσαν† εἶτ’ ἔσκηψεν, εἶτ’ ἀφίκετο Ἀραχναῖον αἶπος, ἀστυγείτονας σκοπάς, κἄπειτ’ Ἀτρειδῶν ἐς τόδε σκήπτει στέγος φάος τόδ’ οὐκ ἄπαππον Ἰδαίου πυρός. τοιοίδε τοί μου λαμπαδηφόρων νόμοι, ἄλλος παρ’ ἄλλου διαδοχαῖς πληρούμενοι· νικᾷ δ’ ὁ πρῶτος καὶ τελευταῖος δραμών. τέκμαρ τοιοῦτον σύμβολόν τέ σοι λέγω, ἀνδρὸς παραγγείλαντος ἐκ Τροίας ἐμοί.





And the torch, strong and not yet dwindling, leaping over the plain of Asopus like the gleaming moon towards the rock of Cithaeron, roused another succession of messenger-­fire. And the watch did not refuse the light sent from afar, kindling more than they had been told; and the light swooped down across Gorgopis bay and, arriving at the goat-­roaming mountain, stirred [men] the instructions about the fire. And, kindling it, they send on, in abundant strength, a great beard of flame, to leap over the headland that looks down over the Saronic strait; then it swooped down, then it arrived at the heights of Arachnaeum, the watch-­point neighboring our city. And then it swoops down upon this house of the Atreidae here, this light here, not unfathered by the Idaean fire. Such, I tell you, were my dispensations for torch-­bearers, fulfilled in succession one after another; the first and the last runner are victorious! Such, I tell you, is the evidence and sign that my husband has announced to me from Troy.

The light leaps and swoops (ὑπερθοροῦσα, ἔσκηψεν, σκήπτει);35 it urges the watchmen at each point to ignite another torch, adding to its strength; and it finally lands in Argos, where, as the Chorus have already noticed in their parodos, every altar is already ablaze with flames in response (92–93). This extraordinary speech thus presents the beacon as an animate, kinetic force, transcending time as well as space as it makes its way into the present tense of the play. As it shoots down “to this house of the Atreidae here” (Ἀτρειδῶν ἐς τόδε . . . στέγος 310), to the skênê right there in the theater, it turns into daybreak (“this light here” φάος τόδ’ 311) and ignites the action of the whole trilogy. In a modern theater we would expect stage lighting to create this effect, but Aeschylus’s text enables it to be produced primarily through language. In the context of the Oresteia’s first production, this scene also interacts with the audience’s physical location on the southern slope of the Athenian acropolis. As in any theatrical performance (especially outdoor ones), the audience always has a double vision, seeing the theatrical space as Argos and the skênê as Agamemnon’s house, and at the same time looking out across the Athenian cityscape towards the sea.36 Clytemnestra’s speech engages both views, encouraging the audience to see the sunlight hitting the skênê as that reaching Argos, but also prompting them to look up and outwards to track the vividly described movement of such light through the surrounding landscape, as it swoops behind them from the northwest (Mount Messapion, Mount Cithaeron) towards Corinth to the west and then to the “headland that looks over the Saronic strait.” Whether or not it is meant to be an exact location, this last point would seem just perceptible in the distance, as the audience look southwest across the bay of Phaleron and towards the Saronic Gulf and the coastline of the Peloponnese.37 At the same time, the torch-­race metaphor with which Clytemnestra closes her speech encourages assimilation of the light’s travel to that of the torch in a festival like the Panathenaea, Prometheia, or (in particular, given her opening in line 281) Hephaesteia, in which it would be passed from


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

one runner to another, beginning in the Academy, coursing through the Kerameikos, and ending at the Acropolis.38 The multiple, layered routes of this light would thus cluster into and around the physical space of the audience. Such a succession of light-­messages may also have been a vivid part of Athenian cultural memory. Herodotus’s description of the Persians’ messenger system, whereby a series of riders apparently carried back to Susa news of their having sacked Athens in 480, just over twenty years before the production of the Oresteia, uses the same analogy of a torch race (8.98.2): ὁ μὲν δὴ πρῶτος δραμὼν παραδιδοῖ τὰ ἐντεταλμένα τῷ δευτέρῳ, ὁ δὲ δεύτερος τῷ τρίτῳ· τὸ δὲ ἐνθεῦτεν ἤδη κατ’ ἄλλον διεξέρχεται παραδιδόμενα, κατάπερ Ἕλλησι ἡ λαμπαδηφορίη τὴν τῷ Ἡφαίστῳ ἐπιτελέουσι. τοῦτο τὸ δράμημα τῶν ἵππων καλέουσι Πέρσαι ἀγγαρήιον. The first, at the end of his stage, passes the dispatch to the second, the second to the third, and so on along the line, as in the Greek torch-­race which is held in honor of Hephaestus. The Persian word for this riding course is aggareïon.39

In likening the Persian riders to the runners in the λαμπαδηφορίη (cf. λαμπαδηφόρων Ag. 312), the torch-­relay race held at the Hephaesteia festival, Herodotus indicates the ready assimilation of this famous courier system to a passage of light. Clytemnestra conflates the two entirely, as the light becomes the racer/messenger, leaping and swooping from one geographical landmark to another. In fact, such a conflation occurs at the very start of her speech, as she describes the fire as ἄγγαρος, using the same Persian word mentioned by Herodotus (ἀγγαρήιον) to refer to this relay-­method of transmitting news. It has been suggested that Clytemnestra’s beacon speech is meant to recall the fire signal that the Persian Mardonius apparently used to announce the second burning of Athens.40 Herodotus’s mention of Mardonius’s wish “to show the King in Sardis that he had Athens by means of fires [lit] through the islands” (πυρσοῖσι διὰ νήσων ἐδόκεε βασιλέϊ δηλώσειν ἐόντι ἐν Σάρδισι ὅτι ἔχοι Ἀθήνας 9.3.1), combined with his more detailed description of the messenger system in book eight, suggests that the means by which the Persians were said to have relayed news of the city’s capture back to Susa had become a powerful part of Athenian cultural memory. Even without a specific allusion, then, this speech could stir the audience’s own collective memory of the burning of Athens just over twenty years earlier. In doing so, it would further encourage them to visualize the beacon passing from one point to the other (now in the opposite direction), and to associate such light with the physical destruction of a (their) city. In this respect the spectators would employ a triple vision, as their performance space becomes

Speaking Sights and Seen Sounds in Aeschylean Tragedy


assimilated to the source of the beacon message (Troy), as well as to the mid- and endpoints of its journey across Greece.41 In these opening scenes of Agamemnon, then, we are repeatedly led to see the beacon for ourselves, as it becomes an animate force not only through the language of the play but through its engagement with the physical landscape and collective memory of the audience. It also continues to produce sound. When Clytemnestra finishes her account of the light’s journey to Argos, the Chorus ask her to repeat exactly what she has just said: they “want to hear and marvel at these words, all the way through, as you would tell them again” (λόγους δ’ ἀκοῦσαι τούσδε κἀποθαυμάσαι / διηνεκῶς θέλοιμ’ ἄν, ὡς λέγοις πάλιν 318–19). First she responds by translating the beacon into the news it brings: the Greeks have sacked Troy (320). But then, instead of repeating anything of her former speech, she describes the noises of the fallen city, as if these are equivalent to the passage of light she has just detailed. Initially her reference to how vinegar and oil remain separate when combined (322–23) encourages a visual image, but this then becomes a simile applied to an acoustic one—the “cries we can hear” (φθογγὰς ἀκούειν ἔστι 325) of conquerors and conquered. She proceeds to picture vividly the situation of the Trojans on the one hand, who “from throats no longer free wail for the death of their most loved ones” (οὐκέτ’ ἐξ ἐλευθέρου / δέρης ἀποιμώζουσι φιλτάτων μόρον 328–29), and, on the other, of the victorious Greeks living within the captured city. The beacon thus continues to be both a visual and an auditory sign—something heard as well as seen, and communicating sounds as well as sights. In Agamemnon, then, as in Seven Against Thebes, synaesthesia and materiality are closely connected, as the “dark matter” of the theater assumes material form by activating sight and sound simultaneously. The synaesthetic play in these opening scenes of the Oresteia is also a sort of inverse of that at work in the parodos of the earlier tragedy, in which the Chorus invite us to see sound. In Agamemnon sights speak; they have voice and give voice. The light of the beacon announces Troy’s fall, but it also becomes a generative force, producing both the voices of the characters within the play and the imagined voices of those at Troy, and bringing the whole trilogy into existence. It has been long been observed that the imagery of light, as well as the contrast of light and dark, continues through the entire Oresteia trilogy.42 In Libation Bearers it becomes symbolic of the hoped-­for success of Orestes: as Aegisthus goes to meet his death, for example, the Chorus sing about how either all is lost or Orestes will “kindle fire and light for freedom” (πῦρ καὶ φῶς ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ / δαίων 863–64). In Eumenides it shifts from metaphor to physical


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

object, as the Erinyes, the children of the night who live in darkness, are finally escorted offstage “by the light of gleaming torches” (φέγγει λαμπάδων σελασφόρων 1022). A sight without tangible form at the start of the trilogy thus becomes opsis as Aristotle understands it at the end, with torches as props—and in the hands of a whole new Chorus, complete with new costumes and masks. This Chorus, escorting the Erinyes (now the Semnai Theai), tell them to “delight in the torch being devoured by fire” (πυριδάπτῳ / λαμπάδι τερπόμεναι καθ’ ὁδόν 1041–42) and to “raise the ololugmos cry to crown our songs” (ὀλολύξατε νῦν ἐπὶ μολπαῖς 1043, 1047); this last order becomes a refrain, repeated as the last line of the play. The new torchlight prompts them to raise the same cry that the watchman bids Clytemnestra to perform in response to the beacon in the opening lines of the trilogy: once again light translates into vocal sound. But now with physical light comes a real, celebratory shout of triumph.43 The one torch began the play, setting its choreia in motion; these ones now draw it to a close, crowning the song and dance (μολπαί) with which everyone leaves the stage. During the long lament that dominates the last third of Seven Against Thebes, in an antiphonal exchange between either Ismene and Antigone or two semichoruses, as they look upon the dead bodies of Eteocles and Polynices and refer to both the brothers’ sufferings and their own, one sings “double to relate” (διπλᾶ λέγειν) and the other replies “double to see” (διπλᾶ δ’ ὁρᾶν 972). Contrary to the statement of Aristotle with which I began this essay, these two expressions, united within the one line, reveal the close relationship between props and poetry, between tangible objects and the words that refer to them. They join together what is seen and what is described, encapsulating the blurring of visible and invisible, material and immaterial, that is a fundamental element of Aeschylean opsis. At the start of the Agamemnon the beacon is an object of sight, but quickly becomes a powerful, active force, setting in motion the entire drama. Its vivid construction in the opening scenes of the trilogy is balanced by the physical presence of torchlight onstage at the end. By this point the beacon has existed so long within the fabric of the play and around the physical space of the theater that, like the Erinyes when they finally appear onstage, the torches seem overdetermined, layered with their earlier manifestations and actualized through a multisensory engagement with the audience. Using the beacon to enclose his entire trilogy, Aeschylus thus problematizes any opposition or hierarchy between physical props and the “dark matter” of theater. Both can direct the progression of the drama and behavior of its characters; both can move the soul.


Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand Nancy Worman

As contemporary theorists of affect and aesthetics have noted, touch is the sense that engages whole-­body or multi-­sensory experiencing, what Jennifer Fisher has termed the “immersive engagement” precipitated by “haptic mediation.”1 By this she means the ways in which the sense of touch has its extensions in the body’s mobility and orientation in space, as well as a “reflexive awareness” when viewing contact among other humans or humans and things, as in performance art or exhibitions. In this way haptic experiencing is not just limited to actual physical contact, but in such settings also encompasses a kind of hand-­eye coordinating and assimilation to the viewed bodies and/or objects. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari frame a similar coordinating as giving the eye a “function that is haptic rather than optical,” a kind of mental hand that Jacques Derrida also emphasizes as a “vector of close presence.” The latter notes as well the special place of hands in theorizing touch, as a metonymy for bodily movement and sensation but also as an agent of autoaffection, as an experience of the toucher touching and being touched.2 This has obvious implications for drama and rather ominous ones for tragedy, insofar as this autoaffection may register disturbingly in intimate contact, where family members call out for fond hands and offer their own, frequently lending an intensely directive and reciprocal force to touch. This handling may also be coercive or shadowed by sex and violence, as is especially the case with the family of Oedipus and the Atreids. Although an emphasis on touch can be expected in the plays that center on the blind Oedipus (especially in Oedipus at Colonus), in this discussion I focus more fully on an additional familial focus and a different “touching” family narrative—that dramatized most especially in Sophocles’ Electra and Euripides’ Electra and Orestes. At significant moments in these plays, close-­in viewing and bodily proximities (whether enacted or envisioned) lead to touching, in the sense of intentional manual contact aimed at a particular


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

outcome, which is usually protective or aggressive. These moments lend the sibling drama a charged and unsettling tenor, as sisters fondle brotherly tokens and brothers lay hands on their sisters. Such intimate dynamics represent what we might think of as extreme proxemics, in that they aim at getting as near to another human or thing as possible, and even sometimes merging with these, as with Oedipus’s “ingrowing” siblings.3 Indeed, in the dramas with which I am most concerned here, the strongly gendered tensions of pivotal scenes often inflect the emotional atmosphere that attends them with psychic recoil, so that affective orientations and proximities themselves may carry violent or perverse undertones. At such moments hands, as the bodily extensions that literally reach out and touch, also take on the kind of distal force that for Fisher singularly characterizes haptic experiencing, so that the menacing or erotic sensations associated with them pervade the scene. And since, as scholars have noted, for the most part only family members make physical contact in Greek tragedy, any manual touching carries a charge that would not be felt in other idioms.4 Thus, for instance, in Euripides’ Electra the sister spies her brother drawing near and sees a rapist, while he claims (long before revealing himself) that there is no one he has more right to touch. Sophocles’ Electra, in contrast, wishes to lie with her brother in the urn that she clutches; similarly, when Orestes, in Euripides’ play of that name, embraces Electra and declares that their love replaces children and the marriage bed, she responds by wishing they could lie together in the same coffin.5 A different discussion could take up this trade-­off between bodies and containers, but here I attend instead to the manual contact and handling as the most intentional and directed aspect of the tactile and proximate dynamics.6 While many tragedies feature various types of tactility and touching, they do not necessarily foreground awareness of the purposive aspect of handling. In tragedy this is almost never neutral, being either protective or aggressive, even when misread by characters as one or the other. Tactility and touch more generally construed may, in contrast, occur without purposive handling, but it is very rare that characters come into contact with one another’s other body parts without intending to (in fact, I cannot think of an example).7 This is as opposed to touching with very meaningful intention, as when the blind Oedipus, in Oedipus the King, reaches out and calls for familial hands (1466–70, 1480–81). One complication of focusing in on this most deliberate of bodily contact in this way is a problem of terminology, since in ancient Greek (as in modern) the term for hand, cheir (Gr. χείρ), may in effect extend all the way up the arm. Thus, for instance, one tragic character may utilize her hands/arms or envision those of

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


others, such as, in Bacchae, Pentheus dreaming of his mother’s embrace at the Lydian Stranger’s malicious encouraging (ἐν χερσὶ μητρός “in the arms of his mother” 969). Another may distinguish the two, as Heracles does toward the end of Women of Trachis when mournfully apostrophizing his formerly glorious body: “Oh hands, hands (χέρες, χέρες), oh back and breast, oh dear arms (βραχίονες)” (1089–90). These two examples also bring to the fore an additional concern: namely, how such bodily metonymies resonate on and off the stage. If Heracles’ address to his body calls forth the specter of other, better hands, arms, and so on, Pentheus’s yearning for his mother’s arms throws up a dark shadow of the terrible embrace to come, since she returns clutching the head of his corpse in her hands. Metaphors and metonymies in messenger speeches and other references to bodies, things, and/or actions taking place offstage thus often fashion such imagistic overlays and extensions of onstage enactment that are central to the plotting and effectively alter how the enactment unfolds. In this way highlighted body parts and objects, sometimes in combination, operate as a kind of semiotic materializing, where signs with weighty symbolic resonance distill out on the dramatic stage as concrete sites for contention and imbrication, as well as for closeness, contact, and affective dynamics. At such moments the dramatic text reveals itself as a multilayered and at times contradictory mode that combines figurative images with indications of enactment, including proxemics (nearness indicators), blocking, deportment, contact, and costuming.8 Awareness of such details can recharge and even reorient contemporary readers’ senses of how tragedy animates embodiment at the violent edges of human inhabitation. It promotes a distinctly materialist means of understanding dramatic semiosis, insofar as it encourages engagement with signs as not merely referential but also as things and urges a sense of the dramatic text as foregrounding such engagements. While these physical gestures and “things” are textual objects and as such have resonances that are discursive and idiomatic, the nature of the dramatic script is such that they also indicate literal deportments, props and staging. Even as these remain potential in the read text, this script is also a performance medium in which such gestures and things give it space, weight, thickness, texture, as well as a kind of chronotopic volume, exactly those coordinates to which a haptic orientation attends. In the sections that follow I first rehearse in brief the staging of Oedipus in Sophocles’ plays that draw attention to manual contact among family members, what Oedipus himself calls “the sibling hand.”9 I then consider, also briefly, Euripides’ Phoenician Women, a gendered and sensory reorientation of the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

family story in Sophocles, which foregrounds the female members and implicates them and the spectators in excruciatingly hands-­on close encounters. As I discuss at greater length elsewhere, in Sophocles’ Oedipus plays directorial gestures and the tremulous reception of the internal audiences model for the audience ways of seeing, approaching, and reacting—as well as suggesting what such proxemics mean in relation to this familial bonding, in which every intimate gesture carries with it the shadow of incest.10 The plays involving this troubled clan and especially its patriarch Oedipus thus emphasize the primary sensory experience that the audience shares through haptic visualizing: touch.11 In some contrast, the affective and sensory handling orchestrated in the Electra and Orestes plots suggests that existential distancing or disorientation and disturbing proximities lie just beyond or behind their close encounters, so that intimations not only of incest but also of violence and (self-) deception hover around their contact and connections. I look in detail at Sophocles’ and Euripides’ Electra plays and Euripides’ Orestes, in which the familial plotting at times lends their actions a startlingly sensual and brutal edge. The sibling dramas thus sustain a level of menace in which loving contact is offset by the murderous hand—and the Electra plays are striking in this regard as well. In Sophocles’ version, the counterpoint to Electra’s fondling of the urn is her own violent hand, while in Euripides, Electra lays her hand with Orestes’ on the deadly sword at their mother’s breast. An adjacent cluster of effects, which I can only sketch here, involves manhandling or manual menacing that is not all in the family but includes sexual and racialized threats (and so shares dynamics with sibling touching) or of wounding and death (and so also entails weapons as manual prostheses). The former is especially prominent in Aeschylus’s Suppliant Women, where Zeus “Toucher” looms as both generator and violator (not to mention colonizer), as well as in Euripides’ Andromache, although there the menace is cast more overtly in dehumanizing terms.12 The latter (i.e., the weapon as manual prosthesis) is especially evident in Sophocles’ Ajax, in which the hero’s murderous hand clutching Hector’s sword carries a threatening charge throughout the first half of the play, culminating in him turning it on himself.13 I should note as well that something similar occurs with Oedipus in Oedipus the King, since the murderous hand is one he cannot recognize as his own until painfully late in the action. As might be expected, Heracles’ hands in Euripides’ Heracles devolve from protective to destructive in the course of the action, as well as resonating in illuminating ways with his physical presence in Sophocles’ Women of Trachis.14

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


1.  Hands-­on family In the tragedies that involve, centrally or more peripherally, Oedipus, touching and close-in handling often feature prominently, especially once Oedipus has lost his sight. Among extant tragedies the standard dramatization of this is Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, at the end of which he repeatedly calls out for this supplement, asking to touch and be touched, demanding positioning and proximity. The audience witnesses this charged sensory supplement in full force here and pretty much throughout Oedipus at Colonus. Given the family history, this emphasis on touching carries with it perverse undertones, the shadow of incest always hovering around any fond familial embrace.15 At the end of Oedipus the King, the blind Oedipus requests that Creon allow him to touch his daughters with his hands (καὶ μάλιστα μὲν χεροῖν / ψαῦσαί μ’ ἔασον 1466–67). When he finds them manually, he cries out , “Touching with my hands I seem to have you, just as when I saw!” (χερσί τἂν θιγὼν / δοκοῖμ’ ἔχειν σφᾶς, ὥσπερ ἡνίκ’ ἔβλεπον 1469–70). But he appears to lose them again, as he searches around verbally soon after, “Oh children, wherever are you? Come here, come to my hands, these that are sibling” (ὦ τέκνα, ποῦ ποτ’ ἐστέ; δεῦρ’ ἴτ’, ἔλθετε / ὡς τὰς ἀδελφὰς τάσδε τὰς ἐμὰς χέρας 1480–81). Despite the scene’s pathos and the understandable need for the blind man to replace his lost sense with this other one, it is difficult to avoid the disturbing extensions that touch must carry with it for this family, which are encapsulated in the sibling hand. In its heated emphasis on familial haptics and proximities, Euripides’ Phoenician Women seems to take up the challenge of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and hand it on (so to speak) to Oedipus at Colonus. Phoenician Women, in prominent contrast, foregrounds Jocasta as the play’s affective pivot and narrator: she orchestrates much of the looking, the touching, and the telling.16 Produced a few years before Oedipus at Colonus, the play covers the action of Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes, namely, the attack of the Argive army led by the exiled Polynices and Eteocles’ attempted defense of Thebes.17 In that play Jocasta and Oedipus are nowhere to be seen: the one is dead, the other in exile. Euripides instead surrounds the filial battle and deaths with intimate sibling and parental dynamics, orienting the familial discord by means of an array of aesthetic indicators: dress, postures, proximities, and touching. The most striking of these for our purposes involves Antigone, although her role is importantly calibrated in relation to her mother’s initially more dominant affective orchestrations. Here I isolate a few late scenes that center on touching and especially on familial handling.


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

As one might expect, this emphasis on hands comes most to the fore when Antigone is left nearly alone with a family of corpses. Her description of the ends of her brothers’ and mother’s lives, while it replays the scene that a messenger relayed to Creon earlier, also engages in a kind of hand-­shadowing of the gestures to come. As she tells it, at the end Eteocles reached out a damp hand (ὑγρὰν χέρα 1439) and wept; Polynices asked his mother to close his eyes with her hand (ξυνάρμοσον δὲ βλέφαρά μου τῇ σῇ χερί 1451); and finally Jocasta slit her throat and fell upon them, throwing her hands/arms about both (περιβαλοῦσ’ ἀμφοῖν χέρας 1459). Left alone, Antigone calls upon Oedipus, demanding that he come from the halls and witness (as best he can) the destruction of their family: “Leave your chambers,” she shouts, “come out with your ruined eye (ἀλαὸν ὄμμα), show your wretched self, you who drag out a long-­laboring life, having cast a murky darkness over your eyes (ἀέριον σκότον ὄμμασι / βαλών)” (1530–35). When he enters, Antigone sustains this focus on his sensory deprivation, immediately confirming what has happened in a manner in keeping with it: “Your sons and your wife,” she cries, “no longer look upon the light—she who guided your blind-­ stepping foot (πόδα σὸν τυφλόπουν)” (1547–49). Oedipus moans repeatedly, driving Antigone to exclaim, “If only you could see the four-­horsed chariot of the sun and cast the rays of your eyes upon the bodies of the dead!” (1562–64). Her emphasis on sight bridges the eye-­hand coordinating of her description of her dying family and the handling of corpses to come. It also lends a palpable haptic visuality to the scene, as the action slowly draws in close to laying hands upon the dead. The final scene revolves around Oedipus and the unique aesthetics that his presence initiates. It is conducted as a series of sensory exchanges, centering on the language of touching and hands. He asks to touch Jocasta (ψαύσω) and Antigone replies, “Here, touch your dearest one with your aged hand” (ἰδού, γεραιᾷ φιλτάτης ψαῦσον χερί 1694). He does so, calling her both mother and wretched wife, as if in confirmation of the perversion that lurks behind his putting hands on her dead body. He then asks for his sons, and that Antigone stretch forth what he terms his “blind hand” (τυφλὴν χεῖρ’ 1699) to their faces. Again she complies with guiding words: “There, touch your dead sons with your hand” (ἰδού,18 θανόντων σῶν τέκνων ἅπτου χερί 1700). The exit from the stage of this sad pair is achieved in similar terms and by engaging similar sensory connections. “Stretch forth your dear hand” (χέρα φίλαν 1710), Antigone says, and when Oedipus begins to move forward, she conducts him precisely, saying, “Here and here step with me, placing your foot here and here” (τᾷδε τᾷδε

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


βᾶθι μοι / τᾷδε τᾷδε πόδα τιθείς 1720–21). Together they sing a lament for their fate, he regretting the Sphinx (1728–33) and she her lost virgin days, while still swearing she will bury her brother (1737–46). He joins her in her maiden’s regrets, now intermingled with her bold challenge. At the last he turns to the audience (πολῖται) and asks that they “look upon this Oedipus here” (λεύσσετ. Οἰδίπους ὅδε), now overtly interpellating the audience as witnesses in a mode that he cannot join (1758). As with Sophocles’ Oedipus, at this moment the blind hero seems to be at once the most and the least of tragic objects: most aesthetically vibrant and yet least capable of participating in the affectivities of the very art form that he always and until the very last insists on stage-­managing.19

2.  Forceful familial hands (Aeschylus) From the prospect of my focus on manual contact, violent or otherwise, Aeschylus’s Oresteia looks to be pitched between the mother’s murderous hand in the Agamemnon and Orestes’ mother-­killing hands in the Eumenides.20 In the first play this comes to head when Clytemnestra emerges from the palace (likely on the ekkuklêma, the rolling platform) with the corpses of Agamemnon and Cassandra, celebrates her deadly victory, and responds to the Chorus’s horror with demonstrative gestures that reveal her unwavering control and finality: “This is Agamemnon,” she says, “my husband and a corpse, the work of this my right hand” (οὗτός ἐστιν Ἀγαμέμνων, ἐμός / πόσις νεκρὸς δέ, τῆσδε δεξιᾶς χερὸς / ἔργον 1404–06). Like the other menacing heroes mentioned above, whose hands both are and extend in weapons, Clytemnestra’s forceful deictic indicates not only the deed as done but also her hand’s pervasive resonance and power. This manual power turns out not to be hers to keep, as in the next play Orestes emerges on the platform with her in the place of Agamemnon, now herself a corpse. And so in the Eumenides the Pythia reels back out of the skênê (now indicating the temple of Apollo at Delphi) upon spotting Orestes sitting within, dripping blood from his hands and holding both a newly drawn sword and the suppliant’s olive branch (αἵματι / στάζοντα χείρας καὶ νεοσπαδὲς ξίφος / ἔχοντ᾽ ἐλαίας θ᾽ὑψιγέννητον κλάδον 41–43). When he emerges he claims that his hands are clean (οὐδ᾽ ἀφοίβαντον χέρα 237; cf. 280, 446)—this despite the fact that the ghost of Clytemnestra draws attention to the gashes made by his “mother-­killing hands” (πρὸς χερῶν μητροκτόνων 102). The Erinyes think very much otherwise


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

(313, 317), and Orestes himself later states directly that he slit his mother’s throat with his “sword-­drawing hand” (ξιφουλκῷ χερί 592). Thus, in this earliest extant dramatizing of the violent house of Atreus, Aeschylus foregrounds the face-­off between mother and son, with Clytemnestra dominating the first play, Orestes the second, and the mother’s avenging Furies the third. The gory haptics of the trilogy orchestrate a progression from the forceful, murderous, hands-­on maternal presence to the retreating, “purified,” hands-­off son’s orientation, so that the finale effectively cauterizes the family’s manual taint.

3.  Electra’s loving hands (Sophocles) Electra scarcely registers as a player in Aeschylus’s mother-­son drama, unlike the two later plays named for her, where she serves as the primary affective conduit and manual orchestrator. Sophocles’ version of the Electra story may or may not be chronologically the second of the three extant plays featuring the avenging of Agamemnon’s murder.21 The play centers on a character in ceaseless mourning for her dead father and absent brother. This Electra is outspoken and abusive, especially when faced with her mother, a craven, defensive Clytemnestra; she also slights her sister Chysothemis, who is more conventional and restrained. A morally challenged Orestes enters the plot midway through and tricks not only Clytemnestra (as in Aeschylus’s play) but also Electra and Chrysothemis into believing him dead. Electra mourns over the empty urn that she thinks contains his ashes and he finally relents, revealing himself and then moving with her to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The drama ends with the fulfillment of this revenge, but in a reversal and revision of Aeschylus’s plot, in the final scene Orestes offers the still-­living Aegisthus (as well as the Chorus and audience) a quick peek at Clytemnestra’s corpse, before ordering him inside to his death. Scholars have often argued that this Electra is only a forceful presence when Orestes is absent and that with his entrance her role shrinks and she retreats, but in fact she neither leaves nor shuts up, whether crying out in appalling despair or shouting in ferocious celebration.22 In her excesses of grief she reaches out toward those she mourns, envisioning a helpless and hopeless proximity since she can no longer offer a caring hand. This is most marked in the disturbing scene in which Orestes tricks Electra into believing him dead. When he enters in disguise and shows her a vessel that he claims holds his own ashes, she cries out at the “burden” he supposedly bears in his hands (πρόχειρον ἄχθος 1116). The

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


deictic matching (i.e., “this is that”), what Aristotle in the Poetics identifies as a convention central to tragic recognition, emphasizes close inspection and hands-­ on identification.23 In this case the match is made in an excess of emotion, which contributes to the wrenching spectatorial awareness that it is, in fact, a mismatch. She demands at once that he give it to her to hold in her hands (δός νυν πρòς θεῶν . . . /. . . εἰς χεῖρας λαβεῖν 1119–20), and when he hands it to her she clutches it, saying, “Now I touch with my two hands what is in fact nothing” (νῦν μὲν γὰρ οὐδὲν ὄντα βαστάζω χειροῖν 1129). Although these same two hands once hid Orestes away (χεροῖν / κλέψασα ταῖνδε 1132–33), now her loving hands (φίλαισι χερσίν 1138) cannot care for his dead body, care already undertaken by stranger hands (ἐν ξένησι χερσί 1141). When Orestes finally reveals himself, their moving recognition scene is undercut by the fact that the affective intensity is generated by Orestes himself having orchestrated the lie that led to Electra’s lament over an empty jar, so that his reticence and deception only fosters and amplifies her exclamatory mode. And in fact they turn out to be an ill-­matched pair. As they turn from their hands-­on interchange of the urn for Orestes, Electra moves on to other emotional and tonal stimulations. Soon Orestes is unnerved by her cries of joy and vaunting, and tries repeatedly to silence her (cf. 1238, 1259, 1288–92, 1322). Her joyful excesses closely parallel her corpse-­like despair, not only in their passion but also in their bold courting of violence, since she is shouting out her pleasure just before the palace doors, and Clytemnestra is within. In one particularly high-­pitched progression that reiterates the affective and sensory dynamics of the lament and recognition, Electra calls attention to the intensity of her perceptual experience, emphasizing the extremity of her pleasure in seeing and hearing one whom she had thought moments before to be ashes in an urn. As Orestes urges silence, she asks who would keep such silence when he has appeared (σοῦ γε πεφηνότος / μεταβάλοιτ’ ἂν ὧδε σιγὰν λόγων;) and now she looks upon him so unexpectedly (ἀέλπτως τ’ἐσεῖδον) (1260–63). She requests that he not, having seen her in so much misery (πολύπονον ὧδ’ ἰδών), deprive her of the pleasure of his face (μή μ’ ἀποστερήσῃς / τῶν σῶν προσώπων ἡδονὰν μεθέσθαι) (1275–77). He agrees, and turning to the Chorus of women, she celebrates her affective pleasures: “Oh dear friends,” she exclaims, “I hear a voice I never hoped for; nor could I hold in my emotion voiceless, without a cry, once I heard” (ὦ φίλαι, ἔκλυον / ἃν ἐγὼ οὐδ’ ἂν ἤλπισ’ αὐδάν / οὐδ’ ἂν ἔσχον ὁρμὰν / ἄναυδον οὐδὲ σὺν βοᾷ κλύουσα) (1281–84).24 And so now she holds him; now he has appeared with his beloved face (νῦν δ’ ἔχω σε· προυφάνης δὲ / φιλτάταν ἔχων πρόσοψιν 1285–86).

The Materialities of Greek Tragedy


4.  Electra and Orestes hand-­to-hand (Euripides) Euripides, in a characteristic move that makes palpable the unnerving fascination aroused by getting close in to the outcast and the almost dead, combines figurative and staging tactics to encourage a creeping awareness that the drive to violence may foster perverse attractions. Scholars have frequently regarded Euripides’ aesthetic strategies as aiming at theatrical realism, but they often foster something like the opposite of this, namely uncanny or perverse effects.25 Euripides’ Electra and Orestes are no exception, as these plays repeatedly orchestrate combinations of figurative coloration and embodied enactment that unsettle and disorient the audience’s sympathies and sense of reality.26

a.  Sinister hands As in Sophocles’ Electra, in Euripides’ play, close-­up viewing draws attention to the bitter details of Electra’s appearance. Unlike Sophocles’ hero, however, Euripides’ Electra is focused, in a manner that registers as increasingly perverse, on the details that shape the physical statuses of herself and those around her. She is focused on clothing and bodies, the latter living or dead, repeatedly calling attention to her filthy and impoverished state and her marginal status, since Aegisthus has exiled her by marrying her off to an Argive farmer in the hinterland. She thus appears disoriented or perhaps wrongly oriented, her priorities warped from the outset. And, in fact, commentators on the Electra have been even more negative about this version of the character than that of Sophocles, deeming her self-­interested and unfeeling.27 But Euripides’ Electra is not so much lacking in emotional response as strangely situated at the intersection of sex and violence, such that her character repeatedly expresses overly intense and often misdirected reactions to proximate affective dynamics. All of her energy comes across as aimed at one or the other (i.e., sex or violence): she throws herself at strangers, engages in an angry flirtation with the dead, and twice in ten lines threatens to die by the sword if aggressed or defeated. She devises a perverse plot to murder Clytemnestra by feigning pregnancy; and she plays an intimate role in both her mother’s and Aegisthus’s death. Orestes offers her the latter’s body to make sport of,28 she taunts her mother by claiming that she has her lover inside, and toward the end of the drama she goes inside with Orestes to place her hand with his on the mother-­killing sword.

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


Hands in this play thus carry a sinister eroticism that frames and orients Electra’s attitude. From the outset of the action the murderous hand serves as a metonym for violent familial plotting, an emphasis that comes to perverse fruition in the scene in which Orestes kills Aegisthus. The sibling touch, while initially possessing an erotic edge, also focuses Electra’s warrior affect, as in plotting with Orestes she thrills to grasp the sword and the victory crown. The fact that most of the hand imagery involves Aesgisthus and Electra further underscores the perverse dynamics of the drama, uniting them in violence in a familial chiasmus mirrored by that between Clytemnestra and Orestes at the play’s end. Their hands-­on dynamics is the more salient, however, beginning with the farmer’s repeated use of the phrase “the hand of Aesgisthus” (Αἰγίσθου χερί / χερός 10, 17, 28), always in the sense of a tool for killing. The dominance of this particular manual metonymy in the farmer’s narrative sets up Aegisthus as the primary agent of violence in the family drama, a revision of the Aeschylean tradition in which Clytemnestra acts almost completely alone. And yet Aegisthus never appears onstage until dead, so that his resonant manual potential activates a kind of shadow play, a series of murderous gestures effectively upstaged by the sibling spectacle, which includes them viciously wielding his corpse as a grisly toy. Sibling contact thus plays riveting mimetic counterpoint to this offstage manual threat, due in no small part to Electra’s affective intensities. When she sees Orestes and Pylades moving toward the house, she immediately assumes that they have come with violent intent. She warns the Chorus of women to run off down the path and says that she will head toward the house for refuge. When she approaches, Orestes seeks to detain her, touching her and urging, “Do not tremble at my hand” (μὴ τρέσῃς ἐμὴν χέρα 220). Electra reacts violently, crying out to Apollo (of all deities) and begging Orestes not to kill her. He declares that he would kill her enemies instead, and she replies, “Get away, do not touch what you ought not to!” (ἄπελθε, μὴ ψαῦ’ ὧν σε μὴ ψαύειν χρεών 223). His response only heightens this charged atmosphere, since he asserts that there is no one else whom he has more right to touch (οὐκ ἔσθ’ ὅτου θίγοιμ’ ἂν ἐνδικώτερον) (224). She fails to pick up on this cue, asking him instead why he is lying in ambush; and rather than answering her directly he begs her to stay, to which she responds tartly, “I’m all yours, since you are the stronger” (πάντως δ’ εἰμὶ σή· κρείσσων γὰρ εἶ 227). Electra is full of such charged and provocative gestures, as at this point she quickly moves on to a description of her mother lounging on embroidered pillows, attended by Persian slaves who are draped in Persian robes pinned with golden brooches.29 Meanwhile Aegisthus leaps into her father’s chariot and grips


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

his scepter with bloody hands (μιαιφόνοισι χερσί 322); when drunk he throws stones and abuses at the tomb. Electra concludes her litany of outrages by announcing herself interpreter of the “many who call” Orestes, as in a bold blazon she offers up her body in its parts: hands and tongue and suffering heart and shaven head (αἱ χεῖρες ἡ γλῶσσ’ ἡ ταλαίπωρός τε φρήν, / κάρα τ’ ἐμὸν ξυρῆκες 333–34).30 Her focus on bodies, clothed and unclothed, and touching is both challenging and disorienting, as she navigates a proximity that she does not yet know to be sibling. It is all the more disorienting, then, that Euripides effectively elides the fond embrace that conventionally marks the recognition scene, leaving Electra (and the audience) without the satisfaction for which she is angling. When, more than 200 lines later, it finally emerges that the stranger before her is Orestes, she says, “Is that you?”, he confirms that it is, the Chorus sings out briefly in celebration, and Orestes turns brusquely from sisterly endearments (φίλας μὲν ἡδονὰς ἀσπασμάτων / ἔχω 596–97) to the business of murder, saying that he will return them in due time (χρόνῳ δὲ καὖθις αὐτὰ δώσομεν 597). As commentators note, the phrase suggests that Electra has been more demonstrative than he during the choral interlude.31 As Electra pivots between familial erotics and violence, she soon turns her hand to the sword and outstrips Orestes in her bloodthirsty zeal. As mentioned, she plots her mother’s death with a twisted (given her deprivations) and cruel plan of feigned childbirth. And when the siblings pray for success, Electra cries out to her dead father with fanatical enthusiasm that she will “run [her] liver through with a two-­edged sword” (παίσω γὰρ ἧπαρ τοὐμὸν ἀμφήκει ξίφει 688) if Orestes dies while trying to kill Aegisthus. Sophocles’ Electra uses this verb (paiô) when she screams out her encouragement as Orestes kills their mother (1415); Euripides echoes it again later, in the messenger’s vibrantly violent relating of Orestes’ murder of Aegisthus (841). Here Electra’s envisioned violence against her own body is equally brutal, but since it follows directly on a demand for Aegisthus’s death (“And I declare to you: Aegisthus will die!” καί σοι προφωνῶ . . . Αἴγισθον θανεῖν 685), it lends an added frisson to her urgency. She then urges Orestes to be a man and the Chorus to “set this battle cry aflame” (πυρσεύετε / κραυγὴν ἀγῶνος τοῦδε 694–95); meanwhile she will stand at the door with sword in hand (ἔγχος χειρί 696), boldly defending herself against the violation of her body (σῶμ’ ἐμὸν καθυβρίσαι 698). The dynamics of this sequence gives Electra’s character a further volatile turn, as she closely juxtaposes violence to her own body with that to Aegisthus’s and then, right after this, imagines defending herself from violent advances.

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


The hand of Aegisthus that carries such violent potential in the prologue returns in the messenger’s speech. This recounts in exceedingly gory detail Aegisthus’s handling of a sacrifice he is making to the Nymphs, the intervention of Orestes’ murderous hand, and the culmination of this switch-­off in Aegisthus’s own death at the altar. First Aegisthus cuts hairs from the head of his victim (a calf) with a knife, placing these on the fire with his right hand (δεξιᾷ 812); then he slits its throat. When he calls upon Orestes (who claims to be a Thessalian stranger) to take up the knife and show his “native” skills, the latter seizes this “well-­hammered Dorian” tool with his two hands (χεροῖν 819), the detail of make and provenance giving additional snap to the gesture. He grabs the calf by the foot, holding it in outstretched hand (ἐκτείνων χέρα 823). He flays the hide and Aegisthus puts his hands to the entrails, fingering and frowning over them (826–29). Orestes interrupts his pondering by calling for a Thessalian axe, and while Aegisthus still hangs over the entrails, Orestes rises up on tiptoe to smash the spine of his enemy (841). This swift changing of hands on knife and axe forecloses Aegisthus’s agency and especially his violent hand, so that he ends up the victim of his own sacrifice in a manner all the more brutal for this shocking switch. When Orestes returns to the stage with Aegisthus’s dead body, the presence of this much-­desired corpse only intensifies the charged atmosphere around Electra. She shouts out a victorious song, demanding that Orestes and Pylades accept victory crowns from her hand (887). Now vaunting over her enemy’s body offers to this furious virgin the prospect of new proxemics and affective connections. Electra’s “kakology” renders obscene Aegisthus’s relations with her mother, as she focuses with fetishistic zeal on his softness and bedding of Clytemnestra (930–37).32 And with a brutal suitability, as soon as she brings to an end her hovering over the corpse, here comes Clytemnestra. Electra confronts her mother aloft in her chariot and surrounded by Trojan serving girls, offering to grasp her “blessed hand” (λάβωμαι μακαρίας τῆς σῆς χειρός; 1006), her sardonic adjective giving a keen edge to the gesture. When Clytemnestra enters the house, Electra declares the “sacrifice” ready, with basket held aloft and sharpened knife (1142–43). Clytemnestra’s hand has itself been turned to violence, as the Chorus recalls in horror when Electra leaves the stage: “With her own hand (αὐτόχειρ) she killed, taking the axe in her two hands (ἐν χεροῖν)” (1159–60). When Orestes and Electra reemerge, together with the dead bodies of their mother and Aegisthus (possibly headless33), Orestes cries out for the Chorus to look upon the “twin corpses,” slain by a blow from his hand (χερὸς ὑπ᾽ἐμᾶς) (1179–81). While the


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

moment recalls his solo entrance and speech in Aeschylus’s Libation Bearers, it emerges in Euripides’ version that Orestes did not act alone. In lines that editors attribute to Orestes or Electra, but that for symmetry and cohesion ought to be Electra’s,34 she describes how Clytemnestra reached her hand up to touch her child’s cheek (1215) and hung from her, so that she dropped her hands from the weapon (χέρας ἐμὰς λιπεῖν βέλος 1217). When the Chorus asks how they could stand to look upon their mother dying, Orestes explains that he covered his eyes with his cloak but Electra claims that she urged him on, grasping the sword with him to finish the deed (ξίφους τ’ ἐφηψάμαν ἅμα 1225). While tracking this hand-­to-hand action may distort somewhat the overall texture and dynamics of the play, it does illuminate its privileging of violent over fond or erotic touch. These are hands ever ready to seize the sword; even when Electra and Orestes angle towards each other and finally embrace, their murderous futures quickly overwhelm the moment. That said, both the sibling hand and the possibilities of parental contact—including Electra’s obsession with Aegisthus and Orestes’ ogling of his mother in her final suppliant crouch— are shadowed by a sinister erotics compounded at the end of the drama by their emergence with their skins “mingled” (πεφυρμένοι 1173) in their mother’s blood.

b.  Handling Orestes Of all the plays discussed here, the Orestes dramatizes sibling proximities most insistently, whether fond, close-­in caretaking or murderous plotting. The structure of the play as a whole careens from one dire situation to the next, with the post-­matricide Orestes and Electra threatened with death by angry townspeople, to which they respond by looking to kill alternately themselves or others. As in Euripides’ other drama featuring these violent siblings, Electra is the one who fashions the most outrageous murder plot. This time she gives a brutal turn to Pylades’ suggestion that they kill her mother’s sister, the always transcendent Helen, advising that they put a knife to the throat of their cousin Hermione, as protection for slaying her mother.35 And as in the Electra, a divinely engineered conclusion adds a further jolt to an already disorienting concatenation of attitudes and actions. This time Apollo appears on high with Helen at his side and commands Orestes to remove the knife from the throat of his future wife. This late command underscores something that has haunted these sibling dynamics all along, in this play as well as in Electra: such hand-­to-throat moments raise questions about how well either sibling can assess what constitutes

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


appropriate contact and connection among relations. If Electra in the earlier play suspects that Orestes may accost her, here she readily offers up her female cousin to the knife, and Orestes just as readily takes Hermione into his violent embrace.36 In fact, it may be the intensity and isolation of their sibling bond that drives Electra and Orestes to value others so little. From the outset Orestes focuses on the shattered and outcast circumstances of both siblings, as characters draw near to assess and distinguish the physical marks of their debased states. Electra, Helen, the Chorus, and Orestes all highlight sense perceptions, in a progression ordered by increasingly intimate proximities: Helen emphasizes sight, Electra and the Chorus sound effects that come from physical contact—a kind of haptic sonics—and Electra and Orestes touch. When the Chorus of Argive women appear, Electra cautions them with detailed attention to footfall: “Come forward with a quiet foot, do not strike, let there be no clatter” (ἡσύχῳ ποδί / χωρεῖτε, μὴ ψοφεῖτε, μηδ’ ἔστω κτύπος 136–37), and they respond in kind, “Quiet, quiet, set down lightly the tread of your shoe, do not clatter” (σῖγα σῖγα, λεπτὸν ἴσχνος ἀρβύλας / τίθετε, μὴ κτυπεῖτ’. 140–41). She instructs them further to keep their voices like “a breath of the panpipes’ delicate reed” (σύριγγος ὅπως πνοὰ / λεπτοῦ δόνακος 145–46) and to “step over there, away from the bed” (ἀποπρὸ βᾶτ’ ἐκεῖσ’ ἀποπρό μοι κοίτας 142– 43). When they obey she then reverses their direction, urging them to “draw in, draw in, come forward gently, gently come” (κάταγε κάταγε, πρόσιθ’ ἀτρέμας ἀτρέμας ἴθι 149). Note that the focus is on the sound that emanates from footfall and accompanying voice (here the dance and song that Electra directs) and that Electra emphasizes proximity, insistently encouraging their close­in interactions. Nicely enough for those of us interested in the inter-­sensory quality of the moment, Dionysius of Halicarnassus comments that their first words held the same note, and a scholiast says that the verses were all sung at the top of the register, but very quietly.37 As the Chorus members softly breathe out their piping song and step close on gentle foot, they and Electra together create a warm body-­to-body atmospheric that lends a protective intimacy to the scene. Together they look upon Orestes, sunk into his deathly slumber; and while Electra continues to caution them about raising their voices or clattering their feet she also utters by now familiar sentiments of brother-­loving sisters in Sophocles and Euripides. “We are destroyed,” she cries, “as good as corpses, destroyed; this man is among corpses and my life is gone” (ὀλόμεθ’, ἰσονέκυες, ὀλόμεθα· / ὅδε γὰρ ἐν νεκροῖς, τό τ’ ἐμὸν οἴχεται 200–201). She and the Chorus hover over Orestes’ body, worrying at his limp appearance, and when he stirs,


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Electra moves in closer to aid his movement. Upon his awakening, affective expression immediately shifts to the most proximate sense: touch. Electra inquires whether he wants her to touch him and lift him up (βούλῃ θίγω σου κἀνακουφίσω δέμας; 218) and he responds by saying urgently, “Take hold, take hold” (λαβοῦ λαβοῦ δῆτ’ 219), requesting in addition that she wipe the crust from his mouth and eyes. As befits this closest-in of senses, the unpleasant detail is arresting for being so much the opposite of the distancing, elevating horror that viewing heroic bodies often inspires, such that it, like the intimacy of the scene, strikes a domestic rather than a tragic note. Electra responds as if in confirmation of its tenor, declaring that the labor is sweet and she is not ashamed to tend sibling limbs with a sibling hand (τὸ δούλευμ’ ἡδύ, κοὐκ ἀναίνομαι / ἀδελφ’ ἀδελφῇ χειρί θεραπεύειν μέλη 221–22). The moment is striking for its echoing of the more notorious sibling bonds in Oedipus’s family. In typical Euripidean fashion, however, what should be deeply affecting is disturbed by the slight tremor of perversity that the echo contributes to the tenor of the scene, which together with the focus on details like bodily filth and excretions unsettles its register. In a later episode that serves as confirmation of the siblings’ desperate isolation, they reveal the violent potential of their physical bond when they debate how to kill themselves and each other. Electra laments at the impending loss of her brother, crying that she longs to throw her arms about his neck (ἀλλ᾽ ἀμφιθεῖναι σῇ δερῇ θέλω χέρας)—to which Orestes responds rather cruelly, “Sure, if this is any pleasure, to throw your arms around (περιβαλεῖν χέρας) those so close to death” (1042–44). But though Orestes initially resists, he soon gives way, saying that he wants to respond “with the affection of hands” (φιλότητι χειρῶν 1048). And so he exclaims in kind: “Oh beloved object of my embrace” (ὦ φίλον πρόσπτυγμ’ ἐμόν 1049). Electra sighs in response, wishing that they could share the same sword and lie together in death (1047–54). Throughout the many turnings of this twisted plot, the fond sibling touch punctuates focus on the killing hands of those who reach for the sword or have already done so, to bloody effect. That these are usually the two siblings should not, by now, come as a surprise. One of the most striking moments comes when the Chorus asks what is more wretched than taking maternal blood on the hands (ματροκτόνον αἷμα χειρὶ θέσθαι; 833).38 In gathering these charged depictions of manual contact together for perusal I do not mean to suggest that these plays are really about perverse handling or incest or even that this is a sustained subtext in any of them. Rather, I am urging attention to how these plays deploy manual contact to highlight intersections of sex and violence, which contribute centrally to the aesthetic and affective

Electra, Orestes, and the Sibling Hand


intensities of the action. As family members angle themselves toward each other, making hand-­to-body and hand-­to-hand connections by means of figurative and mimetic gestures, they draw spectators into proximities whose undercurrents exceed fixed significations. These haptic incorporations, what Derrida thinks of as a kind of sensory appropriating of proximity, generate affective dynamics between and among bodies and reverberate outward from them, unsettling individual subjectivities and representational conventions. And since this is tragedy, such haptic reverberations and emergent proximities can almost never be only protective or comforting—in fact, tragic effect is achieved by the menacing possibility of their opposite: the outraged body, the violent hand.


Materialisms Old and New Edith Hall

In 1820, an impoverished Scottish crofter-­turned-stonemason, Alexander MacDonald, moved to Aberdeen. There was a good supply of raw local stone in the form of granite, which could be made into matte-­surfaced mantelpieces, paving stones and funeral monuments. But Alexander was frustrated because neither he nor anyone else could work out how to give the gritty local stone a sheen and polish equivalent to that which could be given to marble. The breakthrough came when, in 1829, he read about an exhibition at the new British Museum of ancient sculptures from Egypt, some of them from the Hellenistic period. They had been brought to Britain by the colorful adventurer Giovanni Belzoni, a former fairground strongman turned explorer.1 MacDonald traveled all the way to London to visit the exhibition and was astonished to see that the luminous statues made of granite—even those with rounded surfaces—were highly polished. The Egyptians and Ptolemies, mysteriously, had known how to do what no stonemason had done ever since. MacDonald set about trying to reproduce the lost art, but polishing by hand was just far too arduous and time-­ consuming to be remotely practicable. He did manage to crack the problem of the rounded surfaces by using a wheel and lathes turned simultaneously by two workers. But since everything had to be done by manual labor, it was far too slow to be viable except for tiny pieces, and even they took days. The point was that the Ptolemies had enormous armies of slaves who could be kept at the lathe for entire lifetimes.2 The breakthrough came when MacDonald’s neighbor, who ran a comb-­ making factory, let him use power from his newly installed steam engine. With the aid of what still seemed like the near-­miraculous power of steam, which drove the cutting and polishing machinery, monumental polished granite artefacts became feasible again for the first time since the slave-­owning Ptolemies. The granite industry of Aberdeen was now unstoppable. Polished, shiny granite


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

gravestones became the rage, and ever-bigger monuments and edifices were built, constructed out of granite exported from Aberdeen and exported all over the British Empire. In London alone, think of Waterloo Bridge, or the terraces of the Houses of Parliament, or the reddish granite of the fountains in Trafalgar Square. The granite of the Ptolemaic statues was therefore instrumental in altering the mode of granite production, the visual appearance of British imperial cities, and in due course the entire economy of north-­eastern Scotland. It is a textbook example of “vital” or “unruly” matter, as the new materialists would label it, effecting its own changes in the world. But is it a story which can be told without thinking about the labor crystallized in the material? New materialism is a label applied to a range of intellectual approaches across several disciplines, including philosophy, anthropology, political science, environmental studies and cultural/ literary studies. The ancient Greeks saw aesthetic beauty more predominantly in sensuous apprehension of matter than of form, as James I. Porter has dazzlingly demonstrated,3 and so, prima facie, classicists should welcome any application of new materialism to ancient literary texts. The present volume therefore explores the interpretative potential of new materialism when applied to a particular type of literature: classical Greek tragedy. My own essay, however, has a single aim. It argues that one aspect of new materialist aesthetic analysis that classicists would do well to resist is its retreat from, indeed often refutation of the relationship between work and matter—what Marxists call the labor theory of value. In doing so it expresses a similar to Jennifer Cotter’s excellent critique of new materialism from the perspective of an expert on Marxist philosophy.4 My argument then leads into some thoughts on the potential value of Marxist theory in the analysis of Greek tragedy, and its lamentable underdevelopment hitherto. I here confine my discussion mostly to inanimate matter, although much of what follows could usefully inform treatments of the materiality of the body, vocal delivery and human/animal interactions, such as sacrifice, in literature. The word “materialism” presents its own specific problem for scholars because it shares with other philosophical terms such as “hedonism” the characteristic that it currently means different things inside and outside the academy. And the two things it designates are not only very different, but often perceived as virtually antithetical. Materialism, to at least 90 percent of people speaking English and many other languages, means an attitude to life which prioritizes the pleasurable consumption of material goods along with the accumulation of possessions and of the wealth which can provide them. It is a word often used pejoratively by people who prioritize other life goals, which they perceive as

Materialisms Old and New


somehow more profound than superficial engagement with material goods: these may be appreciation of the arts, intellectual development, spirituality, or social justice. In popular political language, materialism is broadly denigrated by “left-­wing” individuals as a characteristic of “right-­wing,” conservative, pro-­ capitalist ones. Yet, within the academy, since the early eighteenth century, materialism has meant a scientific and/or philosophical system, traceable back to Democritus, often atheistic and socially progressive, which asserts the primacy of matter. In opposition to Platonic idealism, it regards what we call “god,” “mind,” “spirit,” “consciousness,” “transcendence” and “ideas” as fundamentally products of, and caused, conditioned or informed by material or physical agencies. By the late 1880s, the word materialism, even unqualified by an adjective, began to be identified, more and more exclusively, with the revolutionary political philosophy of Karl Marx (whose doctoral thesis was on the subject of ancient atomism5) and Friedrich Engels. This was a result of the coining of the labels “historical materialism” and “dialectical materialism” to describe their historical and philosophical methods of enquiry.6 Marx and Engels situated humans as organic beings in constant interaction with other organisms and their material environment; they envisaged the nature of human consciousness as culturally and historically relative precisely because it is informed by these interactions, especially those related to the production of goods necessary to survival. In most of human history such production has entailed an enormous amount of human labor, marked by conflict between poor laborers and such non-­laborers as grew rich on their productivity. These different groups can be defined according to their relationship to the production process, that is, according to their objective “class.” The word “materialist” in this technical, philosophical sense, partially overlapping with the term “Marxist,” is often found doing the opposite ideological work from that which the “consumerist materialism” does. It is used by “right-­ wingers,” often religious conservatives, to attack egalitarians and socialists: it is derogated as a “dogma” which reduces the status of the human individual to that of a “mechanical automaton.”7 This bifurcated signification of the word “materialism” and its use in adversarial polemic should alert us to the possibility that the emergence of the new materialism is doing ideological work of a political nature, however hidden any agenda may be. Many of the most prominent new materialists, for example Maurizia Boscagli in Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism, actually go out of their way to position their arguments as a rebuttal, or at least adversarial rival, of Marxist cultural theory.8 Jane Bennett has openly and explicitly


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

differentiated her own understanding of the M-word from that of intellectuals working in the historical and dialectal materialist traditions. I want to emphasize, even over-­emphasize, the contributions of non-­human forces . . . in an attempt to counter the narcissistic reflex of human language and thought. What counts as the material of vital materialism? Is it only human labor and the socioeconomic entities made by men and women using raw materials?9

Bennett’s intellectual wriggling here is complicated. Human subjects need to be downgraded in our appreciation of matter. Matter and objects have a vitality, instrumentality and, it is implied, an almost conscious agency of their own. We as humans are narcissists, cosmic imperialists who by imposing “subject”/ “object” hierarchies somehow oppress inorganic elements, minerals, liquids, and gases as well as organic flora and fauna, at least if we do not acknowledge their immanence and vitality. And “human labor” and “socio-­economic entities” have, Bennett implies, unfairly monopolized the attention we humans pay to matter. She continues: Or is materiality more potent than that? How can political theory do a better job of recognizing the active participation of non-human forces in every event and every stabilization? Is there a form of theory that can acknowledge a certain “thing-­power,” that is, the irreducibility of objects to the human meanings or agendas they also embody?10

I stress at this point that I have no objection to questioning anthropocentrism. The ecological crisis which we homines sapientes have inflicted on Planet Earth demands that we change our exploitative and destructive behavior towards all the “things,” animate and inanimate, with which we share the globe and the universe.11 But there is a fundamental flaw in Bennett’s premise that this exploitative and destructive history is connected with thinking about matter exclusively (her word is “only”) in terms of labor and socio-­economics. It needs to be countered that we have never yet paid remotely enough attention to the relationship between material things, human labor and socio-­economics. We can surely add some of the vocabulary of “vital materialism” to our interpretive toolkit when working within any academic discipline. But the idea that scholars of culture have already done a good enough job of thinking about labor is preposterous. Only a scholar working in a country like the USA, where about 20 percent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture or industry, the other 80 percent operating at a more or less extreme degree of alienation from the processes of material production, could possibly hold such an opinion. In some

Materialisms Old and New


European countries the productive workers now constitute less than 5 percent of the working population. But try claiming that scholars are too focused on labor and the socio-­economy to a citizen of Zambia or Burundi, where the percentage of the workforce laboring in agriculture or industry is 91 percent and 96 percent respectively. Globally, more than 40 percent of the workforce still works in farming of one kind and another, often at a subsistence level, with scarcely any machinery, and in abject poverty.12 Every year still sees an increase in the total number of humans involved in industrial labor, just as it did a quarter of a century ago.13 Bennett’s aversion to labor-­centered discussions of matter reminds me of the case of Joseph Wright, the illiterate workhouse boy and wool sorter who eventually rose through an enormous autodidactic effort in his teens and twenties to become professor of comparative philology at Oxford, but remained proud of his origins all his life. He married a young woman from a much more privileged background whom he met when she was studying at Lady Margaret Hall. She recalled a rare occasion on which he had rebuked her. She had facetiously complained that doing philology, and consulting big dictionaries, required excessive “manual labor.” Wright quietly pointed out that “manual labor” meant working, for example with a wheelbarrow.14 One reason for introducing these global and cross-­class perspectives on new materialists’ suspicion and suppression of the role of labor and socio-­economics in thinking about matter is partly irritation at the feeling expressed by some of them that they are occupying higher moral and more radical political ground than the rest of us anthropocentric narcissists. But the other is that the society which produced ancient Greek drama was, in terms of its relations of production, far more similar to modern Zambia and Burundi than it is to modern England or North America. If we are fully to appreciate the role of materials and objects in a play written in the fifth century BCE in Athens, then we surely would be well advised to ask how those materials were thought about in that society as well as their vitality or thing-­power. It takes three days for a Bangladeshi handloom weaver to produce a basic nine-­foot rectangular sari. A prized Baluchuri sari with in-­woven mythological scenes and animal and floral designs takes a master weaver twenty-­five working days. These time estimates are, of course, additional to the cultivation of the silkworms or cotton plants from which the raw fibers are taken, and the labor-­ intensive processes required to turn these raw fibers into workable filaments. If you have not witnessed or participated in such time-­consuming work, or at least tried seriously to reconstruct the experience in imagination, you cannot


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

possibly appreciate a handmade sari’s real ontological status as well as material worth in the eyes of the farmer, fuller or weaver. If you buy your new dress online from a department store for a sum which it takes you one hour to earn, you will never appreciate at a sensual and emotional level the financial and talismanic value of the most elaborately woven sari made of the finest quality silk. But nor will you be able to understand what Jason’s new bride thinks Medea’s gesture means when she sends her as a gift an unusually beautiful patterned robe which she says was given to her family by the Sun-God, Helios himself; in Olympian religion and its related mythical narratives, the objects requiring the most labor to produce them are represented as being made by and for gods, as virtual impossibilities in the world of human production. Maximal human effort is conceived as somehow theios, divine. The sheer value of Medea’s donated robe (not to mention the coronet cunningly crafted from gold, to which attention is paid by the rich variety of vocabulary used to describe it) underlines the apparent magnanimity of her recognition of the princess’s new married status.15 The “thingness” of this particular object is, in my view, wholly inseparable from the thousands of silkworms or sheep or cotton bushes or flax plants which produced them, but also from the several human working hands through which the fibers passed and the hundreds of hours expended on the labor. Human labor is crystallized in matter, but so, often, are the actual remains of previously existing flora and fauna. As Frederick Robertson said in a lecture on poetry to working men at the London Mechanics’ Institute in 1852, “we apply to domestic use slabs of marble, unconscious almost that they contain the petrifactions of innumerable former lives.”16 The thousands of tons of marble which crown the Athenian Acropolis were hacked out Mount Pentelicon, shaped into rough blocks or cylinders, dragged seventeen kilometres across Attica by human and animal power and then somehow, through technology still mysterious even to specialist archaeologists, elevated to the top of the rock. This was all before the lengthy task of turning them into fluted columns and exquisite sculptures to the designs of Pheidias had even begun. But that perfect white marble itself consisted of millions of compacted sea-­shells deposited when Attica lay at the bottom of an ocean, and then cooked, recrystallized and compressed not once but on two separate occasions in the unimaginable volcanic furnaces of our protolithic planet. The Athenians (or rather, their slaves) put extraordinary labor into installing matter that had been made out of living sea creatures on the top of their citadel. No wonder Poseidon had almost as much right to the sanctuary there as olive-­bestowing Athena.

Materialisms Old and New


Silk and wood are made from animals and linen and cotton from plants. It is only by thinking about how objects were laboriously produced that we can properly appreciate their “thingness” in ancient culture. Those made out of organic living matter rather than metal ore, for example, were often held to inherit their voice and agency from their sources: wood, the ultimate hulê that gave the Greeks the philosophical word for matter in Aristotle, was once a tree, as the nurse in Medea reminds us in the opening lines of her famous prologue about the Argo and the woods of Mount Pelion. It was a Pelion pine that provided the plank that made the ship that sailed the thousand-nautical-mile round ­trip to the mouth of the river Phasis and back, before surviving the play to land on Jason’s head and kill him at some point in the future (1386–87). In a sense, Jason was violently killed by a tree that lived on a mountain in his homeland. The audience probably envisaged this as taking place in Poseidon’s sanctuary at the Isthmus,17 where later authors say that Jason dedicated the Argo to the sea ­god on arrival in Corinth18 : the Roman sophist Favorinus claimed that the Argo was dedicated after a victory in a boat race there.19 Favorinus even preserves a couplet by Orpheus, ventriloquizing the ship herself, which Jason is said to have carved on her timber: “I am the good ship Argo, to god by Jason devoted, / victor in Isthmian Games, crowned with Nemean pine.”20 A similar agency can be seen in Euripides in the case of Ion’s broom, which he addresses in the second-­person as a fellow worker, and which has been irrigated when still a living branch by water droplets possessing agency.21 The address occurs while he himself labors to keep the Delphic sanctuary clean (112–20): ἄγ᾽, ὦ νεηθαλὲς ὦ καλλίστας προπόλευμα δά  φνας, ἃ τὰν Φοίβου θυμέλαν σαίρεις ὑπὸ ναοῖς, κάπων ἐξ ἀθανάτων, ἵνα δρόσοι τέγγουσ᾽ ἱεραί, ῥοὰν ἀέναον παγᾶν ἐκπροϊεῖσαι, μυρσίνας ἱερὰν φόβαν22



Come, new-­grown, caring bough, of the loveliest laurel, you who sweep the altar beneath the temple of Apollo; you are from the immortal gardens, where sacred drops keep moist the holy myrtle leaves, sending forth an ever-­flowing stream.

Speaking ships and sentient bows were once inhabited by tree-­spirits; musical instruments made out of animal hide or shells, like the lyres in Sophocles’


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

Ichneutae (“Trackers”) or the lost Thamyris plays of both him and Aeschylus, retain the numinous voice of fauna.23 It is unbelievably easy for those of us who are not only not polytheists but alienated from material production, because we do not make things but buy them imported from distant parts of the planet, to forget these fundamental features of ancient practice and belief. The labor theory of value was not invented by Marx and Engels, but developed by them from the classical economics of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who sought to understand how commodities acquired prices relative to one another in early industrial capitalism. The notion that there was unfairness and exploitation locked into the relationship between laborers and land- or factory-­ owners was recognised even by Ricardo, a trenchant advocate of capitalism and profiteering. With the rare exceptions of certain kinds of luxury goods—fine art, for example—where the market value can these days often bear little relationship to the amount of labor expended to produce them, typically the exchangeable value of products varies relative to the amount of labor used in getting them into the marketplace. And hourly labor can itself be costed by adding up everything required to keep an individual at work, such as food, clothing and shelter, and dividing it by the number of hours worked. There are other theories of value which developed as capitalism became more complicated and which emphasize other factors than labor, especially demand and supply, for example the “marginal theory of value.” But none has ever explained so satisfactorily the relationship between value of commodities and income distribution across classes. When it comes to pre-­industrial societies, the sheer scale of the man- and woman-­hours, let alone the labor of pack horses, donkeys and ploughing cattle needed to keep up the supply of even basic commodities, a scale that in antiquity meant slavery was economically unavoidable, would have produced relationships between humans, animals and material objects almost unimaginably different to our own. The material consumption that is most emphasized in extant Greek tragedy is the use of textiles dyed with sea-­purple to line the ceremonial walkway on the approach to the palace when Agamemnon, in his Aeschylean name-­play, returns from Troy. Much has been written about this scene; my own interpretation stressed the way that Clytemnestra wants to show Agamemnon, in public, to be a man whose vanity prompts him to assume the privileges of an Eastern monarch—more specifically, of the Persian King, who was by court protocol required to have his feet perpetually separated from the earth by either a carpet or a footstool.24 It is widely known that purple dye was costly, and it is not scholarly news that this adds to the sense of wasteful decadence which Clytemnestra persuades Agamemnon to find even publicly acceptable.

Materialisms Old and New


But often this routine observation is made too swiftly without thinking through the exceptional and electrifying tactile value of purple textiles to Aeschylus’s audience. Remember that it takes a handloom weaver three days to produce a single sari out of threads which have already required a great deal of labor, and multiply that by the length of fabric required to cover a substantial part of the skênê and probably orchêstra of the theater of Dionysus. But the visible fabric represents only a miniscule amount of the labor concretized in Clytemnestra’s carpet. A substantial amount of dye was required to stain several yards of cloth. It has been estimated that to obtain just 1.4 grams of dye (the amount needed to dye the trim of a single robe), as many as twelve thousand shellfish had to be culled alive, and the vein containing their purplish mucus extracted and drained (if they died before processing the liquid drained away and disappeared immediately). The procedure could only take place in late winter or early spring, before the egg-­laying season, when the mucus became depleted. To make the renowned Tyrian purple, quantities of the mucus of two different types of murex were combined. The smaller species needed to be painstakingly crushed and steeped in industrial vats, and the ensuing pulp gradually distilled by heating and evaporation until the correct density was achieved. The larger species was only found in deep water and had to be located by divers and dredged up in baskets from many fathoms below the surface. The vein of every larger murex needed to be delicately extracted by hand. No wonder that the Phoenicians’ most famous export was, quite literally, worth more than its weight in gold.25 Clytemnestra wants her husband’s dusty, travel-­weary feet, in a showy display of gross class insensitivity, to trample on and potentially damage the fruits of thousands of hours of labor expended by humans of a lower social echelon than the royal family of Argos. Now, I do not want to be found guilty of insisting that Clytemnestra’s textiles are reducible to nothing else but “the human meanings or agendas they also embody,” as Bennett defines the crime of (her limited concept of) the old materialist. I can certainly find some sympathy for the millions of shellfish who were crushed or cut open alive by the Phoenician dye industry. But the shockwave which must have gone round the theater of Dionysus at this arrogant exhibition was about much more than “thing-­power”; or, to put it another way, this very powerful “thing” has acquired that exceptional “power” through the almost inconceivable amount of work that has gone into creating its glowing, vibrant spectacle. Totemic objects and gifts in Greek tragedy are usually of exceptional value as the fruits of exceptional amounts of labor. They are also usually destructive. The


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

most famous of all in antiquity was the staggeringly beautiful but wholly injurious golden necklace of Harmonia. It featured in several lost but important tragedies, for example Euripides’ Alcmaeon in Psophis, and destroyed several generations of the Theban and Argive royal houses. All descriptions in ancient authors emphasize the superb craftsmanship; it was inlaid with jewels and shaped in the form of two serpents with a complicated clasp.26 I am tempted to say that thinking about this kind of artefact, so instrumental in literature, might be more productively informed by an interdisciplinary foray into the fascinating field of archaeometallurgy, established in the 1970s, than into new materialist theory.27 Learning how discrete metals were mined, produced, and consumed in pre-­industrial societies, their instrumentality in changing human experience, and their highly variable value across time and space, can only benefit our understanding of their presence in works of literature. Meditating upon the concentrated labor crystallized in a significant necklace, coronet or shield might encourage a Marxist critic even to see the destruction which such objects wreak as a symbolic metastasis, into the language of myth and dramatic plotting, of the conflicted relations of production underlying their elaborate and painstaking manufacture. Conflict, Eris, was after all the mother of Ponos (Labor, Toil, or Suffering).28 The necklace of Harmonia was made by the only proletarian Olympian (Hephaestus) out of a grudge against the way he had been cuckolded by other Olympians more patrician in both appearance and occupation. Harmonia’s necklace, Clytemnestra’s carpet and Medea’s bridal gown have somehow absorbed, and express on an aesthetic level of ideology, the social violence required to run a system where the leisure of a few was made possible by the coerced labor of so many. A labor-­oriented perspective can prove especially fruitful in the case of theater scholarship, on account of the multiple agents involved in the creation of any theatrical performance. In a fine analysis of the box-­office hit musical A Chorus Line,29 Christin Essin has used “old” materialism to explore the work’s revelation and critique of the labor involved in theater-­making, simultaneously visible and unseen. She shows how the musical emphasizes the shared efforts of the backstage technicians, and the endlessly rehearsed onstage performers, while exposing its genre’s typical erasure of the physical labor behind such shows. Unlike most musicals, it draws attention “back to the local, lived conditions of Broadway employees,” in this case “during the economic recession of the mid-1970s, during which producers mounted fewer shows, translating into fewer jobs in an already competitive labor market.”30 Essin’s analysis contains revealing interviews with electricians and lighting technicians

Materialisms Old and New


and immediately suggests a way of amplifying the avalanche of work on metatheatrical aspects of ancient Greek drama which was published in and since the late 1990s.31 Drawing attention to the way that certain scenes draw attention to their own status as performance became a rather wearisomely favorite form of scholarly interpretation at that time, especially of tragedy. A way of refreshing this approach would be to ask how tragic performances either reveal or erase the actuality of the thousands of hours of labor which had contributed to the final performance. There may have been neither electricians nor lighting designers at the City Dionysia, but, to perform a tragic tetralogy, twelve chorusmen had to train hard for several months, under the supervision of their chorodidaskalos. Three actors had to learn hundreds of lines from their papyrus parts which would have taken days to transcribe from the master text.32 Musicians needed to learn and practice their accompanying melodies and rhythms. Plaster-­infused rags had to be pressed into concave molds to create forty-­eight masks for the chorusmen alone, and, in the case of the Oresteia, at least nineteen further masks for the actors.33 The same numbers apply to the costumes, made of fabrics which had already taken intensive labor to produce. Props needed to be supplied, wooden flats painted, and stage hands trained until their movements synchronized perfectly with the action and dialogue. It is hardly surprising that the physical labor behind these extraordinary shows sometimes peeps through authorial creative decisions, for example in Hippolytus, where the work of both Choruses (huntsmen and laundresses) is integral to the thematic development of the plot. It is even less surprising that the labor, indeed slave labor (olive farming, treading grapes, tending flocks, hauling heavy objects, hammering, fishing) is one of the primary mythical functions of satyrs, the theater-­god’s male entourage, nor that tragic performances routinely ended with the exhausted chorusmen literally assuming the identity of Dionysus’s workhands.34 Thinking about value derived from concentrated labor in a society where relations of production were every bit as conflicted as they are today, can indeed help us appreciate the power of material things in ancient Greek drama. Perhaps the fashion for new materialism can be turned into an opportunity not to heap further ritual opprobrium on Marxist theory but instead to re-­evaluate some other ideas inherent in it which might enrich classicists’ repertoire of interpretive strategies now. After all, the kneejerk derision of Marxist aesthetics which characterized the cold war is no longer compulsory within the western Academy. Marxist aesthetics did take some time to achieve sophistication, because there was an aboriginal gap in classical Marxist theory when it comes to aesthetics, for


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

the simple reason that Marx, Engels, and their immediate successors were too busy addressing class struggle on the economic and political planes to work out a fully-­fledged theory of art. In the Soviet bloc, there was an early flowering of brilliant work marrying socio-­linguistics to a historically materialist approach to literature evidenced in the work of scholars like Mikhail Bakhtin, who engaged deeply with classical texts, especially the ancient novel and Menippean satire, and Olga Freidenberg, another novel specialist. Sadly, this radical synthesis of materialism, formalism and linguistics was all too soon displaced by the problematic and inflexible doctrines of socialist realism.35 But sophisticated models of reading literature with a dialectical materialist approach were in due course developed by a succession of brilliant western Marxist thinkers and Marxism-­influenced literary theorists, including (to name only a few of the most famous) György Lukács, Antonio Gramsci, Walter Benjamin, Christopher Caudwell, Ernst Bloch, Sebastiano Timpanaro, Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, and Terry Eagleton. Among classicists, however, the disciplinary chasm yawning at institutional and curricular levels between ancient history and classical philology led to a curious situation in which Marxism achieved a degree of respectability among practitioners of the former while facing almost total ignorance (at best) and derision among the latter. Well-­known classicists whose Marxism was relatively public knowledge included the Irish Benjamin Farrington, an expert in the history of science, whose best known work was Head and Hand in Ancient Greece: Four Studies in the Social Relations of Thought,36 the Scottish byzantinist Robert Browning, and English Polybius specialist F. W. Walbank.37 The exclusion of literature and aesthetics from Marxist analysis within Classics was painfully apparent in the 1975 Arethusa volume edited by J. P. Sullivan, entitled Marxism and the Classics;38 its contents would have been more appropriately packaged as Marxism and Ancient History, since the articles offered purely historical perspectives on history, slavery, and revolution. These included one by David Konstan, who has however subsequently used Marxist ideas, mostly in a subterranean and non-­explicit way, to illuminate ancient literary texts, above all in Greek Comedy and Ideology.39 The sole exception in the 1975 collection was a short piece by Heinrich von Staden on Marx’s own famous but truncated discussion of Greek visual art.40 There was silence on the topic of literary aesthetics, a pattern repeated in the extended bibliographical section. The lack of hermeneutic equipment Marxist classicists possessed to address aesthetic questions was made even more painfully apparent in Geoffrey de Ste Croix’s pioneering The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World.41 The book

Materialisms Old and New


includes chapter titles informed by the traditional Communist tripartite division of the arenas in which class struggle is manifested—political, economic, and ideological. The chapter “the Class Struggle on the Ideological Plane,” one of the shortest in the book, glances at Thersites in the Iliad and expresses regret that de Ste Croix cannot use Aristophanes (one is tempted to ask him to explain more clearly why not!). But otherwise de Ste. Croix doggedly uses ancient texts to document “reality”—Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Sallust, Strabo, the Christian Fathers. He makes no attempt to decode the ideological work done by imaginative fictions as recorded in tragedy, lyric, elegy, epic, epyllion, epigram or the novel. So, who have been the equivalents of Raymond Williams, Frederic Jameson, and Terry Eagleton in the sphere of Classics? Maverick Australian Marxist Jack Lindsay held pioneering opinions on the ideological work done by ancient mime and fiction, and worked hard to draw attention to ancient literature which focused on quotidian and lowlife elements in ancient society.42 But it was easy for establishment scholars to keep him away from mainstream scholarship because he never held an academic position. British communist George Thomson pioneered an approach to Greek literature based on ritual anthropology, especially in Aeschylus and Athens: A Study in the Social Origins of Drama,43 which was influential in the Eastern Bloc. His best work, in my view, was however on the relationship between the invention of coinage and early philosophy, and the connection between metrical forms and collective labor.44 A few brave Italian Hellenists, notably Vincenzo Citti, Vincenzo di Benedetto, and Alessandro Lami, followed their compatriot Gramsci’s lead and worked hard to demonstrate how classical texts reflected and produced the hegemonic ideological structures of the classical city.45 In France, the work of Vernant, and to a lesser extent Vidal-Naquet, fused a typically French “anti-­humanist” Marxism with Althusserian structuralism in their pioneering readings of Greek myth, thought and literature.46 In the anglophone world, however, there was an almost deafening silence until the publication of Peter W. Rose’s Sons of the Gods, Children of Earth: Ideology and Literary Form in Ancient Greece. It is no coincidence that this sophisticated Marxist study came out in 1992, three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, rather than before. Rose, whose career had suffered on account of his socialist politics, had earlier faced considerable problems when he approached publishers. It was the intervention of David Konstan, then at Cornell, which led to the book’s acceptance by Cornell University Press. I agitated until I was allowed to review the book for The Classical Review, and stand by everything I wrote at the time:


The Materialities of Greek Tragedy

This book represents an exciting breakthrough in theoretical approaches to ancient literature. It provides, at last, a reliable and substantial study in English of ancient literature from an explicitly Marxist perspective. The most useful chapter is undoubtedly the lengthy Introduction, “Marxism and the Classics,” in which Rose lucidly explains his theoretical position. It is a sophisticated amalgam of twentieth-­century “Western” Marxist insights, concepts, and arguments, all of which are familiar to scholars of later literatures, but which remain embarrassingly beyond the parameters of mainstream classical scholarship. From Gramsci R. adopts the concept of “hegemonic discourse,” from Bakhtin (whom he classes as “Marxist” although many would appropriate him to formalism) his “politics of forms”—a conviction that the conventions of literary form carry an ideologically loaded message inextricable from “content”—from Althusser a Marxist “historicizing” of Freudian psychoanalytical theory, and above all from Fredric Jameson, the bearer to an Anglophone readership of “all the insights of the Frankfurt School,” the notion of a Marxist “double hermeneutic” . . . Literature is no crude “reflection” of contemporary society or simple weapon in the ideological armory of the ruling class. It is a form of cultural production aesthetically realizing by a process of mediation, problematization, and distortion—a process conditioned by innumerable factors such as the class outlook of the poet, his relationship to the ruling class, and the formal dictates of his genre—a history of unceasing social struggle, contradiction, and dialogue.47

In the Oresteia, for example, argues Rose, the trilogic form itself expresses the dialectical assimilation of the past into the present, in the conversion of the Erinyes in the third play into their opposites, the Eumenides, while Philoctetes mediates the contradictions between a backward-­looking image of the inherited excellence of the archaic aristocrat and an affirmation of Neoptolemus’s consciously chosen concern for another human being against established authority and the promise of social prestige. That review concluded with my hope that Rose’s “careful scholarship, avoidance of jargon, and clarity of argument will open a debate amongst classicists about this most arbitrarily maligned and little understood of literary theories.”48 Sadly, this did not happen, except behind closed doors, although some of the central tools Rose had taken over from the non-­classicist Marxist theorists have also been absorbed, either from his work or other Marx-­influenced scholarly publications, by some of the best classical scholars over the last quarter century. They have somehow succeeded in entering the lifeblood of our profession. They have informed, in more or less submerged ways, some of our best new writing, especially about literary content. When scholars see conflict between ideological viewpoints, unravel the conflict by using a double

Materialisms Old and New


hermeneutic, argue that the plots of New Comedy reinforce slavery and patriarchy, or point to the utopian tendency of many ancient fictions, they are, whether they know and acknowledge it or not, thinking in a Marxist way.49 Among classical scholars, however, literary form lags much further behind than content in terms of attempts to relate it to the socio-­economic contexts which produced it. I discovered this when I was conducting the research for my endeavors to probe the relationship between the focus on work in the brutal, burlesque Greek Ass novel attributed to Lucian to its prose style, or between the generically unprecedented metrical variety of classical Athenian drama and the revolutionary but imperial democracy in which it was created and consumed.50 There has been increasing interest in the tenacity of the epic form and its survival as prestige literature from Mycenean until late imperial times, yet to my knowledge no Classicist has ever even asked why long dactylic hexameter poems on elevated themes were chronologically coterminous with slavery, the fundamental mode of Mediterranean and Black Sea production in the Greek and Roman worlds throughout that era, let alone answered the question. Let us not abandon all the advantages of Marxist criticism by jettisoning it in favor of the “radical” (because dehumanized) ontology of matter which the new materialists are advocating. Let us refrain from such an arbitrary act of abandonment at least until such time as all the interpretive potentialities of reading artworks as highly concentrated crystallizations of endless interactions between humans’ work and their natural and manmade environments have been much more fully explored.51

Notes Introduction 1 2 3 4 5

Nicolson and Troutman 1979, 70. Hancock 2010. Woolf 2002, 147. Hancock 2010, 116. On this phenomenological tenet, see esp. Ahmed (2010a, 243), discussing Husserl’s writing table; see also Ahmed 2006, 28–33, 37–44. 6 On the constitution of the subject through embodiment, or “being-­in-the world,” see Merleau-Ponty 2012, 548n23. For Merleau-Ponty, as Butler (2015, 162) puts it, “the embodied status of the ‘I’ is precisely what implicates the ‘I’ in a fleshy world outside itself, that is, in a world in which the ‘I’ is no longer its own center.” 7 See Hancock 2010, 116–17. 8 The phrase “recalcitrant object,” which appears in Minima Moralia (1974, 109), is associated with Adorno’s negative dialectics, the principle of the irreducible non-­identity of object and concept. 9 In the introduction of New Materialisms, Coole and Frost (2010, 6–7) align these trends with “an orientation that is posthumanist in the sense that it conceives of matter itself as lively or as exhibiting agency.” In the new materialisms, they see a reaction against the “allergy to the ‘real’  ” imputed to constructivism and the linguistic turn. On the relation of “old” and new materialisms, see Cotter 2016 and Hall’s chapter. 10 For various approaches to the agency or vitality of objects, see, among others, Latour 1992 (actor-­network theory); Harman 2002, 2005, 2012 and Morton 2012, 2013, 2015 (object-­oriented ontology); Brown 2003, 2004, 2015 (thing theory); Ahmed 2006 (objects in a phenomenological perspective); Bennett 2010, 2015 (vibrant materialism); Boscagli 2014 (stuff theory). 11 We privilege here a conceptualization of “affect” as an impersonal force, in a Deleuzian perspective: see below. A survey of other models is offered by Seigworth and Gregg (2010, 6–8). 12 To adopt the terminology of Latour (2004). 13 Although the use of props in ancient and modern performances can enhance the power of the objects featured in a tragic text, we want to extend our purview to all possible dramaturgical scenarios—even the minimalist ones, with no props, à la Brook


Notes to pages 3–5

(1968)—and to the imaginative act of reading. On the poetics of props in Greek tragedy, see Mueller 2016; on costumes, see Wyles 2011. For an approach to objects in ancient art informed by the new materialisms, see Gaifman, Platt and Squire 2018. 14 See 84, where Odysseus says to Neoptolemus: “give yourself to me” (δός μοι σεαυτόν). 15 See 706–11, where the Chorus implicitly assimilates the bow as a provider of food to mother earth; in 931–33, Philoctetes plays on the similarity between βιός (“bow”) and βίος (“life”): see Schein 2013, 262. In particular, Philoctetes’ accusation against Neoptolemus at 931 (ἀπεστέρηκας τὸν βίον τὰ τόξ’ ἑλών “having taken my bow, you have taken away my life”) visualizes the collapse between “life” and “bow” through the chiastic structure and the juxtaposition of τὸν βίον and τὰ τόξα. 16 At 958, the proximity of the pronominal accusatives μ(ε) (“me”) and οὓς (modifying “birds”), together with the ambiguity of ἐθήρων (both first person singular and third person plural), additionally suggests Philoctetes’ entrance into the realm of non-­ human animality. 17 The bow constitutes Philoctetes as post-­human subject, for it captures, in the words of Wolfe (2010, xv), “the embeddedness of the human being in not just its biological but also its technological world, the prosthetic coevolution of the human animal with the technicity of tools.” See also Braidotti 2011, 101, on the idea of a human subject “immersed in a set of technologically mediated practices of prosthetic and non-anthropomorphic extension.” 18 See 982–83, where Odysseus warns Philoctetes: “You must come [sc., to Troy] with it (ἅμ’ αὐτοῖς = with the bow).” The prepositional phrase ἅμ’ αὐτοῖς assimilates Philoctetes into the “thingly” world of the bow, construing him as a supplement or a surrogate of the object. 19 On the idea of the body as a prosthetic object, see Hayles 1999, 3, and Massumi 2002, 217. 20 See Mueller 2016, 38–40. 21 With its domesticating or possessive force, the apostrophe ὦ τόξον φίλον contributes to the solipsistic effect: on apostrophe, see Johnson 1986, 30–31, and Bassi’s and Wohl’s chapters. Philia may express Philoctetes’ desire to deprive the object of its irreducible alterity: see Telò’s chapter. On the nexus of philia, material objects, and trauma, see Weiberg’s chapter. 22 The quotations are from Amesbury 2016. The term “correlationism” was introduced by Meillassoux (2010, 5). 23 Bennett 2015, 224. Sheldon (2015, 196) sees Bennett’s theoretical enterprise as part of a tradition of “feminist new materialism” that, contrary to a hierarchical division between ideas, construed as male, and matter, construed as female, conceives of “ideas and things [as] co-­constituents in the production of the real.” This tradition is strongly associated with the pioneering work of Haraway—her notions of the cyborg woman and of natureculture (1991; 2003). See also Barad 2003 on the idea of the

Notes to pages 5–6


world as constituted by “intra-­actions of multiple apparatuses of bodily production”; Grosz 2008 on being as vibration; Sheldon 2015 for a materialism founded on the Platonic chôra as a “dynamic . . . space through which . . . vibratory intensities and affects might cross” (212). 24 Bennett 2010, 10. In Deleuze’s view of human and non-­human bodies as manifestations of a flow of non-organic matter, the principle of individuation is nothing but the “swarming of little differences in intensity” (1994a, 259) between the various entities. Bennett (2010, 54–58) reads the enchainment scene at the beginning of Prometheus Bound in light of the discussion of metal’s “energetic materiality” in Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 410–11. 25 Bennett 2010, 13. Notwithstanding the environmentalist aspirations of Bennett’s “flattening” of the ontology between the animate and the inanimate (9), an indiscriminate attribution of vitality to matter can yield what seems to be a scandalous indifference to environmental degradation, as in her citation of Robert Sullivan’s The Meadowlands (1998): “The little seep was pure pollution, a pristine stew of oil and grease . . . I touched this fluid . . . and it was warm and fresh. A few yards away, where the stream collected into a benzene-­scented pool, a mallard swam alone.” As Bassi points out in her chapter, Bennett’s position may “have the unintended effect of abolishing human accountability.” 26 Bennett 2015, 224. Bennett develops Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of a “matter-­energy” or “matter-­flow” that “enters assemblages and leaves them” (1987, 407). On assemblage theory and its application to tragic madness, see Weiberg’s chapter. 27 Sheldon 2015, 204. 28 In his review of Vibrant Matter, Harman (2011b, 130) observes that in Bennett’s Deleuzian model “objects are liberated from slavery to the human gaze only to fall into a new slavery to a single ‘matter-­energy’ that allows for no strife between autonomous individual things.” According to Morton (2015, 167), “any talk of objects risks raising the specter of objectification.” For a critique of Bennett, see, especially, the chapters of Bassi and Wohl. 29 Harman 2012, 187. 30 In regarding objects as “withdrawn,” OOO appropriates Heidegger’s notion of the Entzug of things in his lecture Das Ding (1967). 31 Harman 2005, 95. 32 See Morton 2013, 81–95, esp. 86, where “interobjectivity” is defined as “the way in which nothing is ever experienced directly, but only mediated through other entities in some shared sensual space.” 33 Harman 2002, 293. 34 Sheldon 2015, 205. Harman emphasizes form over matter, observing that “what is real in the cosmos are forms wrapped inside of forms, not durable specks of material that reduce everything else to derivative status” (2002, 293). For Harman (2011a),


Notes to pages 6–7

materialism entails “undermining” the object, an operation as problematic as the traditional anthropomorphic, correlationist “overmining” of it. 35 Harman 2012, 188. 36 Harman 2012, 187. He defines object-­oriented ontology as a “frank realism which views objects or things as genuine realities deeper than any of the relations in which they might become involved.” Porter (forthcoming) finds traces of this model of realism in ancient philosophy. 37 Harman 2012, 188. The gendered rhetoric of OOO also emerges in its critique of phenomenology’s “being-­in-the world”; see Morton 2007, 106: “Phenomenological rhetoric comes off as a delicate . . . highly subjective contemplation” (italics added). However, in another essay (2010), Morton presents OOO as a “queer ecology.” For an attempt to reconcile OOO with feminism, see Behar 2016. 38 On the discursive nature of ancient material objects, see esp. Bassi 2016. On the relation between objects and language, see the chapters of Billings and Wohl. 39 Philoctetes’ use of the verb κλέπτω to refer to Neoptolemus’s theft of the bow (“you stole [ἔκλεπτες] my bow” 1271–72) resonates with ἐκκλέψεις in lines 54–55, where Odysseus expresses the need to deceive Philoctetes with language, literally to “steal his soul” (τὴν Φιλοκτήτου . . . / ψυχὴν . . . λόγοισιν ἐκκλέψεις λέγων). On these passages in relation to the link between object and tragic mimêsis, see Billings’s chapter. In both cases, Philoctetes and his bow are inextricable victims of Neoptolemus’s language. At 1275, Philoctetes commands Neoptolemus not to speak “further” (μὴ λέξῃς πέρα); two lines later, he responds to the question “is this your decision?” with “yes, and know I’ve decided this with a conviction that goes beyond (πέρα) what I (can possibly) say.” 40 For the identification of matter with “radical alterity,” see Derrida 1981, 64; 2002a, 154; 2002b, 367. See Cheah 2010, 72–81. 41 As Harman (2012, 196) puts it, “objects are so deeply . . . real” that “any attempt to translate [them] into . . . knowledge for logocentric purposes will fail, because being is deeper than every logos.” On the object as a “remnant” of Lacan’s Real of death, see Wohl’s chapter; on death’s morbid materialism, see Bassi’s chapter. On the urn in Sophocles’ Electra as a “black box,” see Billings’s chapter. 42 Borrowing the term “affect” from Spinoza, Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 257) observe that “we know nothing about a body until we know what it can do . . . what its affects are, how they can or cannot enter into composition with other affects.” In the preface to his translation of A Thousand Plateaus (1987, xvi), Brian Massumi, whose article on the autonomy of affect was seminal (1995), defines affect as “a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’s capacity to act.” Seigworth and Gregg (2010, 2) remark that “affect . . . transpires within and across the subtlest of shuttling intensities.” For a different take on affect, as a psychobiological concept, see Tomkins 1995.

Notes to pages 7–9


43 The phrase “imbibe each other” is borrowed from Brennan 2004, 9–10. See also Uhlig’s chapter. Brennan (2004, 5) characterizes “affect” as “the physiological shift accompanying a judgment”; see also Sedgwick 2011, 146: “feeling and thinking . . . are not just complexly interfused, but in human beings essentially inextricable.” 44 Berlant 2011, 15. 45 On in-­between-ness, see Seigworth and Gregg 2010; on Latour’s notion of “interface” between bodies, see Uhlig’s chapter. On affect as emerging from the encounter between subject and material object, see Estrin’s chapter. On the ethical complexities of affect’s model of in-­between-ness, see Telò’s chapter. 46 Del Rio (2008) explores the conceptual slippage between affect and performance. As she puts it, “the performing body presents itself as a shock wave of affect, the expression-­event that makes affect a visible and palpable materiality” (10). 47 See Wohl 2005 and 2015 (on affect and sexuality, affect and politics, respectively); Gurd 2016, 62–89 (on affect and sound); Telò 2016 and forthcoming (a) (on affect and the literary-­critical reception of tragedy, in comedy and elsewhere); Worman 2017 (on affect and touch). 48 Deleuze 1994b, 24. Elsewhere, in a formulation with special pertinence to tragedy, Deleuze observes that “at the same time that bodies lose their unity and the self its identity, language loses its denoting function (its distinct sort of integrity) in order to discover a value that is purely expressive, or . . . ‘emotional’ ” (1990, 299). 49 See Altieri 2001, 2003; and Ablow 2010. Brinkema (2014) identifies affect with pure form, that is to say, with the formal exteriorization of feelings in “shape, structure, duration, line, light.” On the affectively evocative power of tragedy’s verbal mise en scène, see esp. Weiss’s chapter. 50 On bodily and material surfaces and edges, see Worman’s chapter and, with reference to material culture, those of Estrin and Shirazi. 51 See Mueller 2016 and Telò 2017; on the entire life cycle of tragic masks, see Duncan’s chapter. 52 Ahmed 2004, 69. 53 On βαρύς, see Worman 2000, 10–12. 54 Sedgwick 2003, 73. 55 Sedgwick (2003, 68), in a discussion of Austin 1975. As Sedgwick explains, periperformatives, “though not themselves performatives, . . . cluster around performatives, . . . are near them or next to them or crowding against them.” 56 In the words of Sedgwick (2003, 76), periperformatives “dramatize . . . the pathos of uncertain agency.” 57 See Sedgwick 2011, 57–58. 58 On materiality and ancient aesthetics, see esp. Peponi 2012 and Porter 2003, 2006, 2010, 2013 (with specific reference to tragedy).


Notes to pages 9–18

59 Barker 2009, 12, 4. 60 In the phrase of Garner (1994). 61 See Telò 2016 and Worman’s chapter; in general, on the aesthetics of touch in classical antiquity, see Purves 2017. 62 See n5 and Worman’s chapter. We could also conceive of objects touching objects, material feeling, i.e., touching, material. 63 See Morton 2012, 205 on wind harps as “sentient beings.” 64 On affect and vulnerability, see esp. Butler 2009. On tragic vulnerability, see the chapters of Bassi and Telò; on the vulnerability of tragic language, see Wohl’s chapter. On tragedy and the materiality of labor, see Hall’s chapter, which proposes a Marxist corrective to new-­materialist trends. 65 In an interview published in The Independent on May 8, 2015: http://www.­entertainment/art/news/sir-­antony-gormley-­interview-i-­ don-t-­have-any-­choice-over-­this-its-­what-i-­was-born-­to-do–10236697.html. 66 See Poet. 1454a1–2, where Aristotle defines as “untragic (οὐ τραγικόν)” the situation in which a character is about to kill a kin in full knowledge of the kinship, but ultimately fails to do so; the reason is that such situation “lacks pathos (ἀπαθές),” that is, it does not rise to the level of tragic feeling. 67 See­view/id/226 (accessed 15th January 2018).

Chapter 1 1 I am grateful to Mario Telò and Melissa Mueller for their insightful comments on my chapter and to Verity Platt and fellow panelists and audiences in San Francisco and Edinburgh for feedback on an earlier oral version. And special thanks to Alex Purves and Nancy Worman for rambling discussion of the materiality of sheeps’ fleece and single malt scotch. 2 Bennett 2010, 11. 3 Bennett 2010, 61. 4 Lacan 1992. Troy is already burning when the play begins (8, 60, 145) and is set ablaze again at the end (1260–64, 1295–1301). On this double destruction, see Croally 1994, 192–207. 5 Loraux 1986, ch. 6. Cf. Th. 1.10.1–3 (with Bassi 2005, 18–23) on the antithesis between the city’s physical ruins and the legacy of its power. 6 Bassi 2005, 24–26. Thucydides casts doubt on Pericles’ strategy of sublimation with the devastating physicality of the plague, which immediately follows the Funeral Oration, and of the defeats in Sicily (7.84; 87) where Pericles’ policy reaches its telos. The impossibility of Pericles’ attempt to transcend matter might imply the

Notes to pages 18–20


impossibility of Thucydides’ own, but if the historian has qualms about the permanence of his ktêma es aiei he does not explicitly voice them. I return to the materiality of this metaphor below. 7 This philosophical context was emphasized by Edith Hall in her response to the SCS panel in which this volume originated. “Disgrace of matter” is Porter’s phrase (Porter 2010). Porter traces this ancient repudiation of matter but argues that the idealism of Plato and Aristotle was exceptional and that Greek aesthetic thought remained primarily materialist, rooted in sensuous experience. Although the exchange of the physical body for immaterial glory dates back to Homer, and Thucydides’ ktêma es aiei has antecedents in archaic poetry (Ford 2002, chs. 4–5), the lure of abstraction may have been intensified by the Athenians’ deracination from their land during the Persian Wars and turn toward a less concrete source of power and identity in their naval empire (see Arrowsmith 1973 and Bassi 2007). 8 Barlow 1986, 166–67 ad 173, 225 and 1221. Erêmos also describes a house left “empty” without an heir. Used of people as well as places, it is an emotionally charged word and thus attributes to the city not merely a condition (emptiness) but an affective relation to that condition (desolation, destitution). At 603 Hecuba describes herself as an ἐρημόπολις μάτηρ: the adjective seems to describe both her and the city. Cf. 564, to which I return below. The play’s language of desolation is well discussed by Poole (1976, 261–66). 9 Th. 7.77.7, a sentiment likewise uttered (by Nicias in Sicily) on the brink of the destruction of men and city alike. For other instances and discussion see Bassi 2007, 190–97. 10 Pol. 1253b27–33. 11 See Barlow 1971, 51–52, 118. I return to the play’s ubiquitous nautical imagery below. 12 Hope is life, as Hecuba says: “Death is not the same as life: the former is nothing, in the latter there is hope” (633; cf. 682). That equation of life and hope is extended into the future through reproduction: Andromache’s children might “refound Troy and the city might exist again” (703–5; cf. 489, 505, 857, 1251–52). This is precisely why the Greeks kill the child. Edelman (2004) offers a critical account of this reproductive optimism. 13 The violence of the act is contained in the noun δίσκημα, an object defined by the action performed to it, and its ambiguous relation to the genitive πύργων (thrown from the towers, but also somehow by them or obscurely belonging to them?). So too the act of killing is cited but not described; the Greeks who threw this “discus” now merely “hold” it (κτείναντες ἔχουσιν). The strongly sensory adjective πικρόν inverts the sweetness of the living child’s breath (758), suggesting the acrid smell of the grave or (of the discus) a metallic taste one can imagine in one’s own mouth after death. On the materiality of death, see also Bassi’s chapter in this volume. 14 On apostrophe, see also the chapters of Bassi and Telò in this volume; see Weiberg’s chapter on Heracles’ address to his weapons at E. HF 1376–85.


Notes to pages 20–23

15 Purves 2015. See also Mueller 2016, 134–40 on Ajax’s shield as a prosthesis or “second skin” and the discussion of Philoctetes and his bow in the Introduction to this volume. 16 See Mueller 2016, 34–35 on the “perfectly blended person-­weapon” of epic. Mueller discusses Hector’s shield in Troades as an illustration of Alfred Gell’s notion of distributed personhood (36). Martin Holbraad differentiates humanist approaches like Gell’s, which emancipate things by “letting some of the light of what it is to be human shine on them too,” from antihumanist, which show “that they can radiate light for themselves” (Holbraad 2011, 4). This passage oscillates between the two perspectives. 17 Lee 1976, 269 ad 1221–23: “A pathetic fallacy is introduced and the shield is imagined as a corpse which is itself to be adorned with the body of the boy.” See also the astute comments of Goff 2009, 75–76. Moreover, as Mario Telò points out to me, the maternal imagery of 1221 makes Hecuba’s address to the object a self-­address. As we shall see, it may be impossible to escape what Bennett calls “the narcissistic reflex of human language and thought” (Bennett 2010, xvi). 18 Contrast Simon. Ep. 9.3 FGE, where we read that the heroes “having died are not dead” (οὐδὲ τεθνᾶσι θανόντες) since they live on through their posthumous kleos. For humans, life after death can only be symbolic. I return to the symbolic immortality of kleos below. On memory and vitality in epigram, see Estrin’s chapter. 19 And with god: it is also an offering to the gods and a vehicle of their will. At 10 and 561 it is mêkhanê and ergon of Athena. But even so it is never fully instrumentalized. Instead, it imparts its horse nature to Athena herself, “the unyoked [goddess of the] divine steed” (ἄζυγος ἀμβροτοπώλου 536). On the unusual epithet, see Lee 1976, 168–69 ad 536. 20 This is stressed in the first mention of the horse at 10–12 and in the etymologizing interpolation at 13–14: it will be called “the wooden horse” (δούρειος ἵππος) because of the wooden spears (δόρυ) it hides. There is a similar ambiguity at 520 in ἔνοπλον: is the horse’s weaponry its own golden bridle or the armed soldiers inside? The Trojans see only the former and are ignorant of the latter; thus the doubleness of deception is encoded within the object’s double ontology as active matter and passive vehicle. 21 Again, perhaps like Helen. Gold is also linked to Ganymede (821) and Tithonus (856), two humans who become inhuman in their indifference to human suffering, and to the gods (254, 1074), who are similarly remote from human concerns (cf. Wohl 2015, 42–49). On the agency of matter, see especially Ingold 2011, 19–32. At Tro. 18–20, the entire plot of the play (and indeed of the Trojan war) is summed up by the autonomous movement of gold toward waiting ships: πολὺς δὲ χρυσὸς Φρύγιά τε σκυλεύματα / πρὸς ναῦς Ἀχαιῶν πέμπεται· μένουσι δὲ / πρύμνηθεν οὖρον. If we read πέμπεται as middle and the ships (not the Achaeans) as the subject of

Notes to pages 23–25


μένουσι, humans become all but irrelevant to the narrative, which enacts a drama of matter of the sort theorized by Bennett and Ingold. 22 The adjective could be active or passive, and erêmia can describe either an object or a person (cf. note 8 above). The translation of Barlow (1986), “headless desperation,” captures well the simultaneously personal and impersonal quality of the phrase. 23 Note the symmetry of φιλήμασιν and ἐκγελᾷ in the line, and the false continuity created by assonance (ἔδωκεν, ἔνθεν ἐκγελᾷ). Brillet-Dubois (2010, 48) reads Astyanax’s death against the parade of Athenian war-­orphans that preceded the play: Euripides invites his audience to ask whether sending Athenian boys off to fight is tantamount to throwing them from the battlements. 24 Lacan’s most concentrated discussion of the real and the Thing can be found in Lacan 1992. See also Žižek 1991b, 1–66. If, as Lacan says, sublimation “raises an object . . . to the dignity of the Thing” (112) then this laughing skull paradoxically epitomizes both Troades’ materialism and its sublimation, as hard bone bears the weight of the unrepresentable real. 25 The rhetoric of enchantment is pervasive in Bennett, e.g., Bennett 2010, xi–xiii; cf. Bennett 2001. 26 In ch. 1 (Bennett 2010, esp. 2–4, 13–19) Bennett acknowledges the paradoxes inherent in the attempt to name the “some-­thing that is not an object of knowledge, that is detached or radically free from representation, and thus a no-­thing at all” (3) and accepts them as part of the cost of her project. It may ultimately be impossible for us as humans to “elide the question of the human” (120) and transcend “the provincial pro-­human-conatus perspective from which we apprehend the world” (Bennett 2015, 231). But as Bennett rightly stresses (and her influential study demonstrates), this does not vitiate the benefits (epistemological, ethical, and ecological) of the attempt. 27 Bennett insists that things are “out-­side,” but also imagines (and advocates) communication between outside and inside: see esp. Bennett 2010, 1–19, 104–8. The thing’s untranslatability is emphasized by Harman 2012; cf. Morton 2012. The dispute between Harman and Morton’s object-­oriented ontology and Bennett’s vibrant materialism hinges on this question of the relationality of the object: see Bennett 2012 (≈ Bennett 2015); Harman 2011; and the Introduction to this volume. We might say that Lacan’s real is like Harman’s “withdrawn” object, a for-­itself fundamentally inaccessible to humans (or even other objects), whereas the Lacanian Thing (the symbolic marker of the inaccessible real) exists for-­us: the “correlationist” object par excellence, it is our (inevitably) anthropocentric attempt to grasp the object in its ungraspability. Bennett wants to split this difference and to theorize matter as simultaneously autonomous (in its being) and accessible (in its effects and affects). Troades suggests that the two may be irreconcilable.


Notes to pages 25–29

28 The expression recurs frequently in his discussions of the real; see, for example, Žižek 1991a, 49–50. Lacan uses the phrase in Seminar 11 in reference to objet a, that other avatar of the real. Belsey (2005, 52–63) insists on the ontological distinction between the Thing and the real and criticizes Žižek for conflating the two. 29 According to LSJ, it refers to the gurgling sound of blood rushing out of the wound. Lee (1976, 262) takes it as visual (the bone is like teeth visible within the wound’s “mouth”), as does Barlow (1986, 221–22), although she allows for both readings at Barlow 1971, 117. The verb may suggest a sinister laugh: e.g., h.Merc 389; Hom. Od. 16.354, 18.35. On Tr. 1177 see also Duncan’s chapter in this volume. 30 Lacan 1990, 6, 42. Cf. Žižek 1991a. 31 See Porter 2010, ch. 6 and esp. 330–35 on the materiality and “vivacity” of the voice. For Lacan, the voice (especially the maternal voice) is a paradigmatic objet a, and therefore connected to the real: Silverman 1988. As Melissa Mueller reminds me, the ontology of voice is particularly complex in tragedy, which captures the living voice of performance in the written text like an insect in amber, although vibrant materialism would argue that the amber-­text is no less alive than the insect-­voice (or, as Derrida would have it, the latter no less dead than the former). Voice figures frequently as a trope of animation in new materialist theory. Thus Bennett (2010, 2) writes: “I will try to give voice to a thing-­power”; “I will try to give voice to a vitality intrinsic to materiality” (3); “stuff . . . issued a call, even if I did not quite understand what it was saying” (4). See the interesting discussion of Holbraad (2011) (with thanks to Carl Knappett for the reference). 32 Johnson 1986, 30. 33 This is underlined by the echo of the laughing phonos passage in ἦ πολύν σοι βοστρύχων (1182; cf. ἡ τεκοῦσα βόστρυχον 1175). 34 πρῶιραι ναῶν, ὠκείαις / Ἴλιον ἱερὰν αἳ κώπαις / δι’ ἅλα πορφυροειδῆ καὶ / λιμένας Ἑλλάδος εὐόρμους / αὐλῶν παιᾶνι στυγνῷ / συρίγγων τ’ εὐφθόγγων φωνᾷ / βαίνουσαι . . . Τροίας ἐν κόλποις / τὰν Μενελάου μετανισόμεναι / στυγνὰν ἄλοχον, Κάστορι λώβαν / τῶι τ’ Εὐρώται δύσκλειαν / ἃ σφάζει μὲν / τὸν πεντήκοντ’ ἀροτῆρα τέκνων / †Πρίαμον, ἐμέ τε μελέαν Ἑκάβαν† / ἐς τάνδ’ ἐξώκειλ’ ἄταν (122–37). Note the closing naval metaphor in ἐξοκέλλω. Over the course of forty lines the ships are transported from the purely figurative (the ship of life and waves of fate at 103–4) to an embodied metaphor (Hecuba’s rocking at 116–17) to the literal (122–31), back to the figurative (ἐξοκέλλω 137). 35 The allusion is to passages like Hom. Il. 6.357–58 and Od. 8.579–80 (which are not, however, framed as counterfactuals). On the play’s “metapoetic agenda” see Torrance 2013, 218–45. 36 Euripides was not the only one to pose a materialist critique of kleos. One can compare Aeschylus’s famous image at Ag. 432–44 of “Ares, gold-­changer of bodies,” who trades husbands and sons for urns and ashes, “from Troy’s fire sending to their

Notes to pages 29–33


loved ones heavy dust to cry bitterly over, loading well-­made urns with ashes in place of men” (ἀντήνορος σποδοῦ 442–43). Euripides deploys similar imagery, as we will see below, though his dust refuses to be contained within an urn. (My thanks to Seth Schein for the parallel.) 37 The phrase is Porter’s: see esp. Porter 2010, 519–23 and 474–76. On the paradoxes of Thucydides’ ktêma es aiei and of the “sublime monuments” of literature, see, respectively, Bassi 2005, 24–26, and Porter 2010, ch. 9. The methodological implications for classics and archaeology are explored by Bassi (2016). 38 Barlow 1986, 188 ad loc. The trope continues until 603 and recurs at 1229–31 and 1301–32. Meter likewise breaks down, as the iambic trimeter is repeatedly interrupted by dochmiacs or by lyric meters themselves interrupted with frequent metrical resolutions: see Barlow 1986, 224. 39 Derrida 2014 is a meditation on the phrase “il y a là cendre.” 40 Derrida 2000, 183. Cf. Derrida 1995, 208: “ ‘cinder’ renders better what I mean to say with the name of trace, namely, something that remains without remaining, which is neither present nor absent, which destroys itself, which is totally consumed, which is a remainder without remainder. That is, something which is not.” For an object-­ oriented critique of Derrida, see Harman 2012, 195–99. As I read him, Derrida does (pace Harman) preserve the reality of matter, precisely in the no-­thing that is hors-­texte: cf. Morton 2012, 218–19. 41 Cf. Pl. Phd. 70a (perhaps alluding to Hom. Il. 23.100): most men suppose that when the psukhê leaves the body at death “it is scattered like breath or smoke and flying away it is gone and is then nothing nowhere” (οὐδὲν ἔτι οὐδαμοῦ ᾖ). Smoke is a by-­word for non-­life and non-­being. It is thus the antithesis of the animating breath, and in yoking the two Plato perhaps gestures toward the same ontological indeterminacy depicted in Troades’ closing metaphors. 42 Grammar replicates logic: the metaphorical wing is substantive, modified by the non-­metaphorical wind. See Bennett 2010, 28–34 on the emergent causality of the assemblage. 43 This different ontology of language no doubt has to do with genre, and the difference between drama’s fictions and historiography’s recording of ta genomena. For sophisticated meditations on this issue, see Porter 2011 and Bassi 2014. For both the Iliad’s Achaean Wall, built only to be destroyed, is a figure for the ontology of fiction. The always-­and-again ruined Troy of Troades likewise embodies the simultaneous being and nonbeing of the play’s fictional world. 44 Bennett 2010, 76–81. We might view Troades as a prototype for apocalypse cinema, the genre in which the end of the world coincides with the end of (the) film: see Szendy 2015. His study of “cinefaction” (making cinema/becoming ash) closes with a meditation on Derrida’s cinders and with the idea (offered as a corrective to Meillassoux’s speculative realism) of the camera as objective witness, in the absence


Notes to pages 33–36

of any human point of view, to a real beyond witnessing. Lacan would call this cine-­eye objet a, that is, the Thing.

Chapter 2 1 See Mueller 2016, 140 on Ajax’s shield: Ajax’s “desire to bequeath his shield [to his son Eurysakes] is one of the surest signs that Ajax is contemplating suicide.” 2 There are, of course, instances where it is assumed that corpses in tragedy are represented by dummies. See Mastronarde 1990 for examples. 3 See Wohl’s discussion of “malevolent materialism” in this volume. On the tragic mask, see Chaston (2010, 11), and the bibliography she cites, as well as Duncan’s chapter in this volume. Chaston (2010) suggests that the mask refers both to a particular individual and to a universal “suffering humanity.” Marshall (1999, 193) notes that “The normal way of representing death on the tragic stage did not involve new masks . . . The mask that had formerly been animated by the actor now appears a lifeless shell.” On the death-­like qualities of the masks of old women in Ecclesiazousae, see Slater 1989. The gestures of the actors may animate their masks, but these gestures also accentuate the mask’s rigidity. Roman death masks are discussed by Turner (2016, 148–49). 4 See Schumacher 2011, 89–90: “Without experiencing the passage of a living body to the inert state of a corpse, it is hardly possible for me to maintain with certainty that my body is doomed to death.” Schumacher does not raise the question of how many deaths must be experienced in order to realize one’s own death. Is one enough? See also Heidegger 1962, 281–85 on experiencing the death of others. Heidegger states that the human corpse is “ ‘more’ than a lifeless material Thing. In it we encounter something unalive [Unlebendiges] which has lost its life” (282). 5 Genre: Marshall 2000; Parker 2007, xix-­xxiv; and Wohl 2015, 9. Characterization: Burnett 1965; Foley 1985, 1992; Rabinowitz 1993; and Dellner 2000. Wohl (2015, 8–18) uses Alcestis as the first example of what she calls “the politics of form” in Euripidean tragedy. See also Garner 1988, 59–60 with nn3 and 4. Bradley (1980, 113) contends that “the reaction to death is the single most powerful determinant of character in the play.” I am less interested in how this reaction determines character than in how it shapes the medium. 6 Segal 1993, 45. 7 Stieber 1998 and Drew 1931. See also Bettini 1999. 8 The quotation is from Stieber 1998, 71. Stieber (1998, 71–74) discusses the funereal language in Admetus’s description of his wife’s likeness. 9 See MacIntosh 1994 on death as a process rather than a single or momentary event in Greek tragedy; the exceptions are Hippolytus and Alcestis.

Notes to pages 36–39


10 Socrates also refers to imitations in “voice or according to shape” (φωνὴν ἢ κατὰ σχῆμα 3.393c5–6; cf. 397b1). See Goldhill 1999, 4–5 on schêma. Renehan (1979) disproves the proposition that σῶμα refers only to the dead body in Homer. Cf. the periphrasis at Rep. 469d “the body of one who has died (σῶμα τοῦ τεθνεῶτος).” 11 I discuss this question at greater length in Bassi 2017. 12 Bennett, 2010, ix. 13 Bennett 2010, 21. 14 The dead are invested with agency in Greek tragedy, in the form of ghosts. On this topic see Bassi 2017 and the works cited there. 15 Pl. Ap. 29a–b. 16 Epicur. Ep. ad Men. 124–25. 17 Conche 1973, 14, cited by Schumacher (2011, 86). Cf. Heidegger 1962, 282–83: “We have no way of access to the loss-­of-Being as such which the dying man ‘suffers.’ ” 18 Schumacher 2011, 148. 19 On survivors as spectators, see Schumacher 2011, 127–29. On the paradox of being a spectator (Zuschauer) at our own death, see Freud 1915, 289. Razinsky (2009, 71–74), citing Freud, notes that the theater “brings us close to death . . . yet assures us in advance that it is only ‘make believe,’ that we will not be personally touched by it . . . It is also possible that the necessity to come close to death is what drives us to attempt representation” (83). But Razinsky does not address why the theater—as opposed to other forms of representation—has this particular capacity to bring us close to death. 20 In Freudian terms, disavowal names a “mode of defence which consists in the subject’s refusing to recognize the reality of a traumatic perception,” in the words of Laplanche and Pontalis (1973, 118), who stress that disavowal in Freud is directed— somewhat ambiguously—toward an “external reality.” I am suggesting that the ekkyklêma activates this mode of defense in effectively hiding the moment of death. 21 Honig 2010, 26. Cf. Leonard 2015, 126–28. Scheffler (2013) and Heinämaa (2015) provide relevant philosophical discussions. 22 Honig 2010, 10. 23 See Telò in this volume on the problematic of shared vulnerability in Sophocles’ Philoctetes. 24 Bennett (2010) only mentions the human corpse once in her book. In illustrating the qualitative difference between “entelechy-­infused life and inorganic matter” in Hans Driesch’s work she refers to distinguishing “a crystal from an embryo, a parking lot from a lawn, me from my corpse” (73). The question raised is how death names a particular qualitative difference in this list. 25 For the phrase, see Bennett 2010, 99, 120–21 on the privileged agency of living humans. In contrast, she seems to equate the dead with “non-­human materialities” (108).


Notes to pages 39–41

26 Honig (2010, 65), referring to Crimp 2002. 27 In the context of Honig’s book, “non-­burial” invokes the general practice of leaving the bodies of dead fighters exposed in the Iliad and the specific exposure of Polynices’ body in Antigone. 28 See Parker 2007 on 608 and 740, and Stieber 1998, 97 n41. 29 At 755–56, the messenger reports that, after falling from the chariot, none of his friends could recognize Orestes’ body (ἄθλιον δέμας). On this passage, see Finglass 2007, ad loc. 30 Mueller 2016, 122. On the urn, see also Chaston 2010, 29–30 and ch. 2, and Billings in this volume. 31 Page (1981) on Simon. Ep. 47 FGE. He gives the examples of A. Ag. 434–36 and S. El. 1158–59. 32 See Stears 1995, 119. On the problem of identifying the deceased on classical Attic tombstones, see Clairmont 1970, 69–72, and Turner 2016, 151–55. On the complex affective dynamics generated by funerary stelae, see Estrin in this volume. 33 Garner (1988, 62) notes that “in some fairly direct sense Patroclus dies for Achilles just as Alcestis does for Admetus.” But he does not pursue the implications of this substitution. 34 Cf. Pl. R. 331e. 35 David Sider, in private correspondence, draws my attention to similar expressions including Simon. PMG fr. 520.4–6 ὁ δ’ ἄφυκτος ὁμῶς ἐπικρέμαται θάνατος· / κείνου γὰρ ἴσον λάχον μέρος οἵ τ’ ἀγαθοὶ / ὅστις τε κακός and S. El. 1173 πᾶσιν γὰρ ἡμῖν τοῦτ’ ὀφείλεται παθεῖν. Bell (1978) surveys the anecdotal tradition about Simonides as a poet for hire, including his views on debt. Parker (2007) on Alc. 988–90 comments that, together with 782, these two lines seem to provide “the earliest surviving appearance of the familiar idea that death is a debt that we all have to pay.” 36 See Hecuba’s speech in E. Hec. 251–95, where she asks Odysseus if Achilles wants to kill Polyxena because he wishes to “kill in return” (ἀνταποκτεῖναι 262) those who killed him. She then goes on to argue that Helen should be killed instead of Polyxena (265–66). On the controversy around these lines, see Matthiessen (2010, ad loc.), who translates ἀνταποκτεῖναι at 262 as “seine Mörder zur Vergeltung.” 37 DK 12 B1. 38 Kahn 1960, 179–183, 208. Gregory (2016) reviews the more recent literature on the fragment. Seaford (2004, 190–209) concludes that an important factor in the genesis of Anaximander’s cosmology—and of “philosophical cosmology in general”—is the presence of a monetized economy. I thank Seth Schein for drawing Anaximander’s fragment to my attention. 39 The phrase is cited by Clairmont (1970, 54). 40 Featherstone 2017, 64.

Notes to pages 41–44


41 The corpse objectifies what Freud, examining the death drive from what he calls “an economic point of view” in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, refers to as “the reinstatement of lifelessness” (1920, 53). See Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, 127–29 on the economic basis of psychoanalysis. In Thoughts for the Times on War and Death (1915, 288), Freud explicitly refers to death as a debt “that everyone owes nature . . . and must expect to pay.” On death in Freud and Heidegger, see Carel 2006. 42 On substitute death as a folk motif, see Parker 2007, xi–xv. 43 Translation by Crawley 1910, slightly adapted. 44 See also Hom. Il. 3.278 and Od. 11.476. 45 The discourse of replaceability is often euphemistically attributed to a democratic ethos. 46 See 2.34.3, where Thucydides describes the coffins holding the bones of the dead in the funeral procession, including an empty coffin for those missing in action. 47 Heinämaa 2015, 112. 48 See Honig 2013, 109. 49 See Honig 2013, 129–30 for a fuller discussion of this passage. 50 Honig (2010, 15) notes the futility of Antigone’s rationale “in a context where it is already too late” and concludes that the point to be drawn is that Creon is no Herodotean Darius. She also argues that Antigone is parodying Pericles’ Funeral Oration: “But our parents are dead. They can’t have more children” (130). 51 Cf. Zellner 1997. 52 See Wohl’s discussion of apostrophe in Euripides’ Troades in this volume. 53 In epic ἐρύω is often used of dragging a corpse, both to rescue it for burial and in a hostile sense, i.e., of the corpse of Hector (Il. 24.16). Parker (2007, ad loc.) notes that its use with the infinitive is not unusual in Euripides. But its semantic link to the human corpse transfers its ambiguous meaning to this passage in the Alcestis where it suggests that being “rescued” from death may have negative consequences. 54 See Harris 2002, 422, with n23. Harris demonstrates that θῆτες is a technical term for someone in debt-­bondage. On debt-­bondage in Athens, see also Millett 1991, 78, with reference to de Ste Croix 1981, 162–65. Cf. Hom. Od. 11.489 where the shade of Achilles tells Odysseus that he would rather live in debt-­bondage (θητευέμεν) to a poor man than be lord over all the corpses in the underworld. In this striking passage from the nekyia, the assertion that debt-­bondage is preferable to death suggests a homology between the two states and, by extension, invokes the notion of death as a debt. 55 Dellner (2000) reads the Alcestis through the lens of gift exchange, based on the distinction between women as alienable and inalienable possessions in anthropological scholarship. 56 The Alcestis provides evidence that the discourse of replaceability was current prior to its appearance in Pericles’ Funeral Oration in Thucydides’ History. On this question, see Honig 2013, 129.


Notes to pages 44–49

57 See Parker 2007 on the “vague conflation of Death and Hades” in 259–62. 58 Other forms of substitution are, of course, at work in the play. These include Alcestis’s statement that Admetus will become the mother to their children (377); her demand that no step-­mother should take her place (304–10); the confusion over who has died, where the meaning of foreigner (ὀθνεῖος) is made ambiguous (532–33); Heracles’ statement that he will go to the house of another guest-­friend (538); and, most famously, Admetus’s desire to have a likeness made of Alcestis (348–54). And, of course, we can add that Alcestis is a “substitute” for a satyr-­play. 59 Cf. Bradley 1980, 121. 60 Cf. S. Ant. 221–22, where Creon says that death is the “payment” (μισθός) for disobeying his orders. Garner (1988, 60) notes that this is also a “typical reminder to the victor [in Pi.] I. 7.41–42.” 61 Other examples of this paradox are found at Or. 200–201 and Hec. 431. On these expressions, see MacIntosh 1994, 70 and 141. Cf. Alc. 390. 62 Parker 2007, ad loc. Cf. McClure 2016, 88–89. 63 Cf. S. Ant. 205. 64 Cf. E. Hipp. 786 and S. OC 622. This use of ἐκτείνω is noted by Stieber (1998, 71). Cf. 365–66, where Admetus uses the same verb to describe his own corpse lying next to that of Alcestis; this passage is also discussed by Stieber (1998, 71). 65 See Stieber 1998, 81 on the similarity of lines 352 and 1066. 66 See Parker 2007 on 348–54. She discusses the possible allusions to the myth of Protesilaus and Laodamia. 67 Stieber 1998, 81. Mario Telò points out to me that the phrase ἔχω σε in recognition scenes between spouses commonly refers to the whole person. See, for example, the recognition scene in E. Hel. 625–57. Telò notes that in contrast, Alcestis is divided into object-­like body parts. 68 See Duncan’s chapter in this volume and Turner 2016, 157–60 on the eyes/face of Medusa. Although Turner does not make the point, it is noteworthy that Medusa is often depicted with a mask-­like face, for example, on the Temple of Artemis on Corfu, c. 580 BCE (Fig. 7.5 in Turner 2016, 158). In turning viewers into stone, the effect of Medusa’s mask-­like face is mirrored in the corpse-­like appearance of the tragic mask.

Chapter 3 1 DK 82 B 23; Plu. De glor. Ath. 348c ὅ τ’ ἀπατήσας δικαιότερος τοῦ μὴ ἀπατήσαντος καὶ ὁ ἀπατηθεὶς σοφώτερος τοῦ μὴ ἀπατηθέντος. 2 On Gorgias, see de Romilly 1973; Franz 1991; Sier 2000; and Verdenius 1981. 3 Fr. 598 PMG; Dialex. DK 90 B 3.10; see Porter 2010, 296–98, and Rosenmeyer 1955. The idea of poetic speech as a form of deception goes back to Hesiod’s Theogony,

Notes to pages 49–51


where the Muses can sing ψεύδεα . . . ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα (“lies similar to the truth” 27–28). The bibliography on the passage is vast, but especially intriguing for this chapter’s concern with ritual speech is Detienne 1996, 85–88. 4 On Euripides, Zeitlin 1996, 341–74; Segal 1997; Torrance 2013; and Wright 2005. On Aristophanes, Zeitlin 1996, 375–416; Platter 2007; Wright 2012; and Clements 2014. 5 Ringer 1998 is a comprehensive reading of Sophocles’ works through the lens of metatheater. See also Valakas 2009. 6 See Mueller 2016, esp. 4–8. 7 The most comprehensive study of deception in Sophocles is Parlavantza-Friedrich 1969. Though the book is still useful, the topic is ripe for revisiting. 8 Reinhardt 1979, 136. 9 On the ethics of deception generally see Blundell 1989 and Belfiore 2000. 10 DK 82 B 23; Plu. De glor. Ath. 348c εὐάλωτον γὰρ ὑφ’ ἡδονῆς λόγων. 11 Aristotle addresses this “as if ” quality through the idea that we enjoy viewing precise representations of objects that would themselves be unpleasant: Poet. 1448b. See Woodruff 1992, 85–89. 12 Halliwell (2002, 50–54) points out that suspicion of the “as if ” quality of fictional discourse is a hallmark of the Platonic critique of mimêsis. 13 DK 82 B 23; Plu. De glor. Ath. 348c ὅτι τοῦθ’ ὑποσχόμενος πεποίηκεν. 14 See Duncan 2005, 63–65. 15 Gel. 6.5 opplevit omnia non simulacris neque imitamentis, sed luctu atque lamentis veris et spirantibus. 16 Important metatheatrical readings are Segal 1980, and 1981, 249–91; Batchelder 1995; and Ringer 1998, 127–212. Kitzinger (1991) takes a broader view of linguistic representation in the play and is thus closer to my approach. 17 See Gödde 2011, esp. 17–27 on euphêmia as a discourse of effective speech. The story of Orestes’ death thus shades into being a “performative utterance” in the terminology of Austin (1975); telling the story enacts (in some undefined but nevertheless powerful way) its accomplishment. On affective critiques of Austin, see Sedgwick 2003, and the Introduction. 18 On language and materiality, see also Wohl in this volume. 19 Orestes’ deception has suggestively been connected to the Spartan ephebic ritual of the Apaturia, in greatest detail by Kucharski (2004, 26–31); on the significance of the ritual see Vidal-Naquet 1986, 106–28, and Hesk 2000, 29–40. Noticing this context suggests another way that the play uses the deception plot to foreground issues of ritual and identity. 20 The emphasis on Orestes’ hand as an agent of murder here (which stands out more strongly in the received text, χειρὸς ἐνδίκους σφαγάς, “the just slaughter of the hand”) and elsewhere (126, 206, 1422) may be an interesting dimension to the scenes of touch analyzed by Worman in this volume: hands in the Electra kill as well as touch.


Notes to pages 52–55

21 Gödde 2011, 179–80. I am grateful to Michael Carroll for pressing me on this important point. 22 On Sophocles’ “disconcerting silence on the matricide,” see MacLeod (2001) with full doxography. 23 Reinhardt (1979, 167) points out further that the tone of both prologue scenes is incongruously light given the weight of the deceptions undertaken. 24 See Falkner 1998 on the role of rhetoric in the play. Hesk (2000, 188–99) discusses the morality of the deception plot. 25 Taousiani (2011) considers the question of why persuasion is so quickly rejected, and its possible relevance to the drama. 26 Mueller 2016, 38–40, and the Introduction to this volume. 27 See Parlavantza-Friedrich 1969, 48. 28 Garvie 1986, 232. 29 Chaston 2010, 139–40. 30 The other use of τύπωμα is E. Ph. 162. On the resonances of the words, see Batchelder 1995, 33–34, and Dunn 1998. 31 Dunn (1998, 441–42) and Finglass (2007, ad 55) offer opposing readings. 32 See Ford 2002, 161–87, and Porter 2010, esp. 209–39, 62–87. 33 Segal (1980, 134–37, and 1981, 283–89) likewise connects Orestes’ fiction to the materiality of the urn. 34 The same verb is used to describe the effect of vision on the soul (DK 82 B11.15 τυποῦται); Gorgias’ materialism is not limited to language but encompasses much of what we would think of as mental processes: Ford 2002, 181–82. 35 Readers have raised justified doubts as to whether this amounts to a Gorgianic “doctrine” of language: see Porter 1993; 2010, 276–96, and Pratt 2015 for different ways of understanding it as self-­defeating. For my purposes, the view performed in Gorgias’ speeches need no more be taken as a philosophical position than the one performed by Sophocles’ Orestes. 36 Parker 1983, 61. 37 On the similarities of the scenes, see Allan 2008, ad 1050–56, with further references. Both Orestes and Menelaus suggest that others have “died in speech” before them (S. El. 62–64; E. Hel. 1056), though it is not clear who these people were (and only one of the scenes can be referencing the other): Finglass 2007, ad 59–66. 38 The same is true of Neoptolemus and Odysseus’s plot at Ph. 111–12: κέρδος appears to have a bad reputation as a motivation. 39 The technique of a fraudulent character standing in for a traditional messenger speech is also employed in the “False Merchant” scene of the Philoctetes (542–627). The Merchant’s information, though, is much harder to evaluate than the Paidagogos’s, which is straightforwardly false. See Budelmann 2000, 113–22. 40 Reinhardt 1979, 137.

Notes to pages 55–59


41 Parry 1981, 15–61. 42 Woodard (1964) develops a reading of the play as a whole that contrasts Orestes’ erga with Electra’s logoi. Though this recognizes some important aspects of the drama, I see logos and ergon here as importantly interwoven in the drama, with the urn one of the most concrete instances. Kitzinger (1991) offers an important corrective, showing the speech of both characters to be highly complex and effective. Further discussions of the dichotomy are in Nooter 2012, 103–104, and Van Nortwick 2015, 7–41. 43 The apparent discordance between the two views is discussed by Porter (1993, 270–72) who argues for an understanding of Gorgias’ views on language as constituted by paradox. 44 DK 82 B3.99–101 ᾧ γὰρ μηνύομεν, ἔστι λόγος, λόγος δὲ οὐκ ἔστι τὰ ὑποκείμενα καὶ ὄντα· οὐκ ἄρα τὰ ὄντα μηνύομεν τοῖς πέλας ἀλλὰ λόγον, ὃς ἕτερός ἐστι τῶν ὑποκειμένων. 45 Porter 2010, 287–92. 46 See Boitani 1990, 104–105 on the recognition plot. 47 On the speech, see Barrett 2002, 132–67, and Marshall 2006. 48 I borrow the concept of a “misrecognition scene” from Mueller (2016, 119). Misrecognition is also emphasized by Boitani 1990, 111–15. 49 See Kucharski 2004 and Zeitlin 2012. 50 Chrysothemis’ rejected recognition has a Euripidean analogue in Electra’s rejection of the Old Man’s suggestions that the lock of hair and footprints prove Orestes’ return (as they do in Aeschylus): E. El. 508–36. See Boitani 1990, 108–11, and Zeitlin 2012, 369–74. 51 De Jong 1994. 52 A. Ag. 1078; E. Heracl. 600, Hec. 181; the other Sophoclean use (El. 1183) is discussed below. 53 Gödde (2011, 182n16) reads δυσφημέω in effect as the opposite of εὐφημέω: to speak inappropriately, and thus, here, to be silent (a meaning εὐφημέω often takes on). But δυσφημέω is usually used to describe the content of speech (rather than the simple fact of speaking), hence my suggestion that we should understand δυσφημέω as avoiding the particular statement that Orestes is alive. 54 Ringer 1998, 187–89. 55 Boitani 1990, 113. See Dugdale 2017 on the language of recognition. 56 Mueller 2016, 120–22. See also Worman in this volume. 57 Ringer 1998, 189. 58 Chaston 2010, 163. 59 For Orestes as an audience of his sister’s grief see Goldhill 2012, 48–50. 60 See the discussion in Nooter 2012, 116–17. I follow the manuscript reading ἀμηχάνων (“helpless words”) rather than the common emendation ἀμηχανῶν (“I, helpless in words”).


Notes to pages 59–63

61 Gödde 2011, 182. 62 As Gödde (2011, 193–96) discusses, the verb is used also at 630 by Clytemnestra to silence Electra’s cries: Electra is constantly in danger of violating the bounds of proper speech. 63 Gödde 2011, 182–85. See also Jebb 1894, ad 1211. 64 Batchelder 1995, 116–22. 65 Jebb (1894, ad 1209) claims, imaginatively but without any basis, that “his words ἀλλ᾽οὐκ Ὀρέστου (1217) reconcile her to parting with it, and he gently takes it from her hands.” He could just as well wrench it from her hands, she could set it down herself, hand it to an attendant, etc . . . 66 Finglass (2007, ad 1401) denies that this is the same vessel as the urn brought on earlier, which he assumes is still on stage. But, as Mueller (2016, 221n56) points out, much more likely is that Orestes and Pylades brought the urn offstage with them. And indeed, the choice of the word λέβης—used in Libation Bearers for the container of Orestes’ ashes—would seem to suggest that this is the very same vessel. 67 Aeschylus’s use of the word λέβης thus nicely tracks the actions and reactions of the plot: it appears first as an urn for the ashes of soldiers in Troy (Ag. 444), then as the bath in which Agamemnon is killed (Ag. 1129), then as a prop in Orestes’ revenge plot (Ch. 686). 68 Reinhardt 1979, 4: “One of the tensions which differentiate Sophoclean situations from those in Aeschylus, and indeed from almost all others, arises from the fact that the true meaning of the speeches no longer coincides with the meaning of the situation in which they are spoken, so that the one clashes with the other like a dissonant voice in a polyphonic work; and this is one of the most important causes of what we admire as the ‘effect’ of his art.” 69 The terms of Bennett’s “vital materialism” (Bennett 2010) and Harman’s object-­ oriented ontology (Harman 2005): see Introduction. 70 I am grateful to audiences in San Francisco and Edinburgh for discussion of this chapter’s ideas, to the other participants on both occasions, and most of all to the editors for the impetus to think about objects and affect in tragedy, and for their insightful and generous comments.

Chapter 4 1 On the connection between access to household firearms and higher suicide rates, see Azrael and Miller 2016. 2 Lawrence 2017. 3 Quoted in Lawrence 2017.

Notes to pages 64–67


4 On Ajax and Heracles as wounded warriors, see, for example, Meagher 2006; Doerries 2015, 57–152; Sherman 2015, 81–84; and Meineck 2016, 184, 200–203. 5 Shay 2012, 58. See also Litz, et. al. 2009; and Sherman 2016. 6 Shay 2012, 58. 7 Shay 2012, 59. See also Meineck (2016, 185), who advocates a “bio-­cultural” approach to combat trauma. 8 DeLanda 2006, 2016. For theories of the assemblage, see also Bennett 2005, 2010; and Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 71, 88–91, 323–37, 503–5. 9 Price-Robertson and Duff 2016, 71. See also Goldberg and Willse (2007, 266), who argue that “the injured soldier be considered an assemblage of capacities.” 10 Price-Robertson and Duff 2016, 71. 11 Most (2013, 398) notes that “it was psychological rather than bodily suffering that was most emphatically presented on stage.” On tragic madness, see also Padel 1992 and 1995. 12 See Telò in this volume for a different take on friendship and weapons. 13 I have chosen the word “force” here instead of “cause” to acknowledge the difficulty in tracing cause and effect in cases of madness, and to avoid privileging any one of these forces as the primary source of Ajax’s psychological suffering. 14 On the soundness of Ajax’s mind even after he recovers from the delusions induced by Athena, see Winnington-Ingram 1980, 11–56. 15 On re-­enacting or re-­experiencing as a psychological response to trauma, see Shay 2012, 58, and Herman 1992, 40. On the relationship between theatrical re-­ enactments and psychoanalytic trauma theory, see Schneider 2011, 22. 16 Schneider 2011, 22. 17 Schneider 2011, 27. 18 Shay (2002, 152–53) views Athenian tragic theater as “a theater of combat veterans, by combat veterans, and for combat veterans,” which offered a kind of “cultural therapy, including purification.” For an elaboration of Shay’s comment, see Meineck 2016. 19 Freud’s theories are considered part of the “old” materialism, and thus influence new materialist ways of thinking about trauma. On “old” and new materialisms, see Hall in this volume. 20 Freud 1914, 150. 21 LaCapra 2014, 42. 22 Shay 2002, 152–53, and Meineck 2016. 23 Shay 2012, 60. 24 Some do not find it aptly named. For a survey of the views on this controversial speech, see Winnington-Ingram 1980, 46 n107, and more recently, Crane 1990; Gibert 1995, 120–35; Farmer 1998; and Lardinois 2006. 25 Meineck (2016, 201–2) comments that Ajax’s isolation in this scene also allows the audience to experience his suicide in a more intimate way.


Notes to pages 68–71

26 On the importance of self-­empathy for working through trauma, see Sherman 2016. 27 See, for example, Fletcher 2013 and Mueller 2016, 23–31. 28 See Kane (1996), who refutes Jebb’s (1896, ad 817) influential reading of the friendship between Hector and Ajax as guest-­friendship. 29 On the sword’s persistent hostility, see, for example, Segal 1980, 127: “Ostensibly signifying the mutability of human affairs as a token of exchange between foes, Ajax and Hector, it is cited at three crucial points, in elaborate and important rhetoric, as a paradigm of persistency in hatred.” See also Kane 1996, 27. 30 On the haunting of the stage by earlier texts and performances, see Carlson 2001. Sofer (2003) discusses the role of props in this theatrical haunting. Fletcher (2013) and Mueller (2016) apply these concepts to Ajax and Philoctetes. See Telò in this volume on Philoctetes. 31 On “surrogation” in a performative context, see Roach 1996. 32 Schneider 2011, 50. 33 On the relationship between re-­enactment and the theater, see Schneider 2011, 50: “enactment becomes recognized as reenactment, recognized as a matter of againness, through explicit theatricality.” 34 Mueller (2016, 31) points out the connection between the verb περιστέλλειν and wrapping a dead body for burial. 35 Mueller (2016, 31) also notes the agent-­noun and use of masculine adjectives and pronouns to describe the sword, even though a neuter antecedent is close (δῶρον 817). 36 Taplin 1978, 86. 37 On σκευή as the dress of a singer or actor, see Hdt. 1.24; Ar. Ra. 108; Pl. R. 577b. Of soldiers’ equipment, see Th. 1.8, 3.94, 6.94. See also Duncan in this volume. 38 On the sacrificial terminology here, see Finglass 2011, ad 218–20, 815–18, and Henrichs 2004, 194–95. On the depiction of perverted sacrifices in tragedy more generally, see Burkert 1966, 116–21; Foley 1985; Segal 1986, 35; and Henrichs 2004. 39 Finglass (2011, ad 218–20) rejects this interpretation of χρηστήρια, arguing that it means simply “sacrifice.” The Jena scholia, which Finglass cites, gloss the word as τὰ μαντεύματα, indicating that this word choice has an oracular sense (the full entry, cited in Ellendt 1965, 788–89, reads: τὰ μαντεύματα. ἐνταῦθα δὲ τὰ γεγενημένα ἔργα ὑπὸ τοῦ Αἴαντος ὡς γὰρ ἐκ τῶν μαντευμάτων τὰ μέλλοντα ἐγένοντο δῆλα. οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ Αἴαντος γεγενημένα ἐδήλουν τὴν μανίαν αὐτοῦ). 40 On Ajax’s summoning of the Erinyes in his suicide speech, see Winnington-Ingram 1980, 210. 41 On Odysseus’s flexible approach to friendship, which paradoxically allows him to remain consistent toward philoi, see Blundell 1989, 101–3. 42 On the considerable thematic links between these two plays, see Barlow 1981.

Notes to pages 72–77


43 On Achilles’ berserking in Books 19–22 of the Iliad, see Shay 1994, 77–99: “The Iliad charts the ambiguous borderline between heroism and a blood-­crazed, berserk state in which abuse after abuse is committed.” 44 Wilamowitz 1959, ad 566, 571. The “seeds of madness” theory has been discredited by some, but I think that there is some truth in it. For the influence of Wilamowitz’s psychological reading of Heracles, see Riley 2008, 210–16. 45 On Heracles’ bow as stage prop, see George 1994. 46 Bond (1981, ad 1098) remarks that this phrase “is a γρῖφος for ‘arrows.’ ” More than just a riddle, however, the phrase ironically recasts the bow in terms of the very weapon with which it has been juxtaposed throughout the play. 47 Wilamowitz (1959, ad 1099) recognizes that Heracles’ weapons are here personified as “die ‘guten Kameraden’, die ihm den Feind vom Leibe hielten.” 48 Worman (1999, 103) argues that Heracles responds to the isolation of Ajax “by depicting the body of the hero as the central node in a network of material and physical imagery that knits him into a series of reciprocal bonds.” 49 On suicide as a violation of philia with oneself, see Belfiore 2000, 113–16. 50 On the glorification of Athens in Heracles, see Tarkow 1977. 51 Diggle’s OCT prints Wecklein’s emendation of the manuscript’s θάνατον to βίοτον. See Bond 1981, ad 1351 for arguments in favor of βίοτον, and Gibert 1997 for a defense of θάνατον. 52 Gibert 1995, 140. 53 Gibert 1995, 141: “Viewing Heracles’ murder of his family and its consequences as another continuing contest with death ties in well with his definitive rejection of suicide, ἐγκαρτερήσω θάνατον (1351).” 54 The arrows’ speech reverses their role as the “givers of speechless death” (θανάτοιο λαθιφθόγγοιο δοτῆρες Sc. 131) in Hesiod’s description of Heracles’ arms. 55 Bond (1981, ad 1379) also notes this reminiscence of the murder scene: “πλευρὰ τἀμὰ προσπίτνοντ’ ἐρεῖ is uncannily like a description of children.” 56 Holmes (2008, 268) makes a similar point: “The fact that the instrumental dative ἡμῖν is immediately followed by the weapons’ ‘own’ assertion of culpability (ἡμᾶς ἔχεις παιδοκτόνους σούς) makes it impossible to decide if the arrows are instruments or culprits. The oscillation between ‘with us you killed’ and ‘you hold us, child-­killers’ captures Heracles’ own uncertainty about whether he is innocent or guilty, subject or object.” 57 On the difficulty of assigning blame to “assemblages” of human and non-human actants, see Bennett 2005, 464: “A distributive understanding of agency, then, reinvokes the need to detach ethics from moralism, and to produce guides to action appropriate to a world of vital, crosscutting forces.” 58 On Doerries’ Theater of War project, see Doerries 2015. On Meineck’s Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives project, see Meineck 2016.


Notes to pages 77–83

59 See, as discussed above, Shay 2002, 152–53, and Meineck 2016. For a contrary view, see Crowley 2014.

Chapter 5 1 Vollmann 2010, 123–24. 2 For comparative studies of Noh and Attic tragedy, see especially Smethurst 1989 and 2013; on their masks in particular, see Johnson 1992 and Matthews 2015. 3 I adopt Bennett’s (2010, 5) terminology and distinction. On “vibrant matter” in the new materialisms and Attic drama, see the Introduction to this volume. 4 For material recalcitrance as a “negative” power or Spinozan “conatus,” distinct from more robust notions of agency, see Bennett 2010, 1–10. On the spectrum of “agentic capacities,” see Coole 2013. 5 On the apparent vitality and emotiveness of the mask as a result of actor’s movement, see especially Meineck 2011, 135–41 and passim, and 2017, 120–53. On the mask and mutual gaze, see Wiles 2007, 284, and Meineck 2011, 140. 6 Issues of immanence and imitation have long been crucial to Noh’s aesthetics: see Ueda 1995, 178–81. 7 For explanations of the term, first introduced in Latour 1996, see Latour 2005, 75, and Bennett 2010, 9. 8 Sofer (2010) and Mueller (2016) both problematize traditional boundaries between objects and actors on stage. 9 For extended discussion, see Frontisi-Ducroux 1995. Wiles (2007, 1) offers a brief semantic overview. 10 On the prosthetic qualities of the costume, see Uhlig’s chapter in this volume. 11 The bibliography is extensive. After a decade, Wiles 2007 remains the starting point for further inquiry, although Halliwell 1993 and Marshall 1999 merit independent consideration. More recently, cognitivist and practical approaches (represented, respectively, by Meineck 2011 and 2017, and Vervain 2012) have advanced discussion. 12 Smith (1984, 2) notes a similar interplay between on- and off-­stage masks in modern contexts. 13 In using the phrase “off-­stage life,” I draw attention to the enduring vitality of the object through time—what might be called its “object biography”—and play upon the title of Andrew Sofer’s 2003 book investigating stage objects as quasi-­animate agents in the theater. 14 For a summary of work relevant to the Greek dramatic mask, see Meineck 2011, and 2017, 79–119. 15 For expansive overviews of the mask, see Barasch 1994 and Belting 2017.

Notes to pages 83–87


16 On the flourishing of ritual interpretations of the Greek dramatic mask in the early and mid-­twentieth century, see Billings 2017; Calame 1986 best instantiates the semiotic approach. 17 See Webster (1965), who, although occasionally fanciful in his interpretations, marshals cogent evidence for masks’ perceived agency in the Hellenistic period and later, and Dearden (1975), discussing South Italian vases. 18 See Wyles 2010, 235. 19 Meineck 2017, 89. 20 Some, however, may be later additions: see Biles 2007, 21n10. 21 Although no longer current, Pickard-Cambridge 1968 remains the classic discussion of visual evidence. On masks especially, see also especially Webster 1965; Green 1982 and 1991; and Csapo 2010a, 1–82. 22 The evocative term was introduced by Pickard-Cambridge (1968, 187). 23 See Wyles 2010. 24 Ar. fr. 130 K.-A. Geras is dated to 410 BCE by Gelzer (1970, 1410). 25 As with any brief fragment, essential pragmatic information can only be surmised. Little else is known about the play. See Rusten 2011, 347. 26 Σ ad Ar. Pax 474b, discussed further below. 27 See Green 1982. 28 At least the wealthy speaker of Lys. 21.2–4 couches his dedication of tripod and theatrical gear (σκευή) in identical phrases: for interpretation, see Wilson 2000, 238–40, and Kapellos 2014, 66–74. On choregic dedications, see especially Wilson 2000, 207–13, and Csapo 2010b. On the relationship between σκευή and masks, see Wyles 2010, 234, and 2011, 41. 29 On athletic dedication, see van Straten (1981, 91), following Rouse (1902, 210–11). 30 On the Dionysion within civic space, see Rehm 2002, 41–44. Given the area’s sloped topography, masks may also have been seen from above. The Dionysion would have been a highly topical reference for the audience of Geras. On the Artemis Ortheia “masks,” see Carter 1987 31 On Mormo and related forms and concepts, see Johnston 1999, 181, and Patera 2005, 374–78. Beekes (2010, s.v. μoρμώ) notes the word’s popularity, as evident in its various forms. 32 Σ ad Ar. Pax 474b Holwerda. 33 Γοργόνειον is first attested in [A.] PV 793; although the play’s date and authorship is unknown, Aristophanes appears to have been familiar with the work: see Griffith 1977, 11–13. This, combined with the pervasiveness of the image, strongly suggests μορμολυκεῖον was formed on analogy with γοργόνειον, not the reverse. On the relations between πρόσωπον, γοργόνειον, and related terms, see Frontisi-Ducroux 1995, 10–17. 34 See Wiles 2007, 1n2, and Frontisi-Ducroux 1995, 14–16.


Notes to pages 87–91

35 Carlson (1993) theorizes spatial semiotics pertinent to theater beyond immediate venue, but his interests are mostly modern. See Rehm 2002, 41–44. 36 On the absence of costumes at the proagôn, see Pickard-Cambridge 1968, 67–68. 37 Lynch 1960. 38 On the mask and literary character, see Hall 2006, 108–9. 39 The early fourth-­century visual evidence for masks is extensively studied. See especially Csapo 2010b and 2010a, 12–23, but also Scholl and Vierneisel 2002. 40 Only victorious equipment, apparently, could be dedicated; at the City Dionysia, losing productions outnumbered winners by two-­to-one. Dedication, too, appears to have been an irregular practice: see Kapellos (2014, 74), who follows Wilson (2000, 238–40) in entertaining that stone simulacra or other ersatz representations, rather than performance masks themselves, were dedicated, although this rather stretches the meaning of σκευή in Lys. 21.4. 41 On the role of materials in these “paratragic” scenes, see Mueller 2016, 67–68, and Telò 2017, 90–100. The historical value of these scenes for locating the storage of theatrical realia may be doubted, but their appeal is itself instructive. 42 On the Agathon scene (Ar. Th. 95–265), see Stehle 2002. 43 Titles and fragments from lost comedies, such as Plato Comicus’s Skeuai, “Theatrical Gear,” are intriguing: see Rusten 2011, 347. 44 Following text and numeration of Hausrath and Hunger 1970. A suspect variant (II) with a citharode is also transmitted, but such a figure would not explain the presence of a mask. 45 A. fr. 78a Radt. O’Sullivan and Collard (2013, 266–70) summarize the extensive recent work on the text, siding strongly with the hypothesis that masks were staged. 46 A. fr. 78a. 7, 20 Radt. 47 For Steiner (2001, 48), the voicelessness begs for an actor underneath. By calling the mask “the mimicry of Daedalus,” τὸ Δαιδάλου μίμημα, the satyr Chorus not only expresses the vitality of the face’s representation, but also calls to mind the mythical inventor’s automata, which likewise blurred conventional boundaries between human, animal, and material. Although he offers late evidence, Callistratus’s references to Daedalus’s automata (8.1; 9.3) highlight their “sense” (αἴσθησις) and the impossibility of their speech. 48 A. fr. 78a.13–17 Radt. In line 15 I accept Page’s emendation αἰάζοιτο. 49 See especially Stieber 1994 and Steiner 2001, 41–50. 50 A. fr 78a. 21 Radt. For various potential functions, semiotic and religious, of the hung satyr masks, see Faraone 1992, 37–38. 51 Cf. Ar. Eq. 232. 52 E.g., βλέφαρα (especially in Sophocles) and παρηίς (in Aeschylus and Euripides). 53 LSJ s.v κάρα A.3.

Notes to pages 91–97


54 Hall (2006, 108–9) notes that, among other technical terms for theatrical realization, πρόσωπον “is perhaps the best candidate for the bearing of metatheatrical meaning,” while recognizing “the term never exclusively means ‘mask’, let alone ‘theatrical mask’, in extant Greek tragedy.” 55 On the paradox, see Tullman and Buckwalter 2014. 56 For the older opinion, see Pickard-Cambridge 1968, 173–74. 57 The phrase derives from the work of Jiří Veltruský; for summary and exemplary application in a Shakespearean context, see Sofer 2010, 136. 58 Indeed, definitions or levels of “existence” may be key to resolving the paradox: see Tullman and Buckwalter 2014. 59 On mask as separate from body, cf. 1298 τὸ φίλτατον δὲ σῶμα ποῦ παιδός, πάτερ; 60 On maternal relations in Euripides, see Zeitlin 2008. 61 On the reciprocity of touch, see Worman’s chapter. 62 The hands, too, are sites of particular affect: cf. E. Med. 899, and see Worman, in this volume. 63 Yoon 2012, 31–32. 64 On this scene, see Wohl’s chapter. 65 Lee (1976, 259) draws connection to the lost portion of Bacchae; cf. Dodds 1960, 234–35. 66 The manuscripts at 1177 read λέγω, “speak of,” but Diggle’s emendation, στέγω, “conceal,” is preferred; the distinction is negligible to my argument, although the practice of covering the faces of the dead has particular scenic effects when transposed into drama: for a discussion of these lines and the textual problem, see Wohl’s chapter. See the discussion of E. Hipp. 1457–58 below. 67 For a similar expression with ὄμματα, cf. S. OT 999. 68 On these lines and their implications for the play’s morbid materialism and the notion of “tragic mimêsis as a negotiation between the dead and the living,” see Bassi’s chapter. 69 For πρόσωπον and the shame felt before other’s gaze, see E. Hipp. 416, 720, 947. 70 For connections between costumes and the semiotic life or death of the character, see Wyles 2011, 75–76; on the play’s blurring of the divide between living and dead matter, see Bassi’s chapter.

Chapter 6 1 Many thanks to Melissa Mueller and Mario Telò for their suggestions and meticulous editorial work on this chapter. 2 King 1938, 96. 3 According to Deleuze (1990, 9), the mirror in Through the Looking-Glass captures the fundamental point of Alice’s adventure, that is “her climb to the surface, her


Notes to pages 97–102

disavowal of false depth and her discovery that everything happens at the border.” I owe this reference to Mario Telò. 4 Kovacs (1995, 482) translates the line: “as I gazed into the bottomless depths of my golden mirror.” King himself (1938, 95) proposed: “Gazing down the long perspective of my golden mirror.” 5 The collective voice shares a common memory but one that is now re-presented through an individual’s perspective. Nussbaum (1986, 510n45), however, sees a completely personal and solipsistic quality to the ode, representing each particular woman’s obsession with revenge. In fact, she reads the mirror scene as the most solipsistic lyrics of all, since the mirror now becomes a substitute for the eyes of another. 6 Cf. ἀποσκοποῦσ’ (939); ἰδοῦσ’ (936); and ὁρῶν (921). On the importance of vision in Hecuba, see esp. Zeitlin 1996, 186–91. 7 See Shirazi 2017 for further discussion of the materiality and cultural significance of mirrors in the classical period. 8 Mossman 1995, 89. 9 On the voyeurism behind these scenes, see Frontisi-Ducroux 1996; Stewart 1996; and Frontisi-Ducroux and Vernant 1997. 10 See also Frontisi-Ducroux 1996, 84 on the Oxford amphoriskos (Fig. 6.1) and the relationship between beauty and hair in these mirror interactions. 11 There is no evidence for hanging mirrors in Greek culture. The most popular mirrors were the handheld variety (which we see depicted on the vases) and box mirrors, which were similar though significantly more dynamic than modern compact mirrors. The third type, the caryatid, or standing, mirror, was composed of a reflective disc, generally supported by a self-­standing female figure. 12 On the “tactile eye” and the relation between vision and touch, see Introduction and Worman’s chapter. 13 On the parallelism between the mirror and the woman’s gaze, see Frontisi-Ducroux and Vernant 1997, 81–82. 14 In the visual arts, for example, the depiction of an actual reflection in the mirror is rather rare. There are, however, to my knowledge a few exceptions: e.g., BA275268; Piraeus Mus. Inv. 6255; Paris. BnF. 422. In all such instances, the face is the primary image reflected so as to suggest that Greek mirrors offered extremely personal and close-­up experiences of the self. 15 In general, explorations of reflected images are less concerned with the image of the self than with the dynamic reflections produced by bronze mirrors. As I have argued elsewhere (Shirazi 2017, 9–89), unlike glass mirrors today which signify accuracy and clarity in their reflections, bronze mirrors would have produced dynamic reflections, characterized by contrasts in color, changes in texture, and the emission of light. Thus, when actual reflections come up in classical discourse,

Notes to pages 102–107


they are generally part of larger explorations about the production and perception of images. 16 Il. 2.455–58. 17 7.1.3. 18 Aristophanes most likely has in mind here the popular (circular) bronze “box” mirrors of the classical period; see n11. 19 This kind of detailed engraving is found on almost all Etruscan mirrors. Although these mirrors are not of Greek production, they are much the same in structure and design, and, of course, manufactured entirely of bronze. In addition, the Hellenic themes depicted on many of these objects are demonstrative of the interaction and influence between the two cultures. Often, the engravings on the back of Etruscan mirrors, either implicitly or explicitly, depict the perceptual qualities of interacting with a bronze reflective surface. 20 As a metal, bronze is central to the theorization of “material vitalism” by Deleuze and Guattari (1987, esp. 404–15) and of “vibrant matter” by Bennett (2010): see Introduction. Bronze, like other metals, could also be a case-­study in the kind of archaeo-­metallurgical investigation proposed by Hall in her chapter. 21 The only exception is Zeitlin 1996, 186. 22 See especially the commentary of Collard (1991), as well as the chapter dedicated to the stasimon in Collard 2007. In the years 1954–1957, the journal Classical Philology published four articles debating the meaning of this line: see Collinge 1954; Booth 1956; Skutsch 1957; and Ussher 1957. 23 Cf. X. Smp.7.4, where bronze is described as both a producer of light (like the lamp) and a producer of images. 24 Σ ad Eur. Hec. 926 Schwartz. 25 See, for example, Collinge 1954. Most recently, Battezzato (2018, ad loc.) notes that “ἀτέρμων is probably an ornamental adjective, describing with exaggeration the endlessness (in time? or in space?) of the rays.” 26 The adjective here serves a similar function as, for example, the adjective ἅπας in Pi. N. 4.82–83 ὁ χρυσὸς ἑψόμενος / αὐγὰς ἔδειξεν ἁπάσας (“refined gold shows forth its absolute radiance”). See also Ussher 1957, 108 for this comparison. 27 Booth (1956, 96) argues that the significance of εἰς with λεύσσειν should not be exaggerated so that the phrase is taken as “to look into” rather than the simpler “to look at”. I believe the significance of this mirror experience should not be underestimated, as if it represents a simple and straightforward visual experience. 28 Wiles (1997, 99) outlines the “mirroring” themes of the ode, in particular drawing attention to the parallel between the woman’s gaze into the depthless lights of the golden mirror (i.e., a gaze into vacuity) and the empty prayers to Artemis (935). 29 On the interactions of light between gold jewelry and the mirror in visual and verbal representations of beautification, see Shirazi 2017, 133–44.


Notes to pages 107–112

30 On Glauce’s robe, see Hall’s chapter in this volume. 31 As Rehm (1994, 103–5) notes, the scene is a perversion of the wedding ritual, with Glauce becoming her own nuptial torch. 32 Polymestor’s arrival in fact follows the third stasimon, and the subsequent turn of events, i.e. the murder and the blinding, was likely a Euripidean invention and thus a surprise for the audience. See, among others, Conacher 1967, 146–52, and Foley 2015, 14–23. 33 Mossman (1995, 193) notes how Polymestor makes it clear that the women are working as a team; Hecuba is not singled out nor does any individual appear to be the leader. See also Burnett, 1988, 157–72, and Foley 2015, 17. 34 The mention of the hair brings to mind the domestic scenes of beautification above and, more importantly, the description of the woman arranging her hair in front of her mirror in the third stasimon. 35 On the significance of the brooches and dress as weapons in the play and tragedy more broadly, see Marshall 2001. 36 On mirrors and subjectivity in the material experience of mourning, see Estrin’s chapter in this volume.

Chapter 7 1 I would like to thank Melissa Mueller and Mario Telò for the invitation to contribute to this volume and for their support and guidance as editors. I am also grateful to Richard Neer and Sarah Olsen, both of whom offered valuable feedback on earlier drafts. Athanasios Themos at the Epigraphical Museum, Leonidas Bournias at the Kerameikos Museum, and Chrysanthi Tsouli at the National Archaeological Museum, as well as the staff at each of these museums, kindly facilitated my study of the stelae discussed in this chapter. For help in acquiring the necessary permits and some of the photographs published here, I thank Ioanna Damanaki, Elena Kourakou, and Jutta Stroszeck. 2 Scholarship on the ecphrasis of the parodos is extensive. See especially Zeitlin 1994, 147–56; Lee 1997, 177–85; Zacharia 2003, 14–20; and Stieber (2011, 284–302), who reviews earlier bibliography. For the setting of the ecphrasis within a broader cultural context of what he terms “materialist aesthetics” developing in fifth-­century Athens, see Porter 2010, 188–93. On wonder as an effect of beholding Greek sculpture, see Neer 2010. 3 On Apollo’s absence, see Zeitlin 1994, 150–51. 4 Recently, for instance: Fullerton 2016, 84, and Neils 2016, 164–66. 5 See Stieber 2011, 284–302. 6 In thinking through the use of material objects in the play, especially in the recognition scene, I am indebted to Mueller 2010 and the related discussion in

Notes to pages 112–115


Mueller 2016, 70–84. For a more political interpretation of objects in the play, see Athanassaki 2010. More generally, see Stieber 2011, 275–336. On aesthetic form of the play itself as exerting an affective pull, see Wohl 2015, 23–38. 7 The most compelling account of the shared cultural poetics of the visual arts and Euripidean theater remains Zeitlin 1994. The parodos makes the link between the spectacle of the play and the spectacle of the temple more or less explicit through their shared status as a kind of theôria, and so sets up the terms for seeing Creusa’s visual experience in similar terms. For the viewing of temple sculpture as theôria see Marconi 2007, 28. 8 Within the study of classical antiquity, the material and affective turns have been more enthusiastically embraced by archaeologists (e.g., Hamilakis 2014) than art historians. Exceptions include Bielfeldt 2014 and Platt 2016; see also the forthcoming issue of Art History devoted to the “Embodied Object” (Gaifman, Platt, and Squire 2018), especially the contribution by Michael Squire on Classical Attic funerary sculpture. On the relationship between narrative and description, see Elsner 2010. 9 On these points and those in the preceding paragraph, see Wood 2016. 10 More generally on such effects in tragedy, see Chaston 2010, especially her notion of the “reconstrual of images” (56–58) and her discussion of the role of emotion in the operation of image perception (59–62). 11 1448b17. My understanding of this expression, both in Aristotle and elsewhere, is indebted to discussions in Peponi 2004, 308–13; Bakker 2010, 155–56; and Chaston 2010, 6–10, 62–65. Many modern art historians understand the operations of depiction and recognition before the work of art as functioning in similar terms. For a particularly sensitive account, see Podro 1998. 12 See Zeitlin 1994, 149–52. 13 Aristotle’s example of a likeness implies that the viewer has previously seen the subject in the flesh, whereas the Chorus recognize gods and goddesses that they have presumably seen in other works of art. Yet in tragedy, works of art themselves can provide the prior visual experience that allows a viewer to perform intersubjective recognition. So, for instance, Ion is already familiar with Creusa’s family history because he has seen it depicted in paintings (271). 14 As Bakker (2010, 156) notes, the formulation is often used to describe how something “in the speaker’s and hearer’s minds but absent or not yet perceived is identified with something perceived or experienced in the speaker’s here and now.” 15 See Loraux 1993, 195–98. 16 Creusa develops this disjunction further at 384–85. For the comparison of Aristotle’s account of recognition before the work of art to the cognitive act of mourning, see Munteanu 2012, 126–27. 17 On the vividness of her memory here as a symptom of trauma, see Weiss 2008, 42.


Notes to pages 115–123

18 For the interpretation of this difficult passage I follow the reading proposed by Stieber (2011, 323) and adapt her translation. 19 See Neer 2010, 73–77. Apollo is similarly described in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo as emitting “shimmerings” (μαρμαρυγαί 203) in ways that, as Power (2011) and Kurke (2013) have argued, likewise suggest wondrous effects of material objects but in the context of choreia. 20 For the Ion in relation to ecphrasis as a genre, see Elsner 2002, 6–8. On the tapestries, see Stieber 2011, 302–14 with earlier bibliography. 21 For this reason, it is not necessary to speculate here whether or not the temple façade was depicted in the skênê. In either case, the temple would not appear as a stable object of perception, but as something that could only emerge as visible through a particular ecphrastic description and a particular affective lens, whether that of the Chorus or that of Creusa. 22 It is worth noting that the term εἰκών (“likeness”) is almost never found in classical funerary epigram; one exception is CEG 481, where the epigram calls the monument a “relief [that] holds a likeness” (τύπος εἰκόν’ ἔχει) of the deceased. As the oblique wording of this phrase suggests, the funerary monument is not inherently a likeness, unlike the honorific portrait which is often identified in inscriptions as such. Instead, I would argue, it can succeed to something like an eikôn by inverting the structure of the eikôn in the way I describe here. On eikôn and portraiture, see Platt 2014 and Keesling 2017, 41–43. 23 Greek quotations of funerary epigrams are from Hansen 1983/1989, abbreviated here as CEG. On deixis in fourth-­century funerary epigram, see Tsagalis 2008, 21–26. 24 Clairmont 1970, 85–86 cat. 18, and 1993, 1.350. On the epigram, see Tsagalis 2008, 210–11. 25 On the verb κατέχει in funerary epigram, see Estrin, forthcoming. 26 Clairmont 1970, 77–79 cat. 13; Clairmont 1993, 1.283. On the epigram, see Tsagalis 2008, 155–57. On Pausimache’s monument as a likeness, see Platt 2014, 195–97. 27 I have explored similar effects in archaic funerary epigram and sculpture in Estrin 2016. 28 See Arist. Mem. 450a for the comparison between memories and paintings or seal impressions in the mind. 29 On the effects of Pausimache’s mirror see Neer 2010, 298–300. On mirrors, see also Shirazi’s chapter in this volume. 30 On the passer-­by in funerary epigram, see Tueller 2010, 42–60. 31 On the vessel and its contents, see Mueller 2010, 389–396, and 2016, 75–85. 32 For ζητήματα, cf. CEG 521. 33 For a similar inversion, in Alcman, see Peponi 2004, 312–13.

Notes to pages 123–133


34 Such objects frequently operate in similar ways at the gravesite in classical tragedy, most famously in Aeschylus’s Oresteia and the Electra plays of Euripides and Sophocles. See Billings’s and Worman’s chapters. 35 Oakley 2004 and Arrington 2014, 239–74. See also Turner 2016, 143–55. 36 Schlörb-Vierneisel 1964. 37 Stroszeck 2002, 468. Unfortunately, as Stroszeck notes, the skeleton has not been preserved. For the debate over Eupheros’s age at death, see Clairmont 1993, 1.081. 38 Schlörb-Vierneisel 1964, 90. 39 See the comments by Neer (2015) on Lysippus’s Apoxyomenos. 40 For related effects on an archaic stele, see Estrin 2016. We might also compare the use of a fillet that decorates Eupheros’s hair with fillets that were originally painted above the stele’s pediment, rendered as if left there by a passing mourner. For the polychromy, see Posamentir 2002. 41 Mueller 2010, 389–91, and 2016, 78–80. 42 Clairmont 1970, 120–21 cat. 42, and 1993, 2.389b. On the epigram, see Hansen’s discussion in CEG 548; Tsagalis 2008, 145–46; and Fantuzzi 2010, 301–2. 43 I thank Mario Telò for pointing out the ambiguity of the genitive here. 44 The possibility that Erxis is a woman’s name has generally been rejected; the seated woman might possibly be identified with Theodote. See Hansen’s comments in CEG 548. 45 See Loraux 1993, 196, and Lee 1997, 226. 46 Such observations apply to our own approach to ancient material objects, whose very appearance might change according to what stories we tell about them. The vibrancy or affective qualities of objects can only be activated when we, like the audience of the Ion or the viewer of a funerary monument, shift our perception and visualize them in these terms. For three perspectives on the affective nature of our encounters with the material past, one from a classicist, one from an art historian, and one from an archaeologist, see du Bois 2003; Holly 2013; and Hamilakis 2014, 111–28.

Chapter 8 1 Many thanks to Karen Bassi, Melissa Mueller, Ramona Naddaff, Nelly Oliensis, Lucia Prauscello, and Alex Press. I conceived some of the ideas presented here in the course of a graduate seminar on affect and Greek tragedy at UC Berkeley in fall 2015: deepest thanks to all the participants for their exciting contributions. 2 Seigworth and Gregg 2010, 1. The notion of in-­between-ness is indebted to the theory of “becoming” of Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 293): “a becoming is neither one nor two, nor the relation of the two; it is the in-­between . . . a nonlocalizable relation sweeping up the two distant or contiguous points, carrying one into the proximity of the other.”


Notes to pages 133–134

3 Seigworth and Gregg 2010, 4, 13; Deleuze and Guattari (1987, 293) use the phrase “shared deterritorialization” in their famous discussion of the quasi-­intercourse between wasps and orchids. 4 See Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 28: “we oppose epidemic to filiation, contagion to heredity.” On contagion in affect theory, see, e.g., Sedgwick 2003, 36–38, and Brennan 2004, 68–69. Gibbs (2010, 186), citing Hatfield, Cacioppo, and Rapson 1994, 5, speaks of “affect contagion” as “the ‘synchrony of facial expressions, vocalizations, postures and movements with those of another person,’ producing a tendency for those involved ‘to converge emotionally.’ ” Chen (2012) compares affect to the circulation of toxins. 5 Massumi (1995, 94) defines affect in terms of “coexistence and interconnection.” See Introduction and the chapters of Uhlig and Worman. 6 Gibbs 2010, 189. Philoctetes’ smell, emphasized in the play, links contagion and affect. 7 On the disease as a companion, see 268, 520, and 892 (where we find σύν used as a preposition or prefix). Line 7 (νόσῳ καταστάζοντα διαβόρῳ πόδα) may play with the ambiguity between the dative’s instrumental and comitative meanings. 8 The phrase is from Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 293. As we will see, the disease is not just devouring but devoured—that is, internalized—by Philoctetes. The dynamics of assimilation tend toward instability and inversions. 9 See Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 241: “animals are packs, and packs form, develop, and are transformed by contagion.” 10 Toward comes from Ahmed (2006 and 2010b, 38–45). The risk of reducing the other to the same is the point of Levinas’s critique of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, which affirms the co- or inter-­dependence of self and other: see Levinas 1990. A similar critique informs the notion of “becoming with,” which, in the field of animal studies, Haraway (2008, 27–35) formulates as an alternative to Deleuze and Guattari’s “becoming” (and, specifically, “becoming-­animal”) by building on elements of Levinas’s (and, to an extent, Derrida’s) ethical phenomenology. The problem of affect and incorporation relates to the “intimate publics” elaborated by Berlant (2008) in her critique of the “emotional contact” between women orchestrated by American mass media. 11 See Daly 1982 and Greengard 1987, 60n36, on 670–73. The classic treatment of the ethics of φιλία in Philoctetes is Blundell 1989, 184–225. On the weapons of Ajax and Heracles in the light of φιλία, see Weiberg’s chapter 12 Derrida 1997, 179. 13 For the same idea, see, e.g., EE 1240b3, 8–9. 14 Montaigne 1987, 211–12. Pedersen (2015) sees the phrase “one thing melts into another” in Virginia Woolf ’s The Waves as an icon of affect. 15 Derrida 1997, 178. See Arist. EN 1170b6–7 ἕτερος γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ φίλος (“the friend is another self ”).

Notes to pages 134–140


16 Derrida 1997, viii. 17 See Derrida 1988, 57–58, and 1991, 112–14. On Derrida’s linkage of friendship and anthropophagy, see Deutscher 1998, and below. 18 On Echo in the parodos, see the Introduction; on the ending, see below. Carson (1986, 248) sees echo in the play as “an image of moral relations.” On the notion of “affective resonance” and the homology between echo and affect, see, e.g., Lönneker 2015, 175. 19 In many of his writings, Derrida has commented on the myth of Echo and Narcissus. In the film documentary Derrida (Dick and Kofman 2002), he says, “Echo, in her loving and infinite cleverness, arranges it so that in repeating the last syllables of the words of Narcissus, she speaks in such a way that the words become her own.” Paraphrasing Derrida, DeArmitt (2009, 92) observes that “with her ears and her mouth . . . Echo both quasi-­literally and ideally ingests the words of Narcissus.” 20 Here and elsewhere I reproduce the text of Schein 2013. 21 Philoctetes is the character who most frequently uses forms and cognates of φίλος in the play. 22 Schein 2013, 173. 23 See 488, 496, and 501, where Philoctetes’ impassioned appeals to Neoptolemus (ἔκσωσον; σῶσον) resonate with what he presents as the content of the requests for help sent to his father (ἐκσῶσαι). Carson (1986, 248) points out that Philoctetes is built upon “a system of reverberations, repetitions, and doublings.” 24 See, among others, Roisman 1997; Fulkerson 2006; and Schein 2006. 25 Doublings occurring at the edges of a sentence or of a line (βάλλον . . . βάλοι 289; πρὸς . . τοῦθ’ . . . πρὸς τοῦτ’ 289, 292) convey a sense of the traumatic loop. 26 On the crypt as the ego’s internal space where the other resides, see Derrida 1988, 57. In Telò, forthcoming (b), I explore tragic materiality in relation to Philoctetes’ death drive. 27 Lycomedes, king of Skyros, mentioned at 243, conjures Achilles’ feminine disguise on the island: see Pucci 2003, 191. 28 See 313; see also 258–59, where Philoctetes describes the “growth” of his disease (ἡ δ’ ἐμὴ νόσος) in terms of virginal flourishing (τέθηλε). On the devouring force of Philoctetes’ disease, see esp. Greengard 1987, 44–45, and Worman (2000), who explores, in a Kristevan perspective, the relation between “self ” and monstrous “other” thematized in the play. 29 On the binary of mourning and melancholy, see Freud 1917. For Derrida (1989, 35), melancholy, as “an aborted interiorization,” achieves “a respect for the other as other,” while mourning “makes the other a part of us,” and “the other no longer quite seems to be the other.” On the relation between friendship and mourning, see Deutscher 1998 and the introduction of Brault and Naas to Derrida 2001. 30 The triangular structure in the play has been recognized since Kirkwood (1958, 58), who, however, sees Odysseus, not the bow, as the third element, as does Cook (1968),


Notes to pages 140–142

who, to the best of my knowledge, is the only critic to see this structure as colored with eroticism. 31 I owe the phrase “imperceptible micro-­attractions” to Nigianni (2009, 1), who discusses sexuality in a Deleuzian perspective as inherently queer. While Philoctetes has been connected with the homosocial practice of the ephebeia (see Vidal-Naquet 1988a), the scholarship on the play has all but ignored the text’s homoerotic energy, its queer affect, which, however, has been developed in its reception, from Gide to the AIDS epidemics: see Feldman 2001 and Jenkins 2015, 68–78. 32 On this issue, see Schein 2013, 211–12. 33 “I (ἐγὼ μὲν) will go to the ship; as for the two of you (σφῷν δ’), may the god help you as best as possible” (626–27). 34 Πούς in ἄπους sounds like the contracted form of πέος (“penis”). 35 According to the stage direction indicated by Schein (2013, 225). 36 The tactile nature of the hoped-­for action is underlined by the way Philoctetes uses the same verb at 655: βαστάζω χεροῖν. There is, in other words, a strong suggestion of fondling. On eerie touching in other plays of Sophocles, see Worman’s chapter. 37 See Freud 1927 and Lacan 2002, 271–80. On the foot as a Freudian fetish, see esp. Oliensis 2009, 120–22; on the symbolism of foot/bow/penis in Euripides’ Medea, see Buchan 2008. 38 παπαῖ in 746 and παῖ in 750 are echoed by sounds in the intervening lines: πάταξον εἰς ἄκρον πόδα· / ἀπάμησον . . . (748–49). Greengard (1987, 46) first saw the conflation of πάππα and παῖ in ἀπαππαπαῖ and παππαπαππαπαῖ (746, 754); Worman (2000, 26) observes in παππαπαῖ “a reversion to a state of non-­differentiation between subject and object, self and other, child and parent.” I read παππαπαῖ as analogous to the juxtaposition of τέκνον and ποίαν in 276, another signal of Neoptolemus’s transformation into a κτῆμα, a part of Philoctetes’ subject world. 39 Sedgwick 1985. 40 In light of the erotic energy between Philoctetes and Neoptolemus, discussed above, we might see a double entendre in ἀνέστησας. Greengard (1987, 44–45) finds an allusion to Philoctetes’ impotence at 820, in the phrase οὐκέτ’ ὀρθοῦσθαι. 41 On apostrophes to objects and dead bodies, see the chapters of Bassi and Wohl. 42 Derrida 2001, 200. See Blanchot (1995, 27), cited by Derrida (1997, 294): “Friendship . . . implies the common strangeness which does not allow us to speak of our friends, but only to speak to them . . . speaking to us, they reserve . . . the infinite distance.” 43 On mourning and melancholy, see above, n29. 44 See Daly 1982 and Segal 1995, 104–5. Greengard (1987, 64) observes that in these lines the “desire for the possession of the object of power has been transformed to desire for a companion, a social relation.” 45 On Sophocles’ play with the meanings of λαβεῖν in this scene and throughout the play, see Goldhill 2012, 64–65.

Notes to pages 142–146


46 On the cave as a tomb, see Greengard 1987, 43; Segal 1995, 116; and Nooter 2012, 129. 47 Hawkins (1999, 350) suggests that “Philoctetes invites Neoptolemus to come with him into his cave, into his inner experience,” adhering to the traditional moralistic reading of φιλία in the play as social bond and reciprocity. 48 Bersani 2010, 29. 49 Luciano and Chen 2015, 191. 50 On this topic, see esp. Holmes 2010. 51 The superlative ἔχθιστος is used in reference to the ἔχιδνα in 631–32 (ἐχθίστης . . . ἐχίδνης), where, as we have seen, Odysseus is compared unfavorably to the snake. Τέχνη and its cognates have a strong association with Odysseus in the play: see 80 and 88. 52 The onslaught of the disease residing in Philoctetes’ “beast-­infested” (ἐνθήρου) foot is presented as “very hot” (θερμοτάταν) at 696. Rehm (2006, 98) links ὦ πῦρ with Heracles’ burning disease on Mount Oeta. 53 Neoptolemus: Ah! (παπαῖ) What should I do now? Philoctetes: What is it, boy? Where (παῖ; ποῖ) have you gone with your speech? 54 Φόβος is assigned a quasi-­personal agency twice in the play: see 569 (φόβος τις εἶργέ νιν;) and 1231. 55 At the beginning of the play (84), Odysseus had commanded Neoptolemus, “Give yourself to me” (δός μοι σεαυτόν). 56 On this address, see the Introduction. 57 Coming from cum and panis (“bread”), “companion” in English is an exact equivalent of σύντροφος. 58 Cf. 287–88, where Philoctetes speaks of the doves that his bow found for his belly as τὰ σύμφορα (“expedient things” or “what was needed,” but also, in a sense, “companions”). 59 At 520 ξυνουσία appears accompanied by the genitive νόσου, the “devouring” disease. 60 Levinas (1998b, 110) sees subjects as “insufficiently open . . . suffering of constriction in [their] skin.” 61 Derrida (1991, 114) observes that the ethical question is not “knowing if it is ‘good’ to eat the other”—for “one eats him regardless and lets oneself be eaten by him”—but how to “[eat] well.” See Guyer 2007. 62 Anne Carson observes that ἀντίφονος indicates a “perversion of reciprocity,” the reciprocity of aristocratic obligations that is symbolized by echo (1986, 256). 63 Derrida uses the metaphor of the shore to visualize the idea of the other as simultaneously close and far: “the shore—let us hear the other—appears in disappearing from view” (2011, 7). Conversely, as Saghafi (2010, 106) says, “it always recedes as it is approached.” 64 On the opposition between οἶκτος and ἔλεος in the play, see Prauscello 2010. “Compassion,” in the critique offered by Berlant (2004) and Garber (2004), is


Notes to pages 146–151

characterized by “withholding,” the denial of a deep commitment. On pity in Philoctetes, see, among others, Konstan 2001, 49–56, and Nussbaum 2008. 65 According to Levinas, there cannot be “suffering with” the other because suffering is “unassumable” (1998a, 91). Suffering for the other is conceived as a form of substitutive suffering, which as such respects alterity: see Levinas 1998b, esp. 124–25. 66 Tahmasebi-Birgani 2014, 78. As Karen Bassi points out to me, Levinas’s position is similar to that of Heidegger (1962, 239) with respect to death: “the dying of Others is not something which we experience in a genuine sense; at most we are always just ‘there alongside.’ ” 67 On the eye as the call of alterity, see Levinas 1969, 66. In this scene, the play of proximity and distance is conveyed by the contrast between πρός- and ἀπό- in προσφθεγκτός, πρόσλευσσε, and ἄπει. 68 See Schein 2013, 282. 69 See, for example, συνείσῃ (“you will be conscious”) addressed to the cave at 1085. 70 At 283 Philoctetes qualifies his “pain” (ἀνιᾶσθαι) as “present” (παρόν). 71 The punning possibilities of ὠφελέω and φιλέω are exploited in 1383–84: Neoptolemus: For how would someone be ashamed of helping friends (ὠφελῶν φίλους)? Philoctetes: Do you mean help (ὄφελος) for the Atreidae or for me? 72 See Derrida 1991, esp. 114. 73 At 1281 Philoctetes uses the verb κτάομαι, presenting his φρήν as a “possession” for Neoptolemus: see Greengard 1987, 60n36. 74 I borrow these two terms from the definitions of affect offered by Chen (2012, 11). 75 On the “capaciousness” of affect, see Highmore 2017. 76 On the multiple referents (including Heracles) of πανδαμάτωρ, see Budelmann 2000, 149. 77 In his redemptive reading, Segal (1995, 115) observes that the Chorus’s language (πάντες ἀολλεῖς) “emphatically includes Philoctetes.” 78 Recent takes on the play’s finale recognize its ambiguities yet opt for a fundamentally redemptive reading: see, e.g., Schein 2005 and Nooter 2012, 139–46. 79 See Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 238: “Becoming . . . concerns alliance.” See above, nn2–4. I borrow the term “becoming with” from Haraway (2008), who uses it to describe the relationships between humans and companion animals. In Telò, forthcoming (b), I read into the finale’s water imagery a way of escape from Heracles’ reterritorialization. 80 Highmore 2017, 235. 81 Highmore 2017, 235. 82 Seigworth and Gregg 2010, 2. See also Uhlig’s chapter, referring to Latour. 83 Highmore 2017, 235.

Notes to pages 151–156


84 Seigworth and Gregg 2010, 3. On this point see Uhlig’s chapter. 85 EN 1170b6–7. 86 Griffero 2014, 4. 87 Harman (2005, 95) uses “black box” and “black hole” as interchangeable images of the material object: see the Introduction. 88 This is a concern of contemporary novelists: see, for example, Morrison 1992, 3. I owe this reference to Dorothy Hale.

Chapter 9 1 Fr. 314 Radt. 2 Hunt proposed the supplement ὀσμ[αῖσι (“by scents”). 3 As is common, the singular is used throughout the passage to refer to the satyr collective. 4 Brennan 2004, 9; see also Introduction. 5 Seigworth and Gregg 2010, 2. 6 Aj. 786; see Finglass 2011, 368. 7 1093–94 ἔοικεν εὔρις ἡ ξένη κυνὸς δίκην / εἶναι, ματεύει δ’ ὧν ἀνευρήσει φόνον (“It seems that the stranger is keen-­scented, like a dog, and is searching for the blood of those she will discover”). The scent of blood is later picked up by the Erinyes, who are also compared to hunting dogs, in the trilogy’s final play (Eu. 246–47). On dogs in the trilogy, see Heath 1999 and Wilson 2006. 8 7–8 εὖ δέ σ’ ἐκφέρει / κυνὸς Λακαίνης ὥς τις εὔρινος βάσις (“Your step leads you well, like that of a keen-­scented Lacanian dog”). The divergence of the Ichneutae Chorus’s dance from the behavior described in this passage, as well as at A. Eu. 244–58, is discussed by Zagagi (1999, 190–91). 9 There is no evidence to support the claim of Walton (1935) that the Chorus wore canine masks and costumes. See Ussher 1974, 133–34; Maltese 1982, 25; and Zagagi 1999, 189. 10 Seidensticker (2003, 110–17) discusses the importance, and possible forms, of dance in satyr drama. 11 Griffith (2013, 266) notes how the satyrs’ “ ‘mimetic’ habit [. . .] quite often leads to reference being made to the Chorus’s bodily gestures and movements and/or to the instrumentation and character of the musical accompaniment, that is, in general to the performative qualities of their self-­presentation.” 12 See the judicious discussion of Naerebout (1997, esp. 108–9); see also Steinhart 2007. Griffith (2013, 269) nevertheless emphasizes the satyrs’ “visually novel choreographic adventure” at lines 124–220. 13 Latour 2004, 214.


Notes to pages 156–161

14 Latour 2004, 209–13. 15 Latour 2004, 206. 16 Latour 2004, 210–11. 17 On a similar conception of the body in Philoctetes, see Introduction and Telò’s chapter. 18 Latour 2004, 206–7. 19 Latour 2004, 207. 20 On the satyrs’ mask, see Duncan’s chapter. 21 The most important study remains Frontisi-Ducroux 1995. See also Calame 1986; Halliwell 1993; Wiles 2007; Meineck 2011; and Duncan’s chapter in this volume. 22 Kossatz-Deissmann 1982 is the only dedicated study of the dramatic perizôma. On the use of the shorts, without phallus and equine tail in athletic competitions, see Bonfante 1989, 546–48, 559–64; McDonnell 1993; Shapiro 2000; and Thuillier 2004. 23 Pickard-Cambridge 1968, 185. 24 Csapo 2010a, 42. 25 On the mask as a prosthetic object, see Duncan’s chapter in this volume. 26 See, most recently, Lissarrague 2013; see also Voelke 2001. 27 See Compton-Engle 2015, 21–24. 28 Compton-Engle 2015, 24. 29 Lämmle 2013, 245–91; see also Seidensticker 2003, 103: “Whereas tragedy presents ever new Choruses in the same or similar roles, satyr play presents the same satyrs in ever new roles, often already advertised by the plural title of the play.” 30 Seidensticker 2003, 103. 31 Comparable, perhaps, is the onstage transformation of the Chorus, albeit by means of a secondary costume, in Aeschylus’s Theoroi, where the satyrs appear to take up “new playthings” (νεοχμὰ [. . . .] ἀθύρματα ̣fr. 78c 50), on which see Ferrari 2013, 205–8, and Lämmle 2013, 313. 32 On ancient theories of smell, see recently the contributions in Bradley 2014. 33 As will be clear, I do not agree with Zagagi (1999, 189–90), who argues that “it must be clear that the canine behavior of the satyrs has one purpose and one alone: to enliven the scene of pursuit by means which are as dramatic, realistic, and economical as possible. Once this aim has been achieved, the task of the canine pantomime is at an end, and the satyrs return to their natural and original dimension.” Nor does Zagagi specify when in the text this “aim” should be understood to have “been achieved.” 34 The dramatic self-­consciousness of satyr drama, particularly with regards to music/ dance and costume, is explored by Kaimio et al. (2001) and, with respect to music and dance, by Griffith (2013). Power (2018) explores the musical self-­consciousness of Ichneutae in particular. 35 On the sonic landscape of the play, see Guida 2013 and Power 2018.

Notes to pages 161–166


36 On the mimetic nature of the satyrs’ approach as dogs, see Griffith 2013, 266–68, and Antonopoulos 2015, 250–52, and 2014, 57–63, on the canine names that they are called. 37 Griffith 2013, 270, and Power 2018, 360. 38 The phrase τί χρῆμα is found often in drama and generally means little more than τί (LSJ s.v. II.2), but the use of the definite article argues against that being the case here. On the periphrastic usage, which is often applied to animals and thus perhaps influenced Sophocles’ unusual formulations in Ichneutae, see Bergson 1967. 39 Sophocles employs χρῆμα four times in Ichneutae, far more frequently than in any of his other extant works. The word is found once (Aj. 288; Ant. 1049; El. 390; Tr. 1136) or twice (OT 542, 1129; Ph. 1231, 1265) in the canonical plays, most often in the form τί χρῆμα or with the clear sense of “affairs.” Χρῆμα is found an additional five times in fragments (excepting Ichneutae). The two uses in fr. 88 Radt (Aleadae) both have the unambiguous sense of “money,” as does the single instance in fr. 254 Radt (Creusa). The periphrastic form is used at fr. 401 Radt (Meleager) to refer to the boar (συὸς μέγιστον χρῆμ᾽). Fr. **219.9 Radt is too lacunose to render sense. 40 Maltese 1982, 70. 41 Compare the Chorus’s exclamation at 191 (ἔνι β[ο]ῦς, ἔνι πόνο ̣[ς [“There’s a cow, there’s labor”]) and Silenus’s rejoinder at 207–8 (κἀξίχνευε ̣καὶ πλού[τ / τὰς βοῦς τε̣ κα[ὶ] τὸν χρυσὸν . . . [“Track down the riches, both the cows and the gold”]). On the relationship between Apollo and Silenus/the satyrs, see Zagagi 1999, 182–89. 42 Voelke (2001, 54–60) and Lämmle (2013, 436–40) explore the complex range of the satyrs’ animal nature. 43 Power (2018, 350) notes that “the complete invisibility of the lyre certainly would have been a powerful means of involving the audience affectively in the stage action.” On materiality and invisibility in Aeschylus, see the chapter by Weiss. 44 H. Merc. 38 ἢν δὲ θάνῃς τότε κεν μάλα καλὸν ἀείδοις. See the discussion of Borthwick (1970, 373–74). 45 Cf. 292 where the fragmentary θηρευμ[ likely describes the tortoise as the object of Hermes’ hunting. 46 On the comic nature of the satyrs’ riddles, see Zagagi 1999, 211. 47 On the resonances of the musical terminology, see Power 2018, 356. 48 On the reference to masturbation, see Voelke 2001, 213, and Slenders 2005, 45–46. 49 Guida 2013, 144. 50 Griffith (2013, 270–71) and Power (2018, 359–65) link the language and the later reference to the instrument’s multiplicity (αἰόλισμα 327) to New-Musical discourse. 51 Power 2018, 357. 52 Power (2018, 348) notes that the invisibility of the instrument “dials up the ‘fear factor,’ ” a technique that may have been paralleled in Sophocles’ Inachus. 53 Hall (2006, 99–141) offers an elegant exploration of drama as a plastic art.


Notes to pages 166–172

54 Antonopoulos 2013, 84. 55 Kaimio et al. (2001, 54) see a similar reference to costume, though only to the perizôma, at 366–68.

Chapter 10 1 On the meaning and role of opsis in Aristotle’s Poetics, see esp. Halliwell 1998, 337–43; Konstan 2013; and Sifakis 2013. 2 Sofer 2013, 12. In De Anima, Aristotle explores the close relation between “mental images” (phantasmata) and objects that are actually perceived (427a18–432b14). 3 See Webb 2009 on enargeia (“making absent things present”) and phantasia in ancient rhetorical theory; see also Plett 2012. Zeitlin (1994) and Torrance (2013, 63–134) explore the play between word and image in Euripides’ ecphrases, and in fifth-­century tragedy more broadly. 4 Ar. Ra. 907–1297, esp. 923–38; Vit. A. 2, 7, 9, 14. On Aeschylean spectacle, see Taplin 1977, esp. 39–49. Taplin (2016) convincingly argues that Aeschylus was already experimenting with innovative uses of stage objects in the Achilleis trilogy, which probably dates from the first twenty years of his career (perhaps as early as the 490s). 5 Vit. A. 14. Translation by S. Burges Watson ( Life_of_Aeschylus (accessed 15th January 2018)). 6 Vit. A. 7. 7 Vit. A. 9; Poll. 4.110. 8 On off-­stage objects functioning as props in Greek tragedy, see Mueller 2016, 6: “because of the horizon of semiotic possibilities created by the genre’s more general reliance on stage props to create meaning, it seems . . . likely that regular theatergoers would have been capable of intuiting a prop’s action before seeing the object itself— before registering it, that is, as a visual sign.” 9 Steiner 1994, 50–60; Lissarrague 2007, and 2009, 25; and Chaston 2010, 67–130. Cf. Zeitlin 1994 on how the fifth-­century tragedians, especially Euripides, engage with their audience’s experience of visual arts. See also Estrin in this volume on the interaction between stage objects and real objects in Euripides’ Ion. 10 On the emphasis on noise here, see Stanford 1983, 55–56, and Gurd 2016, 75–76. 11 Griffith 2017, 125–27, esp. 127: “The audience is swept along and aurally bombarded by the Chorus’s multiple short syllables (resolved dochmiacs and iambics) and extensive onomatopoeia, an assault that is in its own way rhythmically exciting and engaging— and one must assume that it was melodically appealing and suspenseful as well.” 12 Cf. E. Alc. 87, Andr. 1211, Supp. 87, 605, Tr. 1325, Ph. 1351, Or. 963, 1467. On κτύπος and other percussive words used in tragic performances of lament, see Weiss 2017, 248–49, and 2018a, 41, 136–37.

Notes to pages 173–177


13 See Gurd 2016, 76: “These sounds soon bleed into sounds of the Chorus’s own. . . . Off-­stage sounds have generated nonverbal cries.” 14 On the mimetic powers of the aulos, see esp. Wilson 1999, 87–93, and Weiss 2018b. 15 Cf. the Introduction to this volume on the “visceral engagement” (a term taken from Barker 2009 in relation to film) between the audience or reader of tragedy and its performers, objects, and text. 16 Porter 2013, 22. 17 LSJ s.v. II. 18 Zeitlin 1982; see Vidal-Naquet 1988b, 285: Aeschylus “describes an imaginary world of manufactured objects—objects that have a message, that mean something, both as omens and as works of art.” See also Steiner 1994, 50–60, and Chaston 2010, 67–130. 19 Porter (2013, 22) calls the shields “audible signs.” 20 Chaston 2009, 68. 21 On the ways these ecphrases draw on different visual media, see Chase 1902, 68–70; Steiner 1994, 50–60; Lissarrague 2007, and 2009, 25; and Chaston 2009, 67–130. Vidal-Naquet (1988b) argues for reading the shields as one does a temple pediment. Lissarrague (2007, 2009) shows how shield devices on archaic and classical Greek vases can interact with the surrounding image, and have an especially close link to the identity of their bearers (see too Lissarrague 2008 on the link between a warrior and his armor in Greek art). On interaction between (physical) props and visual media, see esp. Taplin 2007 and Mueller 2016, 128–32; see also Estrin’s chapter. 22 See Taplin 2016, 160 on the powerful impact of death’s physical presence onstage. 23 Translation by Sommerstein 2008. 24 This image used to be linked to the ghost-­raising scene in Aeschylus’s Persians, but the vase has now been dated to at least a decade earlier than the play. Nevertheless, if, as seems likely, it shows a scene from a tragic performance, the Basel krater demonstrates the audience’s familiarity with such a scene within the theater. On the type of performance represented here, see esp. Wellenbach 2015 with further bibliography. The reproduction of this dramatic moment, complete with the striking costumes and choreographed postures of the choreuts, suggests quite how thrilling and memorable it could be. 25 On the materiality and agency of the carpet in Agamemnon, see Mueller 2016, 42–69. 26 The Oresteia, unlike Aeschylus’s earlier surviving work, makes extensive use of the skênê: see Taplin 1977, esp. 452–59. 27 On the spatial dynamics of Greek tragedy, see Taplin 1977 and 1978; Padel 1990; Rehm 2002; and Ley 2007. 28 Cf. Elmer 2017, 59 on “the conjuring of phantasmatic visions” in the Oresteia. 29 On the gradual materialization of the Erinyes in the Libation Bearers and Eumenides, as well as Aeschylus’s impact on later artistic depictions, see Frontisi-Ducroux 2007.


Notes to pages 177–186

30 On the disturbing sounds of the Erinyes, see Gurd 2016, 80–81. 31 On the position of the actor, see esp. Taplin 1977, 276–77, and Sommerstein 2010, 155. 32 On “scriptive things” producing bodily responses, see Bernstein 2009 and 2011, 8–13. 33 I follow the punctuation of Sommerstein’s edition here. 34 Cf. [A.] Pr. 88–95; S. Tr. 94–101, El. 16–22, 86–91, 103–109; E. Alc. 244–45, El. 102, Ion 82–88, Ph. 1–6. See Rehm 2002, 37 on references to the sun in Greek tragedy as “a dramatically effective means of bringing the myth into the present world of its performance.” 35 Peradotto (1964, 389) notes that the repetition of the verb σκήπτω is also used in the following ode of Zeus’s arrow. Cf. Ferrari 1997, 21. 36 Cf. Rehm 2002, 35–75 for an “ecological” reading of Greek tragedy that considers the ways it interacts with features of the theater’s physical environment. 37 On the route of the beacon-­chain, see esp. Quincey 1963 and Raeburn and Thomas 2011, 100–104. 38 For evidence of the various torch races in Athens, see esp. Kyle 1987, 190–93, and Fisher 2011, 189–90. On the torch-­race metaphor in Agamemnon, see esp. Ferrari 1997, 19–24: according to her reading, Clytemnestra should be seen as the final runner taking the torch-­message from the watchman and lighting up the altars (87, 596–97); in doing so, she becomes the torch-­bearing Erinys heralded in the opening lines of the play. 39 Translation by de Sélincourt 1954, adapted. 40 Tracy 1986. 41 On the connection between the sack of Troy and that of Athens in fifth-­century Attic art and literature, see Ferrari 2000. 42 Peradotto 1964, 388–93; Bremer 1976; Gantz 1977; Ferrari 1997, 19–24; and Anderson 2010. On the materiality of metaphors in the Oresteia more generally, see Ferrari 1997. 43 Haldane 1965, 37–38.

Chapter 11 1 Fisher 2002, 20. Cf. also Sobchack 1992; Marks 2000; and Paterson 2007. 2 Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 494; Derrida (2005, 111–31 and 159–215) follows their lead, while meditating as well on Husserl, Bergson, and Merleau-Ponty; cf. Carman 1999 on the phenomenology and the body in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty; see also the Introduction in Purves 2017. 3 See Worman 2017. For classic discussions of deixis, proxemics, and semiotic referencing, see Serpieri 1977; Ubersfeld 1977; Elam 1980; Issacharoff 1989; Aston and Savona 1991; and Fisher-Lichte 1992.

Notes to pages 186–190


4 See Kaimio 1988 and Kosak 1999. 5 See also Antigone, where the eponymous heroine, the most enmeshed of family members, declares her loyalty to the dead Polynices in similarly proximate (and provocative) terms: “I shall lie with [Polynices], [female] loved one with [male], criminally fulfilling sacred rites” (φίλη μετ’ αὐτοῦ κείσομαι, φίλου μέτα / ὅσια πανουργήσασ’ 73–74). 6 This body/container trade-off is the topic of ch. 4 of my monograph in process, currently entitled Edges of the Human: Embodiment, Figuration, and Materiality in Greek Tragedy (= Worman, forthcoming). 7 Again, see Kaimio 1988; Kosak 1999; and Purves 2017. 8 Again, on theater semiotics, see Serpieri 1977; Ubersfeld 1977; Elam 1980; Issacharoff 1989; Aston and Savona 1991; Fisher-Lichte 1992. For a revisionist theorizing that advances a materialist semiotics of theater, see Knowles (2004); while Knowles engages less with more recent work on materialism than with new historicism and cultural materialism, he does highlight “thick” readings. See also Fortier (2016, 22–28), who points out that Barthes’ essay on costume (1972, 41–50) urges attention to social, interactive apprehension of, e.g., texture; my notion of the “materiality of the sign” does not hypothesize about actual productions, as Barthes does. 9 S. OT 1481 τὰς ἀδελφὰς τάσδε τὰς ἐμὰς χέρας; cf. E. Or. 221–22 and further below. 10 Again, see Worman 2017. 11 Orchestrations of tragic scenes often suggest such interactions and thus seem to encourage an embodied knowing in the audience, a recognition and “feeling with” that is culturally shaped and determined. Film theorists have been thinking along these lines for decades; see especially Sobchack (1992, 260–63) and her innovative formulation of a “semiotic phenomenology” engaged especially with the work of Merleau-Ponty (1964); see also Marks (2000, 139–53), who formulates a “tactile epistemology” heavily influenced by Sobchack’s work. Cf. Marks 2002; Sobchack 2004; and Deleuze 1986 on cinema. See also the Introduction to this volume. 12 I.e., Andromache is distanced as a foreigner and a slave, as well as associated in affective terms with the statue of Thetis that she embraces as suppliant. 13 On Ajax’s sword, see Weiberg in this volume. 14 I include this broader compass in ch. 2 of my monograph in process. 15 See Worman 2017. 16 See Lamari 2010, 23–29 on Jocasta’s multiple narrative modes. 17 Euripides’ play is also aesthetically engaged with this play, but more at the level of visual imagery. 18 Since the repeated directive ἰδού is close kin to the imperative ἰδοῦ (“see”), its use here raises the possibility that it serves as an injunction aimed at the onlookers, as a


Notes to pages 190–196

way of bringing the gaze in close and thereby implicating both Chorus and audience in the affective dynamics of the scene. 19 As with the end of Oedipus the King, commentators have long questioned the authenticity of parts of the final scene, including especially these trimeters at the end. Since the lines appear to address the Athenian audience directly (i.e., they cannot be addressed to the internal Chorus of Phoenician women, since they are not citizens, and no one else is present), scholars are united in regarding them as interpolated, much like those at the end of Oedipus the King (see Mastronarde 1994, ad loc.). For my purposes, this matters little if at all, since either way they are part of the play as received and thus key to the conventions of Oedipus’s representation. 20 The references dominate the second half of the first play (Ag. 1111, 1350–57, 1496, 1520) and the first half of the third (Eu. 42, 102, 592; cf. 237, 280, 313, 317, 446; see also Ch. 1055). 21 Jebb (1894) regards this as a puzzle, but hypothesizes on stylistic grounds that Sophocles’ play is not earlier than 420; cf. Denniston (1939), who treats this as obvious, regarding Sophocles’ plot as more similar to Aeschylus’s and dating Euripides’ Electra to 413. Finglass (2007) thinks that the dating is less important than commentators have argued; cf. Cropp (1988), who also provides an overview of the problem. 22 As Nooter (2012, 101–23) and others have observed; cf. Kitzinger 1991, 298–327. 23 Arist. Poet. 1448b17. See Estrin in this volume. Finglass (2007, ad loc.) notes the staccato phrasing and the use of the “touto ekeino” convention. Mueller (2016, 121–23) has noticed the emphasis on hands; cf. also McClure 2015, 226, though only in passing. For a different approach to this scene especially in relation to the urn’s role, see Billings in this volume. 24 Here I follow the text of Jebb (1894). 25 See, e.g., Zeitlin 1980, 1–25; Goldhill 1986, ch. 10; Lloyd 1986, 1–19; and Torrance, 2011, 177–204. 26 See Mueller 2018 on sibling embracing in IT, although this play in general does not emphasize much manual contact between Orestes and his other sister, perhaps because her role is presented to him from the outset as a temple officiant whose job it is to sacrifice strangers to the goddess Athena (cf. 798–99, 870–72). 27 See, e.g., Denniston 1939, xxviii, on her lack of “soul tenderness”; Lloyd (1986, 2) cites some other choice language from scholars. 28 As the Chorus says, Clytemnestra offered Agamemnon’s corpse to Aegisthus: see 164–66. 29 I.e., Clytemnestra’s luxury is such that even her slaves are finely dressed. 30 Cf. Hec. 836–37: “If only I could have a voice in my arms and hands and hair and the step of my feet” (εἴ μοι γένοιτο φθόγγος ἐν βραχίοσι / καὶ χερσὶ καὶ κόμαισι καὶ ποδῶν βάσει).

Notes to pages 196–205


31 E.g., Denniston 1939, ad loc. 32 Note that her farmer husband did not touch her out of respect for social hierarchy. 33 Scholars have worried about whether Orestes enters with just the head of Aegisthus or his whole corpse, but the references to the latter as present (895, 959) and the fact that Electra later orders the servants to remove the body (959–61), so that her mother will not see it when she arrives, suggests that both are present, whether or not they are attached. Orestes’ gesture to the corpses would thus further support this. See Raeburn 2000, with bibliography. 34 See Denniston (1939, ad loc.), who points out that otherwise the kommos loses its balance between Orestes and Electra and argues that the Chorus’s response following these lines (“Wretched/hard-­hearted woman” [τάλαινα 1218]) makes more sense as an address to Electra than an exclamation about Clytemnestra. 35 See Wohl (2015) on the wild plot turns, which she points out are typical of Euripides; and Parry (1969, 343) on Electra’s “brutalization.” Parry notes in particular her screaming out commands at the attempted murder of Helen, but we can add that this also echoes Electra’s screams in Sophocles. 36 Commentators have been especially disturbed by this hostage-­taking, Parry regarding it as evidence that Orestes’ “entire inner universe has been perverted” and Porter noting that for modern readers this plot point is “particularly repugnant.” Porter argues, in contrast, for understanding the capture of Hermione as an act of rebellion by a desperate hero, but surely this does not account for the perverse proximities it suggests (Parry 1969, 343; Porter 1994, 87). Parry also calls the play as a whole “the dark night of the Greek soul” (352). See the overview of reactions in Wright 2006, 33–34. 37 D.H. Comp. 63; Σ ad E. Or. 176 Schwartz. The meter is mostly dochmiacs, with some iambo-­trochaic lines. 38 This is an overt echo of Aeschylus’s Eumenides, when the ghost of Clytemnestra is furiously recounting her slaughter: οὐδεὶς ὑπέρ μου δαιμόνων μηνίεται / κατασφαγείσης πρὸς χερῶν μητρόκτονων (101–2).

Chapter 12 1 2 3 4 5 6

See Mayes 2003. See Hall 2018a. Porter 2010. Cotter 2016. See Hall 2011. The term “dialectical materialism” was coined in 1887 by Joseph Dietzgen, a correspondent of Karl Marx, although Engels had already used the formulation


Notes to pages 205–214

“materialist dialectic” in 1883. Marx himself had used the phrase “materialist conception of history, ” which was later expressed as “historical materialism” by Engels. 7 See McInnes 1972, 43, and Illingworth 1898, 137. 8 See Boscagli 2014, 17–18, and the anti-Marxist new materialists critiqued by Wilkie (2016). 9 Quoted in Khan 2012, 46. 10 Khan 2016, 46. 11 See Hall 2018b, ch. 8. 12 Data extracted from­worldfactbook/ (accessed 15th January 2018). 13 See Callinicos 1983. 14 Wright 1932.1, 131, 189; see Hall 2018a. 15 Med. 786, 978–84, 1160–61, 1186–94; see Hall 2018c. 16 Robertson 1866, 115. 17 See Lorenzo 2015, 128 18 Apollod. 1.9.27. 19 Corinthian Oration 15. Favorinus’s Corinthian Oration was incorrectly included among Dio Chrysostom’s orations as number 37. 20 Pine leaves were used for the victors’ garland at the Isthmian games in archaic times, but from the Nemean games we would normally have expected wild celery. 21 On apostrophes to objects, see the chapters of Wohl, Bassi, and Telò, as well as the Introduction to this volume. 22 In 118–19 I accept the textual arrangement suggested by Wilamowitz (ῥοὰν ἀέναον / παγᾶν). 23 On the lyre in Sophocles’ Ichneutae, see Uhlig in this volume. 24 Hall 1989, 205–9. 25 See Rapp 2013, 229–30. 26 E.g., Stat. Theb. 2.265–305 and Nonn. D. 5.135–89. 27 See especially Hauptmann, Pernicka, and Wagner 1987. For a discussion of tragic metallurgy in relation to mirrors, see Shirazi’s chapter. 28 Hes. Th. 226. 29 Music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban. 30 Essin 2015, 198. 31 See Hall 2006, 20, 105–11. 32 See Hall 2006, 33–48. 33 On the materiality of masks, see Duncan’s chapter. 34 See Hall 1998 and Griffith 2002. 35 See Braginskaya 2016. 36 Farrington 1947.

Notes to pages 214–217


37 See Hall and Stead 2016, 3–17. On Walbank, see the forthcoming study by my PhD student Robert Lister, to be published in due course. On Lindsay, see further 15th January 2018). 38 Sullivan 1975. 39 Konstan 1995. 40 von Staden 1975. 41 de Ste Croix 1981. 42 See Hall and Stead 2016, 18–31. 43 Thomson 1941. 44 Thomson 1929, 1945, and 1955. 45 Citti 1978; Di Benedetto and Lami 1981. 46 Cf. Hall 1990. 47 Hall 1993, 64. 48 Hall 1993, 66. 49 See, for example, Seaford 1994; Thalmann 1998; Kurke 1999; Fitzgerald 2000; Wilson 2000; Roselli 2011; Ruffell 2011; Shipton 2018; and several of the essays in Alston, Hall, and Proffitt 2011. 50 Hall 1995 and 2012. 51 This chapter fuses arguments from two different papers I have delivered orally. The first, “Can Marxism Still Help Historians of the Imagination?” was read, to a notably under-­impressed audience at Oxford University, as one of a classical literature seminar series organized in the mid-1990s by Ian Ruffell. The second was my response to the panel “Objects and Affect: The Materialities of Greek Drama,” organized by Melissa Mueller and Mario Telò at the 2016 meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in San Francisco. I am very grateful to Mario Telò for encouraging me to participate in both panel and volume and for providing me with helpful bibliographical suggestions.

Bibliography Ablow, R., ed. 2010. The Feeling of Reading: Affective Experience and Victorian Literature. Ann Arbor, MI. Adorno, T. 1974. Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life. London. Ahmed, S. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. London. Ahmed, S. 2006. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham, NC. Ahmed, S. 2010a. “Orientations Matter.” In New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, edited by D. Coole and S. Frost, 234–57. Durham, NC. Ahmed, S. 2010b. The Promise of Happiness. Durham, NC. Allan, W., ed. 2008. Euripides: Helen. Cambridge. Alston, R., Hall, E., and L. Proffitt., eds. 2011. Reading Ancient Slavery. London. Altieri, C. 2001. “Taking Lyrics Literally: Teaching Poetry in a Prose Culture.” NLH 32: 259–81. Altieri, C. 2003. The Particulars of Rapture: An Aesthetics of the Affects. Ithaca, NY. Amesbury, R. 2016. “Fideism.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by E. N. Zalta, (accessed 15th January 2018). Anderson, S. 2010. “Journey into Light and Honors in Darkness in Hesiod and Aeschylus.” In Light and Darkness in Ancient Greek Myth and Religion, edited by M. Christopoulos, E. Karakantza, and O. Levaniouk, 142–52. Lanham, MD. Antonopoulos, A. 2013. “An Extraordinary Insult in Sophocles’ Ichneutai.” Hermes 141: 83–87. Antonopoulos, A. 2014. “Named Satyrs in Sophocles’ Ichneutai.” Philologus 58: 53–64. Antonopoulos, A. 2015. “Sophocles’ Ichneutai 176–202: A Lyric Dialogue (?) Featuring an Impressive Mimetic Scene.” Hermes 142: 246–54. Arrington, N. T. 2014. Ashes, Images, and Memories: The Presence of the War Dead in Fifth-Century Athens. Oxford. Arrowsmith, W. 1973. “Aristophanes’ Birds: The Fantasy Politics of Eros.” Arion 1: 119–67. Aston, E., and G. Savona. 1991. Theatre as a Sign System: A Semiotics of Text and Performance. London. Athanassaki, L. 2010. “Art and Politics in Euripides’ Ion: The Gigantomachy as Spectacle and Model of Action.” In Mito y Performance: De Grecia a la Modernidad, edited by A. M. González de Tobia, 199–242. La Plata. Austin, J. L. 1975. How to Do Things with Words. New York. Azrael, D., and M. J. Miller. 2016. “Reducing Suicide Without Affecting Underlying Mental Health: Theoretical Underpinnings and a Review of the Evidence Base



Linking the Availability of Lethal Means and Suicide.” In The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention, edited by R. C. O’Connor and J. Pirkis, 637–62. Chichester. Bakker, E. J. 2010. “Pragmatics: Speech and Text.” In A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language, edited by E. J. Bakker, 151–67. Chichester. Barad, K. 2003. “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Signs 28: 801–31. Barasch, M. 1994. Imago Hominis: Studies in the Language of Art. New York. Barker, J. M. 2009. The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience. Berkeley. Barlow, S. A. 1971. The Imagery of Euripides: A Study in the Dramatic Use of Pictorial Language. London. Barlow, S. A. 1981. “Sophocles’ Ajax and Euripides’ Heracles.” Ramus 10: 112–28. Barlow, S. A., ed. 1986. Euripides: Trojan Women. Warminster. Barrett, J. 2002. Staged Narrative: Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy. Berkeley. Barthes, R. 1972. Critical Essays. Evanston, IL. Bassi, K. 2005. “Things of the Past: Objects and Time in Greek Narrative.” Arethusa 38: 1–32. Bassi, K. 2007. “Spatial Contingencies in Thucydides’ History.” ClAnt 26: 171–218. Bassi, K. 2014. “Homer’s Achaean Wall and the Hypothetical Past.” In Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought, edited by V. Wohl, 122–41. Cambridge. Bassi, K. 2016. Traces of the Past: Classics Between History and Archaeology. Ann Arbor, MI. Bassi, K. 2017. “Mimesis and Mortality: Reperformance and the Dead among the Living in Hecuba and Hamlet.” In Imagining Reperformance in Ancient Culture: Studies in the Traditions of Drama and Lyric, edited by Richard Hunter and A. Uhlig, 138–59. Cambridge. Batchelder, A. G. 1995. The Seal of Orestes: Self-Reference and Authority in Sophocles’ Electra. Lanham, MD. Battezzato, L., ed. 2018. Euripides: Hecuba. Cambridge. Beekes, R. 2010. Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Leiden. Behar, K., ed. 2016. Object-Oriented Feminism. Minneapolis. Belfiore, E. S. 2000. Murder Among Friends: Violation of Philia in Greek Tragedy. Oxford. Bell, J. M. 1978. “Κίμβιξ καὶ σοφός: Simonides in the Anecdotal Tradition.” QUCC 28: 29–86. Belsey, C. 2005. Culture and the Real: Theorizing Cultural Criticism. New York. Belting, H. 2017. Face and Mask: A Double History. Princeton. Bennett, J. 2001. The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, and Ethics. Princeton. Bennett, J. 2005. “The Agency of Assemblages and the North American Blackout.” Political Culture 17: 445–66. Bennett, J. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC. Bennett, J. 2012. “Systems and Things: A Response To Graham Harman and Timothy Morton.” NLH 43: 225–33.



Bennett, J. 2015. “Systems and Things: On Vital Materialism and Object-Oriented Philosophy.” In The Nonhuman Turn, edited by R. Grusin, 223–39. Minneapolis. Bergson, L. 1967. “Zum periphrastischen χρῆμα.” Eranos 65: 79–117. Berlant, L. 2004. “Introduction: Compassion (and Withholding).” In Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion, edited by L. Berlant, 1–13. New York. Berlant, L. 2008. The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture. Durham, NC. Berlant, L. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham, NC. Bernstein, R. 2009. “Dances with Things: Material Culture and the Performance of Race.” Social Text 27: 67–94. Bernstein, R. 2011. Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. New York. Bersani, L. 2010. Is The Rectum a Grave? And Other Essays. Chicago. Bettini, M. 1999. The Portrait of the Lover. Berkeley. Bielfeldt, R., ed. 2014. Ding und Mensch in der Antike: Gegenwart und Vergegenwärtigung. Heidelberg. Biles, Z. 2007. “Celebrating Poetic Victory: Representations of Epinikia in Classical Athens.” JHS 127: 19–37. Billings, J. 2017. “The ‘Smiling Mask’ of Bacchae.” CQ 67: 19–26. Blanchot, M. 1995. The Writing of Disaster. Lincoln, NE. Blundell, M. W. 1989. Helping Friends and Harming Enemies: A Study in Sophocles and Greek Ethics. Cambridge. Boitani, P. 1990. “Anagnorisis and Reasoning: Electra and Hamlet.” REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 7: 99–136. Bond, G. W., ed. 1981. Euripides: Heracles. Oxford. Bonfante, L. 1989. “Nudity as a Costume in Classical Art.” AJA 93: 543–70. Booth, N. B. 1956. “Euripides, Hecuba 923–26.” CP 51: 95–96. Borthwick, E. K. 1970. “The Riddle of the Tortoise and the Lyre.” Music & Letters 51: 373–87. Boscagli, M. 2014. Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism. London. Bradley, E. M. 1980. “Admetus and the Triumph of Failure in Euripides’ Alcestis.” Ramus 9: 112–27. Bradley, M., ed. 2014. Smell and the Ancient Senses. London. Braginskaya, N. 2016. “Olga Freidenberg: A Creative Mind Incarcerated.” In Women Classical Scholars: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly, edited by R. Wyles and E. Hall, 286–315. Oxford. Braidotti, R. 2011. Nomadic Theory: The Portable Rosi Braidotti. New York. Bremer, D. 1976. Licht und Dunkel in der frühgriechischen Dichtung: Interpretationen zur Corgeschichte der Lichtmetaphysik. Bonn. Brennan, T. 2004. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca, NY. Brillet-Dubois, P. 2010. “Astyanax et les orphelins de guerre athéniens. Critique de l’idéologie de la cité dans Les Troyennes d’Euripide.” REG 123: 29–50.



Brinkema, E. 2014. The Form of the Affects. Durham, NC. Brook, P. 1968. The Empty Space. New York. Brown, B. 2003. A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature. Chicago. Brown, B. 2004. “Thing Theory.” In Things, edited by B. Brown, 1–22. Chicago. Brown, B. 2015. Other Things. Chicago. Buchan, M. 2008. “Too Difficult For a Single Man to Understand: Medea’s Out-Jutting Foot.” Helios 35: 3–28. Budelmann, F. 2000. The Language of Sophocles. Cambridge. Burkert, W. 1966. “Greek Tragedy and Sacrificial Ritual.” GRBS 7: 87–121. Burnett, A. P. 1965. “The Virtues of Admetus.” CP 60: 240–55. Burnett, A. P. 1998. Revenge in Attic and Later Tragedy. Berkeley. Butler, J. 2009. “Survivability, Vulnerability, Affect.” In Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?, 33–62. London. Butler, J. 2015. Senses of the Subject. New York. Calame, C. 1986. “Facing Otherness: The Tragic Mask in Ancient Greece.” History of Religions 26: 125–42. Callinicos, A. 1983. “The ‘New Middle Class’ and Socialist Politics.” International Socialism 2: 82–119. Carel, H. 2006. Life and Death in Freud and Heidegger. Amsterdam. Carlson, M. 1993. Places of Performance: The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture. Ithaca, NY. Carlson, M. 2001. The Haunted Stage: The Theatre as Memory Machine. Ann Arbor, MI. Carman, T. 1999. “The Body in Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.” Philosophical Topics 27: 205–26. Carson, A. 1986. “ ‘Echo with No Door on Her Mouth’: A Notional Refraction through Sophocles, Plato, and Defoe.” Stanford Literature Review 3: 247–61. Carter, J. B. 1987. “The Masks of Ortheia.” AJA 91: 355–83. Chase, G. H. 1902. “The Shield Devices of the Greeks.” HSPh 13: 61–127. Chaston, C. 2010. Tragic Props and Cognitive Function: Aspects of the Function of Images in Thinking. Leiden. Cheah, P. 2010. “Non-Dialectical Materialism.” In New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, edited by D. Coole and S. Frost, 70–91. Durham, NC. Chen, M. Y. 2012. Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect. Durham, NC. Citti, V. 1978. Tragedia e lotta di classe in Grecia. Naples. Clairmont, C. 1970. Gravestone and Epigram: Greek Memorials from the Archaic and Classical Period. Mainz. Clairmont, C. 1993. Classical Attic Tombstones. Kilchberg. Clements, A. 2014. Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae: Philosophizing Theatre and the Politics of Perception in Late Fifth-Century Athens. Cambridge. Collard, C., ed. 1991. Euripides: Hecuba. Warminster. Collard, C. 2007. Tragedy, Euripides, and Euripideans. Exeter. Collinge, N. E. 1954. “Euripides, Hecuba 925–26.” CP 49: 35–36. Compton-Engle, G. 2015. Costume in the Comedies of Aristophanes. Cambridge.



Conacher, D. J. 1967. Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme, and Structure. Toronto. Conche, M. 1973. La mort et l’ apparence. Villers-sur-Mer. Cook, A. 1968. “The Patterning of Effect in Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” Arethusa 1: 82–93. Coole, D. 2013. “Agentic Capacities and Capacious Historical Materialism: Thinking with New Materialisms in the Political Sciences” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 41: 451–69. Coole, D., and S. Frost 2010. “Introducing the New Materialisms.” In New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, edited by D. Coole and S. Frost, 1–43. Durham, NC. Cotter, J. 2016. “New Materialism and the Labor Theory of Value.” Minnesota Review 87: 171–81. Crane, G. 1990. “Ajax, the Unexpected, and the Deception Speech.” CP 85: 89–101. Crawley, R., trans. 1910. Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War. London. Crimp, D. 2002. Melancholia and Moralism: Essays on Aids and Queer Politics. Cambridge, MA. Croally, N. T. 1994. Euripidean Polemic: The Trojan Women and the Function of Tragedy. Cambridge. Cropp, M., ed. 1988. Euripides: Electra. Warminster. Crowley, J. 2014. “Beyond the Universal Soldier: Combat Trauma in Classical Antiquity.” In Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks, edited by P. Meineck and D. Konstan, 105–130. New York. Csapo, E. 2010a. Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theater. Chichester. Csapo, E. 2010b. “The Context of Choregic Dedications.” In The Pronomos Vase and its Context, edited by O. Taplin and R. Wyles, 79–130. Oxford. Daly, J. 1982. “The Name of Philoctetes: Philoctetes 670–673.” AJP 103: 440–42. Dearden, C. W. 1975. “The Poet and the Mask Again.” Phoenix 29: 75–82. DeArmitt, P. 2009. “Resonances of Echo: A Derridean Allegory.” Mosaic 42: 89–100. de Jong, I. J. F. 1994. “πιστὰ τεκμήρια in Soph. El. 774.” Mnemosyne 47: 679–81. DeLanda, M. 2006. A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London. DeLanda, M. 2016. Assemblage Theory. Edinburgh. Deleuze, G. 1986. Cinema I: The Movement-Image. Minneapolis. Deleuze, G. 1990. The Logic of Sense. New York. Deleuze, G. 1994a. Difference and Repetition. New York. Deleuze, G. 1994b. “He Stuttered.” In Gilles Deleuze and the Theater of Philosophy, edited by C. V. Boundas and D. Olkowski, 23–29. London. Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis. Dellner, J. 2000. “Alcestis’ Double Life.” CJ 96: 1–25. del Rio, E. 2008. Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance. Edinburgh. Denniston, J. D., ed. 1939. Euripides: Electra. Oxford. de Romilly, J. 1973. “Gorgias et le pouvoir de la poésie.” JHS 93: 155–62.



Derrida, J. 1981. Positions. Chicago. Derrida, J. 1988. The Ear of The Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation. Lincoln, NE. Derrida, J. 1989. Memoires for Paul de Man. New York. Derrida, J. 1991. “ ‘Eating Well,’ Or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida.” In Who Comes After the Subject?, edited by E. Cadava, P. Connor, and J.-L. Nancy, 96–119. New York. Derrida, J. 1995. Points . . . Interviews, 1974–1994. Stanford. Derrida, J. 1997. The Politics of Friendship. London. Derrida, J. 2000. “ ‘A Self-Unsealing Poetic Text’: Poetics and Politics of Witnessing.” In Revenge of the Aesthetic: The Place of Literature in Theory Today, edited by M. P. Clark, 180–207. Berkeley. Derrida, J. 2001. The Work of Mourning. Chicago. Derrida, J. 2002a. Without Alibi. Stanford. Derrida, J. 2002b. “As If It Were Possible, ‘Within Such Limits’. . .” In Negotiations: Interventions and Interviews, 1971–2001, edited by E. Rottenberg, 343–70. Stanford. Derrida, J. 2005. On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy. Stanford. Derrida, J. 2011. Parages. Stanford. Derrida, J. 2014. Cinders. Minneapolis. de Sélincourt, A., trans. 1954. Herodotus: The Histories. London. de Ste. Croix, G. E. M. 1981. The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World. Ithaca, NY. Detienne, M. 1996. The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece. New York. Deutscher, P. 1998. “Mourning the Other, Cultural Cannibalism, and the Politics of Friendship (Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigaray).” Differences 10: 159–84. Di Benedetto, V., and A. Lami, eds. 1981. Filologia e marxismo: contro le mistificazioni. Naples. Dick K., and A. Z. Kofman. 2002. Derrida. New York. Dodds, E. R., ed. 1960. Euripides: Bacchae. Oxford. Doerries, B. 2015. The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today. Melbourne. Drew, D. L. 1931. “Euripides’ Alcestis.” AJP 52: 295–319. du Bois, P. 2003. “A Passion for the Dead: Ancient Objects and Everyday Life.” In Representing the Passions: Histories, Bodies, Visions, edited by R. Meyer, 270–88. Los Angeles. Dugdale, E. 2017. “Of This and That: The Recognition Formula in Sophocles’ Electra.” TAPA 147: 27–52. Duncan, A. 2005. “Gendered Interpretations: Two Fourth-Century Performances of Sophocles’ Electra.” Helios 32: 55–79. Dunn, F. M. 1998. “Orestes and the Urn: Sophocles, Electra 54–55.” Mnemosyne 51: 438–43. Edelman, L. 2004. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Durham, NC. Elam, K. 1980. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. London. Ellendt, F. 1965. Lexicon Sophocleum. Hildesheim. Elmer, D. 2017. “Aeschylus’ Tragic Projections.” In Albert’s Anthology, edited by K. Coleman, 57–60. Cambridge, MA.



Elsner, J. 2002. “Introduction: The Genres of Ekphrasis.” In The Verbal and the Visual: Cultures of Ekphrasis in Antiquity, edited by J. Elsner. Ramus 31: 1–18. Elsner, J. 2010. “Art History as Ekphrasis.” Art History 33: 10–27. Essin, C. 2015. “Unseen Labor and Backstage Choreographies: A Materialist Production History of A Chorus Line.” Theatre Journal 67: 197–212. Estrin, S. 2016. “Cold Comfort: Empathy and Memory in an Archaic Funerary Monument from Akraiphia.” ClAnt 35: 189–214. Estrin, S. Forthcoming. “Experiencing Elegy: Materiality and Visuality in the Ambracian Polyandrion.” In The Genres of Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry: Theories and Models, edited by M. Foster, L. Kurke, and N. Weiss. Leiden. Falkner, T. M. 1998. “Containing Tragedy: Rhetoric and Self-Representation in Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” ClAnt 17: 25–58. Fantuzzi, M. 2010. “Typologies of Variation on a Theme in Archaic and Classical Metrical Inscriptions.” In Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram, edited by M. Baumbach, A. Petrovic, and I. Petrovic, 289–310. Cambridge. Faraone, C. A. 1992. Talismans and Trojan Horses: Guardian Statues in Ancient Greek Myth and Ritual. Oxford. Farmer, M. S. 1998. “Sophocles’ Ajax and Homer’s Hector: Two Soliloquies.” ICS 23: 19–45. Farrington, B. 1947. Head and Hand in Ancient Greece: Four Studies in the Social Relations of Thought. London. Featherstone, M. 2017. Planet Utopia: Utopia, Dystopia, and Globalization. London. Feldman, A. 2001. “Philoctetes Revisited.” Social Text 68: 57–89. Ferrari, F. 2013. “Oggetti non identificati: Riflessioni sui Theoroi di Eschilo.” In I papiri di Eschilo e di Sofocle, edited by G. Bastianini and A. Casanova, 199–216. Florence. Ferrari, G. 1997. “Figures in the Text: Metaphors and Riddles in the Agamemnon.” CP 92: 1–45. Ferrari, G. 2000. “The Ilioupersis in Athens.” HSPh 100: 119–50. Finglass, P. J., ed. 2007. Sophocles: Electra. Cambridge. Finglass, P. J., ed. 2011. Sophocles: Ajax. Cambridge. Fisher, J. 2002. “Tactile Affects.” Tessera 32: 17–28. Fisher, N. 2011. “Competitive Delights: The Social Effects of the Expanded Programme of Contests in Post-Kleisthenic Athens.” In Competition in the Ancient World, edited by N. Fisher and H. van Wees, 175–220. Swansea. Fisher-Lichte, E. 1992. The Semiotics of Theater. Bloomington, IN. Fitzgerald, W. 2000. Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination. Cambridge. Fletcher, J. 2013. “Weapons of Friendship: Props in Sophocles’ Philoctetes and Ajax.” In Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre, edited by G. W. M. Harrison and V. Liapis, 199–215. Leiden. Foley, H. P. 1985. Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides. Ithaca. Foley, H. P. 1992. “Anodos Dramas: Euripides’ Alcestis and Helen.” In Innovations of Antiquity, edited by R. Hexter and D. Selden, 133–60. New York. Foley, H. P. 2015. Euripides: Hecuba. London.



Ford, A. 2002. The Origins of Criticism: Literary Culture and Poetic Theory in Classical Greece. Princeton. Fortier, M. 2016. Theatre/Theory: An Introduction. London. Franz, M. 1991. “Fiktionalität und Wahrheit in der Sicht des Gorgias und des Aristoteles.” Philologus 135: 240–48. Freud, S. 1914. “Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through.” SE 12: 147–56. Freud, S. 1915. “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death.” SE 15: 275–300. Freud, S. 1917. “Mourning and Melancholia.” SE 14: 239–60. Freud, S. 1920. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” SE 18: 1–64. Freud, S. 1927. “Fetishism.” SE 21: 152–58. Frontisi-Ducroux, F. 1995. Du masque au visage: Aspects de l’identité en Grèce ancienne. Paris. Frontisi-Ducroux, F. 1996. “Eros, Desire, and the Gaze.” In Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Italy, edited by N. Kampen, 81–100. NewYork. Frontisi-Ducroux, F. 2007. “The Invention of the Erinyes.” In Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature, edited by C. Kraus, S. Goldhill, H. P. Foley, and J. Elsner, 165–76. Oxford. Frontisi-Ducroux, F., and J.-P. Vernant. 1997. Dans l’oeil du miroir. Paris. Fulkerson, L. 2006. “Neoptolemus Grows Up? ‘Moral Development’ and the Interpretation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” CCJ 52: 49–61. Fullerton, M. D. 2016. Greek Sculpture. Chichester. Gaifman, M., Platt, V., and M. Squire, eds. 2018. The Embodied Object in Classical Antiquity, Art History (Special Issue). Gantz, T. 1977. “The Fires of the Oresteia.” JHS 97: 28–38. Garber, M. 2004. “Compassion.” In Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion, edited by L. Berlant, 15–27. New York. Garner, R. 1988. “Death and Victory in Euripides’ Alcestis.” ClAnt 7: 58–71. Garner, S. 1994. Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama. Ithaca, NY. Garvie, A. F., ed. 1986. Aeschylus: Choephori. Oxford. Gelzer, T. 1970. “Aristophanes der Komiker.” In Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Supplementband XII, 1391–1570. Stuttgart. George, D. P. 1994. “Euripides’ Heracles 140–235: Staging and the Stage Iconography of Heracles’ Bow.” GRBS 35: 145–57. Gibbs, A. 2010. “After Affect: Sympathy, Synchrony, and Mimetic Communication.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by M. Gregg and G. J. Seigworth, 186–205. Durham, NC. Gibert, J. C. 1995. Change of Mind in Greek Tragedy. Göttingen. Gibert, J. C. 1997. “Euripides’ Heracles 1351 and the Hero’s Encounter with Death.” CP 92: 247–58. Gödde, S. 2011. Euphêmia: Die gute Rede in Kult und Literatur der griechischen Antike. Heidelberg. Goff, B. E. 2009. Euripides: Trojan Women. London.



Goldberg, G., and C. Willse. 2007. “Losses and Returns: The Soldier in Trauma.” In The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social, edited by P. T. Clough and J. Halley, 264–86. Durham, NC. Goldhill, S. 1986. Reading Greek Tragedy. Cambridge. Goldhill, S. 1999. “Programme Notes.” In Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy, edited by S. Goldhill and R. Osborne, 1–29. Cambridge. Goldhill, S. 2012. Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy. Oxford. Green, J. R. 1982. “Dedications of Masks.” Révue Archéologique 2: 237–48. Green, J. R. 1991. “On Seeing and Depicting the Theatre in Classical Athens.” GRBS 32: 15–50. Greengard, C. 1987. Theatre in Crisis: Sophocles’ Reconstruction of Genre and Politics in Philoctetes. Amsterdam. Gregory, A. 2016. Anaximander: A Re-Assessment. London. Griffero, T. 2014. Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces. London. Griffith, M. 1977. The Authenticity of Prometheus Bound. Cambridge. Griffith, M. 2002. “Slaves of Dionysos: Satyrs, Audience, and the Ends of the Oresteia.” ClAnt 21: 195–258. Griffith, M. 2013. “Satyr-­play, Dithyramb, and the Geopolitics of Dionysian Style in Fifth-Century Athens.” In Dithyramb in Context. edited by B. Kowalzig and P. Wilson, 257–81. Oxford. Griffith, M. 2017. “The Music of War in Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes.” In Aeschylus and War: Comparative Perspectives on Seven Against Thebes, edited by I. Torrance, 114–49. London. Grosz, E. 2008. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York. Guida, A. 2013. “Sofocle, I Segugi: Alla scoperta di un ‘suono adulatore di pastori’.” In I papiri di Eschilo e di Sofocle, edited by G. Bastianini and A. Casanova, 143–58. Florence. Gurd, S. 2016. Dissonance: Auditory Aesthetics in Ancient Greece. New York. Guyer, S. 2007. “Buccal Reading.” The New Centennial Review 7: 71–87. Haldane, J. A. 1965. “Musical Themes and Imagery in Aeschylus.” JHS 85: 33–41. Hall E. 1989. Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy. Oxford. Hall, E. 1990. “The Changing Face of Oedipus and the Mask of Dionysus.” Cambridge Review 111: 70–74. Hall, E. 1993. Review of Sons of the Gods, Children of Earth: Ideology and Literary Form in Ancient Greece, by P. W. Rose. CR 43: 64–66. Hall, E. 1995. “The Ass with Double Vision: Politicizing an Ancient Greek Novel.” In Heart of the Heartless World: Essays in Honour of Margot Heinemann, edited by D. Margolies and M. Joannou, 47–59. London. Hall, E. 1998. “Ithyphallic Males Behaving Badly: Satyr Drama as Gendered Tragic Ending.” In Parchments of Gender, edited by M. Wyke, 13–37. Oxford. Hall, E. 2006. The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions Between Ancient Greek Drama and Society. Oxford.



Hall, E. 2011. “Beneath the Shadow of the Porta Nigra: Karl Marx and the Ruins of Trier.” European Review of History 18: 783–97. Hall, E. 2012. “The Politics of Metrical Variety in Classical Athenian Drama.” In Music and Cultural Politics in Greek and Chinese Societies, edited by D. Yatromanolakis, 1–28. Cambridge, MA. Hall, E. 2018a. “Classics in Our Ancestors’ Communities.” In Forward with Classics!, edited by A. Holmes-Henderson, S. Hunt, and M. Musie. London. Hall, E. 2018b. Happiness: Ten Ways Aristotle Can Change your Life. London. Hall, E. 2018c. “The Black Sea Back Story to Euripides’ Medea.” In Greek Theatre and Performance around the Ancient Black Sea, edited by D. Braund, E. Hall, and R. Wyles. Cambridge. Hall, E., and H. Stead. 2016. “Between the Party and the Ivory Tower: Classics and Communism in 1930s Britain.” In Classics and Class: Greek and Latin Classics and Communism at School, edited by D. Movrin and E. Olechowska, 3–31. Warsaw. Halliwell, S. 1993. “The Function and Aesthetics of the Greek Tragic Mask.” In Intertextualität in der griechisch-­römischen Komödie, edited by N. Slater and B. Zimmermann, 195–211. Stuttgart. Halliwell, S. 1998., ed. Aristotle’s Poetics. Chicago. Halliwell, S. 2002. The Aesthetics of Mimesis: Ancient Texts and Modern Problems. Princeton. Hamilakis, Y. 2014. Archaeology and the Senses: Human Experience, Memory, and Affect. Cambridge. Hancock, N. 2010. “Virginia Woolf ’s Glasses: Material Encounters in the Literary/ Artistic House Museum.” In Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations, edited by S. Dudley, 114–27. London. Hansen, P. A., ed. 1983/1989. Carmina epigraphica Graeca, 2 vols. Berlin. Haraway, D. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature. New York. Haraway, D. 2003. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness. Chicago. Haraway, D. 2008. When Species Meet. Minneapolis. Harman, G. 2002. Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Peru, IL. Harman, G. 2005. Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things. Peru, IL. Harman, G. 2011a. “On the Undermining of Objects: Grant, Bruno, and Radical Philosophy.” In The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, edited by L. Bryant, N. Srnicek, and G. Harman, 21–40. Melbourne. Harman, G. 2011b. “Autonomous Objects.” New Formations 71: 125–30. Harman, G. 2012. “The Well-Wrought Broken Hammer: Object-Oriented Literary Criticism.” NLH 43: 183–203. Harris, E. M. 2002. “Did Solon Abolish Debt-Bondage?” CQ 52: 415–30. Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J. T., and R. L. Rapson. 1994. Emotional Contagion: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction. Cambridge.



Hauptmann, A., Pernicka, E., and G. A. Wagner, eds. 1987. Archäometallurgie der Alten Welt: Beiträge zum Internationalen Symposium “Old World Archaeometallurgy.” Heidelberg. Hausrath, A., and H. Hunger, eds. 1970. Corpus Fabularum Aesopicarum. Leipzig. Hawkins, A. H. 1999. “Ethical Tragedy and Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” CW 92: 337–57. Hayles, N. K. 1999. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago. Heath, J. 1999. “Disentagling the Beast: Humans and Other Animals in Aeschylus’s Oresteia.” JHS 119: 17–47. Heidegger, M. 1962. Being and Time. New York. Heidegger, M. 1967. What is a Thing? Chicago. Heinämaa, S. 2015. “The Many Senses of Death: Phenomenological Insights into Human Mortality.” In Death and Mortality: From Individual to Communal Perspectives, edited by O. Hakola, S. Heinämaa, and S. Pihlström, 100–17. Helsinki. Henrichs, A. 2004. “ ‘Let the Good Prevail’: Perversions of the Ritual Process in Greek Tragedy.” In Greek Ritual Poetics, edited by D. Yatromanolakis and P. Roilos, 189–98. Cambridge, MA. Herman, J. 1992. Trauma and Recovery. New York. Hesk, J. 2000. Deception and Democracy in Classical Athens. Cambridge. Highmore, B. 2017. “Capacious Aesthetics.” New Formations 89–90: 234–42. Holbraad, M. 2011. “Can the Thing Speak?” Open Anthropology Cooperative Press Papers Series #7:­the-thing-­speak/ (accessed 15th January 2018). Holly, M. A. 2013. The Melancholy Art. Princeton. Holmes, B. 2008. “Euripides’ Heracles in the Flesh.” ClAnt 27: 231–81. Holmes, B. 2010. The Symptom and the Subject. Princeton. Honig, B. 2010. “Antigone’s Two Laws: Greek Tragedy and the Politics of Humanism.” NLH 41: 1–33. Honig, B. 2013. Antigone, Interrupted. Cambridge. Illingworth, J. R. 1898. Divine Immanence: An Essay on the Spiritual Significance of Matter. London. Ingold, T. 2011. Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge, and Description. New York. Issacharoff, M. 1989. Discourse as Performance. Stanford. Jebb, R. C., ed. 1894. Sophocles: The Electra. Cambridge. Jebb, R. C., ed. 1896. Sophocles: The Ajax. Cambridge. Jenkins, T. E. 2015. Antiquity Now: The Classical World in the Contemporary American Imagination. Cambridge. Johnson, B. 1986. “Apostrophe, Animation, and Abortion.” Diacritics 16: 29–47. Johnson, M. 1992. “Reflections of Inner Life: Masks and Masked Acting in Ancient Greek Tragedy and Japanese Noh Drama.” Modern Drama 35: 20–34.



Johnston, S. I. 1999. Restless Dead: Encounters between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece. Berkeley. Kahn, C. 1960. Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology. New York. Kaimio, M. 1988. Physical Contact in Greek Tragedy: A Study of Stage Conventions. Helsinki. Kaimio, M., et al. 2001. “Metatheatricality in the Greek Satyr-Play.” Arctos 35: 35–78. Kane, R. L. 1996. “Ajax and the Sword of Hector: Sophocles, Ajax 815–822.” Hermes 124: 17–28. Kapellos, A., ed. 2014. Lysias 21: A Commentary. Berlin. Keesling, C. 2017. Early Greek Portraiture: Monuments and Histories. Cambridge. Khan, G. A. 2012. “Vital Materiality and Non-Human Agency: An Interview with Jane Bennet.” In Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists, edited by G. Browning, R. Prokhovnik, and M. Dimova-Cookson, 42–57. Basingstoke. King, F. W., ed. 1938. Euripides’ Hecuba. London. Kirkwood, G. M. 1958. A Study of Sophoclean Drama. Ithaca, NY. Kitzinger, R. 1991. “Why Mourning Becomes Elektra.” ClAnt 10: 298–327. Knowles, R. 2004. Reading the Material Theatre. Cambridge. Konstan, D. 1995. Greek Comedy and Ideology. Oxford. Konstan, D. 2001. Pity Transformed. London. Konstan, D. 2013. “Propping Up Greek Tragedy.” In Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre, edited by G. Harrison and V. Liapis, 63–76. Leiden. Kosak, J. C. 1999. “Therapeutic Touch and Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” HSPh 99: 93–134. Kossatz-Deissmann, A. 1982. “Zur Herkunft des Perizoma im Satyrspiel.” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 97: 65–90. Kovacs, D., ed. 1995. Euripides, vol. 2 (Children of Heracles—Hippolytus—Andromache— Hecuba). Cambridge, MA. Kucharski, J. 2004. “Orestes’ Lock: The Motif of Tomb Rituals in the Oresteia and the Two Electra Plays.” Eos 91: 9–33. Kurke, L. 1999. Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold: The Politics of Meaning in Archaic Greece. Princeton. Kurke, L. 2013. “Imagining Chorality: Wonder, Plato’s Puppets, and Moving Statues.” In Performance and Culture in Plato’s Laws, edited by A.-E. Peponi, 123–170. Cambridge. Kyle, D. 1987. Athletics in Ancient Athens. Leiden. LaCapra, D. 2014. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore. Lacan, J. 1990. Television. New York. Lacan, J. 1992. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. New York. Lacan, J. 2002. Ecrits: A Selection. New York. Lamari, A. 2010. Narrative, Intertext, and Space in Euripides’ Phoenissae. Berlin. Lämmle, R. 2013. Poetik des Satyrspiels. Heidelberg. Laplanche, J., and J.-B. Pontalis, eds. 1973. The Language of Psychoanalysis. New York.



Lardinois, A. P. M. H. 2006. “The Polysemy of Gnomic Expressions and Ajax’ Deception Speech.” In Sophocles and the Greek Language, edited by I. J. F. de Jong and A. Rijksbaron, 213–24. Leiden. Latour, B. 1992. “Where Are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts.” In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change, edited by W. E. Bijker and J. Law, 225–58. Cambridge, MA. Latour, B. 1996. Aramis, or the Love of Technology. Cambridge, MA. Latour, B. 2004. Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. Cambridge, MA. Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford. Lawrence, Q. 2017. “Veterans at Risk of Suicide Negotiate a Thorny Relationship with Guns.” National Public Radio, May 2 2017. veterans-­at-risk-­of-suicide-­negotiate-a-­thorny-relationship-­with-guns (accessed 15th January 2018). Lee, K. H., ed. 1976. Euripides: Troades. London. Lee, K. H., ed. 1997. Euripides: Ion. Warminster. Leonard, M. 2015. Tragic Modernities. Cambridge, MA. Levinas, E. 1969. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Pittsburgh, PA. Levinas, E. 1990. “Intersubjectivity: Notes on Merleau-Ponty.” In Ontology and Alterity in Merleau-Ponty, edited by G. A. Johnson and M. B. Smith, 55–60. Evanston, IL. Levinas, E. 1998a. Entre Nous: On Thinking-­of-the Other. New York. Levinas, E. 1998b. Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. Pittsburgh, PA. Ley, G. 2007. The Theatricality of Greek Tragedy: Playing Space and Chorus. Chicago. Lissarrague, F. 2007. “Looking at Shield Devices: Tragedy and Vase Painting.” In Visualizing the Tragic: Drama, Myth, and Ritual in Greek Art and Literature, edited by C. Kraus, S. Goldhill, H. P. Foley, and J. Elsner, 151–64. Oxford. Lissarrague, F. 2008. “Corps et armes: Figures grecques du guerrier.” In Langages et métaphores du corps dans le monde antique, edited by V. Dasen and J. Wilgaux, 15–27. Rennes. Lissarrague, F. 2009. “Le temps des boucliers.” In Traditions et temporalités des images, edited by G. Careri, F. Lissarrague, J.-C. Schmitt, and C. Severi, 21–31. Paris. Lissarrague, F. 2013. La cité des satyres : Une anthropologie ludique (Athènes VIe-Ve siècles avant J.-C.). Paris. Litz, B. T., Stein, N., Delaney, E., Lebowitz, L., Nash, W. P., Silva, C., and Maguen, S. 2009. “Moral Injury and Moral Repair in War Veterans: A Preliminary Model and Intervention Strategy.” Clinical Psychology Review 29: 695–706. Lloyd, M. 1986. “Realism and Character in Euripides’ Electra.” Phoenix 40: 1–19. Lönneker, A. 2015. “‘What Can This Sorrow Be?’: Elegiac Affectivity in Virginia Woolf ’s The Wolves.” In Structures of Feeling: Affectivity and the Study of Culture, edited by D. Sharma and F. Tygstrup, 169–77. Berlin. Loraux, N. 1986. The Invention of Athens: The Funeral Oration in the Classical City. Cambridge, MA.



Loraux, N. 1993. The Children of Athena: Athenian Ideas About Citizenship and the Division between the Sexes. Princeton. Lorenzo, K. 2015. “Triremes on Land: First Fruits for the Battle of Salamis.” In Autopsy in Athens: Recent Archaeological Research on Athens and Attica, edited by M. M. Miles, 126–38. Oxford. Luciano, D., and M. Y. Chen. 2015. “Has the Queer Ever Been Human?” GLQ 21: 183–207. Lynch, K. A. 1960. The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA. MacIntosh, F. 1994. Dying Acts: Death in Ancient Greek and Modern Irish Tragic Drama. Cork. MacLeod, L. 2001. Dolos and Dikê in Sophocles’ Elektra. Leiden. Maltese, E., ed. 1982. Sofocle: Ichneutae. Florence. Marconi, C. 2007. Temple Decoration and Cultural Identity in the Archaic Greek World. Cambridge. Marks, L. 2000. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses. Durham, NC. Marks, L. 2002. Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. Minneapolis. Marshall, C. W. 1999. “Some Fifth-Century Masking Conventions.” G&R 46: 188–202. Marshall, C. W. 2000. “Alcestis and the Problem of Prosatyric Drama.” CJ 95: 229–38. Marshall, C. W. 2001. “The Costume of Hecuba’s Attendants.” Acta Classica 44: 127–36. Marshall, C. W. 2006. “How to Write a Messenger Speech (Sophocles, Electra 680–763).” In Greek Drama III: Essays in Honour of Kevin Lee, edited by J. Davidson, F. Muecke, and P. Wilson, 203–21. London. Massumi, B. 1995. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique 31: 83–109. Massumi, B. 2002. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC. Mastronarde, D. J. 1990. “Actors on High: The Skene Roof, the Crane, and the Gods in Attic Drama.” ClAnt 9: 247–94. Mastronarde, D. J., ed. 1994. Euripides: Phoenissae. Cambridge. Matthews, G. 2015. “The Masks of Noh and Tragedy: Their Expressivity and Theatrical and Social Functions.” Didaskalia 12: 12–28. Matthiessen, K., ed. 2010. Euripides: Hekabe. Berlin. Mayes, S. 2003. The Great Belzoni: The Circus Strongman Who Discovered Egypt’s Treasures. London. McClure, L. 2015. “Tokens of Identity: Gender and Recognition in Greek Tragedy.” ICS 40: 219–36. McClure, L. 2016. “Hearth and Home in Euripides’ Alcestis.” In Wisdom and Folly in Euripides, edited by P. Kyriakou and A. Rengakos, 85–104. Berlin. McDonnell, M. 1993. “Athletic Nudity among the Greeks and Etruscans : The Evidence of the ‘Perizoma Vases.’ ” In Spectacles sportifs et scéniques dans le monde étrusco-­ italique, 395–407. Rome. McInnes, N. 1972. The Western Marxists. New York. Meagher, R. E. 2006. Herakles Gone Mad: Rethinking Heroism in an Age of Endless War. Northampton, MA.



Meillassoux, Q. 2010. After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. London. Meineck, P. 2011. “The Neuroscience of the Tragic Mask.” Arion 19: 113–58. Meineck, P. 2016. “Combat Trauma and the Tragic Stage: Ancient Culture and Modern Catharsis?” In Our Ancient Wars: Rethinking War through the Classics, edited by V. Caston and S.-M. Weineck, 184–210. Ann Arbor, MI. Meineck, P. 2017. Theatrocracy: Greek Drama, Cognition, and the Imperative for Theatre. New York. Merleau-Ponty, M. 1964. The Primacy of Perception. Evanston, IL. Merleau-Ponty, M. 2012. Phenomenology of Perception. New York. Millett, P. 1991. Lending and Borrowing in Classical Athens. Cambridge. Montaigne, de M. 1987. The Complete Essays. London. Morrison, T. 1992. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge, MA. Morton, T. 2007. Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Enviromental Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA. Morton, T. 2010. “Queer Ecology.” PMLA 125: 273–82. Morton, T. 2012. “An Object-Oriented Defense of Poetry.” NLH 43: 205–24. Morton, T. 2013. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. Minneapolis. Morton, T. 2015. “They Are Here.” In The Nonhuman Turn, edited by R. Grusin, 167–92. Minneapolis. Mossman, J. 1995. Wild Justice: A Study of Euripides’ Hecuba. Oxford. Most, G. W. 2013. “The Madness of Tragedy.” In Mental Disorders in the Classical World, edited by W. V. Harris, 395–410. Leiden. Mueller, M. 2010. “Athens in a Basket: Naming, Objects, and Identity in Euripides’ Ion.” Arethusa 43: 365–402. Mueller, M. 2016. Objects as Actors: Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy. Chicago. Mueller, M. 2018. “Dreamscape and Dread in Euripides’ Iphigenia Among the Taurians.” In Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity, edited by D. Felton, 77–94. New York. Munteanu, D. L. 2012. Tragic Pathos: Pity and Fear in Greek Philosophy and Tragedy. Cambridge. Naerebout, F. G. 1997. Attractive Performances: Αncient Greek Dance. Amsterdam. Neer, R. T. 2010. The Emergence of the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture. Chicago. Neer R. T. 2015. “Pitiless Bronze.” Art in America. http://www.artinamericamagazine. com/news-­features/magazine/pitiless-­bronze/ (accessed 29th July 2017). Neils, J. 2016. “Color and Carving: Architectural Decoration in Mainland Greece.” In A Companion to Greek Architecture, edited by M. M. Miles, 164–77. Chichester. Nicolson, N., and J. Troutman, ed. 1979. The Letters of Virginia Woolf: volume 5 (1932–1935). New York. Nigianni, C. 2009. “Introduction.” In Deleuze and Queer Theory, edited by C. Nigianni and M. Storr, 1–10. Edinburgh.



Nooter, S. 2012. When Heroes Sing: Sophocles and the Shifting Soundscape of Tragedy. Cambridge. Nussbaum, M. 1986. The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy. New York. Nussbaum, M. 2008. “The ‘Morality of Pity’: Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” In Rethinking Tragedy, edited by R. Felski, 148–69. Baltimore. O’Sullivan, P., and C. Collard, eds. 2013. Euripides’ Cyclops and Major Fragments of Greek Satyric Drama. Oxford. Oakley, J. H. 2004. Picturing Death in Classical Athens: the Evidence of the White Lekythoi. Cambridge. Oliensis, E. 2009. Freud’s Rome: Psychoanalysis and Latin Poetry. Cambridge. Padel, R. 1990. “Making Space Speak.” In Nothing to Do with Dionysos?: Athenian Drama in Its Social Context, edited by J. J. Winkler and F. I. Zeitlin, 336–65. Princeton. Padel, R. 1992. In and Out of the Mind: Greek Images of the Tragic Self. Princeton. Padel, R. 1995. Whom Gods Destroy: Elements of Greek and Tragic Madness. Princeton. Page, D. L., ed. 1981. Further Greek Epigrams. Cambridge. Parker, L. P. E., ed. 2007. Euripides: Alcestis. Oxford. Parker, R. 1983. Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion. Oxford. Parlavantza-Friedrich, U. 1969. Täuschungsszenen in den Tragödien des Sophokles. Berlin. Parry, A. 1981. Logos and Ergon in Thucydides. New York. Parry, H. 1969. “Euripides’ Orestes: The Quest for Salvation.” TAPA 100: 337–53. Patera, M. 2005. “Comment effrayer les enfants.” Kernos 18: 371–90. Paterson, M. 2007. The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects, and Technologies. Oxford. Pedersen, E. S. 2015. “ ‘One Thing Melts into Another’: Unanimism, Affect, and Imagery in Virginia Woolf ’s The Waves.” In Structures of Feeling: Affectivity and the Study of Culture, edited by D. Sharma and F. Tygstrup, 178–86. Berlin. Peponi, A.-E. 2004. “Initiating the Viewer: Deixis and Visual Perception in Alcman’s Lyric Drama.” Arethusa 37: 295–316. Peponi, A.-E. 2012. Frontiers of Pleasure: Models of Aesthetic Response in Archaic and Classical Greek Thought. Oxford. Peradotto, J. 1964. “Some Patterns of Nature Imagery in the Oresteia.” AJP 85: 378–93. Pickard-Cambridge, A. W. 1968. The Dramatic Festivals of Athens. Oxford. Platt, V. 2014. “Likeness and Likelihood in Classical Greek Art.” In Probabilities, Hypotheticals, and Counterfactuals in Ancient Greek Thought, edited by V. Wohl, 185–207. Cambridge. Platt, V. 2016. “The Matter of Classical Art History.” In What’s New About the Old? Reassessing the Ancient World, edited by M. Santirocco. Daedalus 145: 69–78. Platter, C. 2007. Aristophanes and the Carnival of Genres. Baltimore. Plett, H. 2012. Enargeia in Classical Antiquity and the Early Modern Age. Leiden. Podro, M. 1998. Depiction. New Haven, CT. Poole, A. 1976. “Total Disaster: Euripides’ The Trojan Women.” Arion 3: 257–87. Porter, J. I. 1993. “The Seductions of Gorgias.” ClAnt 12: 267–99.



Porter, J. I. 2003. “The Materiality of Classical Studies.” Parallax 9: 64–74. Porter, J. I. 2006. “Feeling Classical: Classicism and Ancient Literary Criticism.” In Classical Pasts: the Classical Traditions of Greece and Rome, edited by J.I. Porter, 301–52. Princeton. Porter, J. I. 2010. The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece. Cambridge. Porter, J. I. 2011. “Making and Unmaking: The Achaean Wall and the Limits of Fictionality in Homeric Criticism.” TAPA 141: 1–36. Porter, J. I. 2013. “Why Are There Nine Muses?” In Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses, edited by S. Butler and A. Purves, 9–26. Durham, UK. Porter, J. I. Forthcoming. “Hyperobjects, OOO, and the Eruptive Classics—Field Notes of an Accidental Tourist.” In Antiquities Beyond Humanism, edited by E. Bianchi, S. Brill, and B. Holmes. Oxford. Porter, J. R. 1994. Studies in Euripides’ Orestes. Leiden. Posamentir, R. 2002. “Zur farblichen Ausgestaltung des Eupheros-Reliefs.” In Die griechische Klassik—Idee oder Wirklichkeit, edited by M. Maischberger and W.-D. Heilmeyer, 473–75. Mainz. Power, T. 2011. “Cyberchorus: Pindar’s Κηληδόνες and the Aura of the Artificial.” In Archaic and Classical Choral Song: Performance, Politics and Dissemination, edited by L. Athanassaki and E. Bowie, 67–114. Berlin. Power, T. 2018. “New Music in Sophocles’ Ichneutai.” In Paths of Song: Interactions between Greek Lyric and Tragedy, edited by R. Andujar, T. Coward, and T. Hadjimichael, 343–66. Berlin. Pratt, J. 2015. “On the Threshold of Rhetoric.” ClAnt 34: 163–82. Prauscello, L. 2010. “The Language of Pity: Eleos and Oiktos in Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” CCJ 56: 199–212. Price-Robertson, R., and C. Duff. 2016. “Realism, Materialism, and the Assemblage: Thinking Psychologically with Manuel DeLanda.” Theory & Psychology 26: 58–76. Pucci, P., ed. 2003. Sofocle: Filottete. Milan. Purves, A. 2015. “Ajax and Other Objects: Homer’s Vibrant Materialism.” Ramus 44: 75–94. Purves, A. ed. 2017. Touch and the Ancient Senses. London. Quincey, J. H. 1963. “The Beacon-Sites in the Agamemnon.” JHS 83: 118–32. Rabinowitz, N. S. 1993. Anxiety Veiled: Euripides and the Traffic in Women. Ithaca, NY. Raeburn, D. 2000. “The Significance of Stage Properties in Euripides’ Electra.” G&R 47: 149–68. Raeburn, D., and O. Thomas, eds. 2011. The Agamemnon of Aeschylus: A Commentary for Students. Oxford. Rapp, G. R. 2013. Archaeomineralogy. Berlin. Razinsky, L. 2009. “How to Look Death in the Eyes: Freud and Bataille.” SubStance 38: 63–88. Rehm, R. 1994. Marriage to Death: The Conflation of Wedding and Funeral Rituals in Greek Tragedy. Princeton.



Rehm, R. 2002. The Play of Space: Spatial Transformation in Greek Tragedy. Princeton. Rehm, R. 2006. “Sophocles on Fire: ΤΟ ΠΥΡ in Philoctetes.” In Sophocles and the Greek Language, edited by I.J.F. de Jong and A. Rijksbaron, 95–107. Leiden. Reinhardt, K. 1979. Sophocles. New York. Renehan, R. 1979. “The Meaning of ΣΩΜΑ in Homer: A Study in Methodology.” California Studies in Classical Antiquity 12: 269–82. Riley, K. 2008. The Reception and Performance of Euripides’ Herakles: Reasoning Madness. Oxford. Ringer, M. 1998. Electra and the Empty Urn: Metatheater and Role Playing in Sophocles. Chapel Hill, NC. Roach, J. 1996. Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance. New York. Robertson, F. W. 1866. “Two Lectures on the Influence of Poetry on the Working Classes, Delivered before the Members of the Mechanics’ Institution, February 1852.” In Lectures and Addresses on Literary and Social Topics, 95–208. Boston. Roisman, H. 1997. “The Appropriation of a Son: Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” GRBS 38: 127–71. Rose, P. W. 1992. Sons of the Gods, Children of Earth: Ideology and Literary Form in Ancient Greece. Ithaca, NY. Roselli, D. K. 2011. Theater of the People: Spectators and Society in Ancient Athens. Austin, TX. Rosenmeyer, T. G. 1955. “Gorgias, Aeschylus, and Apate.” AJP 76: 225–60. Rouse, W. H. D. 1902. Greek Votive Offerings: An Essay on the History of Greek Religion. Cambridge. Ruffell, I. 2011. Politics and Anti-­Realism in Athenian Old Comedy: The Art of the Impossible. Oxford. Rusten, J., ed. 2011. The Birth of Comedy: Texts, Documents, and Art from Athenian Comic Competitions, 486–280. Baltimore. Saghafi, K. 2010. Apparitions of Derrida’s Other. New York. Scheffler, S. 2013. Death and the Afterlife. Oxford. Schein, S. 2005. “Divine and Human in Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” In The Soul of Tragedy: Essays on Athenian Drama, edited by V. Pedrick and S. M. Oberhelman, 27–47. Chicago. Schein, S. 2006. “The Iliad and Odyssey in Sophocles’ Philoctetes: Generic Complexity and Ethical Ambiguity.” In Greek Drama III: Essays in Honour of Kevin Lee, edited by J. Davidson, F. Muecke, and P. Wilson, 129–40. London Schein, S., ed. 2013. Sophocles: Philoctetes. Cambridge. Schlörb-Vierneisel, B. 1964. “Zwei klassische Kindergräber im Kerameikos.” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 79: 85–104. Schneider, R. 2011. Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. New York. Scholl, A., and K. Vieniesel. 2002. “Reliefdenkmäler dramatischer Choregen im klassischen Athen. Das Müncher Maskenrelief für Artemis und Dionysos.” Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 53: 7–55. Schumacher, B. N. 2011. Death and Mortality in Contemporary Philosophy. Cambridge.



Seaford, R. 1994. Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State. Oxford. Seaford, R. 2004. Money and the Early Greek Mind. Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy. Cambridge. Sedgwick, E. K. 1985. Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. New York. Sedgwick, E. K. 2003. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham, NC. Sedgwick, E. K. 2011. The Weather in Proust. Durham, NC. Segal, C. 1980. “Visual Symbolism and Visual Effects in Sophocles.” CW 74: 125–42. Segal, C. 1981. Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles. Cambridge, MA. Segal, C. 1986. Interpreting Greek Tragedy: Myth, Poetry, Text. Ithaca, NY. Segal, C. 1993. Euripides and the Poetics of Sorrow. Durham, NC. Segal, C. 1995. Sophocles’ Tragic World: Divinity, Nature, Society. Cambridge, MA. Segal, C. 1997. Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides’ Bacchae. Princeton. Seidensticker, B. 2003. “The Chorus in Greek Satyrplay.” In Poetry, Theory, Praxis, edited by E. Csapo and M. C. Miller, 100–21. Oxford. Seigworth, G. J., and M. Gregg. 2010. “An Inventory of Shimmers.” In The Affect Theory Reader, edited by M. Gregg and G. J. Seigworth, 1–25. Durham, NC. Serpieri, A. 1977. “Ipotesi teorica di segmentazione del testo teatrale.” Strumenti critici 32–33: 90–137. Shapiro, H. A. 2000. “Modest Athletes and Liberated Women: Etruscans on Attic Black-­Figure Vases.” In Not the Classical Ideal: Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art, edited by B. Cohen, 315–37. Leiden. Shay, J. 1994. Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character. New York. Shay, J. 2002. Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming. New York. Shay, J. 2012. “Moral Injury.” Intertexts 16: 57–66. Sheldon, R. 2015. “Form/Matter/Chora: Object-Oriented Ontology and Feminist New Materialism.” In The Non Human Turn, edited by R. Grusin, 193–222. Minneapolis. Sherman, N. 2015. Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers. Oxford. Sherman, N. 2016. “Moral Injury, Damage, and Repair.” In Our Ancient Wars: Rethinking War through the Classics, edited by V. Caston and S.-M. Weineck, 121–154. Ann Arbor, MI. Shipton, M. 2018. Politics of Youth in Greek Tragedy: Gangs of Athens. London. Shirazi, A. 2017. The Mirror and the Senses: Reflection and Perception in Classical Greek Thought. Dissertation, Stanford University. Sier, K. 2000. “Gorgias über die Fiktionalität der Tragödie.” In Dramatische Wäldchen: Festschrift für Eckard Lefèvre zum 65. Geburtstag, edited by E. Stärk and G. VogtSpira, 575–618. Hildesheim. Sifakis, G. 2013. “The Misunderstanding of Opsis in Aristotle’s Poetics.” In Performance in Greek and Roman Theatre, edited by G. Harrison and V. Liapis, 45–62. Leiden. Silverman, K. 1988. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington, IN.



Skutsch, O. 1957. “Euripides Hecuba 925–26.” CP 52: 173. Slater, N.W. 1989. “Lekythoi in Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazusae.” Lexis 3: 43–51. Slenders, W. 2005. “Λέξις ἐρωτική in Euripides’ Cyclops.” In Satyr Drama: Tragedy at Play, edited by G. Harrison, 39–52. Swansea. Smethurst, M. J. 1989. The Artistry of Aeschylus and Zeami: A Comparative Study of Greek Tragedy and Nō. Princeton. Smethurst, M. J. 2013. Dramatic Action in Greek Tragedy and Noh: Reading with and beyond Aristotle. Lanham, MD. Smith, S. H. 1984. Masks in Modern Drama. Berkeley. Sobchack, V. 1992. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton. Sobchack, V. 2004. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley. Sofer, A. 2003. The Stage Life of Props. Ann Arbor, MI. Sofer, A. 2010. “ ‘Take up the Bodies’: Shakespeare’s Body Parts, Babies, and Corpses.” Theatre Symposium 18: 135–48. Sofer, A. 2013. Dark Matter: Invisibility in Drama, Theater, and Performance. Ann Arbor, MI. Sommerstein, A., ed. 2008. Aeschylus: Oresteia. Cambridge, MA. Sommerstein, A. 2010. Aeschylean Tragedy. London. Stanford, W. B. 1983. Greek Tragedy and the Emotions. London. Stears, K. 1995. “Dead Women’s Society: Constructing Female Gender in Classical Athenian Funerary Sculpture.” In Time, Tradition, and Society in Greek Archaeology: Bridging the “Great Divide,” edited by N. Spencer, 109–31. London. Stehle, E. 2002. “The Body and Its Representations in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazousai: Where Does the Costume End?” AJPh 123: 369–406. Steiner, D. T. 1994. The Tyrant’s Wit: Myths and Images of Writing in Ancient Greece. Princeton. Steiner, D. T. 2001. Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Literature and Thought. Princeton. Steinhart, M. 2007. “From Ritual to Narrative.” In The Origins of Theater in Ancient Greece and Beyond: From Ritual to Drama, edited by E. Csapo and M. C. Miller, 196–220. Cambridge. Stewart, A. 1996. “Reflections.” In Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Italy, edited by N. Kampen, 136–54. New York. Stieber, M. 1994. “Aeschylus’ Theoroi and Realism in Greek Art.” TAPA 124: 85–119. Stieber, M. 1998. “Statuary in Euripides’ Alcestis.” Arion 5: 69–97. Stieber, M. 2011. Euripides and the Language of Craft. Leiden. Stroszeck, J. 2002. “Das Grab des Eupheros.” In Die griechische Klassik: Idee oder Wirklichkeit, edited by M. Maischberger and W.-D. Heilmeyer, 468–472. Mainz. Sullivan, J. P., ed. 1975. Marxism and the Classics. Arethusa 8 (Special issue). Szendy, P. 2015. Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World. New York. Tahmasebi-Birgani, V. 2014. Emmanuel Levinas and the Politics of Non-Violence. Toronto. Taousiani, A. 2011. “ΟΥ ΜΗ ΠΙΘΗΤΑΙ: Persuasion versus Deception in the Prologue of Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” CQ 61: 426–44.



Taplin, O. 1977. The Stagecraft of Aeschylus. Oxford. Taplin, O. 1978. Greek Tragedy in Action. Berkeley. Taplin, O. 2007. Pots and Plays: Interactions between Tragedy and Greek Vase-Painting of the Fourth Century B.C. Los Angeles. Taplin, O. 2016. “Aeschylus, ‘Father of Stage-Objects.’ ” In Gli oggetti sulla scena teatrale ateniese: Funzione, rappresentazione, comunicazione, edited by A. Coppola, C. Barone, and M. Salvadori, 155–64. Padua. Tarkow, T. A. 1977. “The Glorification of Athens in Euripides’ Heracles.” Helios 5: 27–33. Telò, M. 2016. Aristophanes and the Cloak of Comedy. Chicago. Telò, M. 2017. “Reperformance, Exile, and Archive Feelings: Rereading Aristophanes’ Acharnians and Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus.” In Imagining Reperformance in Ancient Culture: Studies in the Traditions of Drama and Lyric, edited by R. L. Hunter and A. Uhlig, 87–110. Cambridge. Telò, M. Forthcoming (a). “Literary-Critical Intensities: Pathos, Affect, and Greek Tragedy.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Literary Theory and Criticism, edited by J. Connolly and N. Worman. Oxford. Telò, M. Forthcoming (b). Archive Feelings in Greek Tragedy. Thalmann, W. G. 1998. The Swineherd and the Bow: Representations of Class in the Odyssey. Ithaca, NY. Thomson, G. D. 1929. Greek Lyric Metre. Cambridge. Thomson, G. D. 1941. Aeschylus and Athens: A Study of Athenian Drama and Democracy. London. Thomson, G. D. 1945. Marxism and Poetry. London. Thomson, G. D. 1955. The First Philosophers. London. Thuillier, J.-P. 2004. “La nudité athlétique, le pagne et les Étrusques.” Nikephoros 17: 171–80. Tomkins, S. 1995. Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader, edited by E. K. Sedgwick and A. Frank. Durham, NC. Torrance, I. 2011. “In the Footprints of Aeschylus: Recognition, Allusion, and Metapoetics in Euripides.” AJP 132: 177–204. Torrance, I. 2013. Metapoetry in Euripides. Oxford. Tracy, S. 1986. “Darkness from Light: The Beacon Fire in the Agamemnon.” CQ 36: 257–60. Tsagalis, C. 2008. Inscribing Sorrow: Fourth-Century Attic Funerary Epigrams. Berlin. Tueller, M. A. 2010. “The Passer-­by in Archaic and Classical Epigram.” In Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram, edited by M. Baumbach, A. Petrovic, and I. Petrovic, 42–60. Cambridge. Tullman, K., and W. Buckwalter. 2014. “Does the Paradox of Fiction Exist?” Erkenntnis 79: 779–96. Turner, S. 2016. “Sight and Death: Seeing the Dead through Ancient Eyes.” In Sight and the Ancient Senses, edited by M. Squire, 143–60. London. Ubersfeld, A. 1977. Lire le théâtre. Paris.



Ueda, M. 1995. “Zeami and the Art of the No Drama: Imitation, Yugen, and Sublimity.” In Japanese Aesthetics and Culture: A Reader, edited by N. G. Hume, 177–92. Albany. Ussher, R. G. 1957.“Euripides, Hecuba 923–26.” CP 52: 107–8. Ussher, R. G. 1974. “Sophocles’ Ichneutai as a Satyr-Play.” Hermathena 118: 130–38. Valakas, K. 2009. “Theoretical Views of Athenian Tragedy in the Fifth Century BC.” In Sophocles and the Greek Tragic Tradition, edited by S. Goldhill and E. Hall, 179–207. Cambridge. Van Nortwick, T. 2015. Late Sophocles: The Hero’s Evolution in Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus. Ann Arbor, MI. van Straten, F. T. 1981. “Gifts for the Gods.” In Faith, Hope, and Worship, edited by H. S. Versnel, 65–151. Leiden. Verdenius, W. J. 1981. “Gorgias’ Doctrine of Deception.” In The Sophists and Their Legacy, edited by G. B. Kerferd, 116–28. Wiesbaden. Vervain, C. 2012. “Performing Ancient Drama in Mask: The Case of Greek Tragedy.” New Theatre Quarterly 28: 163–81. Vidal-Naquet, P. 1986. The Black Hunter: Forms of Thought and Forms of Society in the Greek World. Baltimore. Vidal-Naquet, P. 1988a. “Sophocles’ Philoctetes and the Ephebeia.” In Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, edited by J.-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, 452–64. New York. Vidal-Naquet, P. 1988b. “The Shields of Heroes.” In Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, edited by J.-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, 273–300. New York. Voelke, P. 2001. Un théâtre de la marge: Aspects figuratifs et configurationnels du drame satyrique dans l’Athènes classique. Bari. Vollmann, W. T. 2010. Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement, and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater. New York. von Staden, H. 1975. “Greek Art and Literature in Marx’s Aesthetics.” Arethusa 8: 119–44. Walton, F. R. 1935. “A Problem in the Ichneutae of Sophocles.” HSPh 46: 167–89. Webb, R. 2009. Ekphrasis, Imagination, and Persuasion in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice. Farnham. Webster, T. B. L. 1965. “The Poet and the Mask.” In Classical Drama and Its Influence: Essays Presented to H. D. F. Kitto, edited by M. J. Anderson, 3–13. New York. Weiss, N. 2008. “A Psychoanalytic Reading of Euripides’ Ion: Repetition, Development, and Identity.” BICS 51: 39–50. Weiss, N. 2017. “Noise, Music, Speech: The Representation of Lament in Greek Tragedy.” AJP 138: 243–66. Weiss, N. 2018a. The Music of Tragedy: Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater. Berkeley. Weiss, N. 2018b. “Hearing the Syrinx in Euripidean Theater.” In Music, Texts, and Culture in Ancient Greece, edited by A. D’Angour and T. Phillips, 139–62. Oxford. Wellenbach, M. 2015. “The Iconography of Dionysiac Choroi: Dithyramb, Tragedy, and the Basel Krater.” GRBS 55: 72–103.



Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, U. von, ed. 1959. Euripides: Herakles. 3 vols. Darmstadt. Wiles, D. 1997. Tragedy in Athens. Cambridge. Wiles, D. 2007. Mask and Performance in Greek Tragedy: From Ancient Festival to Modern Experimentation. Cambridge. Wilkie, R. 2016. “Introduction: After the Law of Value Is ‘Blown Apart’.” Minnesota Review 87: 110–15. Wilson, P. 1999. “The Aulos in Athens.” In Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy, edited by S. Goldhill and R. Osborne, 58–95. Cambridge. Wilson, P. 2000. The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia: The Chorus, The City and The Stage. Cambridge. Wilson, P. 2006. “Dikên in the Oresteia of Aeschylus.” In Greek Drama III: Essays in Honor of K. Lee, edited by J. Davidson, F. Muecke, and P. Wilson, 187–201. London. Winnington-Ingram, R. 1980. Sophocles: An Interpretation. Cambridge. Wohl, V. 2005. “Beyond Sexual Difference: Becoming Woman in Euripides’ Bacchae.” In The Soul of Tragedy: Essays on Athenian Drama, edited by V. Pedrick and S. M. Oberhelman, 137–54. Chicago. Wohl, V. 2015. Euripides and the Politics of Form. Princeton, NJ. Wolfe, C. 2010. What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis. Wood, C. 2016. “Image and Thing, A Modern Romance.” Representations 133: 130–51. Woodard, T. M. 1964. “Electra by Sophocles: The Dialectical Design.” HSPh 68: 163–205. Woodruff, P. 1992. “Aristotle on Mimesis.” In Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics, edited by A. O. Rorty, 73–96. Princeton. Woolf, V. 2002. Moments of Being. London. Worman, N. 1999. “The Ties That Bind: Transformation of Costume and Connection in Euripides’ Heracles.” Ramus 28: 89–107. Worman, N. 2000. “Infection in the Sentence: The Discourse of Disease in Sophocles’ Philoctetes.” Arethusa 33: 1–36. Worman, N. 2017. “Touching, Proximity, and the Aesthetics of Pain in Sophocles.” In Touch and the Ancient Senses, edited by A. Purves, 34–49. London. Worman, N. Forthcoming. Edges of the Human: Embodiment, Figuration, and Materiality in Greek Tragedy. Wright, E. M. 1932. The Life of Joseph Wright, 2 vols. London. Wright, M. 2005. Euripides’ Escape Tragedies: A Study of Helen, Andromeda, and Iphigenia among the Taurians. Oxford. Wright, M. 2006. “Orestes: A Euripidean Sequel.” CQ 56: 33–47. Wright, M. 2012. The Comedian as Critic: Greek Old Comedy and Poetics. Bristol. Wyles, R. 2010. “The Tragic Costume.” In The Pronomos Vase and its Context, edited by O. Taplin and R. Wyles, 231–53. Oxford. Wyles, R. 2011. Costume in Greek Tragedy. London. Yoon, F. 2012. The Use of Anonymous Characters in Greek Tragedy: the Shaping of Heroes. Leiden.



Zacharia, K. 2003. Converging Truths: Euripides’ Ion and the Athenian Quest for Self-Definition. Leiden. Zagagi, N. 1999. “Comic Patterns in Sophocles’ Ichneutai.” In Sophocles Revisted, edited by J. Griffin, 177–218. Oxford. Zeitlin, F. 1980. “The Closet of Masks: Role-Playing and Myth-Making in the Orestes of Euripides.” Ramus 9: 51–77. Zeitlin, F. 1982. Under the Sign of the Shield: Semiotics and Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes. Rome. Zeitlin, F. 1994. “The Artful Eye: Vision, Ecphrasis and Spectacle in Euripidean Theatre.” In Art and Text in Ancient Greek Culture, edited by S. Goldhill and R. Osborne, 138–96. Cambridge. Zeitlin, F. 1996. Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature. Chicago. Zeitlin, F. 2008. “Intimate Relations: Children, Childbearing, and Parentage on the Euripidean Stage.” In Performance, Iconography, Reception: Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin, edited by M. Revermann and P. Wilson, 318–32. Oxford. Zeitlin, F. 2012. “A Study in Form: Recognition Scenes in the Three Electra Plays.” Lexis 30: 361–77. Zellner, H. M. 1997. “Antigone and the Wife of Intaphrenes.” CW 90: 315–18. Žizek, S. 1991a. “Grimaces of the Real, or When the Phallus Appears.” October 58: 45–68. Žizek, S. 1991b. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan Through Popular Culture. Cambridge, MA.

Index The numbers following the names of plays refer to line numbers. actants 2, 81, 82 activism, AIDS 39 Aeschylus. See also Agamemnon; Oresteia trilogy; Seven Against Thebes Eumenides 183–84, 191–92 Libation Bearers 171, 172, 176, 177, 183 and materiality/immateriality 170–71 non-­verbal aspects of performances 170 Persians 171 Suppliant Women 171, 188 Theoroi or Isthmiastae 89–90, 91 Aesop 89–90 aesthetics and affect 9–10, 97, 107–9, 187 Greek 90 Marxist 213–14 materialist 248 n.2 and sound 7–8, 98, 149–51, 161, 163, 165–66 and touch 185, 190 tragic 9, 14, 97, 107–9 affect affective triangles 141, 143, 144 affect theory 6–7, 10, 13, 113, 133, 151–52, 154 and atmosphere 7, 9, 150–52 and bodies 7, 9, 156 cannibalistic 147 and contagion 133, 134, 135, 142, 150–51, 252 n.4 definition 222 n.42 echo as 8, 135, 146, 149 and emotion 6–7, 143, 151, 154 and ethics 134, 147 and the face 82–83, 87, 93–94 and friendship 134–35, 150, 151 and the human/non-­human 7, 9, 21–22 as impersonal force 2, 6, 142–43, 219 n.11

and in-­between-ness 7, 9, 133, 134, 135, 143, 150, 151, 251 n.2 and language 7, 31–32, 54, 91, 137, 138 and objects 4–5, 52, 58, 67, 70, 81–82, 86, 97, 109, 113, 251 n.46 and responsibility 13, 151, 152 as a subject 143 and trauma 66, 72, 77 Agamemnon. See also materiality, and immateriality; senses 8–10 178 16–18 178 22–31 178, 179 92–93 181 279 179 281–83 180 287 180 289 180 293 180 296–316 180–81 318–19 182 320 182 322–23 182 325 182 328–29 182 444 53 1129 61 1404–6 191 agency distributive 37, 38–39, 241 n.57 of masks 14, 80, 82, 89 of matter 14, 17–18, 29, 38–39 of objects 2, 5, 23, 58–60, 62, 80, 171, 178 of weapons 4, 21, 69–70 Ahmed, Sara 7 Ajax. See also friendship; post-­traumatic stress disorder; suicide

294 219–20 70 302–3 68 305 68 312 68 313–22 68 815–22 68–70 823 69 835–38 70 1034 70 1390 70 1412–13 71 Deception Speech 67 sword in 67–70 Alcestis. See also corpses; death; humanism 1–14 43–44 43 44 79 41 126 44 141 45 157–61 45–46 304–10 234 n.58 348–54 36, 46–47, 94, 234 n.58 377 234 n.58 388 94 391–415 45 521 45 532–33 234 n.58 538 234 n.58 660–64 44–45 682 45 699–701 45 712 45 720 45 724–25 44–45 782 45 843 44 876–77 94 1061–69 47 1118 94 1123–34 47 morbid materialism in 12, 35–48 Anaximander 41 animate/inanimate bodies as 163, 167 corpses as 35–36, 37 masks as 89 matter as 1, 2, 19 objects as 183, 204, 206

Index apostrophes in Alcestis 47 animation through 20, 26 in Antigone 43 in Electra (Sophocles) 60 in Philoctetes 141, 148 in Troades 20, 26–27, 28, 30 Aristophanes Clouds 103 Geras (Old Age) 85, 86, 87 and self-­reflexivity 49 Aristotle Eudemian Ethics 147 on friendship 10, 114, 195 on theatrical performance 169, 184 assemblages 5, 12, 31, 33, 64–65, 148 audience and characters 152 deception of 50 bodily experience of tragedy 9 and everyday life 132 experience of objects 113 and the mask 82 and the Oresteia 169–70 psychological experience of trauma 66, 77 radical ignorance of 47–48 sensory experience of 173, 175, 177, 184, 189, 191 Bennett, Jane 4–5, 11, 17, 20, 24–25, 31, 37, 38–39, 80, 205–6, 211, 221 n.25, 227 n.27 Berlant, Laurent 7 bodies and affect 5, 7, 9, 143, 146, 155–56, 175, 187, 201 of the dead 19–20, 35, 37, 38, 42, 48, 130, 190, 197 definition 155–56 as matter 20, 48 of satyrs 13, 155–60, 165–66, 167 bronze 102–4, 106 City Dionysia 85, 94, 213, 244 n.40 corpses burial of 39–40 instrumentalization of 38–39, 42 as matter 19–20, 28, 35, 37, 38, 48

Index ontology of 38 and tragedy 35, 36–37, 38, 39–40 correlationism 4–5, 227 n.27 dance 155–56, 160, 162, 164, 171–72, 176 death as debt or replacement/substitution 36, 40–41, 42–46, 48, 232 n.35, 233 n.41, 233 n.54 equality in 38, 42 and fear 37 in Greek literary tradition 35 incorporation of the other as 142 and intercourse 141–42 and mourning 139, 141, 192, 253 n.29 and objectification 19 politics of 39 the real of 24 DeLanda, Manuel 12, 64 Deleuze, Gilles 5–7, 133, 134, 185, 221 n.24 Derrida, Jacques 31, 134–35, 136, 139, 141, 148, 185, 201 Dissoi Logoi 49 echo 135, 138, 146, 149, 200 Electra (Euripides). See also touch 220 195 223 195 224 195 227 195 322 196 333–34 196 596–97 196 688 196 694–95 196 812 197 819 197 823 197 826–29 197 841 196, 197 887 197 895 265 n.33 930–37 197 959–61 265 n.33 1006 197 1142–43 197 1159–61 197 1173 198 1179–81 197


1215 198 1216–17 60, 198 1218 265 n.34 1225 198 1415 196 Electra (Sophocles). See also language 10 195 17 195 28 195 36–37 51 51–58 52–53 59–60 54 61 54 686–87 53 755–60 55–56 774 56 902–6 56–57 923 57 925 57 1109 57 1113–14 57 1115 58 1116 192 1117–20 58, 193 1129 61, 193 1132–33 193 1141 193 1156–59 40 1174–75 59 1178 114 1182 59 1205–11 59–60 1238 193 1259 193 1260–63 193 1275–77 193 1281–84 193 1285–86 193 1288–92 193 1322 193 1400–1401 61 deception in 49–50, 52, 54–55, 57, 58, 61–62 euphêmia/dusphêmia in 59–60 language in 51, 53–55, 60 mourning in 192–93 and ontology 49–51, 62 and recognition 55–58 representation in 49–51



emotion. See under affect Engels, Friedrich 205, 210, 214 Epicurus 37 epistemology 5, 24–25, 37–38, 49–50 ethics and affect 134, 147 and affective identification 146 of deception 50 of encounters with the other 148 Euripides. See also Alcestis; Electra; Hecuba; Heracles; Ion; Troades aesthetic strategies of 194 Alcmaeon in Psophis 212 Andromache 188 Bacchae 92 Helen 54, 114 Hippolytus 94–95, 213 Medea 92–93, 107–8, 209 objects in 113 Orestes 185, 198–201 Phoenician Women 187–88, 189 feeling and cognition 7 dissemination of 7, 33 feeling material 10–11 intensity of 9, 140, 193 and objects 1–2, 4, 140, 144 spatialized 151–52 feminism 6, 220 n.23, 222 n.37 film 9 Freud, Sigmund 66, 139, 231 n.19 friendship and affect 134–35, 150, 151 annihilation 139 Aristotle on 10, 114, 195 cannibalistic 135, 138 as a form of objectification 142 and gift giving 68 guest-­friendships 68 homosocial/homoerotic 134 philia 65–66, 68, 70, 72, 76, 134, 136, 139, 140–42, 144–45, 149 and possession 142 Funeral Oration, Thucydides’ 18, 28–29, 41–42 gold 23, 226 n.21 Gorgias Encomium of Helen 54 On Not Being 55

gorgoneion 86 Gormley, Antony 10 Gramsci, Antonio 214, 215, 216 granite 203–4 Guattari, Felix 6–7, 133, 134 Harman, Graham 5, 6 Hecuba. See also mirrors; reflection 636–37 105 914–32 97, 98–99, 105 1154 108 1161–62 107 Heidegger, Martin 230 n.4 Heracles. See also friendship; post-­ traumatic stress disorder; suicide 44–50 71 49–56 74 126–30 74 558–61 72 570 72 572–73 72 631 76 975–76 75 1098–1100 73, 75 1132–35 71 1164 73 1165 73 1347–52 74 1364 75 1367–68 74 1372 75 1376–85 75 1423–24 76 bow in 71–76 Herodotus 42, 182 Homer Iliad 35, 41, 102–3 Odyssey 41 homoeroticism 134, 140 Honig, Bonnie 36, 38, 39, 42, 48 human, the and matter 18–20, 22–23, 31–32 and mortality 35, 42, 121 and the non-­human 2–3, 7, 17, 21, 25, 37–38, 146, 151 and things 5, 11, 20, 24, 25, 37, 81–82, 185 humanism agonistic 38, 39 mortalist 38, 39, 42

Index Ichneutae. See also Latour, Bruno; satyrs 21 153 50 162–63 91–99 153–54 124–26 155 127 155 128 155 221–32 161–62 302–7 164 313 164 329 164 372–76 164 immateriality immortality through 29 and materiality 17, 25, 29, 31, 33, 62, 170–71, 176 incest 14, 188, 189, 200 Ion. See also memory; stelae 8–75 121 18 123–24 22 124 27 124 112–20 209 188–89 111 190 111, 114 192 111, 115 193 111 201 111, 114 206–7 111, 115 210 111 211 111 212 111 217 111 249–51 111–12, 122 563–65 122 585–86 131 859–922 115 1141–66 115 1276–78 122 1337 121 1339 121 1340 121 1352 122 1354 122 1369–71 122 1378–79 122 1382 122 1392–93 127 1395 122 1398–99 122

297 1404 122 1417 123 1424 123 1432 123 1433–36 127 1437 123 deictics in 114, 116 and funerary monuments 14–15, 113, 115–21, 123, 124–27, 128–31, 250 n.22

labor coerced 212 and matter 204, 206–7, 208 and new materialism 204, 207 and production 205, 208–9, 210–12 and theater-­making 212–13 theory of value 204, 210, 213 Lacan, Jacques 17, 24, 25, 140, 227 n.24, 227 n.27, 228 n.31 language and affect 7, 54, 91, 137, 138 of bodies 155–56 as conduit or blockage 17–18, 25 deictics in 58, 114, 116, 149, 193 in Electra (Sophocles) 51–55 and facial recognition 82–83 as material/immaterial 25, 33 and materiality 12, 18, 29, 53, 61 and matter 18, 25, 29, 32, 33, 51, 60 paradoxical ontology of 31 and the real 25 and reality 51, 55, 61 tragic 7, 9 in Troades 25–26, 29–30 vitality of 12, 18, 32–33 Latour, Bruno 155–56, 160, 167 Levinas, Emmanuel 141, 147, 252 n.10, 256 n.65 light beacon 171, 178–84 and bronze 102–4, 106 imagery of 183 and the mirror 97, 99, 103, 106 and reflection 102–7 logos/ergon 55 Marx, Karl 205, 210, 214 Marxist theory 204, 205, 213–17 masks



agency of 14, 82 mormolukeion 86–87 off-­stage lives of 82–91 ontological duality of 79–80, 82, 84–85 of satyrs 13, 90, 157, 159, 160, 164 in tragedy 91–95, 213, 230 n.3 vitality of 81–82, 83 materialism consumerist 205 dialectical 205, 265 n.6 historical 205, 214 malevolent 11, 24 morbid 12, 35–48 new 2–3, 4–6, 11, 80, 81, 84, 204, 205, 207, 220 n.23 “old” 212, 239 n.19 vibrant/vital 4–5, 17, 24, 25, 37, 39, 206, 227 n.27, 228 n.31 materiality and affect theory 7, 10, 113 of emotions 2, 50, 97, 113 and epistemology 5, 11, 24–25 of funerary monuments 113, 128, 130 and immateriality 17, 25, 29, 31, 33, 62, 170–71, 176 of language 12, 17–18, 29, 51, 53, 61 of metaphor 18, 19, 25, 32 of mirrors 97 and synaesthesia 13, 183 matter agency of 14, 17–18, 24, 38–39 corpses as 19–20, 28, 35, 37, 38, 48 Deleuzian 5 and the human 18–20, 22–23, 31–32 and labor 204, 206–7, 208 and meaning 62 swarming activity of 5 as vibrant/vital 5, 17, 20, 24, 80, 86, 204 melancholy 139, 152, 253 n.29 memory Athenian cultural 182 collective 183 and image recognition 112–13, 118, 120, 131 and objects 112, 120–21, 122–24, 126, 130 and sight 112, 114

Method acting 50 mimêsis, tragic 12, 36, 47, 152, 222 n.39, 245 n.68 mirrors bronze 98, 102–6, 246 n.15 Etruscan 104, 247 n.19 in Greek culture 246 n.11 in Greek tragedy 107, 109 in Hecuba 97–98, 99, 102, 105–7, 109 and light 97, 99, 103, 106 materiality of 97 moral injury 12, 64, 67 Morton, Timothy 5, 221 n.28, 222 n.37 music 163, 179 new materialism. See materialism Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) 5–6, 10, 222 n.36–37 objects and affect 4–5, 52, 58, 67, 70, 81–82, 86, 97, 109, 113, 251 n.46 agency of 5, 23, 58–60, 62, 80 and deception 52, 61, 62 and emotion 2, 4, 50–51, 58, 59, 61, 93, 97, 112–13, 132, 134 and image recognition 112–13, 116–17, 122–23 and labor 210–12 and matter 5, 37, 62, 206 and memory 112, 120–21, 122–24, 126, 130 ontological status of 2, 5–6, 10, 12, 49, 51, 62, 86, 208, 222 n.36–37 props as 2, 49, 184, 213, 260 n.8 recalcitrance of 2, 12, 62, 80 and recognition 60, 92, 112–13, 123, 127, 128, 131 satyrs as 163, 166, 167 and the subject 1–2, 4, 5, 6, 10–11, 151–52, 179 “thingness” of 1, 2, 3, 27, 208–9 thing-­power of 24, 211 vibrancy/vitality of 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 14, 20–21, 90, 191, 206, 251 n.46 Old Comedy 88–89 opsis 169–70, 175, 177, 184 Oresteia trilogy. See also Aeschylus; Agamemnon familial handling in 191–92

Index light imagery in 171, 183 organic/inorganic, the 2, 24, 32, 206 periperformatives 8–9, 223 n.55 perizôma 13, 157–60, 164 philia. See under friendship Philoctetes. See also friendship 7 134 9–10 133 18 133 32–39 8, 145, 148 54–55 52 75 3 88–91 52 101–3 52 104–5 3 113 3 114 3 147 8 188–90 8 205 8 206–7 8 208–9 8 218 7–8 225–26 8 234–35 136 239 136 242 136 267 144 276–97 136–38, 138–39 350 140 376 139 389–90 139 434 140 481 138 483 138 492 138 542–627 236 n.39 631–32 140 645–46 142 651 140 656–57 10, 140 660–61 140 663–66 141 667 141 669 141–42 670–75 142 693–94 135, 146 696–99 147 703 141


706–11 220 n.15 746 141 750 141 786 141 870–71 148 895–96 144 927–31 143–44 931–33 220 n.15 935 144 936–37 146 950 145 951 145 952–53 145 958 4 964 146 965–66 146 967 146 1001–2 145 1004–5 145 1055–56 5 1066–67 147 1087–88 148 1128–32 4, 138, 144 1153–55 145 1156–57 145–46 1229–34 8 1267 6 1287 6 1290 148 1299–1303 149 1328 144 1330 8 1370 149 1375 149 1406 149 1445 149 1453–60 149–50 1467–68 150 1469 150 affect in 13, 133–35, 138–39, 143, 145–46, 149, 151–52 bow in 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 52, 135, 137, 140–42, 143–45, 146, 147, 148, 149, 220 n.15, 220 n.17 cave in 139, 141–43, 145, 146, 147–48, 152 and deception 49–50, 52 and fear 7–9, 144–45, 146, 147, 151 personhood and thingness in 3 Plato 18, 36



Plutarch 50 post-­traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 64, 65, 66–67, 71–76 acting out 66–71 working through 66–67, 71–76 props. See objects prosôpon 81, 82, 87, 88, 91, 93, 94 prosthetics 135, 140–41, 142, 144, 145 proxemics 7, 14, 186, 187, 188, 197 real, the of death 24 Lacan and 25, 228 n.28, 228 n.31 and language 25 realism in fifth-­century Greek aesthetics 90 socialist 114 reflection and light 102–7 and reversal 14, 97–109 and the senses 98–102 satyr drama 89–91, 155, 159 satyrs. See also Ichneutae bodies of 13, 155–60, 165–66, 167 and the lyre 164, 165 mask of 13, 90, 157, 159, 160, 164 as objects 163, 166, 167 senses of 153–54 slave labor of 213 transformed into dogs 154–55, 157, 160–62 vocalizations of 161, 163 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky 8–9 senses. See also touch hearing 99, 108, 154, 165, 199 and reflection 98–102 of satyrs 153–54 sight 114, 171–76, 180–81, 190 sight and sound 174, 176–77, 181–83, 184 sight and touch 102 smell 7, 14, 33, 83, 98, 153–54, 156, 160, 161 sound 7, 8, 30–31, 98, 135–36, 149–50, 161, 163, 166, 172, 174–76 Seven Against Thebes 25 171 40–41 171 66–67 171

82 172 85–86 172 100–103 173 114–15 172 150–61 173 245 173 246 173 434 175 468–69 175 493–96 175 848 176 and materiality/immateriality 170 sight and sound in 171–76 synaesthesia and materiality in 13, 174 Simonides 41 skênê 176–77, 178 slavery 19, 210, 213, 217 socialist realism 214 Socrates 37 Sophocles. See also Ajax; Electra; Ichneutae; Philoctetes Antigone 42, 43 Oedipus at Colonus 189–91 Oedipus the King 186, 188, 189 Women of Trachis 187, 188 Spinoza, Baruch 133 stelae of Demetrios son of Theodote 129 of Eupheros 117, 125 of Malicha 118 of Pausimache 119 subject affect as a 143 human, decentering of 3 and objects 1–2, 4, 5, 10–11, 151–52, 179 suicide 63–64, 67–68, 73–74 temples, viewing of 111–12, 113–14 things. See objects Thucydides 18, 28, 41, 42 touch and aesthetics 9–10, 185, 190 hands and handling 14, 187, 189–91, 192–93, 194–98 haptic visualizing 185, 187, 188, 190, 201 and sight 102 and sound 199 and violence 185, 188, 194–95, 196, 198, 200

Index trauma 64, 65–67, 72, 76–77, 136–37 Troades 15 19 19–20 27 26 19 47 20 97 19 99–100 19 108 27 116–21 19, 27 122–37 27 142 19 273 19 291 19 309–40 28 386–99 29 406–7 26, 29 489 29 498 19 502 19 504 19 511–67 19, 22–23, 27, 28 570 27 573–76 19 578–86 29–30 596 29 600 19 603 19 605 29 608–9 26 621 29 624 19 632–33 17 636 29, 32 671 25 686–96 27 716 19, 33 757–58 19 760 19 761 29 778–82 19 825 19 992 23 995 23 1107 23 1118–19 29 1121 19 1136 20 1173–77 24, 25, 93 1178–86 26, 28


1182 21 1186 27 1189–91 28 1194–99 20 1209–10 21 1212 21 1217–18 21 1221–23 21 1236 27 1242–45 28 1253 19 1258 27 1265 19 1272 19 1276 19, 20 1277–78 20, 30 1283 20 1291–99 30–31, 32 1310–14 30, 32 1317–24 19, 30–31, 33 1331 19 1332 27 ashes in 12, 31, 40, 50, 53, 62 language in 25–26, 29–30 materiality in 18, 21–25, 27–29, 31, 32, 33 metaphor and materiality in 17–33 shield in 12, 20–21, 24 smoke in 31–33 the Thing in 25 voice in 25, 26, 27, 33 Trojan horse 22–24 value labor theory of 204, 210, 213 marginal theory of 210 Vita Aeschyli 170 vitality of language 12, 18, 32–33 of masks 81–82, 83 of matter 5, 17, 20, 24, 80, 86, 204 of objects 2, 4, 5, 10, 12, 14, 20–21, 90, 191, 206, 251 n.46 vulnerability and compassion 146–47 of Philoctetes 3–4 and tragedy 10 weapons agency of 4, 69–70 bow in Heracles 71–76

302 bow in Philoctetes 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 52, 135, 137, 140–42, 143–45, 146, 147, 148, 149, 220 n.15, 220 n.17 as equal collaborators 12 as friends and foes 12–13, 20–21, 64, 66, 67, 72–73, 75–76

Index and identity 63 shield in Troades 12, 20–21, 24 sword in Ajax 67–70 Woolf, Virginia 1–2 Xenophon 103, 106 Žižek, Slavoj 25