Myth, Fiction, Innovation
This chapter analyses Euripides' use of myth in the escape-tragedies. It begins with a detailed discussion of the terms ‘myth’ and ‘plot’ in relation to Greek tragedy, and explores the precise extent of Euripides' innovation and creativity when dealing with pre-existing material. The chapter examines certain central strands in the mythical traditions relating to the plays' heroines, including counterfactuality, geography, and the escape-theme. It argues that Euripides' innovation lies in a disconcerting mixture of pre-existing elements from myth: he has not invented the plots that he uses, nor has he directly inherited them from specific or single literary sources (such as Stesichorus). The chapter concludes by identifying a specific type of mythical self-conscious, which the chapter terms ‘metamythology’.
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