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Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793113

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793113.001.0001

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Iphigenia in Illyria

Iphigenia in Illyria

Greek Tragic Women on Comic Stages

(p.143) 4 Iphigenia in Illyria
Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages

Tanya Pollard

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4, “Iphigenia in Illyria: Greek Tragic Women on Comic Stages,” argues that Greek tragic women shaped Shakespeare’s sense of comedy’s affective possibilities in plays including The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night. In the wake of Greek-inspired experiments with tragedy, Shakespeare turned to mediating versions of these tragic icons to explore the resources of female lament for soliciting sympathies in comic settings. Comedy of Errors departs from Plautus by invoking the romance Apollonius of Tyre to heighten its tragic backstory, expand the role of Adriana, and introduce a lost mother; Twelfth Night extends on these same revisions, while also alluding to Heliodorus’ Aethiopica to identify Viola with Greek sacrificial virgins, heightening her links with tragedy and her appeal to audiences’ sympathies.

Keywords:   Comedy, sacrifice, virgins, romance, sympathy, Shakespeare, Plautus, Heliodorus, Apollonius

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