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Entering the AgonDissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography, and Tragedy$
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Elton T. E. Barker

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542710

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.001.0001

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Beyond the agon in Euripides' Hecuba

Beyond the agon in Euripides' Hecuba

(p.325) 6 Beyond the agon in Euripides' Hecuba
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the similar emphasis placed on spectating and speaking back by Euripides' Hecuba but from an alternative Odyssean strategy, which maximizes unease over tragedy's recuperative powers. It traces how this play makes a spectacle of Hecuba's suffering, maximizing sympathy for her as she first endures unending sorrow and then takes revenge. The play's Odyssean insistence on the authority of her suffering culminates when an on-stage judge (Agamemnon) sets up an agon in order expressly to deal with the fallout from her revenge, as Euripides establishes the most extreme test case of the agon's capacity to control and make use of dissent. Yet, the play ends not with the agon but with Polymestor's dissenting voice continuing to ring out, exposing Agamemnon to a few home truths and leaving the audience to make sense of dissent outside the secure comfort of any institutional framework, even the play itself.

Keywords:   Euripides, Hecuba, Odyssean, agon, specating, dissent, suffering, revenge, Agamemnon

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