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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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Introduction: institutional dissent

Introduction: institutional dissent

(p.267) Introduction: institutional dissent
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This section considers debate in its most fully realized institutional form, that of tragedy, which by its very form represents debate, not only in the specific feature of the agon, but in the many conflicts between characters on stage. It is particularly concerned to engage with the recent controversies regarding whether tragedy is political or not, and the extent to which tragedy relates specifically to Athenian democracy or more broadly to any polis.Turning attention away from the dominant question of what is political, this section sets out how tragedy is political, first in its onus on giving a voice to marginalized figures such as women, slaves and groups, which marks tragedy's most radical departure from the world of Homeric epic, second in its emphasis on speaking back. Thus the key democratic concept of παρρηία, freedom or frankness of speech, is enacted, explored and tested in tragedy's retelling of myth.

Keywords:   tragedy, politics, democratic, παρρηία, frank speech, agon, polis, speaking back

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