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The Hidden ChorusEchoes of Genre in Tragic Lyric$
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L. A. Swift

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577842

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577842.001.0001

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Thrēnos and Ritual Lament

Thrēnos and Ritual Lament

(p.298) 7 Thrēnos and Ritual Lament
The Hidden Chorus

L. A. Swift

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores how Greek tragedy evokes Thrēnos and other forms of ritual funerary song. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Greek ritual lament, and seeks continuities between the various forms such as women's lament, Thrēnos, funerary epigram. It also discusses the role that funerary legislation played in changing the nature of funeral song, and the effect that this would have had on a fifth‐century audience's understanding of ritual lament. The chapter discusses three plays which place particular emphasis on the conventions of lament: Aeschylus' Persians, Sophocles' Electra, and Euripides' Alcestis. Each of these plays uses lament to represent ethical ideas to do with moderation and social convention, highlighting the politicized role that lamentation had accrued by this period.

Keywords:   tragedy, Thrēnos, lament, ritual, funeral, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Persians, Electra, Alcestis, funerary legislation

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