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Re-imagining the PastAntiquity and Modern Greek Culture$
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Dimitris Tziovas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199672752

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672752.001.0001

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The Wound of History

The Wound of History

Ritsos and the Reception of Philoctetes

(p.297) 17 The Wound of History
Re-imagining the Past

Dimitris Tziovas

Oxford University Press

The aim of this chapter is to reassess ‘Philoctetes’ (1963–5), one of the most important dramatic monologues in the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos’ collection The Fourth Dimension (1972), in the context of the western reception of Sophocles’ hero. Though it is difficult to categorize the richness and diversity of responses to Sophocles’ play, it could be argued that its reception centred around three major themes: pain, exile, and politics. The analysis of Ritsos’ poem offered here aspires to demonstrate how ‘minor’ literatures can enrich the worldwide reception of classical myths, and to assess whether the text is consistent with the three themes mentioned above or diverges from them in a significant way. It is indeed hard to align Ritsos’ ‘Philoctetes’ with one of the three major themes which dominate the modern versions of Sophocles’ hero. Hence, this chapter explores the poem’s complexities in the light of the other modern reworkings of the myth of Philoctetes and in the context of political developments in Greece during the 1960s. This dramatic monologue presents one of the best opportunities to reassess the extent to which Ritsos can be considered a politically committed poet.

Keywords:   Philoctetes, Neoptolemos, Yannis Ritsos, Fourth Dimension, myth, classical reception, Marxism, homosociality

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