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Seamus Heaney and the ClassicsBann Valley Muses$
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Stephen Harrison, Fiona Macintosh, and Helen Eastman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805656.001.0001

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Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

An Irish Poet Mines the Classics

(p.121) 9 Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney and the Classics

Marianne McDonald

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Heaney’s work linked with Greek tragedy, the Sophoclean versions The Cure At Troy and The Burial At Thebes and the sequence ‘Mycenae Lookout’ in the collection The Spirit Level (1996). It argues that Heaney used classical Greek drama not only to touch on the Irish troubles but also to present his personal views and values, sometimes employing images from his background as the son of a Catholic father, and often influenced by his upbringing as an Irish Catholic. He depicted war and the lust for violence, but always expressed hope, and a desire for the fires of war to be cleansed by the waters of a miraculous healing well.

Keywords:   Heaney, Sophocles, Greek tragedy, adaptation, autobiography

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