An Irish Poet Mines the Classics
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.
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