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Why Athens?A Reappraisal of Tragic Politics$
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D. M. Carter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199562329

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562329.001.0001

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Pity and panhellenic politics

Pity and panhellenic politics

Choral emotion in Euripides' Hecuba and Trojan Women*

(p.269) 10 Pity and panhellenic politics
Why Athens?

Eirene Visvardi

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the choral discourse of pity in Euripides’ Hecuba and Trojan Women and suggests that both Athenocentrism and a panhellenic scope are often integral to the emotional politics of Athenian tragedy. By proposing the inclusion of pity in the morality and practice of war, the two choruses construct a highly politicized concept of pity. Such concept can be shared, they suggest, because emotional experience and understanding are shaped by participation in the social, religious, and political institutions of the polis. In addition to giving prominence to Athenian institutions, the choruses also foreground the communal practices and values of the panhellenic Greek polis. They thus render their concept of pity potentially effective in the context of different Greek political communities. Given the centrality of the representation and evocation of pity in tragedy, this aspect of its choral manipulation contributes to the panhellenic appeal of the plays.

Keywords:   pity, Hecuba, Trojan Women, Athenocentrism, panhellenic, choral

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