Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?1
In Seneca's Hercules, the tragic protagonist has been displaced into a form of space which no one else shares. His time is not their time, either, for his act endures impervious to the motions of change and decay which are the rhythms of the ordinary world. The case of Hercules exemplifies a mode of estrangement which seems to be characteristic of tragedy, a movement of translation and of decomposition. This book explores the ways in which tragedy effects radical forms of estrangement by translating the protagonist into modes of time, space, and language which are alienated from those forms of time, space, and language which, in the different imaginations of different societies, constitute the human home. In this new world, metaphor, tense, and syntax forget their habitual ways of establishing identity or likeness, the sequence of cause and effect, and the distinction between agent and patient. The plays chosen for discussion range from Aeschylus' Agamemnon to Jean Racine's Phèdre, from classical Greek drama to its reworking in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
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