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African AthenaNew Agendas$
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Daniel Orrells, Gurminder K. Bhambra, and Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199595006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595006.001.0001

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Wole Soyinka's Yoruba Tragedy

Wole Soyinka's Yoruba Tragedy

Performing Politics

(p.326) 19 Wole Soyinka's Yoruba Tragedy
African Athena

Astrid Van Weyenberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Wole Soyinka's The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite, It explores, first of all, how Soyinka draws on Yoruba mythology and cosmology to emphasise the revolutionary potential of ritual sacrifice. Then, the focus shifts to the politics that the adaptation performs through its ambiguous relation with the Euripedean pre‐text, a relation that is characterised by a dual emphasis on correspondence and difference. In the final part, the cultural politics at play in Soyinka's refiguration of Dionysus and in his theory of ‘Yoruba tragedy’ is considered in relation to Martin Bernal's Black Athena project. The primary intention is to demonstrate how Soyinka does with ‘tragedy’ what Bernal does with ‘Greece’: challenging its conventional definition and destabilising the Eurocentrism that has traditionally inhibited it.

Keywords:   Greek tragedy, African drama, Adaptation, Post‐colonial, Eurocentrism, Wole Soyinka, Yoruba tragedy, Bacchae, Euripides, Ritual

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