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The Alexandra of LycophronA Literary Study$
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Charles McNelis and Alexander Sens

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199601899

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601899.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
The Alexandra of Lycophron

Charles McNelis

Alexander Sens

Oxford University Press

Lycophron’s Alexandra, at its core, takes up a question that runs through Greek literature from its inception: what is the relationship between poetic artifice and the truth? By exploiting the formal features of a tragic messenger speech and by having the messenger report verbatim a lengthy prophecy uttered by the traditionally unbelievable but accurate Cassandra, the poem claims over-determined authority for its reconfiguration of the history of the Trojan War. In doing so, the poem rewrites the literary tradition, particularly that of Greek epic and tragedy. Inasmuch as the poem fuses the voices of the poet, the messenger, and the prophetess whose words he repeats, its use of obscure language and mythology forms part of a broader engagement with the capacities and limitations of language.

Keywords:   poetic artifice, truth, Lycophron, Cassandra, messenger speech, prophecy

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