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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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The Expansion of Tragedy as Critique 1

The Expansion of Tragedy as Critique 1

(p.118) (p.119) 9 The Expansion of Tragedy as Critique1
Classics in the Modern World

Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz

Oxford University Press

This chapter undertakes an analysis of the contemporary use of Greek tragedy to oppose wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It interrogates the ways in which the ancient plays have been used to undermine claims by the US and UK that the ten-year war in Iraq was politically democratic, that is, bringing democracy to the people of Iraq. There are two main ways in which this deployment of tragedy might be seen to participate in the ‘democratic’ turn — through the opposition to imperialism and through their attention to the costs of war for women. Focusing on Aeschylus and Euripides’ and the Auletta/Sellars’ versions of The Persians and Trojan Women, the chapter argues that there are conservative tendencies in the ancient works which may make them less than entirely effective vehicles for critique. In the end, this chapter questions whether there are not anti-democratic motives behind and unintended effects of the so-called democratic turn.

Keywords:   Iraq, war, imperialism, Aeschylus' Persians, Auletta/Sellars', Euripides' Trojan Women, women

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