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Euripides and the Gods$
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Mary Lefkowitz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199752058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199752058.001.0001

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Greek Drama without the Gods?

(p.1) Introduction
Euripides and the Gods

Mary Lefkowitz

Oxford University Press

In modern productions, translators and directors, aided by our own imaginations, edit the gods away in order to concentrate on human action. Because modern readers do not try to comprehend the theology of an ancient and foreign civilization, they fail to see that in Euripides’ plays (as in dramas by other poets), it is the gods who control what happens in human life, even when the human characters in the dramas are unable to imagine the full extent of the gods’ power. The chapter discusses the modern tendency to omit divine action in Euripides’ Trojan Women, and inability to recognize its presence in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, even though Aristotle understood that the contrast between human ignorance and divine omniscience was a central feature of Athenian drama. It also explains why this book discusses the roles played by individual gods, as well as the function of divine epiphanies in general.

Keywords:   Greek gods, Greek drama, Trojan Women, Oedipus Rex, Aristotle’s Poetics, Euripides, Sophocles, epiphany, deus ex machina

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