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Tombs of the Ancient PoetsBetween Literary Reception and Material Culture$
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Nora Goldschmidt and Barbara Graziosi

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826477.001.0001

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Earth, Nature, and the Cult of the Tomb

Earth, Nature, and the Cult of the Tomb

The Posthumous Reception of Aeschylus heros

(p.123) 6 Earth, Nature, and the Cult of the Tomb
Tombs of the Ancient Poets

Emmanuela Bakola

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the depiction of the fifth-century tragic poet Aeschylus in Aristophanes’ Frogs by paying particular attention to the play’s engagement with space, especially the space of the earth below, from which the poet is welcomed back to Athens in the finale. It offers new arguments for connecting Frogs to the cult of Aeschylus’ tomb in Sicily, including the play’s engagement with the volcanic properties of the Sicilian landscape and with the knowledge that volcanic soil harbours productive and beneficial, as well as destructive and deadly, forces. It argues that understanding hero worship in terms of fertility, prosperity, well-being, health, and their opposites is particularly revealing in Aeschylus’ case, because these concepts played a key role in Aeschylean dramaturgy, especially in connection to the Aeschylean images of nature and the earth. This leads to a new interpretation of the relationship between Aeschylus’ biography, his literary reception, and his cult.

Keywords:   Aeschylus, Aristophanes’ Frogs, cult, fertility, land, anodos, Sicily

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