The Bottom Line
- Especially for an ancient topic this is a refreshingly new presentation
- Epilogue refers to obscure modern performances
- Sometimes tediously detailed
- All you need to know about Greek Drama.
- The Epilogue, written with Sue Blundell, discusses modern performances and the reasons for Greek tragedy's staying power.
- Divided into an introductory "Tragedy in Its Athenian Context" section and a more advanced "Thematic Approaches".
- The introduction includes definitions of tragedy, tragedy's role in the polis, and the religious aspect of tragedy.
- The thematic sections discuss war and empire in connection with Aeschylus' Persians and Oresteia, and Euripides' Iphigenia.
- Electra, according to both Euripides and Sophocles, is the focus for the House of Atreus chapter.
- The Victims and Victimizers chapter shows how women even when apparently powerless could still be strong.
- The final section on ancient drama looks at tragic themes in Antigone and Oedipus Tyrannos.
- Deciding on which spelling to use is a challenge. Here, it's Greek unless the Latinized name is very familiar.
Guide Review - Review: Greek Tragedy, by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz
Her nuanced familiarity with every aspect of the topic of Greek drama is breath-taking. The slim volume is timely, not only in its reference to contemporary world theater and current events, but also in addressing the reasons to continue to study dead white men from the Mediterranean region.
Rabinowitz details the development of drama in one chapter and democracy in the next. On their own, these two chapters provide a strong introduction to Classical Greece.
A central thread of Greek Tragedy is duality. Using the pairs of male/female, Greek/barbarian, free/slave, and mortal/immortal Rabinowitz examines issues of family, sex, war, and the relationship between individuals and society by scrutinizing the portrayal of leading mythological families in Greek tragedy.
Should you read it even if you know very little about Greek tragedy? Emphatically, yes, and then read it again after you've read some more.