The Rhesus Attributed to Euripides

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The book consists of a full commentary and a revised text (based on Diggle's OCT edition, but including several changes from it).

The "Rhesus" came down to us among the plays of Euripides, and was acknowledged as Euripidean by Aristotle's School toward the end of the 4th cent. It was probably in fact the work of 4th cent. actors who heavily re-worked or interpolated Euripides' original play with this title, or a 4th cent. author who wrote in competition with Euripides – actors or a pseudonymous Euripides indulged in the preferences of contemporary audience more effectively than the 5th Euripidean play could do, and their text replaced the original in the corpus of Euripides already in the 3rd cent BC, before the Alexandrian edition of the tragedians was compiled.

In this perspective, the play provides an invaluable evidence about 4th cent. production and performance of tragedy, which is otherwise known to us only from very few and tiny fragments from other lost plays. My stylistic and historical analysis of this tragedy has shown what being a "post-classical" tragedy could mean – the composition of our Rhesus probably took place precisely in the age when the canon of the three great tragedians was instituted and the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides became the incomparable "classical" texts of tragedy. The heavy mannerism of many stylistic options, some of the re-uses of motifs of 5th cent. tragedy, and an endemic experimentalism with the intertextual models exemplify well the anxiety of influence of the "Rhesus" as a text that "comes after" 5th cent. drama and book 10 of the "Iliad". The anachronistic adaptations of the world of the epic heroes to the new reality of the polis and the irresistible ascent of the Macedonian power also belongs in this attempt of the Rhesus to be both seriously intertextual and seriously different.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages720
ISBN (Print)9781108889476
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameCambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries
PublisherCambridge University Press

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