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The Lost Phoenissae: An Experiment In Reconstruction From Fragments

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Chapter Summary

This chapter conducts a thought experiment in order to explore two issues: the gaps and uncertainties that remain even when we have fairly ample fragments of a play, and the advances made possible by papyrological and other discoveries since the 1890s. For this experiment, it takes Euripides' Phoenissae, a triad play surviving in over 100 medieval manuscripts. If it is limited to indirect and fragmentary evidence, how would our knowledge of the "lost" Phoenissae look? The chapter considers this question in two stages: first, by pretending to be in the position of August Nauck, that is, before papyrological discoveries and before modern collections of iconographic evidence; and, second, by taking the position of modern scholars, who can use papyri of the plays and of hypotheses and have much fuller iconographic evidence. This exercise also sheds interesting light on the reception and Nachleben of Phoenissae.

Keywords: August Nauck; Euripides; fragments of play; iconographic evidence; Nachleben; papyrological; Phoenissae



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