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Tragic Bystanders: Choruses And Other Survivors In The Plays Of Sophocles

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Chapter Summary

In his extensive work on tragic fragments, Martin Cropp has necessarily been occupied with the accidents of survival. Tragedy's particular concern with survival is in part related to the prominence of the bystanders. The violent deaths and extreme sufferings that are tragedy's main subject are difficult to represent and excruciating to witness, and classical Athenian tragedy is constituted in such a way that those events are made present to the mind but kept largely out of view. And tragedy retains from its roots in non-dramatic lyric a prominent chorus, which represents a group of people whose involvement in the action is intensely felt but also peripheral, a group who are always present from beginning to end, and always destined to survive whatever destruction the plot unleashes. This chapter picks up some of the threads of earlier discussion and following them into the plays of Sophocles.

Keywords: Athenian tragedy; chorus; Martin Cropp; plays; Sophocles; survival; tragic bystanders; tragic fragments

10.1163/ej.9789004174733.i-580.56
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