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image of Mnemosyne

This article summarizes the findings of an unpublished PhD dissertation, "The Form of Lament in Greek Tragedy" by E. Wright, which provide for the first time objective criteria for identification of lamentation in tragedy. It applies these criteria to the Trojan Women, and argues, on the basis of metrical and stylistic devices, that virtually every scene in the Trojan Women shows the characteristics of lament. The play is, from both the minute technical, and the overall structural, point of view, a lament. This provides explanations for some of the long-standing critical issues of the play, e.g., no unity, no plot, an ill-conceived prologue. The article then considers also how the Trojan Women fits into current discussions of lament as a gendered genre. It replies especially to work on the development of 5th-century Athenian attitudes towards female lament, in which a pattern of increased criticism and restriction, it is argued, is reflected in the changing treatment of lament in Athenian tragedy. The treatment of lament in the Trojan Women does not conform to this perceived development. This suggests that there were still a variety of attitudes current and influential in late 5th-century Athens towards female lamentation.


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