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The Mutilation of Agamemnon (A. Ch. 439 and S. El. 445)

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image of Mnemosyne

At two places in Greek tragedy a rare and obscure word, ἐµασχαλίσθη, is used to describe an obscure practice. Most commentators take the word to denote a ritual in which a victim’s body parts are strung underneath his armpits, hence the term ἐµασχαλίσθη, ‘was arm-pitted’. This paper argues that the term denotes a simpler practice and one more suited to the dramatic context, and closes by considering why the word has been misunderstood.

Affiliations: 1: UC Santa Barbara, Dept. of Classics


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