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Objects As ActorsProps and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy$
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Melissa Mueller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226312958

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226313009.001.0001

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Epic Weapons on the Tragic Stage

Epic Weapons on the Tragic Stage

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Epic Weapons on the Tragic Stage
Source:
Objects As Actors
Author(s):

Melissa Mueller

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226313009.003.0001

Chapter 1 considers the uncanny agency of weapons in Sophocles’ Ajax, Sophocles’ Philoctetes, and Euripides’ Heracles. On stage, the sword cues audience awareness of the intertextual factors conditioning the hero’s decision-making, forcing a reassessment of the Ajax’s rejection of suicide. His expressed desire to be rid of this weapon, which has brought him only pain and misfortune since the day he received it, gains in poignancy when Ajax is seen holding the weapon itself. A gift to Ajax originally from his enemy Hector, the sword continues to channel the animus of the unresolved duel they fought on Homer’s Trojan battlefield in the seventh book of the Iliad. The bow of Heracles in Philoctetes and the weapons in Euripides’ Heraclesprovide valuable comparanda for the animacy and entanglements of tragic weaponry.

Keywords:   Ajax, Ajax in epic and tragedy, Hector, Deception Speech, Ajax’s sword, Philoctetes’ bow, weapons in literature, objects in performance, Sophocles

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