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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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Tragic Textiles and the House of Atreus

Tragic Textiles and the House of Atreus

(p.42) 2 Tragic Textiles and the House of Atreus
Objects As Actors

Melissa Mueller

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 reads the tapestry scene in Aeschylus’ Agamemnonwith special attention to the textile’s qualities as a physical artifact and how it gets repurposed in the Choephoroiand in the later Electraplays of Sophocles and Euripides. While it has often been assumed that Clytemnestra herself has woven the tapestry, this chapter argues that the garment’s agency is not readily traceable to a single hand. The textile embodies the complex economy of the entire House of Atreus; it does not merely symbolize Clytemnestra’s guileful entrapment. The more immediate causes of Agamemnon’s capitulation are to be found in the object’s overpowering visual and sensory output, qualities it possesses by virtue of its elaborate pattern-weave and distinctive purple dye. The retrospectively framed interpretation of the tapestry scene seeks to capture something of the enduringly prescriptive qualities of the mesmerizing object at its center.

Keywords:   tapestry scene, porphyra, Oresteia, Agamemnon, Electra, tragic textiles, House of Atreus, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Aeschylus

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