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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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The Material Poetics of Tragic Recognition

The Material Poetics of Tragic Recognition

(p.70) 3 The Material Poetics of Tragic Recognition
Objects As Actors

Melissa Mueller

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 tackles the use (and abuse) of material tokens in tragic scenes of recognition, focusing primarily on Euripides’ Ionand Electra. The tokens reuniting Ion with his mother are replicas (mimêmata) that evoke the birth of Ericthonius, a mythical ancestor to the Athenian audience. It is argued that these tokens give a mythico-political cast to what might otherwise be characterized as a private reunion between a mother and her son. The recognition scene of Euripides’ Electra, usually read as a parody of the similar scene in the Choephoroi, more overtly politicizes the recognition of Orestes. Rejecting the familial tokens that had secured Orestes’ identity in the Choephoroi, Euripides’ re-staging has this scene instead hinge on the recognition of a bodily scar. The authentication, or recognition, of Orestes is thus made into a proto-exemplar for the audience of their own practice of scrutinizing citizens, known as the dokimasia.

Keywords:   Anagnorisis, recognition scene, recognition tokens, material poetics, audience interpellation, Ion, Electra, Orestes, dokimasia

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