New Music's gallery of images: the 'dithyrambic' first stasimon of Euripides' Electra

TitleNew Music's gallery of images: the 'dithyrambic' first stasimon of Euripides' Electra
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsCsapo, E
EditorCousland, JRC, Hume, JR
Ancient AuthorsEuripides Trag. (TLG 0006)
Book TitleThe play of texts and fragments. Essays in honour of Martin Cropp
Series TitleMnemosyne Supplements 314

Those who approached the dithyrambic odes with expectations of structured narrative, let alone logical argument, were disappointed. The songs of Euripides' later dramas were inspired by the New Music. This chapter explores three aspects of Euripides' New Musical verse. It first describes the shape of the New Musical stasima in Euripides' Electra. It then shows how the series of pictures described by chorus in the first stasimon is patterned to reveal the very anxiety which their "escape" would suppress. In particular it shows how the emerging image patterns "ominously transform images from earlier in the poem". The chapter shows how ambiguities in the poem's language reinforce ambiguities in the images and allow the chorus' anxieties to emerge, as it were, subliminally and despite itself. Author urges that the gallery of images in the Electra is best understood in the context of New Music's attempt to create a more musical verse. []


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