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Rosenbloom: Scholarship Analysis

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Apr. 27th, 2007 | 08:05 am
posted by: mixmastamax in democracy105w

The article presented by Rosenbloom focuses on the effect that Tragedy had on the development of Athenian history and the views that were expressed by the tragedians within their prose or their “ideologies”. He concentrates on the Oresteia in particular, drawing mostly from The Eumenides. Freedom is the foremost ideology looked into and it is considered thus, “Freedom is fundamental but insufficient in the absence of justice” (Myth, History, and Hegemony in Aeschylus, 94). The history of Athens is examined to prove this statement, the Athenians felt themselves free but they in fact were not. Looking into the development of the navy in Athens proves this by showing that they eventually turned into a conquering empire rather than the freedom-fighters that they made themselves out to be. He then leads into the main topic of the article, Tragedy, “A bond existed between tragedy and freedom” (Ibid, 100).

Not just Tragedy, but Tragedy’s role in correctly, or incorrectly, portraying the events of the past. This is where myth comes into play, “history justified myth, and myth lent history the prestige of origins.”(Ibid, 101) Myth is shown in its relation to Tragedy and the emotions are highlighted which Tragedy caters to, “Pity and fear, the canonical tragic emotions, are directly analogous” (Ibid, 102). By deeply inspecting the Oresteia, he discovers that it does not lay claim to either side of the political ideals in Athens. The Oresteia actually finds a middle ground between the two which is finalized by an example of Aeschylus’ loss in competition to Sophocles because of his lack of political bias.

Aeschylus’ Oresteia does hold a harmonic balance in its political syntax. Though, I read it as not having much underlying claims to politics at all. It was simply there as a story to show the justification of morals, not political justification but sacramental justification by the Gods. It had more of a religious or philosophical air to it. The play itself surely had actions that were political in it, yet they were not founded on words, which is really what makes a play.

Word Count: 346

Questions:

What kind of theme did you believe the Oresteia to have had?

Do you believe that Myth, History, and Hegemony had direct relations to each other as Rosenbloom states?

What significance would you say Tragedy had in ancient Athens?

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