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Cassandra: Character and Dramatic Function in Fifth-Century Attic Tragedy

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dc.contributor.author Madison, Emma Rachel
dc.date.accessioned 2008-07-29T03:04:33Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-10-25T04:36:12Z
dc.date.available 2008-07-29T03:04:33Z
dc.date.available 2022-10-25T04:36:12Z
dc.date.copyright 2003
dc.date.issued 2003
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/23175
dc.description.abstract Cassandra was a beautiful Trojan princess, and the priestess and prophetess of the god Apollo, who cursed her with the tragic fate of always prophesying the truth but never gaining credence. Her perfect knowledge and doom-laden prophetic insights alienated her from normal human society; she was a source of shame to her family who considered her utterances the ravings of a mad woman. After the sack of Troy, she was taken to Greece as part of the spoils of war by the enemy of her people, Agamemnon, and murdered alongside him by his wife, Clytemnestra. This dissertation examines the different depictions in fifth-century Attic tragedy of this unusual, liminal figure. The first chapter lays down the groundwork by evaluating some ancient and modern attitudes to character. Its conclusion that a dramatic character cannot be entirely separated from the mythic and literary tradition from which it is derived necessitates an analysis of the depictions of Cassandra in epic and lyric poetry prior to 458BCE. The most substantial and daring depictions of Cassandra from fifth-century Attic tragedy belong to Aeschylus' Agamemnon and Euripides' Troades, and while they resemble each other in structure and some details of content, the points of divergence are notable. The different aims of the poets have led to different conceptions of the Trojan prophetess. The treatment of the figure of Cassandra in these two plays, with particular emphasis on her immediate function and her function in the wider context of a trilogy, forms the core of discussion for this study. A predominantly text-based reading, it draws together many of the different views of modern scholars to create a comprehensive picture of Cassandra's character and function in the two authors. Arguing for the central importance of her scene in the plays, this dissertation demonstrates how Cassandra's primary aspect of prophetess is exploited to convey information about past, present and future, which is necessary for the understanding of the audience but which the plot demands must not be understood by the other characters on-stage. Her relationship with the god Apollo provides the theological framework through which to read the events of the tragedies, and the conflict between her mortality and her divine knowledge lends great pathos to her scenes. en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Cassandra (Legendary character) en_NZ
dc.subject Greek drama (Tragedy) en_NZ
dc.subject History and criticism en_NZ
dc.title Cassandra: Character and Dramatic Function in Fifth-Century Attic Tragedy en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline Classics en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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