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Hellenic Whispers

Modes of Greek Literary Influence in Seventeenth-Century French Drama


Susanna Phillippo

Hellenic Whispers builds a picture of how Greek literature was received and reworked by the authors of seventeenth-century French tragedy. Using case studies, the author establishes a new methodology for exploring the variety of responses and creative processes involved in these encounters with classical Greek material. The book explores the complex interactions surrounding these adaptations of Greek dramatic material, involving the input of scribes, editors, translators and earlier authors, and asks the important question of what these dramatists conceived of themselves as doing. Focusing on a time and place where cultural predilections and a lack of linguistic training made engagement with the original Greek texts problematic, the book explores the creative role of intermediary sources, the build-up of chain reactions between sources and the cumulative processes of recreation involved in the genesis of seventeenth-century dramatic texts. The volume also goes on to explore wider questions relevant to the classical tradition and issues of ‘source study’ and reception.


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Chapter 2 Transmissions and Other Influences


Chapter 2 Transmissions and Other Inf luences Against this background, what were the various principal lines of transmis- sion between Greek tragedy and seventeenth-century French drama? How did those lines of transmission operate to af fect the processes both of recep- tion and of recreation? In what forms did, or could, seventeenth-century writers encounter Greek tragedy, and what significance does this have for our enquiry? Texts We begin with the issue of the Greek texts themselves. What our seventeenth- century writers encountered here were printed editions of the plays which represented the judgements of contemporary scholarship, the operations of a scholarly editorial tradition stretching back over a couple of millennia, and the scribal tradition by which the Greek works had been passed down over the generations to the modern era. The relationship between the final editorial products (in our case, principally the Aldine 1503 and Stephanus 1602 edi- tions of Euripides) and the plays as their Greek authors originally designed them thus involved several intricate processes with a varying margin for error.1 For some plays, the editorial tradition depended on a larger number 1 Cf. e.g. S. Gurd, Iphigenias at Aulis. Textual Multiplicity, Radical Philology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), e.g. 9–12, and my discussion of the issues and how these are con- cerned in questions of reception and inf luence, in S. Phillippo, ‘Accidental Creativity’, in A. Bakogianni (ed.), Dialogues with the Past: Classical Reception Theory and Practice, Institute of Classical Studies (forthcoming 2013). 54 Chapter 2 of...

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