Modes of Greek Literary Influence in Seventeenth-Century French Drama
Chapter 4 Iphigenia in Aulis
Our second series of plays, on the Iphigenia in Aulis legend, displays some parallels to the Iphigenia in Tauris series but is also distinct in several impor- tant ways. In both cases a single Euripidean play is the clear original source; in both cases, Italian sixteenth-century dramatists had produced early adapta- tions of the Greek play concerned. In the case of the Iphigenia in Aulis plays, however, a seventeenth-century French dramatist wishing to use the Greek play also had a choice of translations available: not just a careful parallel Latin rendition, but elaborated versions designed to stand alone, in both Latin and French. Moreover, Lodovico Dolce’s Italian version for significant stretches renders the Greek play much more closely than Rucellai’s Oreste did, often functioning as a quasi-translation. It follows with the Iphigenia in Aulis plays that contact with ‘the original’ would for many writers function primarily through these renditions into more familiar and accessible tongues, and therefore that the small-scale but often significant shifts to be encountered in translations with their own literary pretensions could play an important role in shaping the directions taken by seventeenth-century adapters. With the IT plays, an adapter would negotiate between the original Greek (or a mainly exact Latin rendition of this) and (once available) prior adaptations which had more freely reworked that original. With the Iphigenia in Aulis plays, such an adapter had available a third type of representation of the Greek: closer to the original than an adaptation, at times rendering words and...
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