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Hellenic Whispers

Modes of Greek Literary Influence in Seventeenth-Century French Drama

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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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[Andromache:] Ah! sors du gouf fre sombre, Pour défendre ta cendre il suf fit de ton ombre, Cher époux, ou plûtost vien défendre ton fils. — Pradon, La Troade, III.3, p. 46 [Megara:] ὦ φίλτατ᾽, εἴ τις φθόγγον εἰσακούσεται θνητῶν παρ᾽ Ἅιδῃ […] ἄρηξον, ἐλθέ· καὶ σκιὰ φάνηθί μοι. ἅλις γὰρ ἐλθὼν ἱκανὸν ἂν γένοιο σύ. κακοὶ γάρ εὶς σε γ᾽οἵ τέκνα κτείνουσι σά. — Euripides, Hercules Furens, 490–1, 494–61 [And:] rumpe fatorum moras, molire terras, Hector; ut Ulixem domes, vel umbra satis es. — Seneca, Troades, 681–3 leve-toy du Plutonique gouf fre, Viens defendre ton corps de ce Laërtien Ton ombre suf fira — Garnier, La Troade, 994–6 Ha revien des enfers mon genereux époux, Quand ces fiers ennemis seroient en plus grand nombre, Pour def fendre ton corps il ne faut que ton ombre — Sallebray, La Troade, II.4, 862–4 Why might it matter that this exclamation of Pradon’s Andromaque, in a rather obscure play, by a dramatist best known for being a less-gifted rival of 1 Reading as in the Stephanus edition. ‘Dearest, if anyone will hear the voice of mortals in Hades’ house […] help [us], come; appear to me even as a shade/shadow. For coming [thus] you would be suf ficient. For cowardly/evil towards you are those who are killing your children’. 506 Conclusions Racine, can be traced back to lines composed for two completely dif ferent characters in a play by Euripides? Is this an academic question of establish- ing the ultimate source of a short passage by a somewhat derivative writer? Would Pradon himself have known where the lines ultimately came from, and if not, what possible significance could the derivation...

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