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The Metamorphoses of Ancient Myths

Edited By Malgorzata Budzowska, Burc Idem Dincel, Jadwiga Czerwinska and Katarzyna Chizynska

This book gives a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of artistic dialogue with ancient myths. The contributions assume a double-track research approach. The contributors investigate the procedure of myths' recycling within Greco-Roman antiquity, and they consider modern re-occupations of myths in dramatic literature and theatre. Providing various examples of myths' reception from antiquity to present days, this book confirms the persistent human need of re-mythization.

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Greek Tragedy as a Window on the Dispossessed (Stephen Wilmer)


Stephen Wilmer*

Greek Tragedy as a Window on the Dispossessed

Abstract: The exiled character in need of asylum is a recurrent theme in ancient Greek tragedy. In many of these plays, we see uprooted and homeless persons seeking sanctuary, and for the ancient Greeks hospitality was an important issue. Many of these plays have been updated to comment on the current social and political conditions of refugees. This essay considers Elfriede Jelinek’s play Die Schutzbefohlenen as an emblematic case of the appropriation of Greek tragedy to reflect on the refugee situation in Germany and Austria. It will consider several productions of the play, including Nicholas Stemann’s that was first presented as a reading in St Pauli Church in Hamburg in September 2013, and features asylum seekers from Lampedusa who beg the audience for the right to remain in Germany. It will also consider other reappropriations of Jelinek’s text including Schutbefohlene Performen Jelineks Schutzbefohlene by the Silent Majority and its disruption by right-wing activists.

Keywords: Die Schutzbefohlenen, refugees, Jelinek, Stemann, The Suppliants

It has become common practice for writers and directors to appropriate the text of an ancient Greek tragedy for a new play or production. The new work often retains some of the structural elements of the original narrative and perhaps the characters’ names, but strays so far from the Greek text that it seems like a completely new script. This essay will discuss several adaptations that highlight the plight of the...

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