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Ancient Myths in the Making of Culture

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Malgorzata Budzowska and Jadwiga Czerwinska

The reception of Mediterranean Antiquity heritage is one of the dominant research areas in contemporary classical studies. This issue has constituted the scope of the conference Reception of Ancient Myths in Ancient, Modern and Postmodern Culture, which took place at the University of Łódź (Poland) in November 2013. The volume consists of the selected articles based on the conference papers. They are divided into the main chapters: Literature, Visual and Performing Arts and Philosophy as well as Anthropology. The authors consider different methods of reception of ancient myths focusing on various cultural phenomena: literature, fine arts, theatre, cinema and pop culture.
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The Story of Orestes as a Reflection of the Transformations of Modern Society in Pylades by Pier Paolo Pasolini

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In my paper I examine the presence of some mythical themes in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s artistic output. I focus mainly on his play Pylades, but I also make frequent references to Pasolini’s other works. In Pylades, Pasolini retells Orestes’ story after the events depicted in Oresteia. This text is not merely an adaptation of the myth but a comment on the contemporary social reality of post-war Italy, and a reflection of both social and psychological transformations which took place in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s. In Pylades Pasolini concentrates on the conflicts between the main characters, Orestes, Electra and Pylades, and uses them to stress the antithesis between the archaic culture, based on religion, and the new one, focused on democracy, rationality and individual responsibility. In this conflict the author tries to depict the contrasts of his own social and political reality. By retelling this mythical history Pasolini shows the impossibility of reconciling the past and the future, the two different ways of living, which, when pursued on their own, can became extreme and dangerous.

The aim of the following paper is to analyse Pier Paolo Pasolini’s reinterpretations of ancient myths, mainly of the story of Orestes, as well as to present new meanings which are attributed by the Italian author to the Aeschylus’ tragedies of the Oresteia.

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