Plots and Pots: The Fourth-century Popularity of Iphigenia in Tauris

Edith Hall

in Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979257 | DOI:

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

Plots and Pots: The Fourth-century Popularity of Iphigenia in Tauris

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In the 4th century BCE Euripides' Black Sea tragedy, helped Aristotle make sense of the way to construct the plot of a serious drama in a way that elicited in audiences the strongest emotional responses in terms of pity and fear, and provided for the aspiring playwrights who studied with Aristotle the model of a perfect recognition scene. But in the same period it also provided a cultural touchstone for Greeks and their neighbours living in southern Italy. It assisted them in introducing or enhancing their worship of Artemis and the conduct of funeral rites for family members. By placing vases with the recognition scene from IT in graves and tombs, they built a set of emotional and psychological associations into the rituals—love of family, the strength of the bond between people charged with looking after one another's obsequies, the need after a funeral for a new configuration of the family and sometimes changes in its leadership, the sorrow of parting and the sweetness of reunions. The images may also have bolstered the sense that the bereaved shared important values with the wider Greek world. The recurring figure of the priestess Iphigenia at her temple created a miniature sanctuary of Artemis wherever the vases were placed.

Keywords: Aristotle; recognition scene; 4th century BCE; Greek vases; South Italy; Artemis; funeral; family; colonisation

Chapter.  9148 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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