Wole Soyinka's Yoruba Tragedy

Astrid Van Weyenberg

in African Athena

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199595006
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731464 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Wole Soyinka's Yoruba Tragedy

Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses Wole Soyinka's The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite, It explores, first of all, how Soyinka draws on Yoruba mythology and cosmology to emphasise the revolutionary potential of ritual sacrifice. Then, the focus shifts to the politics that the adaptation performs through its ambiguous relation with the Euripedean pre‐text, a relation that is characterised by a dual emphasis on correspondence and difference. In the final part, the cultural politics at play in Soyinka's refiguration of Dionysus and in his theory of ‘Yoruba tragedy’ is considered in relation to Martin Bernal's Black Athena project. The primary intention is to demonstrate how Soyinka does with ‘tragedy’ what Bernal does with ‘Greece’: challenging its conventional definition and destabilising the Eurocentrism that has traditionally inhibited it.

Keywords: Greek tragedy; African drama; Adaptation; Post‐colonial; Eurocentrism; Wole Soyinka; Yoruba tragedy; Bacchae; Euripides; Ritual

Chapter.  6272 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.