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A Phoenix Too Frequent


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A: Christopher Fry Pf: 1946, London Pb: 1946 G: Com. in 1 act; blank verse S: Tomb near Ephesus, ancient Greece C: 1m, 2fA beautiful young Greek widow Dynamene, mourning the death of her husband Virilius, has been fasting by his tomb for two days with her servant Doto. Doto still yearns for men, but Dynamene is committed only to the memory of her husband. Weeping pitifully, she falls asleep. A handsome young soldier Tegeus, guarding the corpses of six hanged men, approaches the tomb, and shares his wine with Doto, who rapidly becomes tipsy and amorous. Waking, Dynamene drinks wine too and soon she and Tegeus have fallen in love with each other. Dynamene is convinced that her husband would approve and sends Doto away. Before they can consummate their love, Tegeus checks on his corpses and discovers that one has been stolen. Since this means certain death for him, Dynamene graciously offers the body of her husband to replace the missing corpse.

A: Christopher Fry Pf: 1946, London Pb: 1946 G: Com. in 1 act; blank verse S: Tomb near Ephesus, ancient Greece C: 1m, 2f

Based on a story from Petronius' Satyricon, this short comedy offers an entertaining conflict between duty to the dead and the obligation to live life to the full. So the grotesque act of handing over her husband's corpse is justified by Dynamene: ‘And now we can give his death | The power of life.’ The classical setting and use of blank verse point backwards rather than forwards, and Fry's playwriting, while it enjoyed some popularity, now seems dated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Christopher Fry (1907—2005) playwright


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