Euripides and the Gods

Hardcover | January 13, 2016

byMary Lefkowitz

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Modern readers find it hard to come to terms with the gods in Euripides' dramas. Readers try to dismiss them as a literary convention. Stage productions leave them out, especially in the cases when they appear ex machina. Instead, they place disproportionate emphasis on the harsh criticisms ofthe gods uttered by some of the characters in the dramas, and have sought to interpret Euripides ironically, viewing his portrayal of the cruel and capricious gods as a means of drawing attention to the deficiencies of ancient Greek religion. In their view Euripides' dramas seek to question thenature and sometimes even the very existence of traditional Greek gods.In Euripides and the Gods, classicist Mary Lefkowitz sets out to show that the tragedian is not undermining ancient religion, but rather describing with a brutal realism what the gods are like, impressing upon his mortal audience the limitations of human understanding. Writing the first extendedtreatment of these issues for a general audience, Lefkowitz provides a book that deals with all of Euripides' dramas, and argues for a more tolerant and nuanced understanding of ancient Greek religion. Euripides, like Homer, is making a statement about the nature of the world and human life,terrifying but accurate. She explains how the idea that Euripides was an atheist derives from ancient biographies that drew their evidence from comic poets, and shows why the doubts about the gods expressed by his characters must be understood in their dramatic context. Euripides and the Gods offersa compelling invitation to return to the dramatic masterpieces of Euripides with fresh eyes.

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Modern readers find it hard to come to terms with the gods in Euripides' dramas. Readers try to dismiss them as a literary convention. Stage productions leave them out, especially in the cases when they appear ex machina. Instead, they place disproportionate emphasis on the harsh criticisms ofthe gods uttered by some of the characters ...

Mary Lefkowitz is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, emerita, at Wellesley College. Her many books on classical culture include Women in Greek Myth, Greek Gods, Human Lives, The Lives of the Greek Poets, and Not Out of Africa.

other books by Mary Lefkowitz

Women in Greek Myth
Women in Greek Myth

Paperback|Jan 16 2007

$33.45 online$35.50list price(save 5%)
see all books by Mary Lefkowitz
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.39 × 5.91 × 1.18 inPublished:January 13, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199752052

ISBN - 13:9780199752058

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Euripides, Socrates, and other Sophists2. Piety and Impiety in Euripides' Heracles3. Athena4. Appollo5. Other Gods6. Gods behind the ScenesConclusionBibliographyFiguresIndex

Editorial Reviews

"A fresh, rich, and accessible approach, from an eminent scholar, to those troubling gods of Euripides (and Sophocles and Aeschylus). Lefkowitz takes them 'literally and seriously,' sweeps away modern misconceptions, and helps build a sounder understanding of the gods in Greek literature,theology, and life." --Jon D. Mikalson, University of Virginia