The Atrides Saga and Power Play: The Dilemma Between Freedom and Death on the Theatrical Scene
Keywords:Thiestes, Tragedy, Weiße, Katsaitis, Foscolo.
AbstractThyestes’ myth is difficult to read: cruel, abominable, but also multidimensional. And this is why it is adaptable to multiple interpretations, highlighting the different aspects of tyranny within different political, socio-cultural and philosophical contexts during the centuries. Thyestes, the protagonist of the tragedy, serves, with his unique characteristics, as an example to the spectator in order to understand and improve his own situation, even his very existence. First, we will take a look upon the theatrical production by Petros Katsaitis, author of a tragedy based upon this myth in 1721. At that time, Greece does not yet exist as a national state, being under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, Katsaitis highlights the complex historical reality in which he lives in person. The German author Christian Felix Weiße writes his Atreus und Thyest in 1766 in the philosophical context of Enlightenment, with a focus on the anthropological education of his audience. Ugo Foscolo, being between Italy and Greece, between Neoclassicism and Romanticism, in his Tieste (1797) recalls the memories of modernity’s Ancient Greek roots and re-elaborates the myth by reinvesting it with civil and political sense. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to present three versions of an ancient Greek myth composed during the eighteenth-century in three different regions of Europe in order to highlight the potential impact of this tragedy on the viewer's reception and in relation to the historical-cultural and philosophical trends of the time.
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