28 Oct 2008

The Birth of Tragic Eloquence

Corry Shores
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According to Nietzsche, Euripides introduced Socratic rationalism into his unconventional prologues. Unlike Aeschylus and Sophocles who subtly weaved backstory into the beginnings of their tragedies so to create a tragic effect through suspense, Euripides had a trustable character from the drama initially tell the entire story from start to finish.

According to [Euripides], the effect of tragedy never resided in epic suspense, in a teasing uncertainty as to what was going to happen next. It resided, rather, in those great scenes of lyrical rhetoric in which the passion and dialectic of the protagonist reached heights of eloquence. (Birth of Tragedy section 12)

And it is not a qualitative distinction of eloquence, but a quantitative one: the tragic results not from an eloquence belonging to a tragic genre, but from an intensely heightened pure eloquence.

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