Cosmology and the Polis: The Social Construction of Space and Time in the Tragedies of Aeschylus
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This book further develops Professor Seaford's innovative work on the study of ritual and money in the developing Greek polis. It employs the concept of the chronotope, which refers to the phenomenon whereby the spatial and temporal frameworks explicit or implicit in a text have the same structure and uncovers various such chronotopes in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and in particular the tragedies of Aeschylus. Mikhail Bakhtin's pioneering use of the chronotope was in literary analysis. This study by contrast derives the variety of chronotopes manifest in Greek texts from the variety of socially integrative practices in the developing polis - notably reciprocity, collective ritual, and monetised exchange. In particular, the tragedies of Aeschylus embodies the reassuring absorption of the new and threatening monetised chronotope into the traditional chronotope that arises from collective ritual with its aetiological myth.
868. The transition from the cycle of reciprocal violence to benign reciprocity may itself be imagined as a gift from the gods, prefigured perhaps in Ag. 182 (especially if Aeschylus wrote χρις βαιος; but cf. Pope (1974)). 57 Eum.; S. OC; E. Hcld. and Su. 58 It comes to mean ‘fate’ because the distribution of shares must have divine authority: LSJ s.v. ασα II 3; Seaford (2004a) 51. Chapter 12 Persians Central to Persians, as to the other plays of Aeschylus, is the politico-spatial control
queen, utters words of supplication, and sits in the ashes by the hearth, the eschara.49 Wine is drunk and libations are poured, and the king announces that the guest will be entertained and animal sacrifices performed on the following day. On his departure he is given gifts, as is Telemachos by Diokles and by Menelaos.50 The loving description – in scenes of hospitality – of gifts and of ritual (or protocol) expresses their social significance in the code of reciprocity, as ways of creating
Aphrodite: The pure sky longs (erai) to penetrate61 the earth, and longing (ers) seizes the earth for sexual union. Rain falling from the…62 sky impregnates the earth. And she gives birth, for mortals, to the pasturage of sheep and Demeter’s sustenance. And the flourishing of trees is made complete (teleios) by the watering sexual union. Of these things I am in part the cause. (fr. 44) In classical Athens marriage was for ‘the ploughing of legitimate children’ (14B), and Aphrodite
and the Danaids (in opposite directions) is male desire. In the oracular response narrated by Io in Prometheus she was to be ‘expelled from her house and fatherland so as to wander at large (aphetos) at the furthest boundaries of earth’ (665–6). The primary reference of aphetos – to sacred animals roaming in a temple precinct – is inevitably connoted here, for Io is about to be transformed into a cow. But the freedom implied by aphetos (from aphienai, release) is extended to the furthest
The Atreidai were ‘sent’ (111) to Troy by the eagles’ ‘sacrifice’ (137) of a pregnant hare, which signifies the fall of Troy (126–30) but causes Artemis to prevent the journey there until she is appeased by ‘the other sacrifice’ of Iphigeneia (151), which as ‘proteleia of the ships’ is imagined as a bridal journey (10A), to a war ‘for a woman of many men…the spearshaft snapped in the proteleia’ (62–6). But victory will not impose completion (telos) on events, for the sacrifice of Iphigeneia is ‘a