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Mourning in AmericaRace and the Politics of Loss$
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David W. McIvor

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704956

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704956.001.0001

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“There Is Trouble Here. There Is More to Come”

“There Is Trouble Here. There Is More to Come”

Greek Tragedy and the Work of Mourning

(p.100) 4 “There Is Trouble Here. There Is More to Come”
Mourning in America

David W. McIvor

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins to develop the idea of a democratic work of mourning by first displacing it from the immediate context of contemporary dramas of reconciliation and social repair. In particular, it turns back to the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BCE and specifically to its annual festival the Great Dionysia (where the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were originally performed). The Athenian tragic festival offers an intensely rich practice of representing and honoring trauma and violence. Through a reading of the dramatic festival and of Aeschylus' Oresteia, it lays the conceptual groundwork for a theory of democratic mourning. It is argued that Aeschylus and the Athenian experience can help us to think about an “Oresteian” politics of mourning that is irreducible to either a Periclean or an Antigonean approach.

Keywords:   democratic mourning, reconciliation, Athens, Great Dionysia, Oresteia, Aeschylus

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