The reception of Sophocles' representation of physical pain

Budelmann, Felix (2007). The reception of Sophocles' representation of physical pain. American Journal of Philology, 128(4) pp. 443–467.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/ajp.2008.0006

Abstract

Two of Sophocles' surviving tragedies contain scenes that portray the main character in excruciating pain for a sustained period of time: Philoctetes and Trachiniae. This article discusses three important stages in the reception history of these pain scenes: (1) Hercules Oetaeus, attributed to Seneca; (2) Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Laocoon treatise; and (3) recent European adaptations. In each case, it analyzes how the later playwrights, directors and theorists responded to certain complexities inherent in Sophocles' representation of pain. The conclusion briefly considers this reception history overall.

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